The Best DJ Equipment for Producing Beats

The Best DJ Equipment for Producing Beats

What’s the most popular piece of software for producing – do most DJ’s and producers use a combination set up of drum programme hardware like Maschine with a DAW software producer like FL Studio?

There’s a lot of ways to reach the goal of creating beats. Are you looking for beat making tools? My find and view is that many and most these things do the same thing. An MPC type machine will have pads while with a DAW you’ll have to invest in a controller. The DAW is likely easier to fully track, mix and master a project – but that’s a matter of opinion.

If you’re not into finger drumming, a grid based GUI like Logic X’s Ultrabeat and Drum designer will work – often finding your own drum samples to load.

You can also just drop a couple of loops into a DAW session and then you’ve ‘made a beat’. We use the Logic X DAW and mainly their drum designer VST. It has samples for all sorts of drum kits preloaded and you can find drum kits samples in many places on the web. You can use splice and also make your own samples from prerecorded material using Serato Sample.

Some producers use FL Studio to make beats and an SP404 for live performances. Even if you mostly make beats on hardware producers these days should learn a DAW as well.

See our review of software and hardware beatmakers below and choose the best DJ equipment for producing.

maschine beat maker

Propellerhead Reason 9.5

Propellerhead Reason is another great software beat maker that we’ve used a lot. It’s a completely stand alone program –and NOW (after years of hoping) Reason users can finally use VST plugins (virtual instrument plugins) directly inside Reason..

Before this latest update, my biggest problem with Reason was the lack of VST support. Reason does have a ton of sounds, samplers and synths included and people design sounds specifically for reason as well. But having VST functionality is a game changer.

I may start using Reason again now, just because it’s still a great piece of software. It’s a staple in the electronic and urban music production scene. Many beat-makers get their start on Reason and a lot stick with it throughout their careers.

And now with VSTs AND the ability to record, it makes sense to stick through it.

What’s The Big Deal?

The idea behind the Reason user interface is like having a virtual studio rack on your computer.You can add in an unlimited number of drum machines, synths, effects processors and combine them all. The team takes it further by letting you route the virtual gear just like you would a real physical studio rack.

It’s a solid piece of software that goes a long way. Some people also find the workflow very easy to get the hang of. I’ve used Reason for years… But then I eventually upgraded to Maschine, which I currently use now.

The Highlights

Cost: $69.00 – $399.00
PC & Mac Versions Available

The Features

  • Up to 10 Virtual Instruments + 23 Virtual Effects Racks Included
  • Functionality for Note Echos, Arpeggio + Scales/Chords
  • Mixer Area w/ Complete Channel Strip Control (for each instrument/sound)
  • Exports to All Major Audio Formats
  • NO VST Support Available
  • Unlimited Number of Channels Can be Used
  • Compatible w/ MIDI Hardware Controllers
  • Pattern-based Sequencer, Groove Control
  • Time-Stretch, Transpose and Pitch Editing Functions

Who Should Use It?

If you want a professional-grade all-in-one solution Reason could be a good choice for you. It’s got a great interface and a really easy workflow. It’s a simple-to-use software beatmaker that still packs a punch.

If you like producing electronic (EDM, Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, etc) music quickly and don’t mind using the mouse for the majority of your production try Reason out. You can use hardware controllers (like midi keyboards, etc) but the way Reason works doesn’t require it.

There are a ton of “ReFills” that you can purchase to expand your sound library. And of course, you can import your own audio samples if they’re in WAV format. You can also sample other songs easily with the patented REX loop technology (and an additional add-on).

So if you want a REALLY solid, but easy to use beat maker you should definitely get Propellerhead Reason.

Who Shouldn’t Use It?

The biggest drawback to Reason used to be that it doesn’t support outside VST instruments – which can limit you. But not anymore.

If you do a lot of audio recording and want a more Digital Audio Workstation style experience, Reason may not be the best option for you. If make a lot sample-based Hip-Hop, you should probably go with one of the software/hardware combos below. You can use and chop samples with reason (with the help of an add-on), but it’s so much easier in other beat making software.

Version Breakdown

Reason 9.5 Essentials

Best for: Basic Beat + Loop Making w/ Limited Instruments/Effects

This version is bare-bones and has the following features:

  • 6 Included Virtual Instruments
  • 10 Included Virtual Effects
  • 2-Band EQ on Channel Strip
  • 4 Send Effects Slots on Channel Strip
  • Single Insert Effects Slot on Channel Strip

reason 9 full

Best for: Full Instrumental + Song Creation

This version is the full version and has the following features:

  • 10 Included Virtual Instruments
  • 23 Included Virtual Effects
  • Includes Scale/Chord/Arpeggio Player Devices
  • 4-Band EQ on Channel Strip
  • 8 Send Effects Slots on Channel Strip
  • Compressor/Gate/Filter on Channel Strip
  • Master bus w/ Side-Chain support
  • Group + Parallel Channels

ImageLine FL Studio 12

FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops) is one of the most popular pieces of music production software and has been used by heavyweights from 9th Wonder to Zaytoven and many others.

