A Small Linux Studio to create music...

Hi ,

I am trying to create a small studio in order to create music with Renoise so I did a small list with the things that I will probably need

– Audio Interface

– Midi Keyboard

– Microphone

– Headset

– Speakers

– Renoise and VST Instruments

I am a Linux user and Renoise is working very well thats why I already bought it but I guess I may have some problems with the other hardware.

I am not a professional is just for hobby and I need it mostly to create background music for games I am trying to develop or compose music.

– Audio Interface –> Steinberg UR-44 orFocusrite Scarlett 6i6??? any of them will work fine with Linux?

– Midi Keyboard –> I already have an old midi keyboard MK-361C , is a bit dusty but is working fine, dont know if it will benefit me if I replace it or not. if it needs a replacement suggest me one

– Microphone –> I will record mostly voices/vocals/songs so suggest me one.

– Headset –> I will use it a lot I think because I think I will have to work at late hours when most people sleeping so it must be comfortable and with nice sound quality

– Speakers –> I was planning to get Logitech Z906 5.1

– Renoise and VST Instruments –> I have seen the forum post with the collection for VST instruments but I am a bit confused.

What I need is simple. I need a VST free or to buy that will work with Renoise and provide me with a lot of instruments to choose from and another VST which it will have a lot of loops/soundtracks/atmospheres etc.( Something like Hypersonic 2 would be great.)

My background is only 5 years playing piano and playing around with a lot of music composing software, did some remixes, DJ and so on but only for private use and friends. Also I think I have a good ear (at least thats what my piano teacher was saying) .

Anyway , I would appreciate any suggestions or anything that it will point me to the right choice of hardware and software

EDIT: I forgot to tell that I have stopped creating/composing/mixing music for years so I am trying to get things sorted out and get back to my music hobby so I am on the stage of searching what is the best non profesional hardware/software to use nowadays.



If by small you mean portable you could make something similar to my mobile studio kit that fits in a messenger bag for all round daily travel. Total weight 4 kgs only.

iRig Pro Soundcard interface

iRig Miccast microphone for phone based studio and podcast recordings.

Zoom H1 recorder and audio interface, also works as a USB microphone and stores everything on a SD card.

Akai LPK 25 Midi keys controller

Akai MPC Element 16 pad controller

MacBook Air 11.6 inch, really I just love this one, even with recent models available that lack a lot of the existing features on this 2015 model.

Travel adapter for working in different countries.

MacBook Thunderbolt to HDMI display adapter cable.

2 1TB harddisks for backup and entertainment.

Multiple high capacity pendrives for daily use and data redundancy.

Any good monitoring headphones. I have a quite a lot of headphones so what I carry can differ from time to time. Go for Sony or Sennheiser or even Akai phones which are quite bassy and strong, some Roland headphones are nice as well.

Multi card reader and usb hub, there are many such devices at bargain prices. For size go for the branded smaller ones from Amkette.

Charger and cables for most gear, some are redundant and useful if you want to reduce weight.

That is all you need really to work with both 16 pad Beatmaking and recording keys and chords, remember your laptop already has a keyboard that also works as a data entry and midi controller in Renoise. You can use the Zoom H1 or the Miccast as audio input sources. The Zoom H1 also takes in line input or mic input so you can use it for sampling CD players and other sources like YouTube from your phone. Your laptop even if running Linux will be perfect for using Renoise as all the devices are plug and play. For added convenience plug into an existing TV or LED monitor to enlarge the display and use external monitors to bang out sound wherever you find them. iLoud from IKMultimedia are some well received monitors that should pack into any bag. I do not have it because I have external monitors that I use anyways and lots of headphones. Plus it’s extra weight to carry all this extra stuff for daily purpose. I have a lot of guitars and some external gear like the dr 880 which I am exclusively using as a guitar and bass processor and finger drumming machine where all the drum setup is done for you. For real drum sounds and feel this really is top notch. Lots of features as well. Add external gear as required, if something fits your agenda then incorporate it.

