Modular Synth workflow for beginners – Visualise patch cable voltage values

producer tools visual patch cables

Building and having a modular synth can be a bit of a hassle. And when I say a bit, I mean a lot. Not being able to see any modulation values is one thing. Then, there is the fact that you will never be able to save a general patch due to the flexible nature of the synth. Also, another drawback is that stereo is close to non existent (unless you want to buy two of the same modules), not to mention polyphony (unless you want to buy six of the same modules to get a six voice synth).

But programming, or should we say patching a modular synth is so much fun. And you get a wonderful sense of freedom.

Still this alone does not make modular so attractive, especially if you are new to synths all along. Today, I will show you one product that makes entering this very distinct domain much more easy.

Yes, I am talking about Producertools’ new product, their Patchcables with Bi-color LED built in. This is a long time coming guys, for sure somebody would have done this by now. Now there is basically no excuse for you to not build that eurorack system that you wanted. This a pre-order program for now, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, shipping is supposed to be in March 2021.

So basically with these patch cables you will be able to see the polarity of the voltage and a rough estimation of its value. The built in LEDs will glow red or green depending if the voltage is plus or minus, so if the envelope or LFO is basically negative sloped or positive sloped. Also, the light the LEDs emit varies in intensity. You can see how it looks in the video below:

There are of course drawbacks for now, but the manufacturer said that there is minimal interference with the Eurorack Control Voltage that passes through. They even had to design their own LEDs for this.

Still, a bit of voltage does get used by the LEDs so will not reach the source.

So don’t use it with signals that require precision, like controling the pitch of oscillators with 1v/Oct signals. Best use is for non random (S&H) LFOs and Envelopes, where you can just offset/increase send voltage in order to compensate for LED consumption.

Get your own set of Patchcables with Bi-color LEDs on the Producertools website here.

Famous Synth Emulations- Classic Hardware Without All The Hassle

Iconic analogue synthesizers are either too hard to find, too pricey, or both.

Even though we’d all love to have beautiful beats such as Steinberg’s E or Roland’s SH 101 physically present in our workspace, the age of technology provides far more convenient and compact alternatives.

Today we are going to talk about some of the most famous synth emulation programs; replicas that are true to the originals in terms of aesthetics and performance, and plugins that are incomparably cheaper. 

Cloud Jupiter 8

The Jupiter 8 is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the most eclectic synthesizers Roland has released, and it’s now available in a software format called the Cloud Jupiter 8.

It’s an exact replica of the original, sporting all of the features that Jupiter 8 comes supplied with, and it’s a perfect choice for people who are looking for a highly versatile and almost perfectly designed synth.

It offers eight polyphony voices, compatibility with VST, AAX & AU, total hardware control via USB connection to the Roland’s proprietary System 8, and a broad spectrum of configurable parameters, knobs, sliders, and faders.

Starting from the very top, the Cloud Jupiter 8 sports a customizable wavetable packed in the LFO section, a comprehensive modulator panel, two individual VCOs, and two identical envelopes.

Furthermore, it comes outfitted with the classic arpeggiator controls and five assignable modes.

The option to blend different patches, being one of the key elements of the original Jupiter 8 synth is also present.

The effects section is isolated, sitting right next to the 5-octave keyboard.

Even though it’s quite modest, it’s true to the original Jupiter 8 and sports effect type configuration, delay time, and revert type knobs.

Obviously enough, Jupiter Cloud 8 is perhaps not as versatile as some up-and-coming VSTs and plugins, but we should not forget that it’s been the industry’s standard for quality of sound for nearly 40 years straight.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for the Jupiter 8 specifically or simply are in need of a strong, well-rounded synth VST, we can safely say you won’t regret trying it out.

Korg ARP Odyssey

ARP’s Odyssey is almost a decade older than Jupiter 8, which can easily be discerned by its design and features.

Even so, it was a groundbreaking synthesizer at the time, and it certainly garnered quite a following in the old-school rock and alternative world.

Korg’s recreation of this remarkable synth is true to form down to the tiniest of details, but there are a couple of obvious differences.

For example, the original Odyssey has a different method of accessing the patch library (analogue) whereas Korg’s version allows you to do that in a much simpler and faster way.

Another striking difference is the fact that the original Odyssey is pretty small and the Korg’s recreation of it can be ‘stretched out’ a bit, which would make the features a bit more visible and thus easier to use as well.

Starting from the top, the first section is dedicated to a split between FM and wavetable-based features.

There are two frequency modulators that come supplied with the same sliders, only in different color.

The sections that follow are meant for fine-tuning of parameters such as key sync, tempo, cutoff, modulation, and such.

There are only a couple of simplified LFO settings on the table, although the Odyssey makes it up for you with a rich VCF section.

One of the biggest features of the KORG Odyssey is the massive EQ section, sporting sliders in different colors for easier organization and navigability.

Lastly, it packs a 3-octave built-in keyboard, which is excellent for electronic music, but not so much for slightly more complex genres.

EFM Sc P5 (Prophet V)

In a nutshell, EFM’s SCP5 is a free VST that aims to recreate the performance of the heavily acclaimed Prophet V designed by Sequential Circuits back in 1970.

It doesn’t resemble it aesthetically, and it only borrowed a couple of its main features, but on the upside it’s completely free to use.

