Okay, this is just an overview of the beat production software I have used in the past and what I currently use.
Just because I’ve been using it for so long, I am always producing in FL Studio. Right now I have the latest and greatest that you can get with FL Studio 9. I also use a ton of Vsti’s that I’ve added myself (most of which I review on this site). I love the ease of using FL Studio but for some reason my computer has a hard time recording to the piano roll. It might just be my soundcard.
I like the ease of use for recording live performances. The synth modules provided in Reason are pretty good but can be a bit overwhelming at first. The sounds that come with the basic package are okay to start off with, but you’ll want to buy new drum kits and tweak out all the synth presets. I do really like the orchestra sounds that Reason provides. I tend to use Reason more than FL Studio for getting live-sounding hip-hop beats.
Haven’t used this one much. I got it once, messed around with it, and then wanted to head back to FL Studio cause it was easier for me. Recently though, I’ve considered messing around with it more cause I’ve seen some really good stuff come out of it on YouTube. I’ll let you know what I think of it and maybe throw a demo up on this.
ReFX Nexus is a super powerful softsynth. The stock sounds are current for a variety of genre.I usually use it with my Club R&B and Club Dance music. I love using the trance-gate feature to get that JT My Love sound. The bass is good for dance and electronic music but I haven’t found any that fit well with Hip-Hop–of course depending on what style of hip-hop.
I personally like Nexus for the sounds it comes with but don’t like that I can’t (or haven’t figured out yet) tweak out the sounds to make them completely original. The stock sounds are well worth the buy though.
Here’s a link to the 15-min demo. Check it out.
Here’s some specs:
Nexus features a 32-step arpeggiator, a 32-step trance gate, amazing reverb designed by Arts Acoustic, and a modulation matrix for helping to sculpt your sounds. It comes with 4gb of fresh sounds but there are expansions which sound amazing.
This video is one of the better ones I could find but it doesn’t do justice to what this VSTi can do.
Welp, here it goes.
Modernbeats – Good, but not great. HQ samples, but they contain a lot of samples that you may never use cause there aren’t many styles to choose from. For those of you who use samples (riffs, phrases, etc.), you might find some gems in their Loops section. They do have some really good production tips in their Hit Talk section and they have some $12-15 Hit Reports that contain depth production overviews on how top producers produce their hits. The latest delves deep into Timbaland’s “Morning After Dark”. These gems are great for learning next-level production techniques.
Sounds in HD – I really like these samples for hip hop and r&b. I haven’t bought any but just downloaded their free sample pack and the samples in their are great.
Sonic Specialists – These one’s are also really good for hip hop and r&b. You can head over to their site and download some free demo kits. Test them out for yourself. they sound very unique and promising.
P5 Audio – Not too big of a fan, but I’ve only heard their Loops.
If you guys want reviews on other kits and samples, lemme know and I’ll check ‘em out and post my reviews. Until Next Time….Invisible.
I haven’t used this synth in a while. I used this synth a while back when I started producing music for Love You Long Time about 5-6 years ago. I didn’t become too familiar with how to tweak sounds and all, but I think that this little guy is capable of doing way more than I ever got it to do.
I thought that I’d mainly use it for Electronic music production, but, as you’ll see in this YouTube video, this guy uses it for Hip-Hop. He makes it sound good too. I’m gonna have to go back and re-visit this synth.
If you’re into making all your sounds original or just like to tweak sounds out, then this is a great synth for you to work with.
Rob Papen’s Predator is a “phat sounding” soft-synth. The sounds that come with the synth are already dope.
Presets Banks: HipHop (NY, Club, DirtySouth and Gfunk) banks. Jump, hardcore, breakbeat, various trance styles, DnB banks and more…
PredatorFX is one of my favorite VST’s to work with. You can throw some low-fi and distortion on your bass-lines giving it a nice edgy sound to it. There are filters, modulations, effects and a vocoder as an FX plug-in.
If you’re looking for good, heavy club drum kits, then Vengeance Club Sounds is what you need. I’ve been using these hits for my electronic music. The kicks are very full and the snares are great. Personally, I don’t like the hi-hats very much, but they work okay for what I’m doin.
I haven’t checked out all their sounds but they have a variety of styles to choose from. So go ahead and head over to their site and have a listen to their sample cd’s. HERE
Make sure you’re wearing some good headphones or listening with some speakers with good low-end to hear the fullness of these club sounds.
