A lot people reach out to me asking for recommendations on software, samples, headphones etc. With this in mind I thought it would be helpful to share with you some of my favourite tools and resources that I use in my own productions. I encourage you to bookmark this page for your reference as it will be constantly updated as I encounter new tools to share.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase thank you. I use all of the sample packs, VST ’s and companies and have recommended them because I think they are great and will be useful to you.
Ableton Live – Whilst The Finish More Music system suits any DAW I would recommend beginners try Live first. Why Ableton Live? Having taught most of the DAW’s at some point in my career I have stuck with Live for one simple reason, it offers the best workflow for being creative and writing music.
Steve Lawler – Dark Percussive House & Techno – The name of this pack sums it up. Superb percussive sounds for darker tracks.
Jamie Anderson Underground Tech House Vol1 – My favourite sample pack for bass. The Juno samples in this pack are killer for Tech and Prog House.
Thomas Penton Essential Series Vol1 – This is as good as a bible of drum sounds. GoldBaby packs are also amazing.
Goldbaby: Super Analog 808 – If you want top quality 808 samples, check these out.
Goldbaby: Tape 909 – If you want top quality 909 samples, check these out.
Mike Vale – Tech House Edge – Very well produced Tech House pack. I love the bass sounds in this one and they can easily be used in Deep House and Prog House.
Aethers – This is my favourite sample pack for atmospheres and ambiences. They will drop straight into most underground productions and give instant depth and movement.
INSTRUMENTS & EFFECTS
Fabfilter Range – If you are looking for clean sounding, high quality, highly intuitive effects then Fabfilter’s range is the way to go. I can’t think of a single piece of work I’ve done in the last 5 years that didn’t have a Fabfilter plugin involved.
Slate Digital Range – Slate Digital make amazing sounding hardware emulations, so if you want to add some colour and tone to your tracks check out their range of effects for mixdown.
Valhalla Reverb – Reverb is very much a personal preference but I’m yet to meet anyone who isn’t bowled over by the Valhalla verbs. These are are also mind-blowingly good value.
Relayer from UVI – This could well be the only delay you ever need. It’s packed full of controls and yet they’ve kept it super simple and easy to use.
Sylenth1 – Possibly the most popular soft synth out there and with good reason! Sylenth1 has a simple interface, making it a great synth to program and an ideal choice if you are looking to learn synthesis.
Native Instruments Massive – NI Massive sounds amazing. There are also tons of 3rd party preset packs for every genre you can imaging so if you prefer stating with a patch and tweaking the sound to taste this is a great option.
Ableton Push – Push is the only controller that has stood the test of time in the studio. It integrates perfectly with Live with no need to mess around mapping parameters and importantly it’s very fluid and fun to work with.
MIDI Controller Software
Isotonik – If you want to have complete control over your DJ set, Isotonik’s range of controller software is the way to go. They turn products like Push, APC40 and Novation Launch Pad into far superior controllers for Live performance and DJ’ing.
IPAD/ IPHONE APPS
Touchable – Without doubt my favourite app for the iPad. If you want in-depth control of Ableton Live including clip launching, MIDI programming, effects automation and just about anything else you can think of, this is the app for you. This sits next to my Push during every production session.
Finger Lab DM1 – About as much fun drum programming as you can get. I often use this app to come up with drum ideas when my laptop isn’t around. It’s amazing how using a different tool for the job inspires new ideas.
O-G-SUS Elastic Drums – Just started getting into this and it sounds amazing. Some apps sound and feel like toys but with this you can definitely make loops worthy of exporting into your productions. The app has a bunch of drum synths for tweaking and almost everything can be automated. Well worth a look!
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio – This book is packed full of great information to improve your mixdowns. Very clearly laid out and my favourite book on the subject.
Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys & Techniques – If you are looking to up your technical skills in all areas of the music production process this one is a winner.
Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers – Ableton have published an excellent book providing ideas to help you get moving when you hit those all to common creative walls. I also like this book for dipping into to get inspiration for a new track.
Headphones & Monitors
AKG702 – In the studio I use AKG702 headphones. The detail and accuracy is incredible, making it easier to choose the correct setting on everything from EQ to compression.
Sennheiser HD 25 Basic Edition – These are a little bit of a secret weapon for headphone monitoring. Mainly used by DJ’s, these little beauties give a great representation of the kick and bass in the mix. If it sounds good to you then it will sound good to DJ’s!
Focal SM9 – Our main monitors are Focal SM9. With these you hear every tiny detail in the music and when cranked up they deliver a solid idea of how your track will sound in a club. The Chemical Brothers think so as well… nuff said!
Genelec 8030AP – We used to run Genelec monitors in the studio. The 8030AP’s sound superb in smaller rooms with really tight bass and clear mid range.
KRK Rokit RP6 G3 – Although I haven’t used KRK before, I know a great many producers who do. They represent fantastic value for money and I’ve only heard great things about them.
Rode NT1-A Condenser Mic – If you want an affordable mic with very high sound quality and a super low noise floor this should definitely be on your list to check out. We’ve had this set up in the studio for well over 10 years and it’s as crisp as ever!
Apogee Duet for Ipad & Mac – If you want beautiful crystal clear sound, a portable interface and you use Mac, then Apogee’s Duet is well worth a look. It also plugs into an Ipad and looks cool too 🙂
Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 Firewire Interface – Although I haven’t personally used the Focusrite range I have only heard good things from students. The Saffire range work on PC and Mac and are ideal if you are on a budget.
RME Fireface UC – When it’s time for hardware synths to come out and play, you need more inputs and outputs, rock solid timing and super low level latency. RME’s Fireface UC is by far my favourite interface for this job.