How useful are the new Instagram and Facebook Reels updates for artists?

Image Credit: Instagram

Meta says new Reels updates mean making content on Instagram and Facebook is easier for creators, letting them sync Reels to music and more. How can creators like musicians best use the tools?

Changes to Reels on Facebook and Instagram are coming. With video such a huge part of social media consumption now, any tools that make creation easier are welcome for creators, including indie artists who handle their own social media promotion.

So what’s changing, and will it be useful for creators? For artists, updates to Instagram Reels and Facebook Reels offer more opportunities to get creative with promoting music content. Let’s explore.


A Facebook Reels on desktop update

Creators will be able to use desktop to make Reels, editing, scheduling and publishing them in-browser through Creator Studio.

New tools will let creators edit down their longer videos into Reels on desktop. Say you’re an artist with a recording of your latest concert – cutting that down into short shareable clips should now be a lot easier.


Voiceovers for Facebook Reels and more

Creators can now narrate over the top of videos with a voiceover tool for Facebook Reels.

There’s also new text-to-speech tools too. You can also choose a digital voice to read out any text you have in your Reels.


Learn how to sync Reel to music on Facebook

New Sound Sync feature lets you match up your videos to the beat of a song.

This is valuable for musicians creating content. Sync up your video clip with your music for a professional looking Reel.

If you’ve used RouteNote to put your songs on the Facebook and Instagram sound libraries, you can pick your own song to use as a soundtrack!


Add Stickers to Instagram Reels

The latest update lets creators add Stickers like polls, quizzes and emojis to Reels, just like you already can on Stories. Meta hope this will encourage more interaction with Reels as opposed to passively scrolling through different content.


Instagram Reel templates

You can now use other Reels as a template for your own Reel. Templates let you match the format of a clip, resulting in a more professional looking Reel.

If you’re struggling to get started making video content – something that’s expected of artists nowadays – this is a great place to start.


Adding audio to Instagram Reels

You can now import your own audio straight into your Instagram Reel. Import Audio lets you add audio from your device’s camera roll.

For artists, that could mean adding a clip of an acoustic cover of one of your songs, or an explainer of how you made a track.


Longer Instagram Reels

Over on Instagram, Reels are now officially 90 seconds long. This means artists can showcase more of their new release, for example.


It’s no secret that Meta, parent company of Instagram and Facebook, is chasing TikTok’s growth by focusing on short video creation. Most of the new updates closely copy TikTok video tools.

As always for artists, using whatever new tool a social media platform has launched is a clever strategy as the algorithmic overlords will notice and reward you with better exposure.

Learn everything you need to know about using Instagram as an artist here.


Get your music on Instagram and Facebook with RouteNote for free! Once your music is in the sound library your music can be used as a soundtrack to videos, and you’ll be paid every time a new video is created.

Sound good? Find out more here.

New Facebook Reels algorithm will make Facebook look like TikTok

Image Credit: Facebook

A Facebook company memo let slip that soon the difference between Reels and TikTok will be harder to spot than ever.

First users wondered if Instagram is becoming TikTok, with the increasing short videos on the app. Now with changes to the Facebook algorithm, Facebook looks set to become a TikTok clone too.

According to leaked information seen by The Verge, Reels are set to become the dominant feature on both Instagram and Facebook.


How is the Facebook algorithm changing in 2022?

Already heavily promoted by the algorithm on both of Meta’s social media platforms, the new Facebook algorithm will suggest random Reels it thinks a user will enjoy. Just like TikTok. It will also encourage them to share it with their friends.

Reels had been brought into Facebook from Instagram without much of a change occurring. The proposed updates will make the two more similar – both video-heavy and, ultimately, more like TikTok.

Further changes will mean Facebook Messenger will also be brought within the main Facebook app, just like on TikTok and Instagram. Remember, the aim of all social platforms is to keep users on the app. According to the memo there’ll be a clear push towards getting users to message each other about Reels within Facebook.

The changes are also a bid to create “a cleaner and easier to use experience,” according to Tom Alison, who heads up the Facebook app, and wrote the published memo. Sounds like TikTok, one of the simplest social networks out there.

Alison’s memo states that Meta’s number one priority is to make Reels successful:

“Today’s genre of public short-form video opens up new ways for people to create and discover content. While Facebook’s discovery engine is designed to support many different formats (text, photos, video, and eventually Metaverse experiences), our biggest gap today is around short-form video and that’s why we’re focused on integrating Reels in Home, Watch, IFR, and Groups.”


How will changes to the Facebook algorithm affect music artists?

instagram filters for music

For music artists and other creators, keeping up with social media changes can feel like a never-ending game of switcheroo as all the social networks steal each other’s ideas.

But these tools help get your music in front of more potential listeners, so it’s always worth putting energy into the trend as platforms move their focus onto a new feature.

If you’re an artist, with RouteNote you can get your songs onto Facebook and Instagram for free so people can use your music in the background of their Reels – and you can put your music on the TikTok sound library, too.


Head here to find out how to put your song on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, as well as YouTube Shorts and all the major streaming services, FOR FREE with RouteNote

How to get Apple Music on Waze

Image Credit: Waze

Here’s how to play audio on Waze using Apple Music on the Waze audio player whilst driving.

Apple Music is now available on Waze, the driving app that provides navigation and real-time traffic information. Subscribers can join together both services directly through the Waze Audio Player without opening the Apple Music app.

The whole of Apple Music is available for Waze on iPhone, including Apple Music Radio and curated playlists, as well as the entire catalogue of 90 million songs.

In a statement Waze said: “For years, Waze has partnered with audio services to give you the best, safest and most fun driving experience. Starting today, Apple Music will seamlessly integrate with Waze, so you can keep your eyes on the road while enjoying the ride.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with Apple Music to bring Apple Music subscribers their tunes while driving with Waze on iPhone.”

Waze users could already use Waze with Spotify, as well as other platforms like YouTube Music, Deezer, and Pandora.


How to connect Apple Music and Waze

Waze + Apple Music

When compatible audio apps are available on your device, a pink circle with a white music note is displayed on Waze. To turn on this feature, go to My Waze > Settings > Audio player > Show Audio player

You can then access Apple Music by hitting the music note on the main screen:


Head here to find out how to release your own songs on Apple Music, and become the soundtrack to car journeys around the globe!

How to choose studio headphones for recording, mixing and mastering

Image Credit: MusicRadar

Headphones for music production differ from commercial headphones such as Beats by Dre. For example, Beats headphones boost the bass and low-end frequencies in your music. In contrast, studio headphones should have a frequency response that is as flat as possible. Therefore studio headphones present sound as plainly as possible.

