5 ways to get ahead in music production (the right way)
I think it is safe to say it has never been easier to not only produce you own music and get it out there for everyone in cyberspace to hear. There was a time many years ago where you would need to shell out 'hand over fist' to a studio just to get in there with an engineer for the day to make a track for you. Now great advancement in music production software has allowed any one to turn their PC or Mac or even iPad into a fully fledged recording studio. This combined with magazine articles and youtube tutorial videos make it easier than ever to hone your craft as a music producer. Software like Ableton Live 9 (or better still Ableton Suite 9) gives you all the tools you need to go from concept to fully finished track. The question is though...

"What can I now add to my productions to stand out from the crowd?"

With everyone and their nan having access to the basic production tools that Ableton, Cubase and their competitors offer, how can you get that edge that gives your sound something that the others just can't achieve?

Here are our top 5 products to help step up your game

1 - Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite Quad Custom


We would all like to have a full blown studio with lots of external outboard gear and a mixing desk that costs more than our house but the reality is... That's not likely to happen any time soon. Well, that's not entirely true. As thanks to the clever boffins at Universal Audio and a lot of hard work. They have managed to condense some of the world most prestigious analog studio gear into ultra-realistic software form, all without sucking the life out of your computers processor.

Thanks to its DSP processor based plug-ins that run from either a PCIe or Firewire UAD-2 Accelerator Cards, you can run virtual instances of iconic gear from the likes of Studer, Ampex, Lexicon, Neve, Manley, Roland, SSL, Fairchild and many more. Just to set the record straight. These make the Waves plugin series look and sound like toys.

If you want the tools that the pros use, Get UAD-2 in you life in one form or another.

2 - Moog Minitaur.


There are lots of great software instruments out there and a good few that focus on bass too. However, You will still be hard pressed to find something in the digital age that can offer the warmth and richness of analog bass.

The Moog Minitaur although small in size and with a small price tag in comparison to many of its brothers and sisters in the Moog synthesiser family, should not be underestimated. This brute of a machine has been built specifically to cater for your low end needs. The Moog Minitaur delivers earth shattering lows and LFO modulation across its 2 oscillators, that allows it to work its self into any modern production style. Keeping with up to date functionality, it also boasts USB MIDI connectivity so even if you audio interface does not cater for MIDI in/out you can still sync it up and get making b-lines to shake the dance floor in no time.

3 - Novation Mininova


What the Novation Mininova lacks in size it makes up for in sound and functionality and then some. This incredibly versatile synthesiser takes the sounds and styling from its bigger brother the Novation UltraNova and works them into an easy to navigate 'hands on' style interface panel on the body of this metallic blue workhorse.

There are a selection of sound and style categories to help aid you in finding the sound you are looking for. Once you have found it, tweaking that sound and turning it into something new and exciting is easy thanks to its intuitive encoder system. Gone are the days of clicking through menus on your computer to find and tweak sounds. You can now get hands one once again and without breaking the bank. If you still like the thought of being to edit in a bit more depth, you still can thanks to the included sound editor software.

4 - Pioneer RMX-1000

Ok, so you might be thinking what has this got to do with music production? Don't be fooled into thinking this is any old 'DJ effects unit'. The RMX 1000 is so much more. Coming with its own AU/VST plug-in that can be fully controlled by the unit, you can use this to do all it can do in a live scenario but fully automate the parameters. This allows you to create 'instant gratification' style build up and break down effects with the macros as well as beat repeat style looping effects and isolator effects. for more info on how you can make use of this in the studio check out the video below.

5 - Native Instruments Maschine MK2


For those of you who have been living under a rock the Maschine MK2 from Native Instruments is a full blown production workhorse in its own right. Them Maschine is so much more than a robust and slick looking MIDI pad controller. Thanks to its 2 built in LCD screens that show realtime feedback from the included Maschine standalone, VST, AU and RTAS software.

The software allows you to not just program loops and patterns but to then for full arrangements and trigger them live or even in the latest software updates, drag your loop straight out of the plugin and into your arrangement window as an audio or MIDI file. Truly ground breaking!