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Gear Recommendations To Help Your Child Get Involved With Music Production




Here are our recommended resources to provide your child with the tools they need for crafting their own songs in a fun and engaging way, with or without a laptop and fancy studio.


One route you can take is to get them started with a simple studio with just a computer or tablet, a USB microphone, and headphones. This allows them to build tracks on a screen, record original sounds, and save projects. This excludes external hardware like beat pads, pianos, or digital instruments.


This can evolve to a proper studio setup that includes the laptop and DAW from simple studio and adds monitor speakers for amplification, plus all the tools needed to play digital instruments, record direct instruments, capture vocals with high fidelity, and more.


We will also cover some tactical studio options to cover a variety of portable devices they can use to create music on the go without a computer or tablet.


Simple Studio Price Range: $250 - $1000

Proper Studio Price Range: $550 - $2000

Tactical Studio Price Range: $70 - $2000


 

Simple Studio


Budget Friendly Laptop:

  • Product: Acer 2024 Chromebook (New @ $169)Lenovo 2024 (New @ $469)Used Macbooks on FB Marketplace (intel i7 or higher): $250 - $450

  • Description: Consider a budget-friendly option with decent processing power and storage capacity. Make sure it meets the system requirements of the chosen DAW. Chromebooks will 

OR

Tablet:

  • Product: iPad (with GarageBand) (Various Prices) 

  • Description: An iPad with GarageBand provides an excellent touch-based interface for music creation. Non Apple tablets are compatible with apps like Bandlab and Soundtrap. Soundtrap is also available as a web based program with no downloading required and compatible with Chromebooks.

Digital Audio Workstation or DAW

(the software for building songs and saving projects):


  • Product: GarageBand (Free for Mac)Bandlab (Free for Windows)Ableton ($79 Intro - $599 Suite)Soundtrap - Free Web Based Program (no downloading required)

  • Description: GarageBand comes pre-installed on most Mac computers and offers a beginner-friendly interface for music production. Bandlab is the alternative for Windows Computers. Ableton is more of an industry standard with more in depth resources to grow into. High tiered versions of Ableton come with more instruments and effects. Soundtrap is a great website based program for those with internet access and requires no software downloading. All DAWs provide a variety of virtual instruments and easy-to-use features and effects.

Bonus: Consider a $7.99/mo membership to Splice for them to have infinite access to samples and loops to drag and drop for helping craft their music and pull inspiration from.


Headphones

(for listening without external speakers like bluetooth speakers or studio monitors)


  • Product: AILIHEN C8 Headphones for Kids ($20) // Audio-Technica M30X ($39)

  • Description: Comfortable and durable headphones designed for children. They provide good sound quality while protecting young ears. Ensure the volume is kept at a safe level for their age.


Microphone:

(for recording sound directly into the computer without an interface) or high end recordings with an interface)


  • Product: Fifine K669B USB Microphone ($25) Zoom iQ7 $69 (for iPad users)

  • Description: A budget-friendly USB microphone that offers decent audio quality. It's plug-and-play, making it easy for kids to start recording their voice or any other sound they want to incorporate into their music projects. The USB microphone options on the market will only work with laptops and tablets that have USB slots.  The Zoom iQ7 is the exception as it is iPad compatible.


 

Proper Studio (requires Laptop & DAW)


High End Microphone:

(interface required)


  • Product: Rode NT1 ($159) Shure SM7B ($399)

  • Description: The Rode NT1 is a base level well rounded microphone from a classic brand. The Shure is the budget friendly high end alternative used by many for vocals, instruments, and podcasting.


Interface

(for plugging in guitars or other microphones to send sounds into computer, and sending sounds to larger studio speakers)(not required for those using a USB microphone and/or just headphones for listening)


  • Product: Behringer U Phoria ($69) // Scarlet Si2 ($149) // M-Audio 192 ($399)

  • Description: The interface is what communicates information between instruments > computer > speakers. The higher quality interface, the higher quality and more control over the audio you receive. The basic option here has simple tech and 2 inputs for ¼ cables (guitars, analog synths, etc) and XLRs for microphones. The Scarlet is big more cost for higher quality but still just 2 inputs. The M Audio option is even higher quality and can have up to 8 inputs for those looking to keep many toys plugged in and ready to record.


Monitor Speakers

(to showcase the range of your sounds and play them out loud properly in the studio)


  • Product: Mackie Cr3-X ($79) // KRK Rokit 5 ($319) // Yamaha HS8 ($679)

  • Description:  Studio monitors are best used in pairs to portray a stereo field on Left and Right. These will hook to your computer’s interface. You can add a KRK sub ($309) for added bass. 


Midi Controllers / Toy

(hardware beatpad / piano tool used in tandem with DAW)

 

  • Product: Novation Launchpad Mini ($99) 

  • Description: The Launchpad is a compact and user-friendly MIDI controller with colorful pads that can be used to trigger sounds, loops, and samples. It's perfect for young learners to start experimenting with basic music composition.


 

Tactical Studio


This bundle is the Tactical direction for those who want a standalone device for making music without needing to hook to any computers, screens, or tablets.


Less than $100:

Digital Piano with rhythm functions. Allows them to trigger pre-recorded drum rhythms at various speeds and choose from a large variety of instrument sounds on the piano keys.


$101 - $250

Top Choice: Akai MPK Mini Play 3 ($149)

Compact with a built-in speaker and battery. You can use the MPK Mini Play3 without needing to connect it to a computer or outlet. This makes it a great option for impromptu jam sessions or practicing outdoors.


Digital Piano with rhythm functions. Allows them to trigger pre-recorded drum rhythms at various speeds and choose from a large variety of instrument sounds on the piano keys. Includes built in lessons and App Functionality.


$250 - $500


$2000+


A bit on the pricey side but had to include this as it is currently the most in depth standalone studio setup on the market and just came out this year. Featuring many of the tools in the industry standard of computer based DAWs all packaged into a sleek launchpad holding the power to save projects and play with seemingly infinite instruments and effects.


 

Ultimately, there lies an infinite world of instruments, synthesizers, and studio gear that you can continue to build on from these foundations as you dive deeper into exploring your sound and music making journey.


At its core, we recommend that you start with something simple that you can use to hear your expressions back over time and build on them. This gives you the ability to collaborate with others, learn from your past, and be a listener to your own emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and get gear that doesn’t fit your intuition, so take it slow and let the tools you choose to express yourself continue to grow and evolve over time. Never hesitate to trying things out at your local music store or join your friends in their studios to learn what fits you.


Written by;

Tyler Manning, Executive Director

& Jordan Dale, Gear Wizard

The Boredomfighters Foundation

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