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[GUIDE] New to ReMixing? Need help? Start here!


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Getting Started

:idea: What we call "ReMixing" is just another kind of music making. Don't be intimidated! If you're already a musician, then you already have the skills to ReMix.

:idea: Learning an instrument, practicing with a computer music program (also known as a "digital audio workstation"), studying up on some music theory, or watching YouTube guitar tutorials will all help you make better ReMixes.

:idea: If you have no musical background, we highly recommend picking up an instrument like piano or guitar. While in-person lessons are ideal, you can check further in this post for some online resources.

:idea: You can make music on most any PC or Mac. We have a list of some recommended programs below.

:idea: While getting a ReMix on OCR is a great goal, creating music should be fun. You should enjoy the process, no matter what the result!

Music Making Programs

A digital audio workstation is a program used to create, record, edit and sequence audio. In this day and age, most DAWs are quite fully-featured, so if someone tells you that one is "better" than another, that's mostly nonsense. Pick whichever DAW has the best workflow for you.

FL Studio (PC) $99-149 = One of the most popular DAWs on OCR. Though a little unwieldy for audio recording and editing, FL's non-standard workflow can be very fast, particularly for sequencing (writing MIDI notes). Thanks to its large userbase here, there are plenty of folks to answer your questions.

Reason (PC/Mac) $129+ = Another popular DAW. Reason boasts perhaps the best variety of built-in sounds, effects and instruments of any DAW. Like FL, it has a unique workflow and large userbase. Its main downside is that unlike most DAWs, it can't be expanded with most free tools.

REAPER (PC/Mac) $60 = Fantastic for audio recording and editing, REAPER is a great choice if you plan on recording live instruments. Though its MIDI capability is a little weak and it has no built-in instruments, it's an excellent, fully-featured program with a very customizable workflow and unlimited free demo. REAPER also has a growing fanbase on OCR.

Sonar (PC) $99+ = One of the first sequencers ever created. Sonar comes in many flavors but has a powerful traditional workflow and a strong suite of built-in instruments.

Cubase (PC/Mac) $99+ = Like Sonar, this is another venerable DAW with plenty of great features and instruments. Whether you prefer this versus Sonar or REAPER depends on your personal preference.

There are many other DAWs out there that aren't listed here. Experiment!

Finding New Sounds

As you begin making music, you will no doubt want a nice palette of sounds to choose from. On a PC, you will typically look for "VST plugins" which are added to your DAW and add new functionality to create and alter sound. On a MAC, you want "AU plugins".

:idea: The single best resource for both free AND commercial plugins is KVR Audio. It has an amazing database and search engine allowing you to find all sorts of instruments, effects and samples, sorted by platform, commercial vs. free, etc.

However, before downloading more instruments and sounds, you should try to acquaint yourself with the tools available in your DAW. It's easy to download lots of plugins and become overwhelmed; we recommend picking a handful at a time and learning them really well before moving on.

Music Education Resources

As mentioned earlier, taking music lessons is the best way to improve yourself as a musician (that, and PRACTICE!) There is no substitute for a good teacher or class. If you're in high school, you may have access to basic music theory or technology classes, while most colleges have something similar. Private music teachers often start at around $30/hour, but just one lesson a week will provide substantial benefits over time.

That being said, if you simply don't have access to music classes or lessons, there are a few resources you can check out online:

:idea:MusicTheory.net - Almost any musician from beginner to expert can benefit from studying theory, which helps in both writing and arranging music.

:idea:Berklee Online - A fantastic resource with free classes from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Everything from piano and guitar to production, songwriting and arranging. You can't go wrong here.

Hardware & Computers

The world of music hardware is incredibly vast, but the truth is that you need almost nothing to get started. Your key pieces of hardware are as follows:

* A decent computer. Desktops are generally more powerful than laptops, but either will get the job done. Ideally you want something built in the last 6 years. If you're buying a new machine, look for a fast processor and 4+gb of RAM. A solid state drive is also good to have.