You’ve probably heard of it if you’re into making beats at any level.
What’s The Big Deal?

What makes FL Studio really great is the loads of features and tools that are super easy to use.

Want those signature trap-style hi-hats? How about the MPC-style swing? FL Studio does it in a couple of clicks.

Since everything can be done with the mouse, it’s a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want (or can’t yet afford) a midi hardware controller (like a keyboard or drum pads).

The Highlights

Cost: $99.99 – $299.00
4 Different Versions Available
PC Compatible (Mac Users Require Boot Camp or BETA Version)
Free Trial Available

The Features

  • Up to 103 Insert/Send Tracks + 10 FX Slots per Track
  • Full Piano Roll & Mixer/Sequencer
  • Built-In Sounds/Effects/Presets (depends on version)
  • Export Beats/Songs to WAV, MP3 and more
  • Full VST Instrument and FX Support
  • Automation Control, Compatible w/ Midi Controllers
  • Cheapest version doesn’t record/handle audio

Who Should Use It?

FL Studio 12FL Studio is one a popular beat making program for a reason. It’s useful for everyone who wants to get serious about making beats, but doesn’t need a hard-core Pro Tools setup.

If you plan on making trap music or the very complex EDM stuff coming out now, it’s probably your go-to weapon of choice. Trap, especially, because FL makes it easy to get complicated hi-hats that are signature to trap music.

If you’re not interested in playing keys or learning to finger drum on pads then this is definitely the right choice for you. This software was totally made for the click-producers and programmers, so if that’s how you plan on making beats then definitely get FL Studio.
Who Shouldn’t Use It?

If you prefer to play piano or tap out drum beats on pads then FL Studio isn’t your best choice. For that you’ll want to pick one of the next two pieces of beat making software we review.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of audio recording, then FL Studio may not be the best choice for you either. Although the more expensive versions have audio recording capability, other DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) handle it better.

Version Breakdown

Best for: Basic Loop Creation With Minimal Functionality Included

This version does not include any of the following features:

  • audio recording + clips
  • audio/pitch/time editor
  • DirectWave Sampler
  • Slicer and SoundFont Player
  • Missing 22 FX/Instruments/Plugins

FL Studio 12 Producer Edition

Best for: Full Song Creation – Includes Audio Recording/Editing Functionality

This version does not include any of the following features:

  • pitch + time editor
  • DirectWave Sampler
  • SoundFont Player
  • Missing 14 FX/Instruments/Plugins

Best for: If You Want Full Functionality of FL Studio (extra plugins)

This version includes EVERYTHING except the following:

  • Drumaxx Drum Machine/Synth
  • Harmor Additive/Subtractive/Image Synth
  • Morphine/Ogun/Poizone/Sakura/Sawer Synthesizers
  • Toxic BioHazard Synth

Native Instruments Maschine 2

Maschine is the revolutionary beat production software from the powerhouse electronic music company Native Instruments that combines the best of both worlds – hardware beat makers..and software studio applications.

Just like FL Studio above, you’ve probably heard about this amazing hardware controller + studio software combo.
What’s The Big Deal?

What makes Maschine really great is that you get the hands on feel of a hardware sampler (like in the old-school beat making days) combined with the flexibility and power of a computer studio setup..

It was the first of it’s kind that was truly integrated, intuitive and easy to use. And it’s still the best – which is why producers like DJ Numark, 9th Wonder, No ID and many others prefer it.

Since it combines both hardware and software you get the feeling of making music organically, instead of drawing in squares and rectangles with a mouse. Combine that with an unlimited array of tracks, sounds and effects on your computer, and it’s easy to see why this beast is a best-seller.

The Highlights

Cost: $349.99 – $999.00 USD
3 Different Models Available
PC & Mac Compatible
Maschine 2.0 Software Available Standalone (No Hardware)

The Features

  • 16 Multi-Colored Drum Pads w/ Knobs
  • Large Digital Display
  • 22 GB of Sounds + 25 Pro Effects
  • Drag-And-Drop Export of Full Beats/Songs to WAV or Track Out Each Instrument Separately
  • Full VST Instrument and FX Support
  • Organic Automation Control
  • Keyboard More, Arpeggiator Control and Note-Repeat
  • Unlimited Number of Instrument Groups, Patterns/Tracks, Scenes
  • No Audio Recording, But Sampling Audio Sources is Possible

Quick Note: If you plan on using Maschine to make beats, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND signing up for Maschine courses at ADSR. They’ll show you the ins and outs of Maschine hardware, software and workflow.

Who Should Use It?