It did not ‘dress to impress’, rather the layout of its features is as such that whoever’s using it can expect to quickly navigate between the oscillators, envelopes, and arpeggiators, which is the reason why it’s suitable for both professionals and beginners.

Nearly all of the sections that SCP5 is outfitted with sport a multitude of control knobs and selectable modes (such as synchronization, filters, external oscillators, unison, and such), with the exception of the dedicated Filter, Mixer, Amplifier, Delay, Chorus, and Master sections, which offer control of the most basic parameters.

Using the SCP5 certainly has its downfalls too; it does not come supplied with a built-in keyboard, nor does it have any kind of wavetable editorial features; again, it’s a free plugin that does offer access to some of the most important Prophet V features, which makes it worth checking out.

Adam Szabo Access Virus Viper

Viper is the recreation of the infamous Access’s Virus, which is one of the younger top-shelf boutique synthesizers that came out back in 1997.

It offers a mixture of authentic and brand-new features, but its performance is definitely based on the actual performance of the original Virus.

Viper offers an all-encompassing wavetable editor, three oscillators, three LFOs, eight effects (all of which can be used simultaneously), twin filter sections, and a smallish Matrix board. It also sports a very versatile mixer board, as well as onboard amplifier controls.

Should you want to boost the well-roundedness of your Viper software, you can also download Phazor free of charge too.

Basically, this is a complementary plugin that offers stage-selection, an additional mix knob, a basic EQ section, and another LFO.

It was specifically designed to be gentle on CPU usage, and it can even be used as a standalone feature, although it’s pretty basic and offers minimal mixing options.

It fills the gaps in AS’s Viper performance, though, and given the fact that it’s a gratis downloadable feature, there’s no reason not to try it out.

Best Moog VST- The classics, updated for 2020

There’s a lot to be said about Moog, but in short words it’s the longest-running, best-performing synthesizer that stretched from the realms of analog to the world of digital, increasing its already-massive versatility.

Nowadays with such incredible advancements in technology, Moog’s performance and well-roundedness can be tweaked, refined, and sharpened to cater to the needs of individuals with even greater precision via VST (virtual studio tools).

Today we are going to talk about some of the best Moog VSTs in 2020, so without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.

1. Arturia MiniV

Truth be told, when it comes to Moog VSTs it doesn’t get much better than the Mini V.

First and foremost, Arturia is a massive brand, and you should feel free to set your expectations sky-high before checking out its specs and features.

Speaking of which, the highlight feature of Mini V is the fact that all of the original’s MiniMoog keys and control knobs are authentically positioned and replicated onto this software.

The main screen of the MiniV is separated into five main parts, including Controllers, the Oscillator Bank, a small mixing console, modifiers, and output.

Now, the controllers are pretty simple and straightforward; here you’ll be able to tweak the Glide, Tune, and the overall mixing controls; the Oscillator bank features three separate oscillator knobs, each featuring its own control knobs; the mixer is the essential component of the MiniV, although its features are pretty simplistic.

The Modifiers section is absolutely brilliant, as it offers separate Filters and Loudness contour controls; here is where you’ll spend most of your time if you’re into production and mixing more than actual recording and playing.

Last, but not least, let’s not forget the 4-octave keyboard that sports built-in glide, decay, legato, and bend controls. All things considered, the MiniV is a compact feature-packed VST that is an absolute necessity for all Moog enthusiasts.

2. Synapse ‘The Legend’

Just like its name implies, Synapse’s Legend is an iconic VST that boasts unparalleled versatility and unequaled mixing capabilities.

Given the fact that Moog features some of the most authentic sounds that are virtually unattainable via digital software, we daresay that The Legend is one of the very few exceptions.

This VST is perfect for studio engineers who have a couple of years of experience under their belt (to say the least), as it is not as simple and straightforward as our previous pick.

It features multiple mixing, oscillating, and filtering control knobs, all of which are incredibly responsive.

The largest chunk of The Legend’s display is taken up by the Oscillator controls.

Basically, there are three separate Oscillators while each has its own set of fine-tuning controls, including 7 waveform presets, range-warping parameters, and semitone pitching.

The Filters section is relatively basic; it features Cutoff, Resonance, and Keytrack controls, all of which are pretty easy to use with a bit of trial and error.

Next up is the Filter Envelope, featuring four built-in effects that can massively alter your tracks; here you’ll be able to tweak Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release after you’re done shaping the waveforms and recording the initial tracks.

The Legend is not super-cheap, but luckily you’ll be able to download a free demo, which will allow you to familiarize yourself with its features and decide whether or not it is worth the money.

3. GForce MiniMonsta

The ‘MiniMonsta’ is true to its name only in regards to its relatively tiny features; this is a fully digital VST that comes packed with dozens of presets and built-in samples, as well as a fully customizable keyboard, all of which will definitely come in handy while experimenting with tracks regardless of your preferred music genre.

One of the biggest differences between MiniMonsta and other Moog VSTs we’ve covered so far is the fact that it has a digital mixer (instead of an analog one).

This means that it’s significantly more forgiving to beginners and intermediately skilled producers and mixers, as all you have to do is simply choose the samples you want to use from the massive built-in library.