What else do you need? Buy or download all the sample packs and vsts you can find or afford and store them for backups on the fast external drives or install them locally on your laptop space permitting. That is it you are done. Travel around and make music. No excuses.

Btw if you are looking to make music locally but small meaning not splurging on external gear too much, then you can go for your existing gear from the list you mentioned and make sure that your monitors are good enough. After monitors the rest is upto your preference, most midi controllers basically do the same thing, they input data. Whether you want hammer action or not is upto you. Same with the Akai line and Maschine line of products, Renaissance and MPC Studio and MPC Element, MPC Touch are all controllers. Maschine Studio and Maschine Mikro are also controllers and not all in one solutions. Only the rest of the product line like Akai MPC Live and Akai MPC X are all in one and recent machines. These are perfect for both portability and the negation of a computer to do music production. You can try them as well if your budget and production style allows it.

Thank you @encryptedmind for your time and effort to write all this

Very nice gadgets you got there :slight_smile:

I liked these 3 but especially the Zoom H1 recorder looks really handy

Zoom H1 recorder and audio interface, also works as a USB microphone and stores everything on a SD card.
Akai LPK 25 Midi keys controller
Akai MPC Element 16 pad controller

Well I dont intend to travel a lot but the above will come handy in case I visit a friend to record some stuff together.

Thanks again for all the info you have provided, really appreciate it :slight_smile:

@wolfyrion: No problem at all. I also tend to write long posts anyways becos I type at around 85-95 wpm as I think which actually makes it fun process for me:) Forgot to mention that I typed all that on my Lenovo Vibe K4 Android phone via the touchscreen at that speed (lots of typos as a result though, also becos of auto correct many a times).

– Speakers –> I was planning to get Logitech Z906 5.1

– Renoise and VST Instruments –> I have seen the forum post with the collection for VST instruments but I am a bit confused.

What I need is simple. I need a VST free or to buy that will work with Renoise and provide me with a lot of instruments to choose from and another VST which it will have a lot of loops/soundtracks/atmospheres etc.( Something like Hypersonic 2 would be great.)

I don’t know those speakers but I’m not sure I would have much faith in Logitech. If you get those then it might be good to get some decent headphones to reference with, something like Sennheiser or a decent audio brand like that. I have the Sennheiser HD 585 and I’m fairly happy with them. Get some good quality ones and as long as you reference your mixes on other systems (speakers, car, ear buds etc) then it doesn’t matter too much, as with monitors it’s really about how well you get to know them.

For VST, you can add the kxstudio repo and install a whole load of good synths and fx. Zynaddsubfx is excellent and very powerful, it comes with loads of presets which emulate real instruments as well as being very capable at a number of different synthesis types. It’s got a bit of a learning curve but there are plenty of other, easier synths available.

For the second VST, I’m not sure what to suggest. It doesn’t sound like you need a VST for that, just get some sample packs and use Renoise to layer/loop/mangle them. You can build up your own library of loops and sounds by using renoise alone, it has loads of great tools for making sounds, just add fx and do what your want to it and then render loops for future use.

Focusrite cards are quite often recommended and work well as far as I know. Alsa has a list herebut I don’t think it is exhaustive or perhaps very up to date. Usually if the card is class compliant then it will work. Google around to find reports from users, linuxmusicians.com is a fairly good place to try posting as well.

Alright :

Audio Interface :

you can’t go wrong with Focusrite. Seriously. Take anything that has the proper amount of IO.

Headphone :

DT-770 (no debate here). Just take one.

Or, only if you have the budget and wanna seriously learn mixing : ATH-m70x

MIcrophone :

AT2020 (supa cheap but more than decent)

Aston Origin (unbeatable price/value)

Midi Keyboard :

Anything. It’s old technology, they’re all identical. Grab a used one.

Speakers :

Can’t tell without : budget, music genre, room size.

On a side note : I’ve tried to make music on linux for nearly a decade. Renoise sure helped… but the state of music making on linux is pretty cataclysmic TBH. If you get into music, don’t be like me : change OS right away. It’s not even comparable.


