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BeatTips Readers Poll™: Are You Still Using the Same Production Setup that You Started Making Beats with?

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Some Beatmakers Outgrow their Initial Setup, while Others Keep Cranking Out Dope Beats from the Same Rig

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

For this BeatTips Readers Poll™, the aim is to see how many people are still rocking with the same production setup that they began with. Also, it would be interesting to know why everyone is or isn’t using the same setup that they began with, so post your comments and get into the discussion.


Think back to when you first realized that you wanted to make beats. Remember trying to figure out what setup to go with? For some of us, this decision was made quickly, haphazardly even. For others, it was a well-researched, well-thought out process. Still, in both cases, some of us changed setups and some of remained with the setups that got us into the building.

My very setup, which included the E-Mu SP1200 as the brains of the outfit, was not the one I stuck with. Perhaps if I’d done better research early on, I would have never went the route that I initially did. But switching to the Akai MPC from the SP1200 (a move for me that was like going to a Mac from PC) and adding the Akai S950 to my arsenal was a necessary setup change for the style and sound I was going for. And since I switched to the MPC (now using both my MPC 4000 and MPC 60II), I’ve added a Roland Fantom S88 and Pro Tools. Beyond that, my setup has essentially been the same for years…


The BeatTips Manual by Sa’id.
“The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education.”

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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including the albums 'Soul Review' and 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

  • Bing

    I started with FL Studio and its FL Studio until I die. I’ve tried other hardware, I’ve tried other Software, but nothing can compare to its ease and all in the box interface. I’ve changed turntables, MPD’s, and keyboard( Midi Controller), but not the main weapon of choice.

  • I made the setup switch 2 years ago…
    Gotta say, it’s probably the best thing that I ever did.
    Gotta thank Sa’id for steering me in the right direction. He heard my music and instantly he knew where my sound was headed and explained that with east-coast boom bap, it’s much easier to achieve the sound that I was looking for through switching setups and not having to mess around with FL Studio.

  • Bing

    Dont diss the FL. Lol. Im sure I can do anything you can do and lot quicker!

  • Bing,
    Sounds like you went on a journey, only to find out that you had the *right* setup for you all along. That’s how it is sometimes. It takes a while to develop your own workflow, you know, learn you own distinct way of working through your ideas.
    —Sa’id

  • DK,
    To be fully clear, you and I had a number of discussions about this. So my advice was *specifically* for you, based on what I knew about your sound and the way that you wanted to work. But each person is different, and depending on the person and what I know about them, I may very well advise them to stick with FL Studio.
    —Sa’id

  • Ha, Bing, I don’t DK was dissing FL. He was just saying that he realized it wasn’t right for *him*. After he made the setup switch, his beats did change…dramatically. Just like I suspect after you recognized that FL was for you, your beats gained a deeper level of consistency.
    Same thing with me, after I switched from the SP 1200 to the MPC, my beats changed. More importantly, how I *felt* making them changed! Fundamentally, we all have to feel good about the setups that we use, or else it’s going to effect us (in some way) when we make our beats. No sense in constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering if you’re using the right setup, or wondering whether or not there’s a better setup out there for you. Hey, “if ain’t it broke, don’t fix it.” But I also say, if you’re only moving horizontal, maybe it’s time to change so that you can go vertical.
    —Sa’id

  • This comment chain is really good.
    Bing: Just to clarify, as Sa’id pointed out, I wasn’t dissing FL Studio. I still use it every now and again. It’s good when I’ve got my PC with me and I’ve got an hour or so in between work and class. I just take it out, load up a soul song that I like and practice playing the string sections (or whatever section) with my midi keyboard…
    As you pointed out, it’s very efficient for certain things – in my case it’s practicing on the run.
    I agree that too many people don’t give FL respect. Many people have made “bangers” on that software and lots of people don’t even know half of what FL Studio can do. As Sa’id said, we had many discussions and based upon where my sound was going, he made an excellent assessment of my situation and pointed me toward the MPC/s950 setup…

  • Hi Sa’Id,first of all,i wanna say that i’ll really enjoyed you book,didin’t finish yet,but very helpful! Anyway,my setup is still FL STUDIO 9 with monitors empire tcn 1000 + emu usb 0202 and headphones akg 141,and midi keybord emu xboard49

  • R.I.P. Dilla Dogg!

    I started with FL Studio, MPD, and a truntable cuz thats all i could afford. Ive since switched to an mpc 2000xl and an sp404sx for effects…gimme a stack of wax and those two joints and im good to go. i like my setup, simple yet effective. i dont even mess with pro tools yet, i cant afford it. i just mix my beats as best i can using my mp and my sp for effects, then two track out into audacity. i gotta tascam 144 i use as an interface with audacity. its a simple but effective setup.

  • K Matt,
    Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying ‘The BeatTips Manual’…
    That’s the thing I get about FL Studio, some people swear by it, while others move on to something else. It really goes to show how the same setup is never the *same* for every person.
    —Sa’id

  • R.I.P. Dilla Dogg!,
    Affordability has always been a HUGE factor in determining the production setups we choose. Simple and plain, we all get what we can afford!
    As our understanding of beatmaking grows along with our ideas about music in general, we reassess are setups. For some, that assessment leads to a switch, for some it doesn’t. But I wonder how much money has to do with it? I’m sure some people switch setups simply because they can afford to buy new gear. Likewise, some people hang on to what they have because they can’t afford anything else. In those cases, most of the time people recommit and get the *maximum* out of that setup. So much to point that, even when they can afford something else, they still choose to stick with what they know.
    —Sa’id

  • I started on various samplers then got an MPC2kxl then switched to Reason in 2007. Now I’m 100% Reason and SP-1200 for some drums and analog flavor. Over the years I realized I can make beats on pretty much anything it’s about workflow and efficiency now though

  • Curt McGirt

    My setup is as simple as it gets, MPC 2000xl,DJ mixer,Stanton turntable and a gang of wax. That’s it. I do plan to expand and eventually get a keyboard and Pro-tools etc, but for now I feel I got what I need.
    Honestly It’s been a conscious decision to keep a simple setup because I want to really know my machine inside and out before expanding,which will be a deliberate methodical process.