The upper section of the MiniMonsta is also digital, and it features LFO, XADSR, and MIDI controls, again all of which are incredibly easy to use.

There are dozens of analog control knobs too; the Controllers, Oscillators, Mixing knobs, modifiers, output knobs, filters, and the overall settings are all analog and remarkably responsive.

In simple words, the MiniMonsta offers affordable means to spice up your Moog experience; it’s versatile enough to cater to the needs of seasoned veterans, but its most basic features are plain enough to be rewarding to beginners too.

4. Syntronik Instruments ‘Bully’

Our final pick is the ‘Bully’, which is a vehement juggernaut of a VST that can easily overpower most of its competition with dirt-cheap price, accessibility, and sheer simplicity.

Now, this is the first beginner-based VST for Moog on our list, and that does not necessarily mean that it’s not as versatile as its more feature-packed counterparts. 

Basically, this is a digital representation of a fully analog Moog mixer that features simplified FX, oscillators, filters, and volume controls.

This VST features two separate oscillators with Tune and De-tune controls; a relatively basic LFO with 5 built-in waveform samples, pitch, pan, and rate controls; an old-school loudness envelope section with Attack, Hold, Decay, Sustain, and Velocity faders, and lastly, one of the simplest Filter sections laden with a plethora of fader controls.

Although it does not feature a built-in keyboard, it’s supplied with a wonderful array of customization controls, sliders, and faders that more than make up for this little shortcoming.

All things considered, it’s twice as cheap in comparison to most popular VST plugins, and it’s certainly well worth the buck.

Conclusion

In all honesty, Moog is so iconic and authentic that most people don’t quite want to ‘defile’ it with VSTs.

However, we have your back covered for the other topic as well, so make sure to check out the Best VST Synths 2020 rundown. Stay safe!

Best Prime Day 2020 Music Promotion Deals

It’s (kind of) finally here- The shopping season is upon us and as always, retailers are starting off with a bang with amazon’s prime day.

Although pioneered by Amazon, several brands have joined in on the fun and have started offering up to 90% off their products.

And, as always, we’re here to guide you through the best deals and freebies

VST Plugins Prime Day Deals

Waves

As usual, Waves is running a series of crazy discounts. They are marketed as black Friday deals, though we’ll include them here are they are still on time for prime day.

We still consider their subscription to be one of the best deals out there, especially because it includes a free trial period of 1 month– more than enough to produce several award-winning tracks.

Scheps Omni Channel- 74% off (38.99$)

The Scheps Omni Channel gets its name from the brilliant Andrew Scheps- engineer to jay z, Adele, Metallica, and many others.

This channel strip is a staple of any modern producer, and it’s now 74% off!

Vocal Rider- 86% off (35.99$)

Vocal rider is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. It will adjust your vocals automatically with great results.

It’s at 86% off for a limited time.

Waves Tune Real Time- 82% off (35.99$)

If you run a studio or record vocals frequently, this is a must have VST. It allows singers to stay in tune in real time. It’s basically a magic box that makes anybody a great singer.

At this price, this is a great tool to just play around if you ever wondered how your voice would sound if recorded professionally.

There are a bunch more waves plugins heavily discounted at the waves website, these are only the ones that caught our attention, for a full list, click on the link below:

WAVES DEALS

Plugin Boutique

W.A Productions Back to School Bundle- 95% off (9.99$)

For the price of an expensive coffee, you’ll get WA Babylon, instascale and instachord.

It’s a no-brainer.

Soundspot Union & Expansions sale 90% off (16$)

IK Multimedia

Total Studio Max 2- 75% off (249.99$)

17 synths with over 2000 presets, 2 400 instruments, 34 effects, 39 high end audio processors, guitar amps, samples, and much more.

All this for 249.99$ (Down from 999$). What more can we say?

Sample Tank 4- 50% off (149.99$)

Included in Total Studio Max 2.

This is a huge sound library of over 260GB with a beautifully designed interface.

IK Multimedia is running a couple of other promotions, which you can check in the link below:

IK MULTIMEDIA

Musical Instruments

Amazon U.S Prime Day Music Deals

Amazon’s prime music deals are too many to list in one single post.

So feel free to browse headphones, musical instruments, and home audio using the link below:

AMAZON DEALS

Cheap Synthesizers for Beginners: What to Buy in 2020

Sound engineers, mixers, producers, and artists know that a cheap synthesizer wasn’t always an option.

High-quality sound engines used to be premium hardware for only the most dedicated and well-equipped studios.

Now, keyboards, modules, and even pocket-sized synthesizers can be purchased for a relatively low cost.

The size of the synthesizer, whether it’s analog or digital, the features it offers, and the reputation of its brand all play into which cheap synthesizer is the best for beginners.

Since not all beginners are the same, there may not be a one size synthesizer to fit all sound engineers.

That’s why we compiled this list of the 5 best cheap synthesizers for beginners, including their pros and cons and main features.

We also made a buying guide to help you compare the major features between not only these brands but also any that you may find on your own.

The best synthesizer is a combination of your needs with the value you can get on your budget. This list should help you narrow it down.

5 Best Cheap Synthesizers: Reviews

Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer

Arturia is an innovative company and this hybrid synthesizer is our top pick all around for beginners.

It’s not the cheapest synthesizer on this list or the most portable, but it has a balance of features and high-end technology that makes it a great pick in general.

