Best portable electronic music studio gear – for production and live acts [2022]

Hello and welcome to our round-up of the best portable music studio gear in 2022, for producing electronic music on the go and also for live music shows. This list is by all means non-final, and will get updated when the market provides us studio-heads with more options. So if you want to go on the road, you found a nice spot that gives you inspiration or even if you don’t have a permanent place to stay, this one is for you.

Below you will find only the greatest portable music production equipment, we bring you the best of the best and the second offer, so don’t expect an all inclusive 15-item list, just our own selection.

Best portable electronic music studio mixer: 1010music blue box (very) compact studio mixer

This one is a no-brainer basically. It is the most compact portable digital audio mixer in existence, and had a very good reception when it was introduced back in 2019. While the 1010music blackbox studio – compact sampling and mixing device does not have the hands on control of a traditional mixer, it packs in all the features.

1010music bluebox provides 6 stereo 3.5 mm TRS inputs. Of course you are not going to get your studio-grade 16, 24 or 32 input mixing console, but if you are travelling, you will not be doing so with your full collection of synths to actually plug in to 24 audio channels. Yes you cannot do the smooth fader movements, often 3-4 at one time, but again going portable is all about compromises.

So yes, there is menu-diving and yes you rely on a touch screen for most of your work with this, but the size in unbeatable and the price is extremely good too. You can record everything on one or more micro-sd cards which is also a very nice feature as it can completely remove your laptop from your portable setup if this is what you want. If you are travelling on a plane and you are limited in weight of your luggage, it is excellent.

It also has two outputs plus headphones, so there is the option to have some outboard processing as well, as it has the option to create bus style routing. Overall, it can be the centre of you portable music studio or live act setup as it also comes equipped with MIDI I/O, a four-band EQ for each channel,

The Bluebox mixer supports USB power so it most definitely can run off an USB power bank, just make sure you get a name-brand one as the cheaper alternatives are not that stable and may end up frying your gear or just cutting the power without saving your work.

For live acts, it might not be the best weapon that you have as it lacks tactile speed of a normal mixing board. This one is more of a set-and-forget device, so you have to be aware of it’s shortcomings.

You can buy the 1010music bluebox mixer on Amazon right here.

You can also check out second hand options for the 1010music bluebox mixer on Reverb by clicking here.

Yamaha MG06x 6-Input Compact Stereo Mixer with Effects

This portable music studio mixer is more for the old-school types that want to have a more hands on approach, and prefer to trade off some space for this (obviously). This Yamaha mixer does not have a screen, but it does have two microphone XLR connections with phantom power, plus two stereo/four mono inputs. It does not have the ability to record on external media, but it offers a metal rugged chassis and you can just use what recording device you can get including a sound card and a laptop; maybe take them from your fixed studio?

Yes while it has it’s drawbacks, it still boosts an extra compact layout and has some rather good built-in effects, two sets of (identical) outputs, phone outputs and high pass filter option on the inputs (to filter out the low 80hz frequencies). While 1010music are a newcomer to the game, Yamaha has been building studio gear for a long time, and knows its way around mixing equipment.

The inputs of the Yamaha MG06x are studio grade and other than the effects, the sound processing is fully analog. It is also good for the money you pay for it, and weight in at just about 2 pounds, it will fit into your bag without problems. Just don’t expect to run this thing off batteries, it will only work with mains level power.

You can buy the Yamaha MG06x 6-input portable music studio mixer on Amazon right here.

You can also check out second hand options for the Yamaha mixer on Reverb by clicking here.

Best portable electronic music studio sampler: 1010music black box (very) compact sampling studio

Again a piece of studio gear from 1010music, who specialises in very portable equipment. The blackbox is a very interesting sampler with extra features. It has a touchscreen that is both bright and generous (given the full unit size).

Again, the purpose is mostly to replace your computer as it features an arranger and song builder completely out of your samples, but you can also use it to capture performances on your $20.000+ synths that never leave the studio and just jam with what you recorded when out and about.

For that purpose it gets the job done with a bit of creativity to spare thanks to the internal effects and presets.. The 1010music blackbox also supports an SD card like the blue box and takes in both mono and stereo samples at 16, 24 and even 32bit. It has a 24 bit DAC so your recordings from the analog world will sound best.