Maschine Studio Music Producing SoftwareNative Instruments has pioneered and revolutionized the music production era where hardware meets software. It’s useful for everyone who wants to get serious about making beats, and likes to tap out drums or use actual music production hardware instead of just the mouse.

It doesn’t matter what style of music you make, it can all be done on NI Maschine. The included sounds are killer and there is a lot of functionality in the 2.x version of the software..

If you love to make music on your computer but wish you could use hardware to bang out your drums, synths and samples – this is for you.

If you make sample-based hip-hop music (or if you sample at all) you should definitely consider Maschine. Even if you currently use a hardware controller like the Akai MPD series of the drum pads from M-Audio, Maschine will take your production game to the next level.
Who Shouldn’t Use It?

If you don’t want to tap our drum beats or sample patterns with your hands and prefer the mouse and grid approach, then stick to FL Studio. .

Also, if you’ve already been using a specific piece of studio software (like Cubase, etc) for a long time and use a third-party midi hardware controller (like the Akai MPD, etc) then you might consider not switching to maschine.

The way the software works causes your workflow to change. It runs on patterns and scenes, not your typical DAW timeline. So it can take some getting used to, but it’s not exactly a deal-breaker. Decide what’s best for you and your situation.

Best for: Entry Level Beat-Makers

This model is the smallest hardware size and has the following features:

  • USB Powered
  • No Integrated Stand
  • 128×64 Pixel Display (MonoChromatic)
  • 1 Push Encoder/Control Knob
  • 28 Buttons, 16 Pads
  • No Group/Kit Access from Hardware
  • No Dedicated Edit Buttons
  • Cannot Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same Time

Best for: Classic MPC-Style Workflow

This model is the original type + size and has the following features:

  • USB Powered
  • No Integrated Stand
  • 2 – 256×64 Pixel Displays (MonoChromatic)
  • 8 Knobs + 1 Push Encoder
  • 39 Click Buttons, 16 Pads, 8 Group Buttons
  • No Dedicated Edit Buttons
  • Built-In MIDI Interface (1 in / 1 out)
  • CAN Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same Time

Best for: Complete Physical Control + Visual Feedback without need for mouse + computer monitor

Largest sized model with the most functionality:

  • Separate Power Adapter
  • Built-In Collapsible Stand
  • 2 – 480×272 Pixel Hi-Res Color Displays
  • 8 Knobs + 1 Jog Wheel + 1 Volume Knob
  • 58 Click Buttons, 16 Pads, 8 Group Buttons
  • Dedicated Edit Buttons
  • Built-In MIDI Interface (1 in / 2 out)
  • Ultra Fast Workflow Design
  • CAN Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same Time

Akai MPC Renaissance

With the blow-up success of the Native Instruments Maschine, Akai had to come up with a worthy competitor. The Akai MPC Renaissance is exactly that.

NI Maschine was actually based on the original MPC hardware. Producers loved the feeling and workflow of using an MPC, but wanted to use computers and software for the numerous advantages. Native Instruments came to the rescue and is still our preferred Beat Maker software.

But soon after, Akai realized they should’ve been the first to do it. Unfortunately they were a distant second, and the Renaissance hasn’t seen nearly the same success that the Maschine has.
What’s The Big Deal?

The features that make the Renaissance unique from Maschine are the original MPC pads and the coveted MPC swing/groove settings.

Based on the now-legendary Akai MPC hardware units (which have been used to make some of the most classic EDM and Hip-Hop/R&B songs ever), the MPC Renaissance is the “hardware-meets-software” version.

It’s similar to Maschine in the way it combines software and hardware. The software interface is much different, though. The workflow is based on the original MPC stand-alone hardware.

The Highlights

The Features

  • 16 Original MPC-Style Drum Pads + Q Link Controls
  • 360 x 96 pixel Digital Display (Monochromatic)
  • Built-In USB Audio Interface
  • 9 GB of Sounds Included
  • Exports to All Major Audio Formats
  • Full VST Instrument and FX Support
  • Backwards Compatible w/ All Original MPC Hardware Samples
  • Classic MPC Note-Repeat, Swing + Transport Controls
  • Maximum 128 Tracks, 8 Pad Banks

Who Should Use It?

If you’re a big fan of the original MPC or feeling nostalgic about the 1990s, then the MPC Renaissance might be right for you.

If you need that original MPC Swing, or absolutely love the original MPC drum pads then you should get it. Those two things are literally all that differentiates it from competitors – and the software/workflow of course.

But it’s no longer available from a lot of stores and so support is going to be very limited. But that could just mean that the V2.0 of the hardware/software is around the corner. So maybe you’ll want to hold off, but there’s no telling when Akai will decide to release it.

Again – only get this beat maker if you’re a die-hard MPC fan or need that MPC feeling right now.

Who Shouldn’t Use It?

