Dubstep, In A Nutshell
Dubstep is an immensely popular genre of music, which made its advent in the early ’90s in the UK, and had influences from the ’70s’ reggae, Jamaican electronic music, dancehall, hip hop, and many other myriad avenues. Although it started out as a fairly underground genre, in the late 90s, it gained popularity in the USA, and various sub-genres stemmed from it, including ‘brostep’, which is identified by the non-music-connoisseur as the widely played music made by creative genius, artist Sonny Moore, aka Skrillex. The genre has now become so widespread, that mainstream artists of today, such as Britney Spears, Rihanna, and many more have incorporated it in their songs too.
Whether you are an aspiring EDM artist, a audio engineering-enthusiast looking to experiment, or simply bored, and looking to channel your pent up energy into something creative, making dubstep music is the ideal path to turning the monotony into awesomeness. A fan of the genre would hardly need a tutorial regarding the structure and general impression of a dubstep song. Anyhow, even beginners need not worry, because the genre itself is evolving daily, and actually, artists are the ones who deflect the trends and tastes of this music. Also, dubstep music is 99% electronically generated from samples of bass, percussion, and melody, put together using software, and unless an artist personally wishes to record in a studio, he (or she) can mull over, and produce his (or her) masterpiece from his own bedroom!
The software used to make dubstep music is of utmost importance in this connection. Since it literally sculpts and raises the song from scratch, it is evident that without the appropriate software to suit your needs, it will not be possible to produce music that is truly ethereal or transcendental in the way that we perceive our favorite dubstep songs. The right software for an artist can differ based on whether he or she is using a laptop or a tablet/smartphone. Also, there are some kinds of software that would be more conducive to an amateur’s or first-timer’s needs. While some are free to download, others could cost more than USD 500! We aim to provide you a guide that will help you select the dubstep-maker that is perfect for you.
I. Options for Newbies
1. FL Studio
4. BTV Solo
II. Experts’ Favorites
1. Ableton Live
2. Pro Tools
III. The Best Free Software
2. ACID Xpress
Disclaimer: Prices mentioned in this article are subject to change according to offer and location.
Options for Newbies
A common mistake that beginners make is that they get carried away by marketing gimmicks that profess simplicity to the level that understanding the software’s working is child’s play, unmatched cost, highlighted features that are actually prerequisites, and a lot more. What freshers in this field need to remember is that all legitimately good software obviously have a learning curve, and that if one encounters a cost that is too good to be true, it probably is.
If you aren’t really serious about making music and are actually looking for something that is easy on the pocket, and will not take much effort, yet will give you sounds that seem ‘cool’, you could opt for names like DUBTurbo, Dr Drum, or Sonic Producer, which have been successful in targeting that sort of market and seem to provide customer satisfaction too. However, Buzzle recommends the following software as the stepping stone into the big scene, as they provide authentic learning opportunities and a professional-feeling experience:
1. FL Studio
FL Studio 11 Fruity Edition: USD 99
(box version retail) USD 139
★ Formerly known as Fruity Loops, FL Studio is a name one will hear a number of times while setting out to make dubstep music.
★ Apart from being one of the best software that can be used to make custom beats, the interesting and rare features available on it include the ability to drag and drop loops, and then open and edit their parameters, and also, to copy and paste with ease.
★ The interface of this software itself is intelligently designed, so as to put minimal strain on the eyes of the artist during long working hours.
★ And of course, key features of any DAW, like an extensive range of samples, drum patches, loops, etc., to choose from, and support for VST plug-ins, and external input, are present in Fruity Loops.
★ On both PCs and Mac computers, one can download the demo version first, which can double as your tutorial, and later purchase the complete software. The Fruity Edition is suggested for beginners.
Reason 8 Full Version: USD 369
(upgrade from previous version) USD 129
Reason Essentials 8: USD 99
★ Developed by the Swedish developers, Propellerhead Software, Reason is not just one of the DAWs more favored by veteran dubstep developers, but is also widely recommended to freshers, because it is a complete package in itself. It provides you tools to create your sound from the beginning, and comes with a wide range of samples.
★ There is also a wide scope for experimentation, with support for plug-ins, and compatibility with external input hardware.
★ It can even be used in collaboration with other software, such as Cubase.
★ The internet is replete with tutorials for learning to use the software, so aspiring dubstep artists can leave their worries behind and safely invest their money in Reason.
★ Similar to FL Studio, a demo version is available for download, and if you feel you have found the right software for yourself, you can unlock the full software once you purchase it. There are versions for both Windows as well as Mac OS.
Logic Pro X: USD 199 (on Apple iStore)
★ A premium dubstep-making tool with the only notable drawback being that it is only supported on Mac OS computers, as Apple Inc. is its developer. Logic is an extremely good choice for budding dubstep artists.
★ It provides a host of interesting features; from a virtual drum session player to a large number of patches, strings, bass lines, voice effects, instruments, and a lot more.
★ It even supports the use of external input, such as a midi keyboard.
★ Apple’s love for integrating programs on their various platforms allows you remote access on other devices, such as an iPad, using an app. The perfect option for aspiring artists of this genre who are mainly patrons of Apple devices, Logic is one of our top recommendations.