Just like the Bluebox portable music studio mixer, the Blackbox sampler can run off an USB power bank, just make sure you get a good one that provides a stable voltage.

As i/o connectivity goes, you can put one stereo channel in and get three stereo channels out but don’t forget that you can internally mix these analog signals with the samples that are run internally (16 channels). It also supports 16-note polyphony and USB and TRS midi (you will need an adapter if you want to MIDI interface with other traditional 5-pin sockets).

So this portable music studio piece of equipment seems to tick all the boxes, but what it does not have is hands on approach. So while it is good for production, in a live show you might not really want this as it takes a bit of time to do significant changes to your sound and also because of the touchscreen interface, the control might be a bit wonky.

Still we think it has it’s place arround gear-heads and you can buy the 1010music Blackbox sampling studio it by clicking here.

Elektron Model:Samples portable music studio sampler

While the previous sampler is considered by us the best, this is mostly because of the portability factor and also because most people use samplers more as sample players, and just changing the sample recorded from time to time without serious editing in real time.

However, for those that want more control and are willing to sacrifice a bit of portability, there is the Elektron Model:Samples.

Yes we are huge Elektron fans here at idesignsound. These Swedish guys nailed it with their grooveboxes, their workflow is fun and their specialty is flexibility. With the exception of the mixer and effect category, Elektron are present with offerings on all portable music studio gear types presented in this article

The Elektron Model:Samples is considered a very entry-level way of getting familiar with the way that this company handles it’s workflow. Everyone will tell you that they have a bit of a learning curve and that they see things a bit differently. Some will even say that they tend to make user experiences that are overly complex, even for the most trivial of tasks. But we tend to disagree, as all things that they do, they do for flexibility and power.

It is clear to us that with the Model:Samples they tried a bit of simplification. They offer a lot of one-function-per-knob controls which is very rare these days, especially in compact gear. They seem to create a lot of space between these knobs so they are perfectly suited for live performances where you don’t really get great lighting and you may twist the wrong knob if the controls are very close to each other.

The features are great on this product, and we would like to firstly point out the sequencer. Yes, Elektron have probably the best and most powerful sequencing options in the game and have made this their most important trademark. You can record live, you can program changes of parameters in each step, you can have odd sequencing times and you can have probabilities and micro-timing settings too. This is basically standard for this company, and the Model:Samples makes no exception. Then, you have the six velocity sensitive pads to get finger drumming, the retrigger and the stereo effects, all very useful.

While the sampling and sound engine is limited, this is to be expected as the company offers more products with a higher price tag and better sampling features. Let’s remember that this is an entry level product and that sampling is mostly just sample playback.

You can buy the Elektron Model:Samples portable music studio sampler from Reverb by clicking on this link.

Best portable electronic music studio polyphonic synth: Elektron Analog4

Ok, now we get deep and dirty with the Elektron offerings. While the previous product we discussed, the Model:Samples was considered an over-simplification, the Analog4 ticks all the boxes of the Elektron not-so-beginner-friendly way. The Analog4 is an excellent sounding and extremely versatile synth. Most people swear by it in every live show, although some consider the oscillators and sound engine to be a little thin. We personally disagree, and we have alywas enjoyed the sound that you can get with an Analog4.

This is mostly because of the complex modulation routings possible with it (basically you can modulate every parameters of the synth) and the waveshaping possibilities (all oscillator wave types can have the pulse wave modulated). There is a very interesting trapezoid wave type, there is partial oscillator sync, there are a lot of envelope shapes to choose from and there is AM. The new MK2 version of the Elektron Analog4 has a redesigned outer shell, it looks very pretty but if you want extreme compactness, you should look for a used MK1 as they have the classic rectangle groovebox shape profile.

The 4 in Analog4 stands for the separate synth channels that this thing can output. This is called multi-timbrality. What this means is that while you are buying one single unit, it is capable of creating four individual and distinct sounds that can have their own sequences and their own modulations (albeit these four distinct channels will be monophonic meaning you can only play one note at a time)

If you don’y want four mono channels but actually need some polyphony, this thing can switch to four-note polyphonic play (so you can do chords with it). The voice routing is extremely flexible and you can have eveything in between (two mono channels, one 2-note poly) including four note unison.

