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While some people swear by certain software (or hardware for that matter), it all comes down, once again, to preference. It's always debatable which software provides the best tools, but the "best" tools is subjective and can differ from person to person. Just like how some people will swear on oath that the Mac is the best computer out, PC users will tell you otherwise, or vice versa. The best way to find out which one works best for you is to try them out. Luckily, like most software out, vendors usually offer users trial versions of there software or sometimes even notime limit versions and instead disable some functions, such as saving or exporting your creations. This gives you the opportunity to try different ones out and see which one works best for you. Some people base their opinion on the different features a program offers while others may base their decision on how easy it is to use. For the purpose this guide, we'll clue you in on the best software out there, that won't break the bank. The centerpiece of your production studio will be your sequencer. The Sequencer: The sequencer will be the main production tool in your arsenal; so needless to say, it's important to choose one that you're most comfortable with and increases your productivity. In essence, the sequencer is the platform you will use to make your own beats on; from laying down your patterns to creating the foundation of your track. Two of the more popular loop-based software sequencers out there that hip-hop beat makers may use are Propellerhead's Reason and Image-Line's FL Studio (previously known as Fruityloops). This free online guide will focus on using FL Studio. FL Studio comes in three different flavors: the Producer Edition, the Fruity Edition, and the Express Edition. The Producer Edition is one of the more expensive editions at $149 and evidently has the most features, while the other two are $99 and $49 respectively. The Producer Edition is more of a pattern-based Digital Audio Workstation (or DAW) in the sense that it's more than just a sequencer, but a "do-it-all" program and can be the standalone, centerpiece of your entire studio. For the sake of this free guide, you should have at least the Fruity Edition as the Express Edition cannot be used as a standalone sequencer and requires other software to control it. For more information on the different type's available visit FL Studio's software page.In my own opinion, FL Studio is the best value, as it's only $149 for the Producer Edition compared to Reason's $499 price tag and comes with a lifetime of free updates. That means whenever a newer version comes out, you can upgrade absolutely free! If you would like to try the software before buying it, trial versions are available for download at the Image-Line website. The Sound Editor: Just like software sequencers, there are several sound editors available. The basic function of a sound editor is to edit wave files which can be especially helpful with sample-based production.

Sample-based production essentially is using samples (a portion of an audio track) as the foundation to your music. These samples can be obtained from old records, sample CDs, or recorded from an instrument. With that in mind, the sound editor is particularly helpful when "chopping" up loops or drum breaks, or sampling sounds as it gives you a close-up visual representation of the sound file you're working on. Whether using your own samples, sound banks, or synthesizers, you'll find a sound editor extremely helpful and essential to your home studio. Some of the more popular sound editors include Adobe Audition, Propellerhead's Recycle, and Sony's Sound Forge. I have personally grown accustomed to using Adobe Audition (formerly known as Cool Edit) for my own sound editing needs and it retails for $349. Just like the software sequencers I mentioned earlier, there are shareware versions available and I highly recommend trying them all to find out which you're most comfortable with using. Fortunately, if you don't want to spend another $349 right away, the Producer Edition of FL Studio 6 comes with a standard wave editor with some basic features such as record, cut, copy, paste, etc. Here is a quick look at wave editor in FL Studio Producer Edition.

For more information on computer-based production, I've created a free, online guide on how to make your own beats using your own computer, FL Studio, and accompanying software.

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Make Your Own Beats - Using FL Studio