In my world, it seems like everyone around me is downsizing in one form or another. Whether it be from the food they’re buying, or getting rid of the clutter in their homes, it’s something that is having a great impact on many peoples’ lives.
For music production, it seems to be the way to go too. Reason 8 just came out, and with that it has introduced the production world to a whole slew of new possibilities when making beats. Gone are the days of needing tons of gear in your studio because now you can create full productions on a laptop or even a tablet.

Back In The Day It’s All They Had
In the years past, when producers would want to make a beat they didn’t have much variety like we do today, so they ended up using whatever gear was available at the time. Fortunately for them (and us), the equipment they used sounded great. From the Akai MPC line to the classic E-MU SP1200, the gear was big and bulky and required diskettes to save your beats, but it just worked.
Even in the years way before that, producers didn’t have much to use in terms of electronic boxes so they had to record on nothing but analog mixers and reel to reel tape. There were effects boxes galore and cables running all through the studio, but it worked.
When I first started making beats, all I had was a Roland R-70 drum machine. It wasn’t great at all for Hip Hop, but I still made it work. And if anything, it was fun using it, but I knew I had to have something else if I wanted to make better beats, so I bought the Akai S-20 sequencer/sampler. It wasn’t great either, but it got the job done.
Once I was able to get my computer up and running, I bought Cakewalk Pro Audio, and the rest is history. Now I saw that I could put tons of tracks and add lots of effects to my tracks, so the drum machine, sampler, and even the Casio keyboard I had, I no longer needed.
The Options Today Are Endless
Never before have we had so much to choose from. If you prefer to use Pro Tools to make beats, then you’re welcome to use that. The same goes for Cubase, Cakewalk, Live, FL Studio, etc. – it’s up to you.
If you really think about it, we’re really spoiled today. Here I am using Cakewalk Sonar for years, yet I’m trying out Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio to see what I like more, yet it’s little things that bug me. Years ago, you just used what you had!
There has been a steady movement in the music production world where everyone is downsizing the amount of stuff they have in their studios. It’s still great to have some gear like the MPC or SP, as many of you want to hold on to them for sentimental value, but you have to admit that those pieces are not needed anymore.
Today, you could literally have a laptop and headphones on your desk, and make really dope beats, plus mix them – all right there. No more gear, no more endless amounts of plug-ins. With programs like Reason or Live, along with the internet right at your fingertips, you can do all your beatmaking right there.
What You Really Need To Do
I know what you’re thinking – that it’s important to still have certain hardware or software in order to make beats. Or it’s just something you’re used to, so you don’t think there’s anything you need to change. Guess what? You’re right.
When I say that you really don’t need a lot, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all your stuff and have just a laptop and headphones, but rather you should focus on two things:
  1. Try to minimize what you DO have (do you really need all those plug-ins?)
  2. Try not to add more stuff to your current setup (you already have Maschine, do you need the MPC Renaissance?)
Cutting back on the amount of clutter you may have in your studio is the key. As it is right now, I still dig for vinyl so I can go through and find dope samples to use when I make beats, but once I’m done sampling those records, I get rid of them. What’s the point of keeping them?
In Closing…
Focus on what you currently have and use whatever you’re comfortable with. But with all the options we have today, there really is no need to have all that clutter in your studio, when you can simplify your setup by minimizing what you do have.