The sequencer on the Analog4 is state of the art, with every possible creative trick at your disposal. There is a lot spoken about the Elektron sequencer, it being an entire subject on its own, so it is important that you actually research this if you plan on buying this product. What is important to say si that with the most recent patches applied, you can even send the sequencer notes via MIDI to other gear and have the Analog4 as a midi brain, sending notes to the other compact equipment that does not have a means of inputting notes.

There are three stereo effects on board this beast, and there are also two audio inputs so you can use these effects for your other sound generators. The delay shines and you can sync it via MIDI too. Speaking of audio inputs, the Analog4 can even work as a sound card via USB, getting two mono channels of sound in your computer or getting two mono channels of sound from your computer in the analog realm. The converters on this are 48khz-24bit.

You can buy the Elektron Analog4 MK2 from this link as new on Amazon.

You can also check the Analog4 MK2 as second hand on Reverb by clicking here.

Last but not least, you can also try the older Elektron Analog4 MK1 as it is cheaper and somewhat similar. You can explore Reverb options for the MK1 by clicking here.

Oh, and if the Analog4 is up to your taste but not your budget, you can also check the Elektron Digitone – not analog, more compact, more cheap. We will write a review soon!

Moog Minitaur portable monophonic synth

So for those of you that were a bit intimidated by the Analog 4, there is a much more streamlined option: the Moog Minitaur.

Sure, the first thing you will loose is features like a sequencer, polyphony, midi output, sound card features, modulation matrix, pulse width modulation, FM/AM modulation. Now that we got that out of our heads, the Minitaur is the easy way into the Moog Sound. And boy what a sound that is. if you are into bass-heavy music, you can’t go wrong with it. They even call it a “bass” synthesiser, but that is mostly because of the limited feature set.

What you actually get is a two oscillator one lfo synth. The wave shapes are limited; pulse or triangle and there is no way of modulating anything other than the pitch and filter. You do get two ADR/ADS envelopes, glide/portamento and an audio in for either plugging in external gear through the filter and envelopes or (more commonly) creating a feedback loop to thicken the sound.

Although by using a computer and the control VST you will get some added features including a preset management library, in a portable setup that can or can not be achieved. It all depends if you use a computer or not.

Although the computer brings in more flexibility (and midi – USB), we still think that the Minitaur is made to be tweaked-upon. The sound is lush and the filter is what you expect from a Moog.

You can buy the Moog Minitaur on Reverb by clicking here.

Other portable synth mentions

There are some new Synth offerings from 1010music that we covered separately in individual reviews:

1010music fireball – wavetable synth – read our review by clicking here

1010music lemondrop – granular synth – read our review by clicking here

Best portable electronic music studio drum machine: Elektron Analog Rytm

As we said, we are big Elektron fans. Elektron Analog Rytm MK2 is made to be paired with the Analog4 and is Elektron’s take on drum machine, and also a successor to the highly sought-after digital drum machine from the previous generation: the Elektron Machinedrum.

What you get with the Analog Rytm is: basically everything.

You want to do finger drumming like on the MPC – you got it!

You want to use samples – you got it!

You want analog drums – you got it!

You want to modulate as much as possible – you got it!

You want to control other gear with the sequencer and midi – you got it!

You want to output individual tracks – you got it!

You want to process external sounds in each of the total eight tracks – you got it!

Coming it with it’s distinctive sequecing power, individual step settings (p-locks) and all the workflow improvements that this company is known for, the Analog Rytm is an eight-track monster packed in a very compact format.

The sounds it’s analog engine make are world class, you can hear it in most modern productions and if you still don’t like them, you can switch to your own samples without issues. You can even mix both in a single drum kit.

Drum machines are, in our honest oppinion more simpler than synths, so there is not much we can cover about them, the sounds you can either love or hate but the workflow, once you get used to it, will raise your standards for life.

You can buy the Elektron Analog Rytm MK2 here.

You can also check the Analog Rytm MK2 as second hand on Reverb by clicking here.

Last but not least, you can also try the older Elektron Analog Rytm MK1 as it is cheaper and somewhat similar. You can explore Reverb options for the MK1 by clicking here.

If you would rather have something even more compact and more affordable than the Rytm, while still keeping true to the Elektron workflow, you should check out the Elektron Digitakt.

