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Best Beat Making Equipment for Beginners

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When you’re first getting into making your own beats, it can be tempting to want to go out and get ALL the different equipment and gear you come across.

But the truth is, you don’t need a ton of stuff to make music. If you’re creative enough, you can make music with VERY little.

But that’s no fun… And everyone loves gear and tools and toys, so..

Here’s our take on the best beat making equipment for beginners.

If you’re brand new to making beats, be sure to check out our full beginner’s guide on how to make beats first.

Otherwise, let’s get into it.

Choosing Beat Making Gear

First, let’s make one thing clear – if you just want to make beats (and not full songs), all you really need is a laptop and some software.

You don’t need anything else.

But the rest of the stuff we talk about can make things easier, and sometimes more fun.

And then there are things that you’ll want to consider getting once you get better at making beats and you want to level up your production quality.

Let’s start with the brain of your whole setup…

Beat Making Computer

Your Computer

Most people will want to make music on their computer. But a lot of people have questions about what type of computer you need.

Laptop or desktop? And what specs should you look out for?

We’ll answer all that below…

Mac or PC for Music Production? Laptop or Desktop?

To some degree, it comes down to your personal preference on both questions. BUT there are some key things to consider – price and functionality.

I used to say “don’t believe the hype about Mac – it’s not “better” for making music than PCs.”

But that’s not exactly true for me anymore.

The thing about Mac laptops is… they usually just work. The core audio of a Mac is currently (at the time of this writing – December 2023) more stable than ASIO audio in Windows 10 and Windows 11 laptops.

And don’t even get me started on thunderbolt… Jesus…

So NOW… I actually recommend most people get a baseline MacBook Air if they can afford it (as long as it has an M1/M2/M3 processor in it).


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A Quick PC Laptop Horror Story:

It was time for me to buy a new laptop so I could make my music making setup portable. And I LOVE PC laptops, so I searched one out and ended up buying the HP Spectre x360 with an i7, 16GB of Ram and a 512GB SSD.

After a few minutes of playing around in my beat maker I started hearing crackling and pops and Maschine started lagging like crazy.

And for weeks I couldn’t figure out why this would happen. It killed the vibe of it all.

And the worst part?

The only reason I didn’t get a prettier and lighter Dell XPS 15 was because so many users said the same thing happened to them too!

Apple Beat Making Computer

So it looks like there’s an issue with External Audio Interfaces, ASIO drivers and Windows 10/11. Because multiple laptop types are experiencing this and there’s no one magic fix that solves every person’s problem.

But it’s not ALL laptops/audio interfaces. It’s hit or miss. And no one knows why.

Thankfully I got it to work and it’s good to go now, but it was a HUGE pain in the ass.

So beware if you’re thinking a shiny new Windows 10 laptop.

The Initial Problem With Mac Laptops

It’s simple fam… They’re usually too cot damn expensive! For the components and specs you get, Mac laptops are priced kind of high.

But now, with the Mac M1/M2 processors, I can’t really say that anymore.

Sure, you’re still not gonna find a $600 MacBook, but for the raw POWER you get with an M1/M2/M3 processor, and the way they use RAM…

It’s worth it.

Even getting an MacBook Air M1 baseline model is a BEAST of a laptop for making beats and even recording audio.

I got myself an M2 MacBook Air (baseline model) to play around with…

I hooked up my old audio interface – which was now incompatible with Thunderbolt 4 on Windows 11 – and it worked right out the box, no issues at all.

I was amazed. And I love this laptop now – it’s a beast that can handle pretty much whatever I need to throw at it.


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Desktop vs. Laptop

If you plan on making beats in your basement or bedroom and won’t need to go anywhere, you can go for a desktop computer.

You can often get a more powerful computer for cheaper compared to laptops.

If you plan on going to other peoples’ houses or studios a lot to make music, or like to make beats in parks/beaches or outside, go for a laptop.

The portability of laptops is amazing.

How Powerful?

At the very minimum, you want a computer that has an Intel i5 processor, an SSD hard drive and at least 8 GB of RAM. You also want a pretty big hard drive to store all your music/sounds/etc. If you plan on using lots of big VST instruments (orchestral plugins, Omnisphere, etc) then go for at least 16 GB of ram.

If you can afford it, spring for a system like the one we recommend below if you’re building a PC/Windows machine:

If you want a Mac then honestly, any Mac (Air, Pro, Mini, etc) with an Apple Silicone (M1/M2/M3) processor will do fine. 16 GB of RAM is better even in the MacBook, but you can get away with a lot even with just 8 GB.

What About Tablets for Making Beats?

Tablets and iPads Making Beats

Tablets like the iPad have come a long way in terms of making music, but they’re still not 100% there.

Having said that, there are a lot of producers who have more recently switched over completely to tablets (specifically the iPad Pro) to make beats.

Henny Tha Biz is one of them (he’s got a great YouTube channel, so definitely check it out if you’re interested in making beats on an iPad).

You can probably get away with making full songs on a tablet, but it’s easier and you can be more versatile on a proper computer.


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Essential Beat Making Gear

Aside from the computer/tablet you’re using, you may want some other stuff to help you out.

Software

Magix Screenshot

These are programs that allow you to make beats on your computer, and nothing more.

There are 2 major types – pure beat makers and full digital audio workstation (DAWs) which allow you to record vocals and polish finished songs/tracks.

Beat Makers

Beat makers come in two varieties – ones that are strictly beat makers, and others that mimic DAWs.

Pure beat makers like Dr. Drum or Dub Turbo are outdated and pointless in using.