This 25-key paraphonic synth has a modern aftertouch keyboard. The hybrid hardware features a ton of high-end options for mixing and producing, including a wavetable, digital oscillator, modulation matrix, and analog filters.

The touch plate offers an unconventional way to control compositions but the options for sound palettes and sonic templates are amazing for the price.

Among these modes are enough software options for any beginner to try out different things and get the feel for their new synth. These include Harmonic OSC, KarplusStrong, Texturer, and Superwave.

The Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer is versatile in both its hardware options and its sound output.

Real-time sequence creation, randomization, and an arpeggiator are just a few key options that let composers get an incredible range of sound out of this cheap synth, with enough variety to make it a perfect pick for beginners.

Pros

  • Expressive touch plate
  • Hybrid software options
  • Wavetable and digital oscillators
  • Analog filters
  • Small size

Cons

  • Touch sensitive keyboards aren’t for everyone
  • Factory presets are a bit outdated

Korg MS20 Mini Analog Synthesizer

We couldn’t do this list without an entry by the upscale synthesizer manufacturer, Korg.

However, you should know that this mini analog synthesizer is the priciest on this list, which is why it’s our premium option out of all the “cheap” synthesizers out there.

Beginners that want to come out of the gate with a big investment in their mixing or composing career should consider the Korg MS20 as the most expensive beginner’s synthesizer they should be looking at.

The Korg Mini Analog Synthesizer has self-oscillating high and low-pass filters with an external signal processor and flexible patching system.

It plugs in with a USB MIDI as well as a 5-pin MIDI. Those who are familiar with the Korg MS-20 should be familiar with its reputation – this is the same tech in a smaller package.

The same vibrant leads and resonant bases can be produced with the same premium features, including two VCFs, two VCAs, a noise generator, and more.

If you’re a beginner who knows they want to get into premium analog mixing and feel like you’ll shell out for a premium model eventually anyway, this Korg MS20 Mini is the cheapest of the high-end premium options from the company that makes it the best of the best.

Pros

  • Vibrant leads and resonant bases
  • Adaptable mixing technology, including two VCFs and two VCAs
  • Two ways to plug in
  • High and low-pass filters
  • Noise generator

Cons

  • Premium price for the cheap list

Roland TB-03 Bass Line Boutique Synthesizer

This cheaper version of a full-size Roland TB-303 Synthesizer features the same realistic recreation of the TB-303’s baseline features.

This portable version, however, features an LED display, MIDI control, overdrive and delay effects, fine tempo control, and other pattern creation modes.

Other than that, the Roland TB-03 Bass Line Boutique Synthesizer has the same sound and user interface as the original version, with hands-on control over parameters like resonance, envelope mode, cutoff, decay, and accent.

This synth is battery powered and can send its control information to a studio controller via a USB or MIDI port while also functioning as an audio interface.

With similar but smaller construction and the same features as the premium TB-303 synthesizer from Roland, this portable analog synthesizer should work perfectly for beginners.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • LED display
  • A variety of programmable effects and creation modes
  • Portability and multiple interfaces

Cons

  • The accent isn’t as good as the premium synth model

IK Multimedia UNO Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer

Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer from IK Multimedia has 2 oscillators and a multimode filter. It can be easily programmed with 100 presets and taken on the go anywhere.

It has a 2-octave multi-touch keyboard, which is ideal for a portable synth, and it comes with an arpeggiator and step sequencer.

The IK Multimedia UNO Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer can be used on the go or plugged into a computer sound station or MIDI keyboard in the studio. It can be battery or USB-powered as the need arises.

IK Multimedia is famous for its hands-on programmability and advanced synthesis features.

Multiple independent VCOs, different waveforms, real-time sequences, an editor app optimized for Mac, PC, and iOS, onboard presets, and a 2-pole multimode filter with band-pass filtering round at an inclusive package for a beginning sound designer.

Pros

  • 2-oscillator monophonic system
  • All-analog audio
  • Multi-mode filter
  • Arpeggiator and step sequencer
  • Intuitive touch keyboard

Cons

  • No lit buttons or display

STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer

For those looking for the cheapest and most completely portable synth out there, this Portable Analog Synthesizer from STYLOPHONE is a perfect pick.

It has two interfaces: a mini keyboard to play notes and a sound strip that can slide between pitches. Battery operated and with a built-in speaker, this synthesizer is the ultimate choice for portability.

It has an audio line out for headphones or speakers as well as a low pass filter, envelope effect, and LFO. It can be switched between octaves and modulated with a pulse width switch to create a chorus effect.

The STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer is a great portable secondary model for a professional or a budget pick with some great features for a beginner.

Stylophone is an iconic model and this cheap, portable version of its next-gen technology is a great starting point for anyone’s music design gig.

Pros

  • Rich sound with effects features
  • Portability
  • Internal speaker
  • Sub octaves
  • Two interfaces
  • Budget price

Cons

  • Stylus wire is too short

Best Cheap Synthesizers for Beginners: Buying Guide

In order to buy a synthesizer that’s perfect for your needs, you should compare the features you value and your personal budget against the models we listed.

They feature a range of prices and technology, so one of them is bound to be a good fit for beginners looking for cheap synthesizers.