Another difference is that we often wear music production headphones for long periods of time. Due to the nature of making music, we sit with our headphones on a lot. And sitting in our studios for hours on end is all the easier when our headphones are comfortable to wear!

Furthermore, durability is a huge factor to consider. Many studio headphones are pretty expensive. While many consumer headphones are also expensive, the cost of music production gear is generally expensive anyway. As a result, music producers and independent artists only want to spend money on headphones once every few years at the very least.

But there are more technical specifications to consider, much like the frequency response we mentioned. After all, there is more than one type of headphone for music production – and some serve specific purposes.

Sound engineers use headphones as a form of a magnifying glass to identify the smallest details of a soundtrack. Studio Monitors allow you to work accurately with tones, equalization as well as dynamics. This is due to the fact that the sound in the headphones does not depend on the space or room, which do not always have perfect acoustics.

SoundsightR

This article mentions “speaker drivers” or just “driversa lot. For a detailed guide as to how speaker/headphone drivers work, see the article below.

How do speakers work? Passive speakers vs active speakers


Studio headphones for mixing, mastering or monitoring?

Manufacturers build studio headphones to serve three purposes.

Professional producers and recording artists use monitoring headphones when recording – but what are monitoring headphones? As the name suggests, we use monitoring headphones to monitor our performance while recording. Musicians and vocalists performing in studios use them to monitor their performance because they isolate sound within the headphones from outside noise.

Monitoring headphones allow us to monitor our performance while we're recording. Monitoring headphones isolate sound within the headphones from outside noise.
Image Credit: Old Time Music

In other words, monitoring headphones inform the producer and performing artists exactly how everything is sounding in real-time. As a result, they can make informed decisions about what the song in question needs.

Mixing headphones do serve the same purpose – to inform the producer how the audio is sounding – although they go about it differently. Before we explore the technical specifics in the next segment, all you need to know at this point is that headphones for mixing allow the producer to make informed mixing decisions. However, note that engineers do most of their mixing via studio monitors. In effect, headphones are only a reference point.

Finally, mastering headphones also reproduce the original signal accurately. Many producers use the same headphones for mixing and mastering for reasons we’re about to explore.


Closed-back headphones for monitoring

The earcup is completely closed on closed-back headphones and this is why we call them so. To be more specific, sound doesn’t leak from them or leak in, making them great at noise isolation. But because there is nowhere for the sound pressure to release inside the earcup, it reflects inside the earcup! This causes problems when you want to hear every detail accurately. It can also cause discomfort!

Closed-back headphones are not the best choice if you want to hear an accurate reproduction of your music while mixing, and they can also become uncomfortable to wear after a while.

Closed-back headphones headphones are the perfect candidate for monitoring headphones. Because the ear-cup is closed, they isolate sound within the headphones from outside noise far better than open-back headphones.
Image Credit: Busted Wallet

But their closed nature does make them an excellent choice for monitor headphones! Vocalists, drummers, and every other performer in a studio will wear them while playing because they don’t let sound leak out of them and cause feedback in the microphone recording. No noise cancellation technology is necessary for closed-back headphones because they physically block outside sounds much more than open-back headphones too.


Open-back headphones for mixing and mastering

We use open-back headphones for mixing and mastering. In contrast to closed-back headphones, the outside of the earcup is open. To be more specific, a thin metal grill with plenty of air holes allow sound pressure to leave the earcup.

The rear of the ear cup of open-back headphones is open, so they leak sound and let outside noise in. However, because sound pressure can release from the ear cup, they produce a more natural sound with a great stereo field - making them great headphones for mixing and mastering studio headphones.
Image Credit: MusicTech

As a result, air passes through the earcups of open-back headphones from the rear of the speaker driver. As the air can pass through uncontested, no sound reflections occur within either ear cuff. Ultimately, because open-back headphones release sound pressure from the driver, they have a more “natural” sound. This directly affects the stereo-field and bass response too. Open-back headphones are the perfect choice for both mixing and mastering as a result. The design allows the wearer to hear an accurate or near-accurate reproduction of a mix – with no sound reflections in the earcup – and therefore make better mixing decisions.

In contrast to closed-back headphones, open-back headphones do leak sound a lot more easily and let outside noise in too. Due to their open nature, open-back headphones are best suited to quiet environments – which a professional studio should be. And this is why we wouldn’t want to use them for monitoring!


What are semi-open back headphones?

Semi-open back headphones are partially open from the back, but more or less closed. But unlike closed-back headphones, they don’t completely seal the rear of the speaker driver. This allows air to pass in and out through the earcup.

Semi-open back headphones are partially open from the back, but more or less closed. Semi-open back headphones merge the design and characteristics of open-back and closed-back headphones.
Image Credit: Reviewed

These headphones are the best of both open-back and closed-back headphones. They’re more suited to mixing than monitoring because they do leak sound and let outside noise in. However, they do so to a much less extent than open-back headphones so you can use them for effective monitoring if necessary.

When you’re looking for your first pair of studio headphones with a small budget, semi-open back headphones are great value for your money. Buying a pair of semi-open back cans is buying a merger of two different types of headphones. As a result, you can use them for both mixing and monitoring as they offer extended low-frequency response, a good stereo field, effective noise cancelling and sound isolation.


On-ear or over-ear headphones?

Another important factor to consider is whether you want your headphones to sit over your ears or on them.

Circumaural headphones

Circumaural headphones sit over your ears which means they have great noise isolation and bigger drivers. Therefore, they're a better choice for studio headphones.
Image Credit: SlashGear

The earcups on circumaural headphones – otherwise known as over-ear headphones – surround your ears. As a result, circumaural headphones have bigger drivers and are therefore bulkier headphones. And of course, the bigger driver size delivers more volume – making them the favourite choice of music production headphones compared to supra-aural headphones.

Supra-aural headphones

In contrast, the earcups of supra-aural headphones sit on your ears. Otherwise known as on-ear headphones, supra-aural headphones are more compact than circumaural headphones and are more portable. But due to the smaller driver size, they aren’t very good for studio headphones. Additionally, there isn’t very much noise isolation at all.

Supra-aural headphones sit on your ears, have poorer noise isolation and smaller drivers - making them a poor choice of studio headphones.
Image Credit: Aiaiai

Now that you are in the know about the different headphone types and the purposes they serve, it’s time to talk about some more specific things. These include frequency response, noise isolation, sensitivity, comfort and durability. Oh, and we’ll talk about a little thing called impedance too.


Does headphone impedance matter?