4. BTV Solo
BTV SOLO Standard Library: USD 27
★ A software that can be used as a standalone DAW as well as in collaboration with other beat making software as a plug-in, BTV Solo is a much-liked, easy-to-use beat maker, that comes with a massive library of samples.
★ An interesting feature of this software is that if you miss the beat (which you absolutely shouldn’t, if you want to be a professional sound artist), the quantizer automatically sets it right by synchronizing with the tempo.
★ Its pros also include affordable pricing.
★ However, although BTV Solo allows you to draw inputs from external hardware, it doesn’t support VST and AU plug-ins in the Standard Library Version.
★ Nevertheless, it has a very user-friendly, minimalistic interface, and is thus quite easy to learn. Moreover, the developers themselves have posted tutorial videos on YouTube, and hence, it is the ideal option for beginners.
Generally, professional dubstep artists and producers of other genres of EDM tend to start with one software, and then get so accustomed to it that they stay loyal to it. What’s more, they make truly mind-blowing music on that very basic software. This is the case with software like FL Studio and Reason, which are not just great for beginners to learn, but also provide support for more professional requirements, for example, the ability to use something from it as a plug-in on a higher software.
Any professional music producer will tell you that the commercially successful music, because of which they rake in millions, was not designed on one software, but rather, their elements were separately created on different software which possess optimized tools for each particular niche. Unfortunately for us, truly professional software cost way more than beginners’ ones; however, they have a broader scope of functionality, and that is why they are favored by celebrity artists. We would like to name a few software that you should consider investing your energy and money in, if you plan to turn professional.
1. Ableton Live
Ableton Live 9 Intro: USD 99
Ableton Live 9 Standard: USD 449
Ableton Live 9 Suite: USD 749
★ The legendary artist who showed the masses that anyone with passion can create magic when it comes to dubstep, Skrillex, stated in an interview once that Ableton Live is his favorite beat making tool. However, the hype is not the real reason that a professional artist should prefer to opt for AL.
★ With tailor-made versions for Windows as well as Mac OS, AL is the absolute EDM artists’ package; it allows producers to compose, rearrange, mix, record, and master (a technique to fine-tune a finished song) the music they envision, as well as DJ-centric tools like a crossfader and beatmatcher.
★ The software not only comes with built-in instruments to create beats, but there are versions of external hardware that are created especially for it (like the Akai APC40 MIDI controller).
★ Sound engineers who love digital signal processing can allow their creativity to flow freely, as they are provided a vast choice of samplers, filters, compressors, equalizers, limiters, and so much more.
★ More than anything else, the software by itself allows artists to work intuitively, and this is what makes it so popular amongst celebrity dubstep and other EDM-genre atrists.
2. Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools 11: USD 699
AIR Vacuum Pro plug-in: USD 149.99
★ Another software that possesses compatibility with different operating systems, this music production software has been developed by Avid Technology.
★ While it is often used to produce film scores or for TV and film sound recording, Pro Tools does possess some effective and incredibly handy features to help dubstep music production, such as its midi capabilities.
★ The software allows one to edit and mix tracks, add effects, and has a number of digital signal processing tools.
★ It supports external inputs and comes with a number of plug-ins, including Vacuum―a plug-in that lets you create the spacey wobble sound that is a characteristic of dubstep music.
★ Pro Tools is a very good option for making remixes.
Sonar X3: USD 99 (upgrade for USD 49)
Sonar X3 Studio: USD 199 (upgrade for USD 99)
Sonar X3 Producer: USD 499 (upgrade for USD 149)
★ A DAW that is exclusive to Windows, Sonar by Cakewalk is one of music producers’ favorites worldwide. Since there are three different models based on one’s expertise and monetary capabilities, one can choose the version best suited for oneself.
★ It has a very mature platform (ACT, or Active Control Technology, is used in Sonar to modify the parameters of midi devices), and equips artists with handy tools for all their professional mixing, recording, producing, and mastering needs.
★ This software gives artists very professional support for VST plug-ins, and allows a wide variety of inputs.
★ With comprehensive features and reasonable pricing, Sonar is simply one of the best option for professionals who wish to make dubstep music.
ACID Music Studio 10: USD 59.95 (upgrade for USD 29.95)
ACID Pro: USD 149.95
★ Sony has always been the pioneer of revolutionary new concepts. When Sony Creative Software ACID was released in 1998, it took the world by storm. It has come a long way from its original premise of rearranging sample loops, with support for VST and midi inputs.
★ ACID comes with built-in tutorials for beginners, and is available in two versions; ACID Pro with advanced tools, and the less expensive version, yet equally effective, Acid Music Studio.
★ The ACID loops technology originally spearheaded by this software, where one could just drag-and-drop a loop, has been implemented in competing software like Sonar and Cubase.
★ This software is a favorite of old-school loyalists. It comes with a user-friendly interface that even beginners will be comfortable with, and yet allows one to produce music in a professional manner comparable to any extensive, feature-packed DAW.