Technology

Each synthesizer comes with different modes, presets, mixes, and features. We tried to summarize them for you in the individual product reviews.

Since you’re a beginner and don’t know exactly what you want, you should choose a synthesizer with a ton of presets and different manipulation modes.

Being able to freely control the music mode and the mix is essential when you don’t know exactly what you’re buying.

We chose respected brands so you would have a pick of well-built technology with different wavetables, digital oscillation, modulation matrices, and analog filters.

Interface

The interface factors into the technology but should be its own separate concern for beginners. Some synthesizers have a touchpad keyboard and others have a regular keyboard.

Some feature two full octaves and others switch between them. Since the interface will allow you to mix and design music, your creative flow depends on an intuitive setup.

We listed good options for either interface in this article, but since you can’t get both, you may just have to guess what you will prefer.

The ability to plug into a studio computer or external speakers also makes a difference in terms of the interface, and thankfully that’s much easier to plan for just by looking at the specs.

Construction

You want a sturdy synthesizer, especially if you plan on making it portable. The size of the device factors into the kind of work you hope to do, whether you plan on mixing with headphones on a car or plane ride or prefer to keep the synth at a workstation in a studio.

We put options on this list for both preferences so that no matter where you plan on using this synthesizer, it will work for you so long as you keep this criterion in mind.

Construction and portability also factor into the power source. Some synthesizers are battery-powered and some can run on USB power, which makes a difference if you want to take it on the go.

Some are pocket-sized and some are full keyboards: it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Analog vs Digital

Digital synthesizers have some advantages of technology and can be hybrid devices, like our top pick, the Arturio MicroFreak.

In general, digital synths have more complicated interfaces, more advanced displays, and lit keys.

This isn’t the general recommendation for beginners since they can be more complicated to operate and can run more expensive.

We recommend saving on cost and on headaches with the interface to opt for analog synths or hybrid models.

For those that aren’t positive what they’re doing, analog synths should prove more efficient.

Cost

The cost range on this list is large: from less than a hundred dollars to over five hundred.

We did this so you could find something for your needs no matter your budget, whether it’s a cheaper pocket synthesizer or a full studio-ready model with displays and all the bells and whistles of hybrid analog and digital technology.

The Takeaway

A synthesizer is an indispensable piece of equipment for a budding sound designer, producer, mixer, or composer.

These machines can run into the thousands of dollars, however, and beginners need cheap options so they can make a name for themselves and maybe buy the big stuff later.

This list of 5 options offers any beginner the chance to add quality sound equipment to their studio without breaking the bank.

Some are more budget-friendly than others, but we tried to give you a heads up on where each one fits into the market spectrum and the features they offer.

For many beginners that don’t know which features they need yet, prioritizing a good interface and a ton of modes could be the best bet.

That’s why we chose the Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer as our best overall pick for cheap synthesizers for beginners to buy in 2020.

Its after-touch keyboard is slick and modern while its hybrid hardware offers a ton of premium features at a mid-low budget range. These include a wave-table, digital oscillation, modulation matrix, and analog filters.

Once you’ve discovered which features are important to you, you may be able to shell out for a more premium synthesizer.

Until then, use these budget options to find your feet, gauge how much optimization you need, and get your audio mixing, composing, or designing career off the ground.

The BEST Online Music Production Masterclass Course [2021]

Investing in an online music production “masterclass” course is one of the best decisions you will make this year.

This might seem like a bold statement, specially for those of you who have previously tried free courses or dabble around some youtube videos on production, but it’s the truth: Knowledge is more important than any piece of gear in your studio. Furthermore, enrolling in one of the below courses is nothing like doing a free course or watching youtube videos.

These online music production masterclass courses allow you to follow a tried and tested structure devised by top producers and engineers, plus incentivises you to follow through, as you have money invested.

Anyways, if you’re looking for a summarized version of this article, check out the below table with our favorite online music production courses, including our very own choice for the best online music production course. And if you are also looking for a music production laptop, we have a comparrison and test article with the top models here.

Note: if you are on a mobile device, scroll left and right in the table to see all the entries, and up and down in the cells to see all the content.

Summarizing Table

Course Name Cost Duration Main Focus Our Rating
Editor’s Choice – Best Value
Groove3
Starts at under 50$
– Over 20 000 hours of video,
– Over 20 books.
– Workflow,
– Plug-Ins + DAWs,
– Recording,
– Production,
– Mixing + Mastering.
9.5/10
Deadmau5 Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total
– 6 hours of video,
– Assignments
– Electronic Music Production,
– Synths,
– Music Business,
– Mixing and Mastering,
– Workflow.
9.3/10
Hans Zimmer Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 4.5 hours of video – Film Scoring,
– Soundscapes,
– Composing,
– Industry, and More.
8.7/10
Timbaland Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 3 hours of video – Hip-hop Production,
– Beat Making,
– Inspiration and Workflow,
– Industry and Motivation.
8.5/10
Point Blank Music School Online
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– Huge subject diversity
– Mixing/Mastering
– Dj
– Music Business
9.6/10
Udemy Music Production Courses
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 38 hours of video
– each DAW has it’s own course
– other specific topics have dedicated courses
9/10
EQ Fundamentals
Under 50$
CHECK PRICE
– 2.5 hours of video,
– PDRs,
– Assignments
– EQ,
– Mixing + Mastering,
– All Musical Genres
9.2/10
Berklee Online- Electronic Music Production
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 16 weeks – Electronic Music Production,
– Vocal Recording,
– Ableton Live.
9.3/10