Here’s a snippet of the 3rd volume from this series (it’s an .mp3)
In FL Studio, you can add a whole bunch of FX and VSTi’s that don’t come with the normal software. I think it’s also one of the cheapest ways to start off. You can get different versions at different prices. If you’re in school (elementary to Masters) you can get the FL Studio Student Edition and it’s only like $49.95.
The soft synths/VSTi’s that come with it are pretty powerful already and easy to tweak. The only complaint that I have: The individual drum hits and kits are pretty weak. They all sound very stock. With the VST FX you can tweak them to sound pretty good but it takes some time to learn how to use them and which ones to use. The drums are okay for electronic music, but I didn’t like them at all for R&B or any type of Hip Hop.
My suggestion: Get FL Studio, search online for drum kits, samples, etc. (like at ModernBeats), get some good softsynth VSTi’s and have at it. With that you can start makin’ some sick beats.
Get FL Studio 10 for only $99 at The Woodwind & Brasswind HERE
I have used ModernBeats in a ton of my hip hop and R&B production and even with some of my electronic music. The sound quality is great cause each hit, sample and phrase is pre-mastered. The sounds are good and plenty. I haven’t used much of their “Anthems” type kits. I have mainly stuck with the individual drum kits. Some sounds are so similar within the differing kits so it seems like you get some of the same samples within varying kits, but if you listen with high quality headphones, you can actually hear the differences and the drums become very dissimilar. Overall, ModernBeats is a decent priced way to go for getting modern top 40 type drums and sounds.
Noteworthy producers that use ModernBeats samples (as shown on ModernBeats.com)
» Flo Rida ‘Right Round’
» Beyonce ‘Single Ladies’
» Timbaland ’2 Man Show’
» Madonna ‘Like It or Not’
» Kanye West ‘Home’
» Ne-Yo ‘So Sick’
» Chris Brown ‘With You’
» Ludacris ‘Wish U Would’
» Britney Spears ‘Piece Of’
» T.I. ‘What You Know’
» Madonna ‘Miles Away’
» Rihanna ‘Hate I Love U’
» Jazmine Sullivan
» ‘Bust Your Windows’
» Beyonce ‘If I Were a Boy’
» Missy Elliot ‘Ching-a-ling’
» Flo Rida ‘Birthday’
» Beyonce ‘Irreplaceable’
» Ja Rule ‘Wonderful’
» Leona Lewis ‘Take A Bow’
» Jennifer Lopez ‘Brave’
I’ve used Reason but haven’t gotten the latest version. Reason is great for recording from MIDI. The orchestra sounds are great for live instrument samples. If you’re trying to get tricky, tweaking sounds isn’t the easiest. There’s a learning curve, but once you mess around with…well, messing around with it, you can start getting some real nice and unique sounds.
One good thing about Reason is that you can find a ton of good, free (and legal) sounds and fx all over the internet. I just did a search right before writing that last line and got a ton of results on Google. One was http://www.gotchanoddin.com/reason/free.html which contained some files for you Hip Hop heads.
I’ve used Propellerheads Reason on a few projects and was impressed with the sounds and quality I was able to produce with this little gem. From Hip-Hop to Electronica to bedtime lullabies, Reason is a powerful engine that can help any starving or thriving producer.
The only drawback is that sometimes the sound packs/refills take up quite a bit of space on the old hard drive.
Here’s a sample hip hop beat made with Reason. There’s a ton more stuff you can do with it though. You don’t need a MIDI controller to make beats with Reason.
Okay, I personally haven’t used Abelton Live much at all to make beats, but I’ve seen & read online that there are quite a few legit producers who do use it. On Ableton’s site, they interview DJ Krush about using Ableton Live for making most of his beats. He talks about having used hardware for sampling and that he has moved away from MPC samplers more to sampling right with Ableton Live. He says that the sound quality of his samples have greatly increased because of Ableton.
Simpson from Dust Brother (Check out Beck’s Odelay and Guero) says: “I use Live for remixing, film, TV, commercial scoring, composing and producing. Live is currently my favorite software for working with samples—it allows me to work twice as fast as I could before.”
All in all, it looks like Ableton is good for all genres. You can get a better feel by visiting Abelton’s site or going on Youtube to watch videos of people producing your preferred style of music.
This is a long video, but you can get a feel for what is possible with Ableton Live. There’s better one’s if you just want to hear what kind of music can be made with Ableton Live.