Pretty much everyone else…

Try buying the MPC Renaissance nowadays and it’ll be tough – no one stocks or carries it anymore. What’s more is it was just released too late. Maschine had already taken the first place position in terms of hardware/software combinations.

But the MPC has a MASSIVE fan-base who will love this thing.

So if you’re not a die-hard that needs that MPC feeling/sound, then go for something like NI Maschine. At least you can get support and the warranty won’t be a headache. And it’s way too expensive for what you’re getting.

Best for: Hardcore Akai MPC Fans

This model is the only one available and has the following features:

  • USB 2.0 Powered
  • 360×96 Pixel Display (MonoChromatic)
  • 16 Pads + Knobs
  • 8 Pad Banks

Complete Digital Audio Workstations

Steinberg Cubase Pro 9

Now, if you’re looking for something more than just beat making software then you definitely want to get your hands on Steinberg’s Cubase software.

The full version of the software is a virtual music recording, producing, mixing and mastering powerhouse. It’s an extremely powerful digital audio workstation that is capable of doing more than just banging out a few beats.
What’s The Big Deal?

Cubase is a really dope piece of software. It’s an entire studio setup that supports VSTs and is great for post-production like mixing and mastering. It’s got some great included effects, but with full VST support you can use third-party effects easily.

It used to be sort of a cumbersome program to use, but in version 9 Steignberg says they’ve completely streamlined the workflow – meaning it should be easier/faster to use now.

Cubase is used by many professionals and you can do pretty much anything you need music-wise. We use Cubase all the time and have for years. It’s a great DAW, but has a steep learning curve. But it’s a solid piece of software. There aren’t any hardware controllers included so you’ll have to buy separate beat pads, mixer/transport controls and keyboards.

The Highlights

3 Different Versions Available
PC & Mac Compatible

The Features

  • 32-bit floating-point audio engine
  • 5.1 surround sound mixing capabilities, flexible routing
  • 8 Included Instruments with 3000 Presets
  • Full Audio/Midi Export to All Major Audio Formats
  • Full VST/AU/RTAS Instrument and FX Support
  • Composition Tools: Chord Pads/Assistant
  • Unlimited Number of Audio/Instrument/Midi Tracks
  • Multi Track Editing and Mixing

Who Should Use It?

If you plan on making full songs, not just beats then Cubase is an awesome DAW that will cover all your needs. If you’re a music composer or if you do (or plan on doing) a lot of mixing and mastering you might want to consider Cubase with the separate fader/knob/transport controllers available.

It’s a powerful combination and gives you the power of really good effects processors with the feeling of mixing on a real board. If you want to be a full-service music producer Cubase is a great option to buy. But you’ll also want to pick up some other instruments, effects and midi controllers with it.

If you already have some midi controllers and VST instruments/effects it’s probably the perfect DAW for you.

Who Shouldn’t Use It?

If you’re just planning on making beats and not full songs then you should just go with one of the other beat making software options above.

What that means is it’s a bit weird producing beats and instrumentals in it. It’s amazing, though, for recording, mixing and mastering. So if you don’t plan on producing entire songs and albums then don’t get it.

Cubase Elements

Best for: Singer/Songwriters/Bands, Basic Home Recording Setups

This model is the bare-bones version of the software and has the following features:

  • 24 Physical Inputs and Outputs
  • NO 5.1 Surround Support
  • 48 Audio Tracks + 64 MIDI Tracks + 24 Instrument Tracks Maximum
  • 16 VST Instrument Slots
  • 16 Group Channels
  • 44 High End Audio Effects
  • NO Midi Plugins
  • 3 Virtual Instruments

Cubase Artist

Best for: Pro Music Producers, Project Studio Owners, Pro Artists and Bands

This model is the middle of the road version of the software and has the following features:

  • 32 Physical Inputs and Outputs
  • NO 5.1 Surround Support
  • 64 Audio Tracks + 128 MIDI Tracks + 32 Instrument Tracks Maximum
  • 32 VST Instrument Slots
  • 32 Group Channels
  • Side Chain Inputs
  • 53 High End Audio Effects
  • 18 Midi Plugins
  • 8 Virtual Instruments

cubase 8.5

Best for: Full Song Production, Music Composers/Scoring + Mix Engineers

This model is the full software and has the following features:

  • 256 Physical Inputs and Outputs
  • Supports 5.1 Surround Sound
  • Unlimited Audio/Midi/Instrument Tracks
  • 64 VST Instrument Slots
  • 256 Group Channels
  • 73 High End Audio Effects
  • 18 Midi Plugins
  • 8 Virtual Instruments

Avid Pro Tools 12

This is the now famous software that you hear everyone in the “industry” talk about. Pro-Tools is the standard music production software and digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice in many major label studios.

It’s got a very steep learning curve and can be extremely expensive, but is also very powerful. There are literally over a dozen different versions of this studio software and different versions can run thousands of dollars and requires a lot of hardware to run best.