* A solid pair of headphones.... Good headphone brands include AKG, Sony, Beyerdynamic, Grado, and Audio Technica. More $ doesn't necessarily mean better, and stay away from consumer-oriented headphones like Beats, or bass-enhancing Sennheisers. Something like the ATH-M40 headphones may not be blinged out but they are excellent for listening critically and cost only $50.

* ... or speakers / monitors? This may be controversial to some, but I don't recommend doing the bulk of your music-making on speakers or studio monitors unless you can afford to spend at least $150-200 on an entry-level professional-grade set AND you can do some basic acoustic treatment to your room. It's fine to double-check a mix on speakers, but without proper speakers or treatment, it's hard to get a good sense of balance. If you're starting from scratch, start with headphones.

* An audio interface.

(more to come!)

Edited by DarkeSword
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  • 7 months later...
  • 1 year later...
Presonus Studio One: Best of both worlds. (audio + MIDI) Fantastic Customer service/forum


Studio One Free: try it out

Studio One Artist: $99

Studio One Producer: $150

Studio One Professional: $299

Seconded. You can also find the Pro version used on KVR for around $100-$200. It's drag and drop and speed is amazing. It's very easy to learn and start making music. The Pro version comes with some really samples for dance music from Vengeance.

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Thirding Studio One. I've been using FL Studio for 7 years and just made the switch. I still ReWire FL in because audio and MIDI routing is so god damn easy, but anyways, yes, it is a super fast and simple DAW that does not compromise on functionality at all. Very easy to do complicated music production techniques and never once does it get in your way of anything. It also automates a lot of things for you, like clicking a button to set up 8 MIDI tracks sending to your favorite sampler.

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"Good headphone brands include AKG, Sony, Beyerdynamic, Grado, and Audio Technica. More $ doesn't necessarily mean better, and stay away from consumer-oriented headphones like Beats, or bass-enhancing Sennheisers."

What's wrong with Sennheiser? And don't Sony headphones break easily?

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tabuhli said:
"Good headphone brands include AKG, Sony, Beyerdynamic, Grado, and Audio Technica. More $ doesn't necessarily mean better, and stay away from consumer-oriented headphones like Beats, or bass-enhancing Sennheisers."

What's wrong with Sennheiser? And don't Sony headphones break easily?

Keywords are bass-enhancing and consumer-oriented. Bass enhancement tends to favor the experience of the casual listener (or gamer, perhaps) more than of the music producer (if you examine the frequency response graphs of these 'bass boosting' headphones, they look pretty bloated in the bass---a 6-14 dB boost below 100Hz...). Consumer-oriented headphones are rather self-explanatory; they're not for producers at all, but for the average gamer, listener, etc.

Also, not all Sony headphones break easily. Some of them are pretty bad (MDR-7502 was way too band-passed; never broke though for me), but he's probably referring to the higher-end ones, like MDR-7506 or MDR-V6, which have better luck.

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  • 1 year later...

Lots of good information here, and I wanted to add some extra advice for anyone looking to get started.  

A few companies offer some great software freebies that could come in handy for anyone new to the production game.  Korg offers a very useful bundle of software with the purchase of any of their small USB MIDI devices like the MicroKey or nanoKontrol2.  You may have to set up some logins with third-party companies but it's worth it to get some extra instruments and plugins for free.

Also, purchasing an audio interface through Focusrite or any sort of MIDI gear through Novation will get you set up with some more plugins and a version of Ableton Live Lite, another DAW that has some stylistic similarities to FL Studio.  It will have limited capabilities compared to the full version, but it's still a risk-free opportunity to see if you like the layout and workflow.  

Other hardware-producing companies may have partnerships with certain software vendors, so be on the lookout for similar bundles.  If you play your cards right, you could end up saving some money in the long run.

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I know I'm new here, and this is an old thread, but Zircon in his original post mentioned in bold print "picking up an instrument like piano or guitar." I believe he specified those two instruments for a couple of reasons. One of them is that you can play more than one pitch at a time, therefore getting yourself used to hearing and playing multiple notes at the same time/chords. Number two is that you can "see" the music theory right in front of you. Moving from one key to the very next on a keyboard (including black keys) is a half step, and every fret on a guitar is a half step. The only extra thing on guitar is knowing what pitch the different strings are:)

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