A huge chunk of dance music today is made on computers with digital audio workstations, and that’s not likely to change in 2019. Sure, there are producers who create dance music using just analogue hardware (eg pricey modular synths) but laptops and software have just got so powerful and economical that tracks are often produced entirely “in the box”. Some professionals even use a smartphone or tablet to produce.
With so much gear out there and so many software and plugin options to choose from, it’s easy to get lost. That’s why we’ve picked out six of the best things that you can add to your home studio set-up in this piece. If stepping up your production game is one of your resolutions this year, this list is a great place to get started.
6 Production Gear Picks
1. Universal Audio Arrow interface
There are dozens of high-quality interfaces aimed at bedroom producers but none combine great sound, functionality and extended plugin access like the Universal Audio Arrow. It’s a two-channel interface that’s got two clean preamps onboard for connecting microphones (or you can bypass them and connect line input devices), a guitar input, plus monitor and headphone outputs.
Sure, it’s pricier compared to other two-in, two-out audio interfaces, but none of them give you entry to the acclaimed UAD library of hardware emulation plugins. If you’re looking for an interface and want access to some of the best plugins in the industry, look no further.
2. AIAIAI TMA-2 Wireless 2 headphones
AIAIAI keeps coming out with new configurations of its modular TMA-2 headphones. We’ve reviewed a few of them in the past and absolutely love their sound, durability and sleek, muted elegance. Last year the Danish company released new wireless models that have comfort and mobility at the top of the features list, plus you also have the ability to listen in wired mode. We think they’re a fantastic addition to your home studio monitoring set-up, as well as for listening on the move.
Buy it now: AIAIAI TMA-2 Wireless 2
3. Fabfilter Pro-Q 3 EQ plugin
Fabfilter is known for its slick plugins that sound good and look great. The Pro-Q EQ is a favourite among music producers and recording engineers because it gives you a detailed look at how your track sounds thanks to its gorgeous frequency analyser, and its simple graphic interface makes using a potentially complicated tool easy. Version 3.0 was released in December 2018, bringing even more features and tweaks to an already awesome plugin.
If you’re an intermediate producer who has outgrown your DAW’s stock plugin (eg Live’s EQ Eight), this is the one to get.
Buy it now: Fabfilter Pro-Q 3 EQ
4. Native Instruments Komplete 12 suite
Native Instruments updated its soft synth and samples bundle in 2018, adding even more sounds and plugins to an already impressive package that includes industry standards like Kontakt, Battery, and Massive. It now comes in four different versions at different price points, including the humungous (and expensive) Komplete 12 Collector’s Edition that ships with its own external hard drive.
Price: From US$199
Buy it now: Native Instruments Komplete 12
5. Novation SL MKIII keyboard
If you’ve got a few pieces of hardware in your bedroom studio set-up, you’ll love Novation’s new keyboard: apart from being a Midi controller for your DAW, it’s also got inputs and outputs for hooking up your synthesisers, drum machines, and modular gear.
That means you can sync everything to a single Midi clock to ensure that everything plays in time, effectively becoming the heart of your hybrid software / hardware production studio. One for those who want to experiment with both digital and analogue worlds.
Price: From US$599
Buy it now: Novation SL MKIII
6. Adam Audio T5V monitors
Adam Audio is a company known for its superb and accurate studio monitors used in commercial facilities and project studios. In 2018 the company debuted a brand new monitor line aimed at bedroom producers and home studio owners: The Adam Audio T5V and T7V are priced within range of bedroom producers, and they sound fantastic. These monitors are worthy of carrying the Adam Audio name, and are an amazing value.
We can’t recommend these enough – if you’re looking to trade up from cheap computer or desktop speakers, skip the KRK Rokits and go straight to either the T5V or T7V. You will not be disappointed.
It’s never been easier to make dance music. You now have lots of powerful tools to choose from that would’ve cost so much more just a decade ago, and they sound fantastic. 2019 looks to be another solid year for DJ/producers and we can’t wait to see all the new gear that will drop the coming months.
What other DJ/producer gear do you think should be added to this list? What’s your favourite piece of production gear from 2018? Let us know below.