In short, impedance is an amount of electrical resistance; expressed in ohms (Ω). When a headphone specification lists a specific impedance, such as 50ohms, this means they need a certain output capacity from your sound source like your audio interface. As a result, the headphone amplifier in your interface must meet that output capacity so your headphones can reproduce your signal with ample volume.

Impedance is a means of controlling the flow of alternating current (AC) in a circuit board via capacitors. If capacitors didn’t regulate the flow of alternating current then our electronics would fry. It’s a “measure of the opposition that a circuit presents to a current when a voltage is applied“. In headphones, this resistance informs us as to how much we’ll need to turn the volume knob up before their volume is adequate to listen to. If your headphones have a high number in front of the Ω symbol, it means you have some power-hungry headphones that will perform far better with a juiced-up amplifier than without one. As a result, devices like smartphones and tablets won’t be able to provide the necessary power to provide enough volume in these headphones. As you may have now figured, headphone impedance really does matter when you’re choosing studio headphones!

To make things more complicated, the rate of impedance changes depending on what frequencies are present in the input signal too.

Headphone impedance and what to look for

Headphone resistance level determines the voltage your amplifier needs to output to generate one milliwatt (1/1000 of a watt) of output power. The higher your headphone impedance, the more output power your amplifier needs to generate so your headphones can reach optimal volume.

Any impedance up to 32Ω can be played quite happily off a simple portable device, like a smartphone. Impedance from 33-100Ω is a little bit of a grey area – you’ll probably be able to generate enough volume, but you could certainly improve things by adding in a portable headphone amp, which will both increase the power and sharpen the sound. Anything above 100Ω is almost certainly going to require an amplifier. These days, there are plenty of headphones that run from 100-300Ω, and even some that nudge the 600Ω mark.

The Master Switch

Beyerdynamic headphones have notoriously high impedance levels – some reaching 600ohms! As a result, headphones with high impedance rates are much harder to damage via overloading and you can use them with a wider range of gear too. And because high impedance headphones can handle electrical signals better, they can reproduce sound more accurately.

When looking for studio headphones, we recommend taking a look at impedance before anything else. The impedance rate will give you some insight into the headphone’s character in addition to what power your amp needs to output. A good rule of thumb is to look for studio headphones with an impedance value of at least 60 ohms or more. If you have a bigger budget, we recommend going big on impedance if your audio interface headphone amplifier can produce enough power.

Related: What is digital audio? A guide for music producers


Headphone sensitivity

Headphone sensitivity is related to impedance, but it refers to how well your headphones will convert electrical signals into sound with the input power your amplifier gives them. We measure headphone sensitivity in decibels of Sound Pressure Level per milliwatt, or dB SPL/mW. In other words, we can use headphone sensitivity to measure how loud a pair of headphones will play at a particular power level. If one pair of headphones has a higher dB SPL/mW rating than another with one milliwatt of power, the first pair will produce louder audio.

If your headphones have 90dB of sensitivity, this means that 90dB is the highest volume your headphones can produce with just one milliwatt of power. So a higher sensitivity value means a louder total output volume.


What is a frequency response in headphones?

Headphone frequency response refers to how well your headphones reproduce your input signal across the frequency spectrum. And if your headphones don’t apply any frequency cuts or boost to your input signal, they have a “flat frequency response” which is what we want!

However, no headphones – at least none that I’m aware of – have a fully flat frequency response. Therefore frequency response indicates how reliable your headphones are at reproducing your signal with no alterations at a particular frequency or within a frequency range.

The frequency response of the HD 400 Pro headphones have a gradual dip of 6 dB below 100 Hz. Between 2.5 kHz and 10 kHz, their frequency response fluctuates from -6 dB to + 6 dB.
Image Credit: M-Audio

The graph above represents the frequency response of the Sennheiser HD 400 Pro headphones. Between 100 Hz and approx 1.5 kHz, the frequency response is pretty flat. This indicates that the headphones will produce mid-bass frequencies as the producer intended them to be heard, in addition to all frequencies all the way up to somewhere in the high mids.

However, the graph also indicates that the headphones cannot generate enough power to push enough air beneath the mid-bass (under 100 Hz). This means the headphones can’t reproduce frequencies between 20 Hz & 100 Hz with as much power as they need and compromise some accuracy. And as you go further left across the graph from 100 Hz to 20 Hz, you can see the dB gradually dips to -12 dB. Further to the right of the graph, things get a little trickier above 1 kHz.

A gradual dip of about 6dB between 1.5 kHz & 5 kHz tells us the drivers can’t move fast enough to produce high-mids accurately. Following this dip, we see a 12 dB boost which takes the frequency response to +6 dB in the treble ranges.

20 Hz – 20 kHz: the frequencies that we hear

Soundwaves in treble frequencies oscillate much faster than bass frequencies do. Therefore tweeters must oscillate far faster than woofers. And to accurately produce the full threshold of human hearing with no cuts or boosts in the spectrum, multiple drivers, cones and domes are necessary – and headphones can’t fit all that in.

The threshold of human hearing ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz (20,000 Hz). So in an ideal world, our headphones would be able to reproduce an input signal in this frequency range without adding any cuts or boosts to any frequencies within this range. But some headphones offer a wider frequency response than 20 Hz – 20 kHz too. For example, some have a frequency response of 5 Hz to 33 kHz. But be wary when investigating these headphones because a wider frequency response doesn’t always mean a better sound quality.

But headphones with a wider frequency response do have a greater ability to reproduce more bass and treble frequencies of your input signal. And when it comes to cuts and boosts to particular frequencies, headphone specifications may feature a plus/minus deviation which looks like “±6 dB” as one example. This particular example tells us that the headphones will apply 6 dB of frequency cut/boost at particular frequencies.

Sub & low bass frequencies (20 Hz to 80 Hz) and treble frequencies (5kHz – 20 kHz) are harder for headphones to reproduce – high frequencies require the driver to move faster and low frequencies require the driver to push more air – so it’s in these ranges that these cuts/boosts are going to be most often.


Noise isolation

Headphones always rely on a tight seal between the earpad and your skin when pumping bass. As a result, earpads need to sit snuggly around your ears. If you’re looking for studio headphones online, it’ll be very hard to find a specific listing as to how well the headphone isolate sound. That’s why it’s important to consider the material of the earpads. Faux leather is one of the most popular materials because it provides excellent noise isolation, as does real leather.

But you’ll find headphones with earpads made from a range of different materials. While some materials are better for sound isolation and bass response, other materials are more comfortable and therefore feel better on your skin. And over time, materials like synthetic leather can lose their structural integrity. As a result, they become less suited to neither sound isolation nor comfort.