But we’ll be talking about the regular Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD versions
What’s The Big Deal?

If you haven’t heard of Pro Tools, you might be living under a rock. If you’re working in the industry with a lot of major studios or artists, it’s a great software to learn because you’ll probably run into it at some point.

If you do get your hands on a copy, however, it doesn’t hurt to play around in it and see if it’s something you could dedicate a lot of time to learning. If you know Pro-Tools you’ll be able to work in most major studios you come across.

But with all the other options available today, which have all the bells and whistles, it doesn’t make sense for most people to get Pro Tools. And a lot of studios nowadays run different software. There was a time when Pro Tools was THE go-to standard for pro audio, but not anymore.

The Highlight

Several Versions Available
Mac + PC Versions

The Features

  • 32-bit audio engine
  • Use for Video and Audio
  • Full Audio/Midi Export to All Major Audio Formats
  • Full VST/AU/RTAS Instrument and FX Support
  • Mono/Stereo and 7,1 Surround Sound Editing
  • 85 Instruments, Effects and Utilities Included
  • Compose/Record, Edit Audio, Mix and Master
  • Connect Multiple Pro Tools Setups for Unlimited Tracking Capability

Who Should Use It?

Iif you plan on doing a lot of work in the studios of major label artists, or you are hoping to work in the mainstream music industry it probably makes sense to learn Pro-Tools. It is pretty much the standard in the music industry and is used by major acts everywhere in the world.

But it’s very expensive and tough to learn. The workflow is not as easy as other options. But if you’re trying to get into the industry or get a job at a big studio (most of which don’t exist anymore) then you should pick up a copy of Pro Tools and learn it inside/out.
Who Shouldn’t Use It?

Most beat makers and bedroom music producers shouldn’t choose Pro Tools. It can be prohibitively expensive for most people and it just isn’t worth it in many cases.If you want to just make beats easily, definitely don’t get Pro Tools.

If you’re not planning on working in a lot of other people’s studios (especially major artists/large studios) then you probably don’t need to learn Pro Tools. You should try out a different DAW for now like Cubase or Logic.

Version Breakdown

Pro Tools First

Best for: Beginners who just want to try Pro-Tools out.

This stripped-down version of Pro Tools has the following features:

  • 16 Maximum Audio Trackss
  • 4 Maximum Audio Inputs
  • 16 Instrument + MIDI Instances
  • 4 Maximum I/O Slots
  • 16 Aux Sends
  • Unlimited Busses
  • NO Video Track
  • 1 Virtual Instrument + 20 Effects

Pro Tools

Best for: Pro’s who need advanced functionality for sound and picture

This version of Pro Tools has the following features:

  • 128 Maximum Audio Tracks
  • 32 Maximum Audio Inputs
  • 512 Instrument + MIDI Instances
  • 32 Maximum I/O Slots
  • 128 Aux Sends
  • Unlimited Busses
  • 1 Video Track
  • Multi-Track Beat Detective Utility
  • 60 Virtual Instruments + Effects
  • Export Direct to SoundCloud/iTunes

Pro Tools

Best for: Audio, Film and Post Production Pros who need maximum quality/performance

This full HD version of Pro Tools has the following features:

  • 256 Maximum Audio Trackss
  • 192 Maximum Audio Inputs
  • 512 Instrument + MIDI Instances
  • 256 Maximum I/O Slots
  • 512 Aux Sends
  • Unlimited Busses
  • 64 Video Track
  • Multi-Track Beat Detective Utility
  • 60 Virtual Instruments + Effects
  • Export Direct to SoundCloud/iTunes

Apple Logic Pro X

Best Digital Audio WorkstationMac lovers have an additional choice that PC users cannot use when it comes to pro DAW software. If you own a Mac instead of a PC then you might want to consider trying out Apple’s Logic Pro X digital audio workstation.

Many popular producers – like Adele’s producer – swear by this software and it has a lot of cool features and instruments/sounds. There is no PC version, though, so you have to be a mac user. It’s also similar to Cubase and Studio One in it’s feel, but has it’s own unique workflow and design.
What’s The Big Deal?

Logic Pro X puts a complete recording and MIDI production studio on your Mac, with everything a pro musician needs to write, record, edit and mix like never before. All in an intuitive interface that puts the tools you need right where you need them.

Logic Pro X is a complete MIDI music production and audio recording studio solution for the Mac. Because it’s made by Apple it’s the perfect choice for anyone who uses a Mac based computer studio setup.

It comes with a massive collection of instruments, effects, patches and loops you can’t get anywhere else. And the seamless transition from free music production software like GarageBand makes it a Mac User favorite.

