Software and Hardware

This post will go through the tech I use to produce music, make cover images, and so on. Not a particularly exciting post, but it might be useful to someone looking to make music on a budget.

Hardware

A short section; I produce with software.

Laptop: Thinkpad X220

£150-£200 (could be cheaper)

The "ebay an old thinkpad" meme is pretty legit. Every button feels so comfy, and its so small and cute, makes almost every other laptop look ugly in comparison tbh 😘 Apparently they're easy for repairing too, though I haven't got around to repairing yet. I have two of these; one with 4GB of RAM and the other with 8GB. The 4GB one has a 3.5GHZ processor and not much memory space, and is the laptop I use daily. It is perfectly capable of making a quick Eater of Sheep track or low-effort Smiderpan material. However, for anything high-effort EoS-wise, like an album, I switch over to the 8GB one. When I buy a laptop I am usually in a rush, so I don't wait for really good deals to come along. If you're checking ebay often you may be able to find much better offers than I did.

Headphones: Sony MDRZX310 Foldable Headphones

£15

I've had these for a year and a half and they're still as good as new, not bad for £15! Before this I used to use Sennheiser HD201s which would cost a similar ammount, but they started getting harder to find and more expensive over time. Also, their wires tended to break after a few months and had to be held together with sellotape. I've not had that problem at all with these Sony headphones. Folding the headphones seemed really weird to me at first, but it is very practical for putting headphones in a drawer and this probably helps them last longer.

Controller: Looking for recommendations!

£??

I could really do with a controller with sliders. Buttons aren't needed, my laptop has loads of those - and keyboard keys don't interest me. For now, I am using my laptops tracker-point to move virtual slider-modules with my cursor; this is not very practical during recordings!! Maybe I should learn something Arduino-ish? Hmmm...

Software

Everything here is free as in freedom (as well as costing £0).

Music Producing: VCV Rack

Of course I use Rack!! Switching over from a more conventional DAW to Rack was the best decision I ever made in terms of producing music. VCV Rack website. If you're a FOSS nerd, then be aware that some of the plugins available in the library are closed-source (though there is a huge amount of libre plugins).

Audio Editing: Audacium

Basically Audacity but without creepy telemetry. This is very useful for cutting VCV Rack recordings to the right length and removing bits I don't like from the recordings. I also use this for recording audio from other sources, e.g. voices from online videos. I am interested in finding a more keyboard-centred (maybe even terminal-based?) alternative, so I can look like a 1337 h4xx0r. Audacium on Github.

Music Listening: NCMPCPP

This is also my mp3 tag-editor of choice. Has a very easy-to-use playlist editor, media library, etc. And it even has visualisation features! NCMPCPP on Github.

Image Editing: GIMP

Has A LOT of features. There's some stuff about it that annoys me, for example it really hates my window manager (always jumps to the wrong workspace!) but I find it easy to use. GIMP website.

Vector Graphics Editing: Inkscape

I only use this for working on my modules. I don't have any strong feelings about this software as it's the only SVG-editor I've used. It has some very cool tools for converting other images (such as PNG) into SVG images. Inkscape website.


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