What are the hardware and software requirements for professional audio quality?

Hello,

Apologies as probably this question is already addressed somewhere in this forum, but I have no time to check it thoroughly as I need a quick reply if possible.

  1. I am a beginner who wants to start producing music for fun, no business
  2. However, high fidelity/quality of the final output is fundamental otherwise it would not be fun for me. I am insanely demanding here. Ideally, I would really like to get to the audio quality (I think “mastering” quality is the right word here) of the professionals… Sorry if this looks unrealistic, but let me “dream” about this at least for a while… LoL
  3. I am not able at all to read music (probably I never will), and I can only play a little bit the piano/keyboard. This means that basically I am not able to play any instrument
  4. A few months ago I bought FL Studio and Akai MK3. At first attempt, I managed to make a cover of Better Off Alone by Alice DJ. I inserted 80% of the piano roll manually with the keyboard of the PC, with the little help Akai mini mk3 to insert some Arpeggiator.
  5. I sent the mp3 to a professionist through some friends who knew him. He is not a famous one, but somebody who does music production for living. I managed to get a couple of brief replies from him as unfortunately he is not very much accessible. He wrote that it is unbelievable what I managed to do at first attempt, and still asked whether I had mixed existing tracks rather than creating everything bit by bit by myself. When I confirmed that the latter was true, he wrote something like “I still do not really believe you; anyway this is something that comes from inside you… do not let it go, keep doing and improving it…you have surely a lot of talent”.

Now the question.

Can I achieve professional audio quality with:

  • FL Studio (provided that I have the right plug-ins)
  • a low entry gaming laptop like MSI i7-11800 with 16 GB RAM, low-entry Nvidia GPU for dual monitors ( I have two large 34 inched extra wide monitors
  • Akai Mk3
  • MOTU M2 audio interface. The reason I have bought this is not to connect instruments to it. The reason is primarily to use native ASIO and have high quality audio output for my Headphones today and tomorrow for the monitor speakers if I will buy them. I am not interested to connect any guitar etc…to the audio interface. You should now by now understand why: a) I am not able to play it!; b) despite how fun it can be, I will never be able to reach professional studio quality. Therefore, all the sounds have to be created by the CPU of the computer with the possible exception of the microphone for the voice. Do you understand the philosophy behind this? Does it make sense to you?
  • Mic still to be bought
  • Beyer DT 990 PRO

That’s all I have so far.

Many thanks in advance.

FullPoker

Yes, you can produce professional-quality audio with nothing more than a DAW like FL Studio.

The more RAM your computer has, the fewer playback issues you’ll encounter when loading multiple plugins into a session. For non-demanding projects, 16 GB will suffice, but you’ll want to jump up to 32 GB or 64 GB of RAM if you plan to produce large EDM projects that utilize tons of software synths. That being said, you can always render your tracks to audio if CPU overload is a recurring issue. For more information, check out this article I wrote called “4 Things to Consider Before Building a PC for Music Production”.

Achieving professional studio quality audio (which is ultimately subjective) can be easily achieved at home using a budget microphone for around $100 and some moving blankets to build a DIY recording booth. I recorded with an MXL 990 for years before upgrading to a TLM 103; the difference is in the details. For example, sibilance appears softer with the TLM 103, meaning less post-processing, but it’s not a night and day difference.

Many producers buy an audio interface to use ASIO—a sound card interface that Steinberg developed. It gives producers direct access to their audio devices without the drawbacks (mainly latency) of other interfaces like DirectSound. ASIO audio is not compressed or resampled, meaning the audio that you hear will be of higher fidelity.

If you’re looking for a microphone, here are some of my vocal mic recommendations with audio examples.

Regarding the headphones that you plan to purchase, make sure you’re aware of the difference between open-back and closed-back headphones before committing to a pair. They each have their uses. For tracking audio, you’ll want to use closed-back headphones, and for mixing and mastering purposes — as well as to ward off ear fatigue — you’ll want to use open-back headphones.