The best earpad material for noise isolation is leather – either synthetic (faux) or real.


Comfort and durability

As we discussed at the beginning of the article, it’s important that you don’t forget to consider both comfort and durability. Imagine spending out on headphones only to discover you can’t wear them for more than 5 minutes! However, comfort also relates to the sound pressure the drivers generate inside the earcups – not just how comfortable they are to wear on our heads.

While mixing and mastering, you’ll be spending hours with your headphones on. If the acoustics of your room aren’t that great, headphones will allow you to hear details that studio monitors may not. It’s often thought that open-back headphones are the most comfortable headphones to wear. And as we discussed earlier, open-back headphones let sound pressure leak outside. This characteristic makes open-back headphones easier to wear for long periods of time.

Closed-back headphones are more suited to shorter sessions. As the sound pressure builds up inside the earcup, it’s possible that this build-up could damage your eardrum. But if you give your ears regular breaks away from the headphones you can manage this problem.

Finally, the durability of your headphones refers to how much rough and tumble they can take. Like a lot of studio gear, studio headphones are expensive. And nobody wants to spend money on expensive gear that doesn’t last! An easy resolve is to look into tried, tested, and trusted headphone brands with a lot of positive reviews.

So, what studio headphones are you going to choose?

Related: What are the different types of microphones? How do they work?

5 affordable laptops for music production under £1000

Image Credit: TipsMake.Com

For many, the best laptops for music production are too expensive. So, that’s where the most affordable laptops for music production come in.

As we discussed in our article The 5 best laptops for music production in 2022, you don’t need the fastest laptop on the market to make music. However, DAWs have minimum specification requirements in order to run efficiently on a system. In summary, these minimum requirements include at least an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM (Random Access Memory). Additional storage always helps, but many affordable laptops for music production lack that. If you’re going to be taking your laptop on the go a lot, you’ll also want to prioritise battery life.

After all, your laptop sits at the heart of your digital music production setup. Our MIDI controller and audio interface all connect to it via USB. So we need an affordable laptop that can handle these connections while processing audio at the same time. Budget-friendly laptops for music production enable anyone to get involved and create music. Though your laptop may be nothing spectacular, if it can process your project and empower you to make music then you’re on the right track.

This article will provide you with a list of the 5 best affordable laptops for music production. Like our article about the 5 best laptops for music production, this list factors in a few metrics. In relation to a smaller budget, we’ve thought about size and transportability, processing power and overall speed.


1. ASUS VIVOBOOK 15 – $879.99 – the best laptop for music production under £1000

The ASUS VIVOBOOK 15 provides astonishing value for money. As a result, it’s the best laptop for music production for under £1000.

The ASUS VIVOBOOK 15 is the best laptop for music production for under £1000. Make music on the go without worrying about battery life!
Image Credit: NotebookCheck

With 8 hours of battery life, you won’t need to worry about being away from a plug socket for too long. A 15.6″ full HD display provides you with plenty of screen space when working on big projects too!

As far as storage is concerned, an SSD is far more desirable than an HDD. SSDs are digital and have faster read/write times, and the VIVOBOOK includes 128GB of SSD storage! Furthermore, an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM will see your smaller projects through. However, we recommend making a habit of bouncing your MIDI files down to audio as soon as possible in order to save processing power. You’ll know if your computer is struggling to compute your project as your audio will distort!

Though stylish, the design of the ASUS VIVOBOOK 15 is slightly too big for some backpacks. If you have a smaller backpack, it may be wise to get a bigger one so you can carry it around with you.
Image Credit: Amazon

One slight drawback is its transportability. With a 15.6″ display, you may find it hard to fit it into a backpack. The build of the computer itself is pretty thin, though it gets thicker towards the rear of the laptop. But we still think it’s the best inexpensive laptop for music production.


2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim – $389

Though slightly more expensive than the ASUS VIVOBOOK, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim brings 512GB of SSD storage!

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim brings 512GB of SSD storage, which is more desirable in an affordable laptop for music production.
Image Credit: Ubuy

In addition, the Aspire 5 Slim offers a full HD 14″ display and 10 hours of battery life. Whether at home or on the go, you’ll be able to make the most of the exceptional screen size without worrying too much about power. When it comes to transportability, its slim design enables you to slip it into your backpack and head off on your travels too.

You can make the most of the full HD 14" display and 10 hours of battery life at home or on the go.
Image Credit: Amazon

8GB of RAM in addition to a USB-C port allow for efficient processing of internal audio, connecting MIDI devices, and transporting files back and forth too. The design of the Acer Aspire Slim 5 isn’t the most graceful, true. However, the design of your laptop shouldn’t be your priority if you’re looking for a budget laptop for music production.


3. 2019 ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop – $857.63

ASUS have a reputation for making affordable laptops that work great. And that’s why we’ve mentioned them again.

The ASUS ZenBook 13 is a versatile laptop fit for any music production need. With 8 GB of RAM, an Intel i5 processor and 512GB of SSD storage, it ticks all of the processor checkboxes. You’ll also find plenty of connectivity options too!

The ASUS ZenBook 13 is a versatile yet affordable laptop for music production.
Image Credit: Amazon

Furthermore, 10 hours of battery life empowers you to make music on the go – anytime! Weighing in at just 2.5 pounds, and with a thirteen inch full HD screen, you can feel assured that this is a fully portable laptop with just enough screen space for your projects. The slim size, however, does come at a cost. ASUS have soldered its components to the motherboard in order to make it slimmer. This means that the laptop is not user-serviceable and you can’t upgrade its hardware should you want to.

The The ASUS ZenBook 13 in a live setting. The 13" screen is small enough to fit into a backpack whilst not taking up too much space on a desk.
Image Credit: Laptop Mag

4. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro – $989

A 2-in 1-laptop, you can use this beauty as a tablet as well as a laptop.

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is certainly one of the best affordable laptops for music production on every metric. For example, it features an Intel i7 processor, 256GB of SSD storage, 8GB of RAM, and it’s got a 13″ anti-glare display. All in all, this is the most transportable music production laptop on our list.

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is one of the best affordable laptops for music production. An Intel I7 processor and 8GB of RAM make for fast and efficient processing.
Image Credit: Samsung

An intuitive “S Pen” enables you to glide around the anti-glare screen elegantly too. If you find yourself in a professional studio, it’ll be handy to use the Notebook 9 Pro as a tablet. Studio desks have a reputation for being crowded!

Finally, it features a Radeon 540 graphics card. This enables you to get make the most of your DAWs’ user interface when you’re mixing!


