As laptops get more powerful and increasingly portable these days, there’s no reason why we should not make music while traveling, going on holiday or maybe even somewhere outside of our usual working environment. As a producer and composer, I often get my best musical and creative ideas when I am not thinking about it. This happens when I am out on a trip with friends, or exploring sights in a different country.
In this blogpost, we will look at a few tools from hardware to software that can help get you going on having a setup that’s portable and able to create music anywhere.
Getting a midi controller is entirely up to you. Some people feel that they do not need a midi controller to make music as they are used to just editing / playing out midi by clicking the mouse on their DAWs. However, I find that having a controller will accelerate the process of getting down ideas, such as punching in simple drum patterns or writing simple melodies.
There are a crazy amount of portable midi controllers out there but I always look for a controller that has good playability and is velocity sensitive. CME’s Xkey-25 is one of my favorite keyboards as it has 25 full-sized keys for my fat fingers and has velocity sensitivity as well as aftertouch, which is a plus. It is powered by USB, 3.6mm thick and just weighs 1.3lbs. Moreover, there’s a nifty iOS app for you to edit the keyboard preferences such as sensitivity and dynamic range.
Headphones / Earphones
Investing in a good pair of headphones of In-ear-monitors (IEMs) is crucial to anyone who produces music. As headphones and IEMs are something very personal, it is almost pointless for me to recommend something here. But, if you were to invest in a pair, try to get one with good noise isolation. If you are traveling and not in a proper studio / work environment, you often would be in places where there will be a good amount of background noise such as in a park, on the airplane or in a cafe. A good noise isolating headphone will eliminate those sounds allowing you to not blast your music loud and protect your hearing.
Microphone / Audio Interface
If you are a person who likes to capture your musical ideas on the go, then having a microphone and perhaps an audio interface may be important. In all honesty, for the sake of portability, I recommend using your phone to capture ideas and import the recorded file into your Digital Audio Workstation. You can always re-record them later. But if you insist you need a good quality recorder, I recommend Zoom’s H4n recorder. The H4n has been out for several years now and you probably can get it cheaply. It has a great stereo microphone and doubles up as an audio interface if you need as well.
Yes, you’ll need a laptop to make music. Although, a lot can be done on iPads nowadays, that is for a separate article altogether.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A DAW is the heart of every producer’s setup. If you are a Mac user, you can get Garageband for at $4.99 on the App store as a start. At Splice, we support Garageband, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live and FL Studio.
One of the biggest benefit of using Splice is unlimited cloud storage and version control of your projects, all completely free. The Splice desktop app also allows you to sync projects across multiple computers, which means no more carrying any hard drives around. Wherever you are, as long as you have a working internet connection, you can use Splice to upload and download projects, share, and collaborate them with different artist. If you’d like to get in on this, simply sign up for a free Splice account here.
The possibility of having over a million unique samples at your fingertips, available to you at your own convenience could never been made possible if not for the Internet and technology. Splice Sounds, offers users a wide range of loops, one-shots and presets that you can access anywhere in the world, as long as you are connected to the internet. This makes producing on the go much more fun and creative without the hassle of lugging drives and drives of audio samples.