Good DJs can turn any song into a very unique-sounding piece of music, using DJ controller features like loops, EQs, FX, and hot cues. However, you can’t create beats with a DJ controller. DJ controllers are not made to create beats, but rather to manipulate the sound of already created beats and songs.
For creating beats you will need at least a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software and audio samples. With a DAW and audio samples, you can create beats and remix original songs. You can create extended versions of songs, for example, or create hip-hop beats to add to your DJ mix.
If you have the ambition to be a music producer and create your own tracks, you’ll need to add additional tools like a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller and virtual instruments to enhance your music production and create more professional and unique tracks.
MIDI controllers are external pieces of equipment that are used to create individual notes or drumbeats. The most common MIDI controllers are MIDI keyboards. Virtual instruments can be either a sampler and/or synthesizer.
Beginner DAW Software for creating beats
If you want to create simple hip-hop beats or extended versions of EDM songs, for example, you can use DJ software like Serato Studio.
Serato Studio is a simple and easy-to-use DAW that comes with free audio samples so you can quickly and easily start creating beats and remixes. Serato released a free version of this music-producing software back in 2020.
There is a big difference between just creating a simple beat that you can use in your DJ mixes or creating extended versions of original tracks, and producing full tracks. Simple beats to extend tracks or create remixes of original songs can be created pretty easily if you take the time to learn DAW software like Serato Studio. Actual music production, however, will be a little bit more difficult and will take more time to learn and you’ll need more equipment.
If you want to take a swing at music production here are a few tools that you will need.
If your music-producing goals are more ambitious than just creating some beats or remixes, you will need a more advanced DAW. You could purchase the full version of Serato Studio but there are more good options to choose from.
Some popular DAW software programs include FL Studio, Steinberg Cubase, Logic Pro (Apple), and Ableton Live. DJs/producers like Timbaland, DJ Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, and Martin Garrix all express their musical creativity using these DAWs.
MIDI controllers are digital instruments that can communicate to your computer or other MIDI controllers. Often you can simply connect them with a USB cable.
These MIDI controllers are used to create individual tones and drumbeats.
The most common MIDI controller is used for creating electronic music is the MIDI keyboard. Prices for MIDI keyboards can range from $39 to over $1000. In the example below you’ll see a MIDI keyboard for $119.
Sound library with Audio Samples and Synthesizers
Audio samplers and synthesizers are both virtual music instruments to create sounds so you can create a beat.
A sampler uses real sound recordings (samples) of real or artificial instrument sounds. A synthesizer generates sounds from scratch.
Most DAWs come with a packed sample library to help you get started, but most professional music producers have additional audio sample libraries.
A DAW plug-in is another piece of software that producers use. It’s a plug-in that runs on top of the DAW software and is used to produce certain effects like compression, reverb, and EQ. These effects are pretty similar to the effects you can create on a DJ controller.
The popular music producer Timbaland is known for his use of these plug-ins such as sidechain compression.
Audio interface to convert analog audio to digital files, and vice versa. Audio interfaces convert microphone and instrument signals into a recognizable format for your computer and software. The interface also routes audio from your computer out to your headphones and studio monitors.
Learning Music Production
DAW software like Serato Studio definitely makes creating beats a lot easier. However, if you don’t want to get lost and overwhelmed in the music-producing world, and if you want to get good at creating beats, it would be a good idea to learn the fundamentals and progress from there.
Armin van Buuren en Timbaland both created their own course in partnership with Masterclass. They will teach you every skill you need to know and every step of the process in creating beats and awesome tracks.
Armin van Buuren’s course is more geared towards dance music and Timbaland’s course is more geared toward R&B and Hip-Hop.
The famous learning platform Udemy also has some good music production courses available. You can find courses for specific DAW software like FL Studio and Ableton Live and Logic Pro.
DJ controllers do not create beats. Instead, DJs use DJ controllers to manipulate music that has already been created. If you want to create beats to play within your DJ mixes you’ll need a simple DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like Serato Studio.
If you want to be a professional music producer that produces full tracks then you’ll need some more tools.
Here is the full list of what you will need if you want to produce your own music.
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
- Musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) Controller
- Sound Library with audio samples and synthesizers
- DAW plug-in to produce specific effects
- Audio interface to convert analog audio to digital audio and vice versa