5. HP Jaguar 15.6″ – $748

Featuring yet another touch screen, the HP Jaguar features 8GB of RAM, a TB of HDD storage, an Intel i5 processor, and a 15.6″ full HD screen.

The last on our list of affordable laptops for music production, the HP Jaguar features 8GB of RAM, a TB of HDD storage, an Intel i5 processor, and a 15.6" full HD screen.
Image Credit: Amazon

As we said at the beginning of the article, an SSD is more desirable than an HDD. As time goes on, you’ll find that your HDD will slow down – thus slowing down your laptop. It’s not a cure, but a near-remedy is to back up all files onto an external hard drive and keep space free on your laptop.

The HP Jaguar features a 15.6" screen. Though great for working on bigger projects, it does hinder its transportability if you have a smaller backpack.
Image Credit: Laptoping

We have listed the HP Jaguar as the final option on our list for this very reason. Though still a versatile laptop, the inclusion of an HDD is a drawback.

The 5 best laptops for music production in 2022

Image Credit: Tom’s Guide

You don’t need the fastest system on the market, but laptops suited for music production do have some minimum specification requirements. But what are the best laptops for music production?

Your laptop will be at the very heart of your digital music production setup. Using a USB connection, you’ll connect your MIDI controller in order to play your notes in real-time or even perform live. In addition, if you’re looking to record audio then you’ll want a microphone and an audio interface too! These are just a few reasons why you’ll want a good laptop for making music.

A laptop music production setup is the most common setup among music producers. And it makes total sense too! After all, you aren’t restricted to using your computer in your home – you can take it anywhere! And depending on what external gear you use, you can take your whole studio with you on the go. But exactly what laptop for music production?

In this article, we’re giving you a list of laptops for music production and recording. We’ve put this list together based on a few things including processing capabilities, size and transportability, in addition to overall speed.

But what makes a laptop good for music production? After all, music production entails a number of things – many of them rely heavily on processing power. Recording sounds and designing new ones, editing arrangements, inserting however many necessary plugins, mixing, and mastering your music are all much easier when your computer has enough processing power that it can distribute.

Well, an Intel i5 or equivalent multi-core processor is the minimum processor size most or all DAWs require. And when it comes to RAM (Random Access Memory), at least 8GB is the minimum to undertake any music production task competently – but 16GB is a far more desirable amount for smoother processing.

Depending on how much you’ll be travelling, you’ll want to pay close attention to battery life. Between 4 to 8 hours should see you through on an average day, of course. Finally, you’ll want plenty of storage. We recommend looking for an SSD hard drive with at least 500GB capacity rather than an HDD. SSDs are digital and have faster read/write times than HDDs!


1. 2021 MacBook Pro 14-inch – £1769

The MacBook Pro 14-inch is the best laptop for music production today.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch is the best laptop for music production today. Its sleek and slim design enables us to carry it anywhere at anytime.
Image Credit: Apple

With a choice of an M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, the MacBook Pro 14-inch is a true music production workhorse. It can handle the most demanding processing tasks and projects – even projects featuring countless tracks. As a result, this particular laptop is the go-to choice for music producers everywhere.

In fact, Apple technology is far more desirable to many music producers than Windows due to the “clunkiness” of Windows systems. However, that doesn’t mean Windows systems are a write off by any means.

Apple has reinvented its MacBook Pro product range with the M1 chip. You may have noticed that the chip has been all the rage since its release in November 2020. In short, the M1 chip is replacing the Intel processors that Apple has been using in their MacBooks since 2006. Additionally, the M1 chip actually contributes to longer battery life – giving you up to 20 hours of power!

The Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch in a living setting. Transport it anywhere with you & make music on the go!
Image Credit: Pocket-lint

However, MacBooks are not user-serviceable – meaning you can’t upgrade any components inside. Therefore, we recommend going big at purchase – even if you have to save up for it. At least 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage will give you plenty of processing and storage.


2. 2020 Dell XPS 13 – £1479

For fans of Windows computers, the Dell XPS 13 is the next option on our list of best laptops for music production. With a choice between an i5 or i7 processor, the XPS 13 has a 13.3-inch display and a choice between 8 GB or 16GB of RAM too.

The Dell XPS 13 is our second favourite laptop for music production. Its small design enables us to carry it around easily, though its lack of USB ports means you won't be able to bring all of your gear with you on the go.
Image Credit: NotebookCheck

Furthermore, you can choose your desired SSD space between 256GB and 2TB, in addition to either a full HD 1,920 x 1,080 or 4K 3,2840 x 2,160 display. It’s well suited for live performance on top of music production, so it is sure to meet all of your needs. Its lightweight design includes a 10th generation intel processor and customisation options too!

The Dell XPS 13 is a stylish computer that will look good in any setting. Its small size makes it easy to drop into your backpack at anytime.
Inage Credit: TechRadar

In summary, the Dell XPS 13 is a fantastic alternative to the MacBook Pro. It routinely ranks among the best laptops on the market, and an average battery life of 5 hours and 35 minutes should see you through your travels.


3. 2021 Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 – £1099

The Surface Laptop 4 is an under-appreciated hero. To illustrate, it’s AMD Ryzen 5 4680U processor is the equivalent of an Intel i7 chip. Also, you can upgrade its 8GB RAM to 32GB and have up to 1TB of storage too.

The Surface Laptop 4 is the best laptop that Microsoft has made yet. Its AMD Ryzen 5 processor is the equivalent of an Intel i7 chip - making it a capable laptop for music production.
Image Credit: XDA Developers

It’s said that the Surface Laptop 4 is the best laptop that Microsoft has made yet. Its premium design and 13.5” 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Touch Display allows for easy navigation and a comfortable user experience. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about battery life – which stands at 19 hours – thanks in part to its long-lasting keyboard. You can use it on your travels with no battery life worries.

The Surface Laptop 4 is a slim laptop, so you can carry it around with you anywhere at anytime.
Image Credit: CNN Underscored

Any DAW and plugins are going to be right at home with Windows 11 too. In spite of all of these positives, one negative is the lack of USB ports. An easy remedy here is to invest in a powered USB bank so you can still connect all of your gear. However, this does mean that it may not be possible to bring all of your gear with you on the go.


4. MacBook Pro 16-inch – £2425

The performance of the MacBook Pro 16-inch is only bested by the MacBook Pro 14-inch. However, you can rest assured that your music production and live performance needs will be met once more with an Apple M1 Pro or Max chip inside the 16-inch. All in all, the specs between the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are essentially the same.