MFB-522 portable drum machine

Yes this is a classic and yes this is discontinued for a long time. Yes this is an 808-clone. But it is by far one of the most compact drum machines ever.

While really very simple and very hard to use, especially if you have big fingers, we still felt the need to mention this tiny piece of 100% analog gear. We just love it.

Yes we love it’s weight and it’s color scheme. We love that it has four outputs given it’s size and that you can really get some punchy sounds out of it. The hi-hats choke, and the kick bounces.

Just throw it in your bag, purse or even your pocket (this thing is tiny) for some instant 808.

What we don’t like is the sequencer. You really should not fiddle with the 522 during a live show, but for a portable music studio you really can’t go wrong.

You can find the 522 on the used market, however in recent times it’s becoming a rare sighting. You can check Reverb by clicking here.

Portable Music Studio Gear: Honorable Mentions

Here we will put other compact studio gear with some notes, they are good just not the go-to for us so they did not have their own article sub-section.

Conclusion

While the portalble music studio equipment landscape is as dynamic as ever, nothing will be able to replace the laptop or even an eurorack modular setup in terms of flexibility. This is why we did not bother to go into effects, because these tend to be one trick ponies and it’s a good idea to actually add effects in the digital realm. We have a great article about using analog effects right here, if you are interested. Most hardware effect units are actually digital inside so the whole analog vs digital battle does not apply to them. There is also something magic when you max in the digital realm and use a laptop, or max the opposite, analog spectrum and get a very multipurpose eurorack module selection. These are maximums for compactness that also allow you maximum flexibility and the most efficient storage space management possible.

While we did make a point into not discussing these two tools – modular and laptops, having a portable music studio for both production and live performances is extremely fun and inspiring. Just breathe in that fresh mountain air and sport a nice solar panel to recharge your batteries (you should have multiple packs of them), while you make your own flavour of music and soak all the inspiration that the outdoors can provide!

Conductive Labs NDLR – opinion and ideas

So we have had this excellent Conductive Labs NDLR sequencer, or how we like to call it: the midi “brain” for quite some time now. And boy what a brain this is.

We have been comparing it a lot to the Torso T-1 sequencer (review coming very soon). It is different but not quite that different. As loopop said in it’s video, the NDLR is quite unique. Traditional sequencers allow you to input notes fast on a grid type structure. In turn, they allow you to listed to the idea that you have laid down pretty fast, and judge A. it’s own musical qualities and specifics and B. how it sits along with the rest of your tracks. Thus, sequencers are a very powerful creative tool, most of us techno and minimal heads consider them the centre of our creative process (mostly because we can’t be bother to take the proper time to learn to play keys properly).

Traditional sequencers vary in complexity and flexibility, from the very primitive ones that can be found in groove-boxes (like the old Roland drum machines and Korg volca line) to very sophisticated ones that can allow you to program velocity, note length, probability and all the other parameters that can be tweaked on that specific piece of gear (think Elektron with it’s parameter locks). At the top of the line of traditional, note-input sequencers is the Cirklon, which is a dedicated step sequencer that can do all kinds of fast, creative tweaks and has a great workflow that most producers swear by. Let’s not forget software, basically all DAWs have a sequencer, be it direct like fruity loops or a piano roll (which is a two-dimensional sequencer, with time and pitch in the same screen). Also, pad-style instruments like the Ableton Push and Novation Launchpad can be configred so that the pads work as a sequencer.

Conductive Labs NDLR: a non-traditional midi sequencer

Now, let’s move it up a bit. We talked about the traditional sequencer, what they all have in common is that they always start with a blank slate, a noteless sequence of 16 steps (usually). You place notes there in the order and pitch that you desire and you can instantly hear how that ‘sequence’ sounds. You can ajust the notes and hear changes, so you immediately get a feel for where you want to take the melody of drum tracks of your music.

Non-traditional sequencers differ because you usually input the ideas and the midi hardware takes care of the notes. For the NDLR, you input the key, the degree and if we are talking about chords, the type of chord that you want and it spits the notes on it’s own. There is swing of course (called “Humanization”) and there is velocity. For monophonic melodies, there are two aspects that contribute the most to your notes: the patter and the rhythm.