I would also say, that Linux is not the best choice for music production. The last time I tried to use a Linux system for music, I had a really terrible time. You have to be more a computer scientist than a musician. But if you have fun fighting with an OS, go for it :wink:


Personally I use the Steinberg UR-22 Audio-Interface and it works well in every OS. My headphones are the the ATH-m30x , not that expensive and nice and neutral sounding. I use a condenser mic from MXL (990). It costs under 100 Euros and does a good job for me. I prefer to work with the computer keyboard in Renoise but you can’t go wrong with the Arturia Minilab (the old version) Midi-keyboard which is pretty cheap on ebay (used).

I don’t own monitor speakers. It is better to have good ones if you want to become really good at mixing, but you need a “good sounding” room for that.

Linux is just fine for music making

you just have to get used to it!!!

Ubuntu Studio seems to be the best choice

I would suggest the Zoom H1 too,having budget in mind.

Fluidsynth DSSI loads .sf2 files ,lots of them around ,just google “free soundfonts” (pianos,drums,guitars,synths etc)

Renoise can handle .sfz files,google for them too…

For synth VSTs Zynaddsubfx is a must,Helm is also great (it has a nice arpeggiator),Obxd, (KXStudio repositories)

Look also for the Tunefish 3&4 VST synths

Careful, the zoom H1 (like the rest of the H serie) is not an audio interface. It’s a decent handheld recorder with a mediocre audio-interface built-in as an extra feature.

For your own safety : go for a real USB interface with a large diaphragm mic.

Many people have suggested steinberg : it’s as good as focusrite. Basically every entry-level USB interface have the same price/value (and sometimes literally the same hardware).

Check out focusrite and presonus “packs” with mics and headphones. Probably not extraordinary good, but AFAIK more than enough to make decent stuffs.

How to choose : look at the tiny specs differences (like headphone volume, extra inputs/outputs…). You can also look at the plugins… ah. Oh. Wait, you won’t be able to use them on linux.

PS: noisetoys have suggested the MXL990. Apparently it’s a good mic AND It’s upgradable if you’re into solderinghttps://microphone-parts.com/collections/mod-kits/products/mxl-990-circuit-upgrade-kit . However, the at2020 remains the safest choice (I’ve never heard of a malfunctioning one, and the sound is stunning for the price.)

Thanks for all your feedback, you are all awesome :slight_smile:

Linux is my preferable OS and I think it has enough tools to create Music and other cool stuff, actually more than I will ever need

(Renoise,Audacity,Ardour,LMMS,Mixxx,Hydrogen,rosegarden,qtractor,Muse,linuxsampler,Musescore etc)

And that comes from someone who used to create Music using FastTracker :panic:

After doing some research and considering your feedback I ended with these:

  1. Beyerdynamic DT770 M Headset for Drummers Front of House and Inline Volume Control
  2. Alesis VI49 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 16 Pads, 12 Assignable Knobs, 36 Buttons and 5-Pin MIDI Out
  3. RODE NT1-A Condenser Microphone Bundle
  4. Focusrite MOSC0016 Scarlett 6i6 2nd Generation USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools

Well I think I Am ready to hit the order button… :slight_smile:

you won’t have any problem using linux to make music

also check this if you’re inclined to use windows vsts (that do not use ilok for authorization):


it works, even on low latency scenarios (<32 samples buffer)

have fun!

I wrote a lot about Linux, Linux VST, Wine and Renoise in my blog. I came from Windows 7, then had a broken windows for no reason and I gave Linux a try. That was 3 or 4 years ago. While I first just hated Linux and the lack of VST and especially manuals “musicians” understand, I sticked with Linux anyways.

Now I call myself some sort of Linux-musicproduction-expert. I used ubuntustudio but soon switched to Arch/Antergos because of the “rolling-release”-nature of these Linuxdistributions, you get better and newer Wine-Versions which are crucial for using Windows-VST in Linux.

With tools like yaourt (gcc-multilib installed) you can easily compile “airwave” from the Arch User Repository. This allows you to run windows-vst like they were native linuxvst. The performance is nothing worse than the performance in windows. Most vsts run perfectly, the well-known plugins like Kontakt or Nexus run perfectly.