The big brother of the 14-inch MacBook, the 16-inch MacBook Pro's bigger size makes it harder to carry around. In spite of this, the M1 chip makes it a fantastic choice of laptops for music production.
Image Credit: Tom’s Guide

However, we have listed it below the 14-inch due to its larger size. Though performance isn’t compromised, a 16-inch laptop is harder to carry around compared to a 14-inch. And with a larger size comes a larger price tag too. There is also a price increase as well, and that’s why we rank the 14-inch higher.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro will serve your music production needs with ease - no matter how big your project is!
Image Credit: TechRadar

Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll get a laptop with stunning performance and will handle your music production beautifully. The larger 16-inch screen also presents a bigger display, of course, making it a more comfortable option if you’re working on a big project.


5. 2021 Dell XPS 17 – £2099

Finally, we have the Dell XPS 17. A true beast of a Windows Computer.

The Dell XPS 17 is our favourite Windows laptop for music production. Though bigger than the XPS 13, its design is still slim and thin - meaning you can carry it around anywhere at anytime.
Image Credit: Laptop Mag

An 11th Generation Intel Core i9 processor, up to 64GB of RAM, and a whopping 17.0″ full HD display present a laptop that can compete with the most powerful Apple MacBook Pro. However, a shortage of USB ports calls for an investment in a powered USB hub.

In spite of its larger size, the Dell XPS 17 is still very thin and lightweight, so you can carry it around and still benefit from the larger display. Like the Dell XPS 13, any DAWs and plugins will run smoothly.

The display of the XPS 17 is beautiful, and coupling that with a pair of headphones will give you a high definition music production experience.
Image Credit: Reviewed

And, like the MacBook Pro 16-inch, there is a larger price tag with the larger size.

TikTok surpasses Snapchat as Gen-Z’s favorite social media app in the US (infographic)

For the first time, TikTok takes the top spot from Snapchat in Piper Sandler’s semi-annual survey, according to over 7,000 teens.

Investment bank and financial services company Piper Sandler surveyed 7,100 teens, across 44 states, with an average age of 16.2 years old for an idea of where the technology, social media, entertainment, fashion and food industries are going in the coming years.

Among details around VR, the metaverse and celebrities/influencers, the spring 2022 survey revealed:

  • Teens spend 30% of their daily video consumption on Netflix and YouTube (both 30%)
  • TikTok is the favorite social media platform (33% share) surpassing Snapchat for the first time (31%); Instagram was again third (22%)

Find the full survey at pipersandler.com/teens.

Use RouteNote to get your music on to TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and more social media platforms and streaming services for free.

ADAM A Series: a highly accurate, transparent sound

ADAM Audio has unveiled the all new A Series. A “highly accurate, transparent sound across a full line of monitors”

The ADAM Audio A-Series delivers the high-quality sound that ADAM Audio has developed a reputation for. Not only does the new A-Series pack a hot sound, but they present fine-tuning capabilities too. To be more specific, no matter what acoustic treatment your room has, you can adapt the frequency response of these speakers with DSP-based room correction.


The ADAM A Series

The all-new ADAM A Series features five speaker models. These include the A4V, A7V, A44H, A77H and A8H. Each speaker “delivers [a] highly accurate, transparent sound”. Moreover, you can control the fine-tuning of the speakers in real-time remotely using A Control. A Control is a virtual control hub that you can download for free from the ADAM website upon registering an A Series monitor pair.

The range of sizes makes the ADAM A Series a good fit for both professional and home studios. On the other hand, ADAM Audio state that an A Series model is fit for “broadcast, fixed-installation, 3D, immersive, and home audio environments” too.


Hear every detail

ADAM Audio’s crisp, reputable sound comes off the back of their in-house technological innovations. For example, the A Series features rotatable HPS waveguide technology for adaptive transmission control, in addition to DSP-based room correction and a voicings control.

Horizontally, “the waveguide matches the dispersion angle of the X-ART tweeter to the woofers and midrange drivers in the crossover region”. As a result, you’ll get a smoother response when listening to the speakers off-axis. In turn, this creates a larger listening sweet spot. When sitting vertically, on the other hand, the waveguide’s design reduces energy arriving on surrounding surfaces. As a result, you may notice fewer reflections bouncing in your room.

The new A Series [has a] a range of studio monitors that offer stunning clarity and low distortion, utilizing new woofers and midrange drivers.

Christian Hellinger, CEO of ADAM Audio

The X-ART tweeter provides a precise transient response while reproducing sonic details accurately. With the introduction of a rotatable HPS waveguide, we can rotate the whole waveguide and tweeter module by 90 or 180 degrees. Therefore, you’ll benefit whether you position the speaker horizontally or vertically!

The A Series monitors feature a flared-port design. This design optimizes airflow while reducing port noise. This design offers an extension in low-end reproduction in addition to higher efficiency. To reduce diffraction, the speaker cabinets have deeper beveling and thicker baffle walls which reduce the amount the cabinets vibrate.


Place your ADAM monitors anywhere

Furthermore, every A Series speaker has an underside mounting interface. This allows us to mount the A Series speakers wherever we want and/or need them! You’ll find four 10mm threaded screw holes in a rectangular pattern “of 127 mm x 70 mm”.

ADAM Audio state that they plan to release a comprehensive range of wall, ceiling, and pole mounting options too. Additionally, every monitor in the A Series comes with a 5-year warranty. ADAM Audio have stated that the A4V and A7V models will be available in June. The A44H, A77H and A8H models will be available at the end of the summer.


ADAM A Control

You can control the DSP-based functionality of the A Series in real-time with an ethernet connection. On the rear of the monitors sits an ethernet input for the necessary connection between your computer and monitors.

In addition to an ethernet connection, the backplate of each A Series monitor presents a range of both equalization and tuning options. However, engineers and producers familiar with cramped studio environments will be aware that the backplate isn’t always accessible from your listening sweet spot. But with A Control, it’s easier than ever to make changes to these settings from the comfort of your sweet spot. This presents us with a huge benefit because we can listen to the change we’re making in real-time and be confident in our decisions!

Furthermore, the settings found on the rear of the speaker may not be enough. To compensate, A Control allows us to dial in specific tunings across six parametric EQ bands and apply low and high shelf filters. If your room has parallel walls which we’re sure it does, you can eliminate or attenuate possible flutter echo with A Control. For example, a high shelf filter attenuating frequencies between 15 kHz and 20 kHz should do the trick.

ADAM A Control presents flexible controls that allow you to fine tune your loudspeaker output to accommodate for the acoustics in your room.
Image Credit: ADAM Audio

Moreover, you can freely adjust the gain, frequency and Q value of each filter band and perfect the sound leaving your A Series loudspeakers.