Groove3 Online Music Production Course Review – Editor’s Choice

  • Music style: All
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: Over 20 000 hours of video + over 20 books. 1 077 Courses 17 979 Individual Tutorials.
  • Main DAW used: All DAWs available.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
  • Certificate upon completion: No

PROS:

  1. High quality of content
  2. Content available on all formats and platforms: Video, books, Desktop, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku.
  3. Very affordable on a month-to-month basis
  4. High quality instructors
  5. Most comprehensive library of learning resources

CONS:

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Can be overwhelming

We’ll start with our favorite online music production course: Groove3. What an absolute gold mine of music production knowledge.

If you watched all of groove3’s videos back-to-back you’d take over 2 years to finish, probably much more, given that they update the content regularly.

There’s tutorials on all topics you can image, including all DAWs, Plugins, and musical styles. If you search around the forums, it’s often mentioned as a student favorite, along with some of the masterclass courses we’ll review below.

When it comes to price, an all-access pass costs only 89$, with b&hphoto. This represents without a doubt the best value of all courses.

We’ve found this to be a great way to stay focused for idle studio time. Simply browse around their website, find an interesting video, watch it, then apply it to your current project.

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Deadmau5 Masterclass Review

The first course we’ve had a chance to review is Deadmau5’s Masterclass Course.

  • Music style: EDM / Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 6 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.3/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate upon completion: No

Pros:

  1. Very entertaining, huge production value. Very easy to follow through with the teachings.
  2. Very well-rounded. All major topics are discussed (mastering, mixing, synths, drums, music business, live performance, and more).
  3. Composed of videos, assignments, and discussions.
  4. Great community if you’re willing to engage.

Cons:

  1. This 6 hour course will set you back 90$. It’s not a cheap course by any means, but we found the cost/quality relation to be quite good.
  2. It’s a short course. It could benefit from going more in-depth into certain topics.

Course Structure

The course has 23 lessons, all delivered through video classes. It also has assignments and discussions.

The classes touch upon the following topics:

  • The Deadmau5 Production Process
  • Building Your Home Studio
  • Melodic Structures
  • Arrangements
  • Synthesized Sounds
  • Modular Synths
  • Digital Vs. Analog Synths
  • Sound Design with Effects And Processing
  • Drums / Beats
  • Song Structure
  • Remixed
  • Mixing
  • Mastering (includes case study)
  • Starting a Career
  • Music Business
  • On Stage Performance

Our Thoughts

Overall, this is a solid and very well rounded online music production masterclass course. It won’t hold your hand and automatically offer you a career in audio engineering or music production, but if you follow through with all the tips shared, your chances of making it will increase exponentially.

Furthermore, if you take your time to network and reach out to the community, you’ll likely make some useful connections out of this online music production masterclass course.

This is a great course for anyone looking for a well-balanced course on electronic / pop / hip-hop / digital music production, with no specific focus on any are of the music production process, but rather a wholistic approach. It gives you a framework, the one used by deadmau5, to produce a song. It is not a case study, i.e- it won’t show you how deadmau5 produces a song from scratch, but it will show you every single step of the process. We recommend deadmau5’s online music production masterclass course to people that are starting out and want something a bit lighter (shorter) and more fun.

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Hans Zimmer Masterclass Review

Up next is Hans Zimmer’s online music production masterclass course.

  • Music style: Film Scoring / Soundtrack / Sound Design
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 4.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: N/A.
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure

  • Themes
  • Story
  • Directors
  • Sound Palettes
  • Creating with Synths
  • Scoring to Picture
  • Scoring Under Dialogue
  • Tempo
  • Music Diary
  • Character
  • Case Study: Frost/Nixon
  • Working With Musicians
  • Feedback & Revisions
  • Audience Feedback
  • Writing Tips
  • Hans’ Journey
  • Learning by Listening
  • Life of a Composer
  • Closing

Our Thoughts

This is a very interesting course. The simple fact that you get to hear Hans Zimmer talk on the first person about stuff that he has never revealed on interviews is worth the cost of the program.

However, we found the structure a bit random.

Unlike deadmau5’s course, this program kind of jumped around topics, with one class being solely about Hans’ career and progression in the industry. To be honest, if we wanted to learn about that, we could just check one of the hundreds of interviews that he’s given.

Having said that, there are loads of golden nuggets there about his process, inspiration, and process. It is packed loads of synthesiser tips as well as general aesthetic in sound design.

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Timbaland Masterclass Review

To finish off our selection of Masterclass courses, we’ll have a look at Timbaland’s online music production course.

  • Music style: Hip-Hop / Pop
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 3.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
  • Building Beats: Tim’s Process
  • Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
  • Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
  • Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
  • Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
  • Song Origins: “Pony”
  • Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
  • Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
  • Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
  • Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
  • Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
  • Tim’s Influences
  • How to Persevere

Our Thoughts

We found this masterclass to be the least technical of all online muic production masterclass courses reviewed. Perhaps on purpose, as Timbaland’s production process seems to be based a lot around feeling, leaning on his team to fill in the more technical gaps.

