Recommended music production equipment 2020

Some of the most common questions I get: "what equipment do I need for music production".
I spent a lot of time researching, testing and sending back equipment before they fit my needs and quality standards.
So I have compiled a list with tools for you (to save you some time) that I will update regularly.

Sound cards

Apollo Twin One of the more professional sound cards.
Used by many producers around me
Price on Amazon
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd gen) I personally own the 2nd gen and I'm really happy with it.
It's simply the best affordable sound card on the market
Price on Amazon
RME Babyface Professional sound card with less latency due to RME's own USB drivers Price on Amazon
Arturia AudioFuse Professional little powerhouse with everyone's dreamfeatures, a lot of negative reviews on the internet about the support or Arturia Price on Amazon
Audient ID14 Very good sound card with professional pre-amps. I owned one and was very happy with the sound quality Price on Amazon

Monitor speakers

Tannoy Reveal 802 Affordable speaker.
Very precise in the high end, but lacks punch in the low end.
I own these speakers
Price on Amazon

Microphones

Rode NT1 I own this recording-studio-grade microphone, the sound quality is amazing! I really really really recommend this one Price on Amazon

DAWs

Studio One I find it one of the most user friendly DAWs out there. A lot of processes are well thought out (except the sidechaining, which I can't get used to).
It's my DAW of choice.
Price on Amazon
Ableton Live I like the plugins on the bottom and the overall editor of the software Price on Amazon

Computers for music production: recommended specs

CPU Intel Core i7 latest generation (optimal price/performance ratio)
CPU cores 4 min (more recommended)
Memory 8GB min. (recommended: 16GB or 32GB)
Storage 1 TB SSD
Graphics card / GPU  Onboard is enough
Screen 17" min. (27" or larger preferred)
Keyboard Backlit
Mouse Side scroll / horizontal scroll

If you like advice on computers for music production, check out my article:
"best computer for music production".

Laptops for music production

budget laptops

± $500 HP 250 G5 15.6" HD Premium Business (Intel Core i5-6200U, 8GB DDR4 Memory, 500GB HDD), HDMI, Win 10 Pro Amazon
> $500 2020 HP 15.6" Touchscreen Laptop Computer/ 10th Gen Intel Quard-Core i5 1035G1 up to 3.6GHz/ 8GB DDR4 RAM/ 512GB PCIe SSD/ 802.11ac WiFi/ Bluetooth 4.2/ USB 3.1 Type-C/ HDMI/ Silver/ Windows 10 Home Amazon
> $500 HP Laptop 2019 15.6" HD, Intel Quad-Core i5-8265u, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, USB 3.1, USB-C, Bluetooth, Webcam, Wi-Fi, Fast Charging, Windows 10 Home, Gold Amazon

mid-range laptops

< $1000 ASUS UX510UX-NH74 ZenBook 15 FHD UX510UX, Intel Core i7 Processor (up to 3.5GHz), 8GB DDR4, GeForce GTX 950M, 15.6" Amazon
< $1000 2019 HP 17.3" HD+ Premium Laptop | Intel Quad Core i7-8550U | 16GB DDR4 Memory | 2TB HDD | AMD Radeon R5 Graphics | HDMI Amazon
< $1000 2019 HP 17.3" HD+ Premium Laptop | Intel Quad Core i7-8550U Up to 4.0GHz | 16GB DDR4 RAM | 512GB SSD Boot + 2TB HDD | HDMI Amazon
< $1000 HP 17.3" HD+ Premium Laptop | Intel Quad Core i7-8550U Up to 4.0GHz | 16GB DDR4 + 16GB Optane Memory | 2TB HDD | HDMI | Windows 10 | Gold Amazon
< $1000 HP 2019 Premium Flagship Probook 450 G6 15.6" Full HD 1920x1080 Business Laptop, Intel 4-Core i7-8565U, HDMI, Win 10 Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD Amazon
± $1000 ASUS ROG Strix G G731GU - 17.3" FHD - i7-9750H - NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti - 16GB - 512GB SSD Amazon
> $1000 ASUS ROG 17.3" FHD Gaming Laptop Core i7-9750H 32GB RAM 1TB SSD+2TB SSHD, GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, Hexa-Core, Backlit Keyboard Amazon

If you like more advice on laptops for music production specifically, check out my article:
"best laptop for music production".

Plugins (VSTs)

  • Equalizer: PRO-Q - Simply undisputed the best equalizer/ analyzer on the market. Everything is visual and has the best tools to shape your sound
  • Compressor: PRO-L - I like the visual style of the plugin
  • Compressor: PRO-C - I like the visual style of the plugin
  • Compressor: Glue - The glue compressor is one of the best sounding compressors on the market.
  • Reverb: Pro-R / Valhalla - Valhalla is probably more popular, Pro-R is more visual.

non-recommendations

  • Midi Keyboard: CME X-Keys - I have the CME X-Keys: broken within a year. Not recommended.
  • Monitor isolation: Auralex MoPad - the isolation impact of the risers is minimal, but better than nothing for my neighbours.
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD238 - I have Sennheiser HD238 headphones that are not able to display bass frequencies at decent volume (+ broken within no time). Not recommended.