ADAM Audio and Sonarworks

Users experienced in monitor and/or headphone calibration can rejoice too. A Control facilitates the collaboration between ADAM Audio and Sonarworks – the creators of the renowned SoundID calibration software. A Control features a SoundID Reference option which allows you to import calibration curves from the Sonarworks application. From here, you can embed the calibration curves directly to an embedded platform on A Series monitors. With this option enabled, “you are hearing calibrated audio no matter your sound source” and the calibration happens directly on the monitor.

Price and availability

The A4V and A7V will be available from May 2022, while the A44H, A77H and A8H models will be available by the end of August 2022. 

Adam Audio A Series prices at Thomann

  • A4V – £379
  • A7V – £585
  • A44H – £545
  • A77H – £1090
  • A8H – £1333 each

Find out more about the A Series on the ADAM Audio website!

How do speakers work? Passive speakers vs active speakers

Image Credit: Sound On Sound

The loudspeaker is a staple of music. You’ll find them in every professional studio, and every bedroom studio thanks to the rise of digital music. But how do speakers work?

Studio monitors and headphones are a universal tool that music producers and recording artists utilise every single day. They’re the most vital component of any music production setup. However, how speakers work isn’t so widely known. And when we head out to a live gig or party, loudspeakers and PA systems draw the crowd in from the back of the dance floor.

This article is going to show you the ways of the loudspeaker. We’re exploring how speakers work to broadcast sound; the difference between active and passive speakers; how amplifiers work; and why the frequency response of a speaker is an important thing to consider when you’re looking for studio monitors or a PA system.


How does a speaker work?

To explore this section, let’s break down how sound works and then talk about the different components of a speaker.

How does sound work?

Firstly, sound waves are vibrating waves full of pressure in the air. Put simply, we hear sounds when air particles compress and rarify fast enough. Furthermore, higher frequency sounds have faster air pressure changes.

Therefore, a speaker cone produces sound by moving back and forth and pushing air particles – changing the pressure in the surrounding air.

The parts of a speaker box

The parts of a speaker are made up of the following:

  • Firstly, a dust cap and cone move air and produce sound.
  • Behind the cone, the spider/suspension holds the cone in place while allowing it to oscillate.
  • Then, a magnet and a voice coil interact and convert electrical energy into motion.
  • Holding these in place is the basket.
  • And behind the basket comes the pole and top plate.
  • Finally, a frame mounts everything together.
The parts of a speaker box.

Firstly, a dust cap and cone move air and produce sound.
Behind the cone, the spider/suspension holds the cone in place while allowing it to oscillate.
Then, a magnet and a voice coil interact and convert electrical energy into motion.
Holding these in place is the basket.
And behind the basket comes the pole and top plate.
Finally, a frame mounts everything together.
Image Credit: myMedia Installer

So, how do loudspeakers actually work?

Speakers convert electrical energy into motion – that is, electrical energy moves components within the speaker. Otherwise known as “mechanical energy”, this motion compresses air to convert the motion into sound energy/sound pressure.

You’ll often hear music professionals state that speakers and microphones are opposites to one another. This is true because while a speaker converts electrical energy into motion and then sound, a microphone converts sound waves into electrical energy!

As we mentioned above, sitting inside a speaker box is a magnet. And when an electric current travels through a coil of wire it produces a magnetic field. So, as an electrical current travels through the voice coil and produces an electric field – that electric field interacts with the magnetic field of the magnet behind the coil.

As your electrical signal travels through the voice coil – in every way reflecting the original musical waveform moving up and down – the voice coil is attracted and repelled by the magnet. In turn, the speaker cone (attached to the voice coil) also moves back and forth. This back and forth oscillation creates pressure waves in the air that we perceive as sound.


How do passive speakers work?

Passive speakers are what you’ll find when looking for consumer hi-fi systems and in clubs. Let’s break down a passive speaker system.

Firstly, there’s an audio source. In a live sound scenario, this could be a band playing on microphones or a DJ behind CDJs. Then a preamplifier separates the different sources/channels (guitars, drums, etc.) and allows you to determine the level of each source. If the sound source is CDJs, separating the channels isn’t necessary.

Up next comes the power. A power amplifier takes your weak electrical signal from the preamp and boosts it enough so it can actually drive the speaker cones. But before the signal reaches your speakers, your output must go through a crossover filter. The crossover splits your whole signal into its different frequency bands – it sends high frequencies to the tweeters and sends all other frequencies to the far bigger mid/bass units. 

But if you have a three-way passive speaker system, you can use your crossover unit to split the signal into three parts – highs, mids, and lows. Having a separate driver for each frequency group allows you to deliver far more power for each group – providing your amplifier has enough output wattage.

How passive speakers work

Your source audio travels to your pre-amplifier, then into a power amplifier. From here it travels into a signal crossover where the frequencies are split into treble, mid-range, and bass frequencies. Then these frequency groups travel to either the low-end woofer, the mid-range woofer, or the high end tweeter dome.

Whether active or passive, the input power of a speaker pushes its volume. In other words, it’s the wattage that a speaker can handle that determines what volume levels that speaker can reach. Despite this, higher wattage doesn’t necessarily translate to a louder output though – as we’ll talk about later, speakers are massively inefficient. However, you can determine how loud a speaker is with a combination of wattage and its frequency response (more on this later).


How do active speakers work?

Put simply, an active speaker is an all in one system that doesn’t require external amplification power as passive speakers do. Your studio monitors are active speakers as you only need to plug them into your mains power supply!

Active speakers have a built-in power amplifier in the speaker cabinet. Here’s how the signal chain works – it’s very similar, and it all happens inside the speaker rather than outside of it.

Your electrical signal travels into the internal crossover. Like in a passive system, this splits your signal into high frequencies and everything else (depending on whether the speaker is a two or three-way speaker). But there is a slight signal chain difference between active and passive systems.

An active signal chain sits inside the speaker box. The speaker splits the signal into its treble, mid-range, and bass frequency groups and sends each group to a dedicated amplifier. In turn, the amplifier send the signal to a dedicated speaker cone.

Sticking with our DJ as an audio source, a DJ mixer handles the necessary pre-amplification stage.

Your home studio will follow this path: your microphone plugins into your audio interface. Your audio interface converts the electrical analog signal to a digital one. Then, this digital signal travels in and back out of your computer to your audio interface once more. Finally, your interface re-converts the digital signal to an electrical one and sends it to your active studio monitors.

In a passive system, your signal reaches the crossover after your power amplifier. But in an active system, your signal reaches the crossover before power amplification. This slight difference in signal flow allows for more precise frequency amplification at the power amp stage. Therefore, active systems have far more accurate signal reproduction – which is why studio monitors are active systems.