We still found it very useful and inspiring, with some pretty straight forward but useful tips such as thinking about drums through beatbox.

His team of “co-producers” also share some gems on drums layering, chord progression and more.

If you’re a hip hop head, you’ll love this course. You’ll learn about how Timba produced hits for Missy Elliot, Jay-z, and others, as well as some inspiring tips on how to succeed in the industry. If you’re not a hip hop nerd, then you might find it not that inspiring. Though we still recommend purchasing it as part of the masterclass bundle of classes.

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Point Blank Music School Online

Point Blank is an well established English music school, which has opened it’s expertise to the online sector. The sheer diversity of courses that they offer, including Music Business courses, is practically unmatched. This Online Music Production Masterclass Course set is both formal and fun.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Medium-high
  • Duration: Depends on the subject of choice.
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate-High

The “Online” courses of Point Blank Music School are actual real-time/live lecture by teachers, customised to you as a student. You get to ask questions and interact with your teacher via webcam. Each course thus has it’s own structure.

Our thoughts:

So this is clearly something different. Theere are no pre-recorded sessions, like the others. This would also explain the high price point compared to the others. As a drawback, their online music production courses are not instant, you have to enroll like you would to a school. Only that the school location is your home, if you cannot access the offline schools Point Blank Music School has running in London, L.A., Mumbai, Ibiza and China.

We feel like this product is for the more advanced music production, since asking questions is key here.

If you feel like you have run out of material to study on your own and feel like it’s time to get 1:1 with a teacher who can guide you further then look no further and click the button below to access the Point Blank Music School website.

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Producertech EQ Fundamentals Review

Producertech is a well established music course provider. It was founded in 2009 by Rob Jones. Of all their online music production courses, EQ fundamentals is one of our favourites. Here’s why:

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 2.5 hours of video + assignments +
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Introduction to Frequencies
  • EQ Controls 
  • EQ in Isolation
  • Frequency Demo #3 – Combining the Piano and Sine Wave 
  • The Frequency Spectrum Explained
  • EQ with respect to other parts
  • EQ’ing Drums 
  • Common EQ Practices
  • EQ’ing Kick and Bass
  • EQ on the Master Channel
  • EQ In The Mix

Our thoughts:

This course is, in our opinion, a must do for all aspiring producers. Having a solid grasp of EQ can be the difference between an amateur sounding song and a commercial grade end product.

Producertech’s EQ Fundamentals online music production masterclass course will give you the foundation you need to make clean sounding mixed, at a very accessible cost (25$).

It doesn’t have a rock star teacher or cover 10 different topics, but that is, in our opinion, a strength. There is no magic pill that will make you a successful musician. Instead, the path to success is continued investment in small courses on different topics. This laser focused course will give you a very complete foundation on one of the most important skills in the game: EQing.

It also comes with the EXPOSE software, which allows you to “test” your final mix for any potential issues. We were positively surprised by the production quality of the course. Here’s a sample video from the course:

There is a special focus on bass and kick mixing, thus making it slightly more relevant to electronic, hip-hop, and pop producers, though it really suits any kind of music style.

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Berklee Online Review- Electronic Music Production

Berklee is one of the most famous music schools in the world. This institution is a pioneer in online music production courses, having started in 2002! They still are an industry leader and offer the most formal type of education you’ll find in this list.

  • Music style: Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Moderate
  • Duration: Around 6 months (4 hours / week recommended)
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
  • Certificate upon completion: Yes

Course Structure:

  • The Technology of Music Production
  • Introduction to Ableton Live
  • Creating Sounds for Electronic Music
  • The Art of Vocal Production

Our Thoughts:

This is a solid course for students looking for a serious commitment and some degree of credibility. It teaches all the theoretic background + gives you a solid foundation in ableton production and recording / mastering vocals.

If you’re looking for some credibility in the industry, the Beerklee is something to stick in your CV that can also teach you some good theory.

However, there are more advanced and complete courses in this list in terms of knowledge.

Finally, one of the main advantages is that coursera offers financial aid to certain students.

All in all, it is pretty inexpensive, at 39$/month, and if you’re feeling motivated, you can knock it off in a couple of months, getting a “mini” degree for a very affordable price.

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Udemy Music Production Courses review

Next up, we have a couple of udemy courses. We’ll start with probably the most popular music course in the platform, “Music Production in Logic Pro X”.

Udemy has a lot of online music production course programs on it’s website, they mostly have a similar structure to the Logic X one which is our reference.

This course was developed by Digital Music Masters, a well established music school.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 38 hours of video + articles and resources
  • Main DAW used: Logic Pro X
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Our Thoughts

This is mostly for those more advanced. What we like is that you can just pay for one “topic” and not buy the whole online music production masterclass course package like with the others. You just get to Udemy, shop for what you want to know and that’s it.

These courses are mostly focused on daw workflows, with some specific items covering hardware gear like the Maschine and others focusing on specific sub-genres like music for games. All in all we think it is good product if you just want to fill some specific empty spaces in your skill arsenal.

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Final Thoughts

We hope that the above suggestions help you kickstart your music production career/hobby.

This article is in constant update as we try new courses, so if you have any recommendations, please post them below in the comments section!