The Highlights

The Features

  • 24-bit audio engine
  • 3600 Electronic and Urban Loops Included
  • Full Audio/Midi Export to All Major Audio Formats
  • Full AU/RTAS Instrument and FX Support
  • 15 Instrument Plugins + 9 MIDI Plugins
  • 20 Creative Effects Plugins + 13 Mixing/Mastering Plugins
  • Built In Audio Editor + Score Editor
  • Use iPad or iPhone as separate controller in Logic
  • Up to 255 Audio/Instrument/Midi Channels

Who Should Use It?

Apple Logic Pro XMac users who love Apple so much they can’t step outside the Apple ecosystem.

There are a lot of people who sweat by logic, so I’m sure there’s great things about it’s workflow and included instruments/tools/sounds/etc.

Can’t make a recommendation one way or the other because we’ve never used Logic.

PC All Day Baby.

Who Shouldn’t Use It?

PC users.

Other Notable Music Production Options

There are a lot of other great pieces of beat making software available for you to buy, but the 9 choices above are the most popular with today’s beat makers.

But that doesn’t mean the ones we mention below are any worse. Again – it’s not about the tool, but how you use it.

It’s really a matter of personal preference. Maybe you prefer the workflow or look of a particular piece of software. Other times, certain tasks/techniques are done easier in certain beat makers and more difficult to do in others.

Conclusion – Which Beat Making Software to Choose?

It really depends on you. They all do the same things, just differently. Like I mentioned earlier – it’s really all about differences in interface, graphics and workflow.

Some of the included sounds/synths/instruments may differ but there’s a good chance most of the sounds and instruments you end up using will be third-party anyway.

Having one particular software for making music will not allow you to “make beats like [insert favorite producer here].”

What really matters is what you want to do. Every case is going to be different, but don’t worry about making the wrong choice.

At the end of the day, you’re able to do pretty much anything on any DAW. How you do them may end up being different, but that’s it.
Our Beat Maker Recommendation

If you’re an absolute beginner just starting out and learning the ropes, don’t invest hundreds of dollars into software like Maschine or FL Studio just yet.

Try out Dr. Drum or BTV Solo and get the hang of the whole production process first. Make some beats right away instead of getting stuck in the “process.” Those options make it easy.

Once you get the hang of it, then you can move to something else if you want. At that point our top 2 recommendations are FL Studio and NI Maschine – those are hands down the best beat maker apps for the price/quality.

What Really Matters

It’s all about how you use the software and how well you know it. Then the limits are non-existent. You can make any type of sound or style of music you want.
What Software Programs and Apps Do We Use To Make Beats?

We’ve used most of the above mentioned software and love them all. But currently our setup is based around the Native Instruments Maschine Studio hardware and software. We’re big fan’s of Native Instruments and the entire studio is based on their products – including Komplete Ultimate (virtual instruments) and a Komplete Kontrol S-Series Keyboard.

These guys are really on top of their game and we love them. There’s a few features we’re missing, but it’s nothing we can’t get around with a little bit of creativity.

And if it’s absolutely necessary, we’ll sometimes open up Reason, Cubase or FL Studio. It all depends on how we’re feeling.

And that’s another point – one that we’ll end on – you don’t need to only use one piece of software. If you like different features of different beat makers, get them all and use them however you feel. That might get expensive, but making music is an expensive hobby! But one, that’s so worth it.

Good luck with your beat making – leave us some comments letting us know your choice/preference. And if you know anyone that would find this article useful, please share it with them.

A Quick Final Word on Beat Making Software

Back in the day one had to have a ton of different instruments (as well as people to play them), huge pieces of studio equipment to record with and massive budgets to make professional records.

But all of that has changed with the rapid improvements in music technology. Now there are easily available and very affordable choices of music making software. What the best music production software is, however, is really dependent on what you are planning on doing, and the features most important to you.

And once you start making lots of music and beats, you’ll see that workflow is REALLY important.

Every music producer has their favorite beat making and music production software – just pick one and try it out. Learn the software’s ins and outs – don’t just get frustrated.

Whatever you choose, just make sure you’ve got some sick drum samples and sample packs to use with it.

Home Studio Computer Music Station portable set up.

How to buy rap beats from producers

Before you spend your hard earned money on rap beats online follow the following 5 procedures to ensure you receive the greatest value for the bars you write.

Firstly: How To Get Free Rap Beats

There are many producers online trying to make a living from selling rap instrumentals but they vary in the level of quality. Some are making a full-time living making rap beats, others are just starting out. The ones just starting out in the industry usually give away their beats for free. They will retain royalty rights to the publishing rights, though.

These producers will likely want to keep their tag – a sample of their producer name or brand being spoken over the top of the instrumental – or at the very least they may require you to mention them in the song or give them credit for producing the beat wherever you upload the song on the internet. You won’t be able to collect 100% royalties from radio play, youtube streams or streaming services though.