How do speaker amplifiers work?

Whether an external amplifier or inside an active system, an amplifier creates a brand new output signal which is an amplified copy of your input signal. The amplifier then sends your signal on its way through the signal path.

It’s the power supply of your amplifier itself that generates the new output signal. Whether battery-powered or from mains electricity, an amplifier also smoothens out the electrical signal to ensure it’s even. Without this crucial step, you’ll hear an inaccurate reproduction of your source.

The input signal modifies the output signal in real-time. Because the electrical signal of the input is weak, a pre-amplifier is necessary to boost the signal and to make sure it has enough power to actually affect the output signal of the power amplifier. Some external amplifiers have multiple pre-amplifiers inside them to build up the desired voltage too!

Remember how we said the electrical signal reflects the original musical waveform of your source? This is made possible by the varying resistance that the electrical input signal applies to the output of the amplifier! As a result, this reproduces the compression and rarefactions in the audio signal which drives the oscillation of the voice coil inside the speaker cabinet!

RMS Power vs. Peak Power

If you ever shop for a speaker system, it’s important to understand what peak power is. More importantly, you’ll want to know why RMS power (root mean square) is a better measurement of power.

PA speakers push a certain amount of watts in a pair. And many manufacturers advertise a systems’ peak power – which isn’t the actual power that a speaker can handle. Peak power is what the system can handle when there are spikes in the audio. In contrast, RMS power is the measure of continuous power. RMS power is the measurement of continuous power that an amplifier can output or a speaker can handle.


What is the frequency response of a speaker?

Essentially, a speakers’ frequency response is how loud its output will be at different frequencies.

To test the frequency response of your studio monitors, simply sweep the pitch of a sine wave from 20 Hz to 20 kHz in your DAW. The ideal result is that your speaker sounds the same in all frequency groups, though this is pretty uncommon. When a speaker does sound the same reproducing all frequency groups, this is a flat frequency response.

A flat frequency response means no frequency dips or boosts are present in the frequency range. Moreover, making music on active studio monitors allows whoever listens to the final product to hear it as you intend. If your studio monitors have apparent frequency cuts/boosts below 10 kHz, you’ll find it difficult to make music the way you want it to be heard unless you put workarounds in place.

But if your track sounds good on speakers that have a flat response, it will sound good on any playback system.

Why is a flat frequency response important?

But many speakers, whether studio monitors or live PA systems, are not flat. Many lack the required power in treble and bass frequency groups (particularly the sub-bass region of 20 Hz to 40 Hz). And many speakers do have peaks or dips in their frequency response too.

A consequence of this is that some instruments in your music will sound louder or quieter in the final master than you want them to. However, let’s look at the facts here. There is a reason that speakers have these unfortunate characteristics.

The threshold of human hearing stretches from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. That’s 10 octaves of frequencies! And seeing as faster air pressure changes produce higher frequencies, a tweeter dome must oscillate very quickly to produce them. And bass frequencies below 300 Hz require a speaker to push a lot of air. After all, you feel bass more than you hear it.

And this is precisely why tweeters are small domes and woofers are large cones. To conclude, to accurately produce the full threshold of human hearing with no alterations, a speaker would require multiple drivers, cones and domes. And at that point, speakers become unaffordable for many.

Novation FLkey MIDI controllers: control FL Studio with your fingers

Image Credit: Novation

In collaboration with Image Line, the creators of Fl Studio, Novation presents the FLkey MIDI controllers for FL Studio. Two models of MIDI keyboard specifically made for the FL Studio DAW.

Novation state that the FLkey MIDI controllers are the ” ultimate range of MIDI keyboards for making music in FL Studio”.

Whether you’re just starting with FL Studio or a power user, a beatmaker or composer or anything in between, FLkey can help you express your creativity and make the most of your studio sessions with a MIDI keyboard controller designed to work seamlessly with your production set-up.

Novation

FLkey MIDI controllers for FL Studio

Both models of the FLkey MIDI controllers feature controls that allow you to interact with FL Studio’s Sequencer, Channel Rack , Mixer, and Piano Roll in creative ways. Other controls allow easy preset browsing, and you can assign custom controls with Custom Modes too! Forget about your mouse and keyboard, it’s time to play with FL Studio in the physical realm.

Whether your studio space is big or small, Novation has made two models of FLkey to accommodate you. FLkey Mini features 25 mini keys that Novation states are its “best mini keys to date”. This smaller model will fit into your backpack or a cramped desk, so it’s ideal for the on-the-go producer.

FLkey Mini features 25 mini keys that Novation states are its “best mini keys to date”. This smaller model will fit into your backpack or a cramped desk, so it's ideal for the on-the-go producer.
Image Credit: Novation

On the other hand, FLkey 37 features 37 full-size keys that stretch across 3 octaves and is “the perfect balance of key range and footprint for any bedroom studio”. Additionally, FLkey 37 has an onboard screen, extra modes like Chord Modes, FL Studio transport control for access to DAW functions in an instant, Channel rack control, Fixed Chord mode, and dual Chord modes too.

FLkey 37 features 37 full-size keys that stretch across 3 octaves and is "the perfect balance of key range and footprint for any bedroom studio". Additionally, FLkey 37 has an onboard screen, extra modes like Chord Modes, FL Studio transport control for access to DAW functions in an instant, Channel rack control, Fixed Chord mode, and dual Chord modes too
Image Credit: Novation

The different Chord modes are easy-to-use and allow you to expand your creative potential. As a result, Chord modes allow you to play interesting chord progressions without any musical theory behind you. These chord modes include Fixed Chord mode, Scale Chord, Dual Chord, and User Chords. The latter allows you to play custom chords with just one finger, and Scale Chord lets you play pre-determined chords in 8 different scales.

Scale and Chord modes allow you to play freely without stressing about the details. For example, Scale mode locks your keys into a selected scale – meaning  you always play in your chosen scale. Therefore, writing melodies that compliment your chord progressions just got easier!

Sequencer Mode maps FLkey’s pads to FL Studio’s step sequencer, allowing you to lay down beats faster. Furthermore, two Pad modes will get playing rather than pasting your beats straight into the Channel Rack or Piano Roll. Equally useful is the ability to trigger slices in SliceX too!

Controls for volume and panning will help you get your track release ready faster. After all, fiddling with virtual knobs is far less fun. Eight pot knobs allow you to tweak your mix and record automation!


Price and compatibility

Despite all of these awesome controls, the FLkey MIDI controllers are fairly priced. You can get the FLkey Mini for £99 and the FLkey 37 for £199. Both keyboards will be available in mid-April.