Full license: USD 225
Discounted license (for individuals, educational institutions, gross annual commercial turnover less than USD 20,000): USD 60
★ Employing innovative wordplay, REAPER is actually an acronym for Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording. It was developed by Cockos, and is a shareware that is distributed with an uncrippled evaluation license.
★ With versions for both Windows as well as Mac, REAPER supports VST plug-ins on all platforms, but allows for DirectX plug-ins only on Windows, and AU plug-ins only on Mac OS X.
★ This software has tailor-made built-in support for different branded hardware controllers, and thus, exudes professionalism as far as customer requirements go, in a superior manner.
★ It also provides the right encouragement for budding professionals; for individual artists, its license is heavily discounted, and it provides an ideal research environment as well.
Cubase Elements 7 Full Version: USD 99.99
Cubase 7.5 (update from Cubase 7): USD 49.99
★ One of the first DAWs ever created, the first version of German musical software and equipment company, Steinberg’s Cubase was released in 1989.
★ It is a powerful tool, and plug-ins from a number of other software of similar nature, such as FL Studio, to make dubstep music as desired. It has versions for both Mac computers, as well as PCs.
★ This software is especially renowned for its ability to create amazing synth sounds.
★ The new version 7.5 update has brought with it a wonderful selection of new features, effects, and instruments. The re-record feature is a great example, and it allows users to instantly record again from the starting position.
★ It is a brilliant and very useful software and is favored by a lot of professionals.
MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2015: USD 99.99
MAGIX Samplitude PRO X: USD 499
MAGIX Samplitude PRO X Suite: USD 999
★ The beauty of this product, by MAGIX, is its uncompromising audio. It provides the perfect DAW environment, enabling artists to rearrange samples, and produce, mix, record, and edit songs.
★ Apart from interesting, handy tools (like, for example the time freeze and stretch function) for editing, and of course effects and mastering tools, Samplitude provides users a convenient way to organize their workflow, with functions such as the capability to zoom objects, and customizable toolbars.
★ You can also use sound analysis tools to monitor your work; there are a number of visual tools, including a direction meter, and peak meter, that come with this software.
★ Apart from the above, thanks to the advanced features like 64-bit and multi-core support, the internal hybrid audio engine, support for every kind of external hardware, VST plug-in, and midi, and surround sound (5.1) mixing, Samplitude is one of the most powerful DAWs in the market today.
The Best Free Software
The most essential things in the world may be free for all, but unfortunately that rule does not apply to dubstep making software, in which case, the free stuff is generally of poor quality with hardly any capability, or which may be a scam in some way. In fact, you should beware of free beat making software, as they may be malware in disguise waiting for you to download them.
However, do not be disheartened if you are a newbie and do not want to take the risk of spending a lot of money on software and equipment, when you are yourself not sure how long your tryst with music will last. There are a handful of inexpensive software available, exclusively for new artists like you. Also, many of the big names offer you a free-to-download demo, or trial version, which you can use for a limited time period, and can gauge if that particular software is the right tool or not. Other kinds of software also exist, where you can download the basic version for free; however, if you wish to update it, unlock a number of advanced features, or otherwise simply ask for technical support, you are charged. This is also a good option that you can look into. Meanwhile, we have unearthed information about a couple of software options that are inherently free of charge.
GarageBand is FREE to download on all Apple operating systems (iOS, as well as Mac); however, a one time in-app purchase of USD 4.99 can be made for additional instruments
★ For just a mere app, as opposed to powerful software packages that professionals use to produce music, GarageBand from Apple is surprisingly feature-packed.
★ One can do a lot with this app, from composing music from scratch with the help of built-in instruments to taking music lessons from experts, to making beats, recording, mixing, editing, and much more.
★ It can even accept plug-ins and external input devices.
★ With its large number of features and easy-to-understand interface, it is literally one of the most useful software ever that beginners as well as experienced artists can use. And best of all, apart from in-app purchases if you want to access an even wider variety of effects, it is completely free to download.
★ The only drawback is that it is an Apple-only app; however, it can be integrated across the many Apple platforms. Apple has repeatedly updated and perfected this app to function with the capability of their music making software, Logic.
2. ACID Xpress
FREE of cost
★ The free version of Sony Creative Software’s ACID, the powerful music making tool is equally awesome as the full version, albeit with a 10-track limitation.
★ Nevertheless, it offers you the opportunity to experiment in ways that other software do not, like in-line midi editing, freehand envelope drawing, alternate time signature support, and much more.
★ It simplifies the whole sound engineering process to painting loops onto a track base, playback, and editing. You have access to an extensive library of loops and samples, and the software also comes with integrated tutorials for beginners.
★ It is a wonderful first glance into what one can do with the full ACID Pro software, but it is quite powerful in itself, which is quite amazing for a free software, and beginners can learn a lot about loop-based music making by using it.
So this was our take on the best software one could use to make dubstep. With so many software available to choose from, all that an aspiring artist of this genre needs to do is to find the correct launchpad (a metaphor for software; however, the use of an external midi controller-cum-launchpad-type hardware, to launch tracks, is a good add-on to your ensemble) to propel him or her to success. A lot of patience and perseverance is required while embarking on any field, so always keep yourself motivated, and mix on to success.