A good place to start finding free rap beats is YouTube and Soundcloud: Using “Free Rap Beats” or “Free Hip Hop Instrumentals” will surface some suggestions initialy. Create a list of all the producers that give high quality free beats and visit their linked profile platforms to access new material.

If you release anything using one of their beats make sure you let them know and share your music link with them. You never know, if you do a really good job they may want to feature you on their website or start working with you exclusively.

Probably not but…you never know.

Secondly – 5 steps to purchasing and licensing beats. You know, legally.

Buying beats used to be a lot more complicated than it is today. You’d have to book a studio session, have a producer come by and show you some of his music production work, and if you liked it – physically exchange files.  Luckily for today’s generation of beatmakers, we have the internet.

In this article I’m going to show you how to buy beats online, as well as answer a few questions that may have scuttled across thine shrouded mind.

1. Find Beats You Love

The first thing you need to do when trying to buy beats online is to identify beats you absolutely love. This process can vary depending on how picky your beat selection is and what platforms you use to discover instrumentals. Some good platforms I’d recommend to find high quality beats include:

  • YouTube
  • Beatstars
  • Soundcloud

2. Look At The Producer’s Pricing

The next important thing on the list to consider the producer’s pricing. Depending on your budget, this will decide the beats you purchase. There are typically a few different pricing plans for you to choose from. Although the pricing will vary based on the producer, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 – $100 for a typical standard beat lease (restricted streams, sales and downloads) and $300+ for an exclusive purchase (unrestricted release rights – though still not 100% rights of songwriting royalties).

3. Look At Their Terms. No seriously, look.

A lot of producers that sell beats online have similar terms in their contracts. Websites like Beatstars actually create standard templates that most artists adopt wholesale. It usually includes not being able to sell more than a set amount of units, crediting the producer on the song, and a few other things. Sometimes (especially when buying higher priced beats) – they’ll be sections inside the contract that will make your job of using the beat to generate income tough.

Enure you really study the legal terms (and/or contract) and if you don’t understand something and you’ve got money to literally chuck down a garbage disposal, get legal advice.

Seriously though when purchasing cheaper priced beats, there typically isn’t a contract for you to sign. This doesn’t mean you can do whatever the heck you want. Make sure to look at the terms listed on their website and look for any ‘out-of-sight’ terms that you may be agreeing to by purchasing the beat.

rap recording image

4. Write Your Rap To The Beat Before Purchasing

I highly recommend all artists write to a beat before purchasing it. Heck – download the beat illegally and make a reference version of the song. Sometimes when you’re searching for a beat you like, you’ll hear something that triggers your inner creative and makes you feel like this beat, like a DJ Khaled song, ‘is the one’, but don’t be in such a rush to purchase.

I’ve seen several artists quickly purchase a beat because it sounds catchy, only to never use it because they couldn’t write or make a good song from it.

You may be thinking ‘But what if someone purchases the beat while I’m writing?’. Well, the answer to that is simple, tough luck. Unless you’ve got G’s to shell out left, right and centre, you’ll have to take that risk.

The more you listen to beats, the more you’ll notice that tracks that employ similar BPMs (beats per minute) and similar patterns are widely available across the internet. Producers don’t mimic each others sounds due to a lack of talent or because they’re uninspired schmucks with no ability to function independently. They do this because they’re not dypublishing. And also, because :

  1. That’s what artists purchase
  2. There’s only so many patterns
  3. It sounds nice

So, if a beat you’re writing to gets purchased, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to find another beat that has a similar BPM, similar synth tones, and gives you the same erotically charged feeling in the pit of your wotsits.

5. Purchase The Beat

By now you’ve already found a beat you like, or stolen something from the dypublishing beat store, scoped out the producer’s pricing and terms, wrote your track, and are now ready to go HAM.

In my opinion, this is one of the easiest parts of this whole process. Thanks to a few beat selling platforms, it’s fairly easy to buy beats and get instant delivery from any producer selling online.

If you’re listening to a beat on YouTube, the video’s description is likely to link directly to a page that will allow you to purchase that beat. If you’re listening to a beat on SoundCloud, the same applies.

Where To Buy Beats Online

If you can’t find information on where to buy their beats from their social profiles or where you heard the instrumental, search their name on:


If you’re just having a terrible day with beats and can’t find them anywhere on those 3 platforms, you’re going to have to contact them directly. Buying beats direct is how it used to be done and typically involves a little back-and-forth, a PayPal link, your payment, and then an email from the producer with (hopefully) the beat you initially requested.

Then…that’s it – you’re done! For personally created beats and raps for your music projects please contact dypublishing directly.


Hip Hop Ghostwriters: An Examination

Ghostwriters have existed in Hip Hop since the dawn of time. Dr Dre and Puff Daddy have openly used ghostwriters, but also, respected wordsmiths such as Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy have secretly used writers to pen parts of, or in some cases entire, verses or hooks for the rapper’s albums.