Conductive Labs NDLR: Motifs

So the way sequencers work is that they create a rhythmic pattern for your sound generators. With the NDLR midi sequencer you get two dimensions to control this: pattern and rhythm. The pattern controls the notes, or pitch of each step in the sequence. There are three types of patterns: scale, chord and chromatic. The values that each pattern step takes indicates the note in an imaginary piano roll: chromatic is in absolute terms, not keeping any scale, scale limits the values to notes in the selected scale and chord is like scale, functioning with limited note choices but also makes the notes relative to the degree of the chord that you choose from the main panel.

Rhythm is similar to pattern but the value per step actually indicates velocity. You can create ties and rests here. For both rhythm and pattern you can select clock division and total length, separately from each other to get extremely interesting sequences.

The way that NDLR presents the sequence pattern and rhythm that you chose this is truly unique. Instead of providing you with a blank slate for rhythm and pattern settings, it always provides you with a filled sequence. This is so you can get grooving A.S.A.P. There are 20 presets and 20 user generated rhythms and patterns. To mark the departure from traditional sequencers (which present the sequence is a straight line), NDLR shows the pattern and rhythm as a circle, going clockwise.

This is just a slight scratch on the surface for what NDLR can do. The way described above is called Motif in NDLR, and represents the monophonic sequence way. Other than Motifs (which NDLR has two independent ones), this midi sequencer can output two more midi sequences, which are polyphonic and independent.

The way it works is very simple, you just select the rhythm, pattern, the way you want it to be played (left to right, right to left, random 1, random 2), clock division, etc and just press play. The sequencer takes care of all the note placements, so you can start tweaking in real time.

Conductive Labs NDLR: Drone and Pad

While Motifs are the core aspect of the NDLR Midi sequencer and the most flexible parts that this tool has to offer, they are monophonic. We like monophonic sequences but there is much more composition possible than this. NDLR has two poly modes as well: Drone and Pad.

Drone is a very basic form of note generation. It can be polyphonic but also in mono. What it does is play the root note of the scale that you selected, and if you want, you can add a 5th interval, and then you can add an octave on top. It has a simpler rhythm section than Motifs, but it is there in case you want to go a bit deeper.

Pad mode is for chords. You have a bit more flexibility than Drone and also you can select which chord you want NDLR to play. You do this with the circle of buttons that is close to the centre screen. With the same buttons you select the degree of chord in that scale as well as the type of chord you want to play. This is especially useful for producers that do not know music theory. You can instantly listen to any chord progression that you want, with pushing a minimal number of buttons. You can have the option to strum the chord, playing each note with a small delay so that they individually stand out.

We said Pad mode is a bit more complicated than Drone. This is in part because you can set up the voicing by using some presets that in NDLR talk are called “spread”. There are a lot of spread types, and we fully encourage you to explore them as they can lead to extremely interesting harmony. You can also select the number of notes in the chord, which goes pretty high if your synth has the proper polyphony.

NOTE: There is no rhythm section for Pad mode, The Conductive Labs NDLR midi sequencer sustains the chord for as long as you don’t press the chord type/degree button. If you want to trigger the same chord again, press the same degree button.

For an in-depth feature and usability review, we recommend this excellent loopop video. It is from an earlier firmware version, but still pretty much on-spot:

very in-depth Conductive Labs NDLR review

Extra modulations and MIDI I/O

This Midi sequencer has a lot of modulation options, you can use a multitude of sources to modify any parameter that you want. There are LFOs and Randomisers as sources, and they can be synced to time as beat divisions or actual seconds. There are four modulation busses, so the possibilities are virtually endless.

As far as Midi I/O goes, the offering is diverse. You have four channels on midi USB mode. Then you have two midi ins and two midi outs. You can configure each NDLR output to your preference. There is no power connection and on-off switch, NDLR gets power from the USB.

Overall, this little piece of gear has become the centre of my midi synths, the ones that don’t have a sequencer. It is flexible and it is fast, with extreme ideas flowing extremely fast. There is always a melodical touch to what it outputs and I really can’t part ways with it, nor can I see myself doing this in the foreseeable future.

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

The BEST Online Music Production Masterclass Course [2022]

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

This might seem like a pretty 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.

MORE INFO

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!

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