Get Voltage Modular FREE

Until the end of August Cherry Audio offer their Voltage Modular plugin Nucleus edition for free.

Voltage Modular is a VST plugin that emulates modular systems (like Eurorack, Buchla etc). Unlike Softube Modular it doesn’t offer 1:1 emulation of real modules but comes with a handy collection of 20+ modules that cover basic synthesis needs. Collection of modules can be expanded with a Cherry Audio store that have 300+ modules built by Cherry Audio and third party developers.

Get VoltageModular Nucleus Edition FREE

Mutable Instruments modules ported to iOS as free AUv3 plugins

I can’t say how happy I am with these news. 

Mutable Instruments is known for its Eurorack modules that always had open source code. Before Today it was ported to VCV rack, Softube Modular and partially to Reaktor Blocks (you can find MU inspired modules in Euroreakt). And now it is available as AUv3 for iOS

[appstore id=1467384251]

[asa_item id=”1467384251″]

Floats – Make Noise Maths emulation for VCV Rack

A new module for VCV rack – Floats is a Make Noise Maths emulation. Unlike most of VCV modules this module is not free and costs $35

Floats is a module that can become anything with creative patching, but its three main uses are as an envelope, LFO, and audio rate oscillator. As an audio rate oscillator, Floats is antialiased through the whole audio range resulting in a stable and warm timbre.

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As an LFO, Floats can reach times as low as 8.5 hours per cycle! Floats can also be used as a mixer, logic comparator, clock source, envelope follower, low pass gate, complex oscillator, and gate delay. Those and many other uses are covered in the online manual.

Floats also fixes the common complaints musicians have with West Coast slope generators. Floats has a snappy attack time of less than 1 millisecond when the maximum fall time is set to 30 minutes while other slope generators have sluggish attack times with fall times set to 60 seconds. The shape knob only changes the shape of the oscillation, and not the rate of the oscillation. The exponential input tracks V/OCT perfectly over a 20 octave range from -10 Volts to 10 Volts

You can purchase Floats here for $35

See also:

3 best sounding Eurorack emulations

7 Best Modular/Eurorack Emulator Plugins

Modular synths and eurorack systems are a nifty piece of hardware. They allow you to build a system, adding or taking out as many different modules as you want.

However, these aren’t accessible to everyone. They are expensive and require some technical skills.

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With that in mind, here are the best 3 software alternatives to these systems.

Softube Modular

Softube Modular is the only official software that emulate modules by Doepfer, Intellijel, Buchla, 4ms and Mutable Instuments.

I have compared several times Softube with tue real Eurorack modules and it is really hard to notice the difference.

Doepfer modules sound incredibly close to its hardware analogs. Buchla 291e oscillator is probably one of the best sounding software oscillators. 4ms SMR, Mutable Instruments Braids, Rings and Clouds – all those modules sound very similar even if you do audio rate emulations.

The only downside is the CPU load. Once you have added lots of modules and do complex modulations it becomes CPU heavy.

To get an idea of how the interface looks like, check out the video below:

It is by far the best sounding modular emulation.

Get Softube Modular

Voltage Modular

Voltage Modular is a pretty new fast growing platform. Even though analog emulation doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube Modular, the power of this platform is an open API for modules.

Other developers have the ability to develop their own modules and sell it via modules marketplace.

The most interesting thing here is a set of 30 PSPaudioware modules. PSP is a well known company in VST world.

And we already have seen them porting their plugins to rising platforms like Auria for iPad. This time they made a re-engineering their plugins and made their famous effects to be available as modules. And they’ve added some cool new modules to the collection.

Get Voltage Modular

Voltage modular vs Softube

After utilizing extensively both voltage and softube, it is my opinion that softube is the superior eurorack/modular emulator.

Voltage has the key advantage of having an api, thus offering a wide selection of modules, but in terms of sound quality and closeness to the original hardware versions, softube takes the prize.

Get Softube Modular

u-he Bazille

u-he has an amazing track record on recreating best analog synth in software.

U-he Bazille is not an attempt to emulate Eurorack but rather 5u modular systems that are famous for its fat analog sound. Want it in software? Give Bazille a try!

Get u-He Bazille

Other Options

While this article was focused on best-sounding emulations, it is hard to miss several other options.

VCVRack – became a huge platform where tens of developers are releasing their new modules weekly. Most of the modules are free.

Though there are several problems with VCV:

– it doesn’t sound as good as plugins mentioned before

– it is still unstable – you can have sudden CPU spikes and even crashes

– it is not a plugin but standalone software, that you can integrate in your DAW with a VST adaptor

NI Reaktor Blocks – another great platform with hundreds of free modules. Again, it doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube or u-He. But it has few modules that are getting pretty close. And of course, Reaktor is a must-have for any music producer.

Reason Complex-1. Propellerhead Reason by its nature is a modular environment and probably first software that brought an idea of CV modulations in software. Complex-1 is their recent synth designed around Buchla-style synthesis. It doesn’t sound like Buchla but it still sounds good and workflow is amazing – you can get cool sound pretty fast, modulate it with the sound from other Reason devices and combine with other Reason synths.

Arturia Buchla Easel – I had a chance to play with two different Easels but Arturia doesn’t sound close to that. Though its user interface and workflow is amazing. You can say same thing with their emulation of Moog modular system.