Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So You Wanna Be A DJ: Part 2

As promised, here is the second edition of my propa journal series "So you wanna be a dj," where I'll be talking about my production setup in the studio. Many of you know that most successful DJ's not only spin records, but produce their own music as well. This is a must!!! And while there are many different ways of doing this, it's becoming easier and easier to produce great music from your bedroom, bathroom, garage, wherever the mood strikes.

Something to consider, again, is that all the pieces of gear I'm listing here are not necessarily what you have to use, it's just what I use. There are plenty of other alternatives that may fit your budget, platform, or personality better. That said...

Part 2: Production Equipment
DAW: The centerpiece of any music production setup is a DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] which is what you will record into, edit with, and mix and master your music on. [If you're way ahead of this, stay with me, I just want to get everyone on board]
I primarily use Logic Pro 8 by Apple, but that doesn't mean I don't get my hands into Albeton Live on a regular basis either... It really depends on what exactly I'm doing in the studio. If I'm starting from scratch and I just need to get an idea down on disk quickly I'll use Ableton. I'll also use it if I want to do some experimenting with time stretching or pitch shifting as Ableton was born to do that stuff. Logic, however, is a massive program that allows me to do everything from recording vocals to sequencing beats to mastering my final mixes, and its gotten really cheap in the last few years too, you just need a mac to run it. Speaking of which...

Computer: This really should have been up there before daws but in my book its gotta be a mac. I'm sorry but there's just no comparison to working on a mac. They're designed for this stuff. I've got a G5 [one of the last great PPCs!] sitting in my studio now. I swear they should induct one into the rock and roll hall of fame for all the work they've done in the industry! ha! I have had countless little fights with buddies of mine re this issue and believe me.......I went "SPARTA" when it comes to this...... mac, mac, mac.

Monitors: As I mentioned in my last post I'm using a pair of NS10's alongside some KRK VXT8's that I got recently. I think it's a very good idea to have 2 sets of monitor speakers so you can listen to your music through different sounding systems, this will give you a better perspective on how your music is really sounding and give your ears a chance to refresh if you're getting burned out listening to the same 4 bars over and over and over again.

Controllers: While you can program each note individually in the midi hyper editors I hugely prefer to bang out parts with my fingers on a midi controller. This is just a keyboard that sends notes through your computer to your daw so you can record and play virtual software synths. I use m-audio's keysation 49. It's simple straightforward and plug and play. I've also got a Yamaha Motif that is always standing by should I want any of the sounds out of that, and I've also got it hooked up so I can use the weighted keys to play piano parts.

Audio Interface: Your audio interface is what you'll plug your monitor speakers into and record acoustic instruments through. Right now I'm using an m-audio Firewire 410. Great little portable box with tons of inputs and outputs, the analog/digital conversion quality is fantastic on these as well.

Mic: For a Mic I'll plug an m-audio Sputnik direct into my 410. [man you know I'm sponsored by them but they rock.... truly.!] That sputnik man, great mic. Great mic.

The most important part of my set up really boils down to the plug-ins and " toys" you have....
There are so many fantastic ones that I could write a chapter on this alone. but, lets start with my fav, native instruments. Why are they the best? Because you can make an entire record with this native alone. Reaktor itself should be classified as an entire  suite of it's own encompassing more power in one plug-in than in all of reason combined. The quality of the sound that comes out of Reaktor is unreal, and that's just a starting point. From there you have " massive "which is just that, a massive synth with unlimited capacity for creating diverse sounds. Then there is FM8, Elektrik Piano, Akoustik Piano, Guitar Rig [which is awesome for so many things OTHER than guitar], Battery [omg, fantastik sampling for percussion and other sounds, with a fantastic library to match,  anyway, I will stop  having a technical wank, go find out for yourself man. It really is the shit.
 I will get into all the other goodies I use in a later blog ( can't give all my secrets away in one night lol!)

So that's the basis of my production setup, tune in a couple of weeks for the next installment.

This is Propa Advice from yours truly, DJ RAP. Tune in on the 1st and 14th of each month for new entries. For my next blog I'll let you in on my techniques to mixing as well as production in the studio.

luv n bass, DJ RAP.

-by the way, all the people on my mailing list get free tracks on the first of every month [that's today!] as well as goodies in their inboxes. so head over to my website [djrap.com] and sign up so you can get music TODAY!


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Its good to hear that you use ableton as an idea builder program too. Good job on the new free tracks. Any chance you gonna post the lyrics on the second song? That track has a nice lounge feel to it too. Which version of ableton are you using? Currently I am using 7.0.3.....holla back!

Clarice said...

Datu Rocc.... good to see you on the boards here again. Long time! I agree with you on the lounge feel, I'm diggin it.