Here are the some popular beat maker options that also have DAW functionality to check out:

Digital Audio Workstations

digital audio workstation (or DAW) is basically a full studio setup. It provides you with everything you’ll need to make a beat or a full song (except the hardware stuff).

DAWs are different from pure beat makers because they have so much more power and capability.

The DAWs below also allow you to make beats, but the experience may not be as fluid as with something like FL Studio or Ableton above.

Different DAW choices include:



Online Options

There are also a couple of websites you can use to make beats online without having to download/purchase anything.

However a lot of these edm and rap beats maker options are limited because they’re completely internet-based.

Our recommendation is to go with a proper DAW, but here’s a couple online beat maker options for you:

Beat Making Hardware/Software Combos

Beat Making Software/Hardware Combo

Most people who start learning how to produce beats use FL Studio or Ableton and may also pick up a MIDI hardware controller (we’ll get into these more below).

But it can be complicated trying to get certain pieces of hardware to work with certain pieces of software.

BUT you can buy a combo beat maker.

This is a bundle that has a hardware MIDI controller (usually drum pads) that is specifically designed to work with it’s own software.

This is the best of both musical worlds – the feeling of hardware and the power/flexibility of your computer – and so is the ideal choice for a lot of producers.

Options include products like:

Check Out Our Buyer’s Guide on the Top Beat Making Software

Stand Alone Beat Making Hardware

Beat Making Hardware

There are also hardware beat makers which are entire music production centers within a single piece of hardware (like a music production keyboard or drum machine).

Think of the Akai MPC Series or the Roland Fantom. More modern popular options include the Octatrak from Elektron.

Here’s some problems with hardware beatmakers:

  • They’re hella expensive (we’re talking like $2500+ for some)
  • They’re closed-off systems (you can’t tweak it, etc.)
  • They’re made by a single company (on a computer you can use virtual instruments from any company)
  • They’re limited (sounds, processing power, tracks, etc.) in only producing beats/tracks – no vocal recording or real mixing/mastering capability

When you’re first figuring out how to make instrumentals these hardware options can be more difficult to learn to use.

BUT – there are some people who prefer hardware beat makers. If you’re just starting out making beats, we really recommend going the computer route – it’s much cheaper.


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Studio Monitors and Headphones

Speakers for Beat Makers

Now you’re going to need something to playback and hear your music while you’re creating.

That’s where studio monitors (i.e. professional studio speakers, not computer screens) and headphones come in.

Normal speakers and headphones don’t really give you the detail you need to make important decisions.

Studio monitors/speakers are specifically designed to give you the truest sound that’s not colored or distorted by your sound system.

NOTE: Your room shape and characteristics will also determine how well you’re able to hear a TRUE/NEUTRAL sound from your system, but that’s an advanced topic. Here’s a guide on how you setup studio monitors correctly.

But if you want to use studio monitors, you’re going to likely need a professional Audio Interface too (we get into that later).

So if you’re just starting out STICK TO USING HEADPHONES FIRST!

Here are some different options for monitors and headphones:

Check Out Our Buyer’s Guide Post on the Best Studio Headphones for Beat Making and Music Production

Additional Gear for Making Beats

The equipment we’ve discussed so far are essentials – you need them to make beats.

But there’s more stuff out there that can make things more fun.

When you’ve been making beats for a little bit, consider some of the things we talk about below.

Sounds / Instruments / Effects

Sounds for Beat Makers

You don’t need actual musical instruments to make beats (but you can buy guitars and pianos and stuff if you want).

But to increase your sound palette you can buy third party “virtual studio instruments” (i.e. VSTi). And you can spice them up even more with VST effects like reverbs, distrotions and echos

The best place to get sounds/samples/loops in our opinion is Splice Sounds – check out our review of Splice here.

There are also a lot of great companies that make virtual instrument plugins.

Here are some good virtual instruments to look out for:

Check Out Our Post on MUST-HAVE VST Synths Every Producer Needs


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Audio Interfaces

Music Making Audio Interfaces

An audio interface is a device that is designed to be able to handle professional audio production work. Your computer’s built-in sound card just isn’t good enough.

Sure, you can make beats using it. But if you want to use a MIDI hardware controller, record vocals or hook up a microphone/guitar you need a pro audio interface.

If you just want to record vocals, a 2 or 4 channel option will work. If you plan on recording a drummer or full band, you’ll need more inputs. Another thing you want to be aware of is the circuitry inside the audio interface.

The microphone pre-amps matter a lot when it comes to the quality of your recordings and the DA/AD conversion will determine how good your playback sound will be. Check out some reviews online before making your choice.

Here are some options out there:

MIDI Controllers

MIDI Controllers for Making Music

MIDI controllers are pieces of hardware that let you control the sounds on your computer beat making setup.

So instead of clicking your mouse into a grid, you can play out your melody on a keyboard or your drum beat on some drum pads.

If you think you’d prefer to play notes on a drum pad or piano rather than click in notes with a mouse, get a MIDI controller.

Here are some good options:

Final Thoughts

And that’s pretty much all you need when it comes to beat making equipment.

Now, if you want to go beyond just beat making and into full song production (along with recording audio, etc.) then there are a lot more categories of gear you could get into.

But as far as making your own beats goes, remember all you really need is a laptop, some sounds, headphones and good ideas.

Don’t overcomplicate things.

You’re reading this, so there’s a good chance you already have a laptop or desktop.

Download some software and start messing around.

If you’re new to making music, sign-up for our free Beat Making Cheat Sheets and you’ll get our 7-Day Course to Better Beats as well.

I hope this guide to the best beat making gear for beginners was useful! Thanks for reading.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.