It’s unknown how many rappers with ghostwriters exist in Hip hop, but there are some notable examples: Dr Dre is one of the most well-known ghostwritten-for rappers around. Snoop Dogg wrote both parts of “G Thang,” Eminem wrote all of Dr Dre’s verses in “Guilty Conscience” (and all of Dre’s verses on his own albums, we’d imagine).

But Ghostwriting in Rap is cheating, right?

Every Dr Dre song is penned by someone else, although technically Dr Dre’s work isn’t ‘ghostwritten’ in the sense that it isn’t secret. His Hip hop ghostwriters are given credit in the album or single liner notes, so there’s nothing ‘ghost’ about it. Publishers and industry sources say that Dre heavily revises any verses he’s given, but he’s still the only modern rapper (besides Puff Daddy) who’s well-known for his use of ghostwriters. This doesn’t really damage Dre’s credibility: The famous Aftermath producer is so revered for Hip hop production and business acumen that he more or less gets a pass from fans, as well as the fact he doesn’t keep the ghostwriting element of his work a secret.

Rappers without the other strings to their proverbial bows would generally never admit to using a ghostwriter, however, due to it’s intrinsic link to inauthenticity.

Does using a ghostwriter make a ‘real’ rapper inauthentic?

Nas’ excuse when he was accused by Dream Hampton of having assistance, when creating ‘Untitled‘ (from of Dead Prez, and J.Electronica) comes out the mouth of a lot of other rappers: Writers in any genre use a measure of dialogue from studio passengers as ideas bounce around the writing space. It’s inevitable some ideas end up in a verse. But for rap, which is so grounded in representing yourself truthfully (Rick Ross aside) having someone else pen your 16’s is the biggest insult you can level at a credible rapper.

Validity in Hip hop

Many Hip hop aficionados take issue with the idea of ‘validity’, whenever the conversation of Ghostwriting crops up. But is Hip hop really that authentic?

Hip hop culture revolves around making oneself appear exaggeratedly more vivid and exciting than any other human alive.

Everyone, from Biggie to Jay-Z, from to NWA to Rick Ross, and from A$AP Mob to Odd Future tells largely fabricated stories. Huge cocaine kingpins and murderers rarely make the sort of rap music that these huge stars write about.

No-one expects 100% authenticity in a song; there’s a caveat in any creative industry known as ‘poetic license. But Biggie and Jay-Z did sling rock, NWA really hated the police, and Tupac really did go to jail.

When questioning the authenticity of a rapper’s work, we’re talking about going to the mic and saying “I’m this person and this is what I think.” If you wrote those sentiments, the expression (however artistic) is yours. If you didn’t write it, well, it’s somebody else’s.

For example, the Kanye West “penitentiary chances” line in “Gorgeous” is fantastic, but some people think the rhyme was ghostwritten by an associate. That diminishes the value of it greatly. It doesn’t matter that the words come from his mouth; we lose our appreciation of them knowing they didn’t originate in his mind. Rap is different from, for example, a speech by the Prime Minister. The PM’s sentiments are ghostwritten in largely the same way as are Dr Dre’s rap verses; someone else composes the written piece and then the Prime Minister and Dr Dre edit as either sees fit to. There’s a huge disparity in our attitude toward self-representation in either example, however, even though the process is the same. Should then we continue to ascribe the same high standards of authenticity to rappers if we fail to do the same for our politicians, who are also using speech writers?

There are plenty of advantages to using ghostwriters in Hip hop, and if (as a collective industry) we’re not questioning the authenticity of everything a rapper says, and we don’t hold the same standards to other prominent world figures who use ghostwriters as we do to rappers, why should it inhibit the growth of rap as an art form? The debate will rage on for many years to come, but one point is clear: Ghostwriting in Hip hop is as embedded in the culture now as it ever has been.

“I’m not a biter; I’m a writer — for myself and others.” — Sean Carter

Ghostwriter pen and paper

How much are ghostwriter rap lyrics worth?

Music is a business. The bigger the hit, the more the show biz machinery gets involved to make sure it continues to generate cash. Do you think every rapper who claims a previous gangster lifestyle was actually part of a serious gang? With enough marketing money, anyone can have a convincingly nefarious backstory.

If famous front men don’t write their own material, it’s because the audience pays for interesting, intelligent or significant rap verses over authenticity – or rather, they’ll pay for the patina of authenticity from an artist who increasingly finds it challenging to be original. From the rapper’s point of view, it’s much easier to pay for original content to re-brand, than to create from nothing. From the perspective of the music industry, it’s easier to sell original content through already established channels rather than brand and promote new artists.

Ghostwriting in rap is standard operating procedure for the music industry. The only difference is that the ghostwriters should be included in the credits and get their fair share of the royalties instead of being paid a one-off fee for their work and forced into hiding their talent.