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One of the first things you need to decide before purchasing a microphone for podcasting is what type of mic you should get: USB or XLR. In most cases, USB microphones have comparable sound quality to their XLR counterparts. The difference is in the way they capture sound.

But if you’re just getting started with plugins and don’t want to invest in stuff you’re not sure you’ll use just yet, why not go the free route? To alleviate some of the daunting stress of navigating the world of plugins, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite free plugins available for download that are of competitive quality and just plain fun to try out. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re exploring soft synths, learning to mix on your own, or trying to make your beats sound like what you hear on the radio.

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Music theory is a useful feather in the cap of any music producer. Learning a bit of theory will help you fundamentally understand the music you record, the emotional power that can be achieved by it, and how to mix and arrange everything so it comes out more clearly. Check out Soundfly’s popular free course, Theory for Bedroom Producers, to get a sense of how learning just a bit of music theory can do wonders for your songwriting and production practice.

If you sit down with pen and paper in hand and find that no new ideas are coming your way, consider a fresh perspective in your writing process. If you are used to writing your songs by starting with just an acoustic guitar and vocals, try opening your mind by starting on the piano instead. If you usually start with a melody in mind but just can’t seem to find the right tune today, start by looping a beat or groove instead. With the great variety of affordable recording and composing software on the market today, you can have a wide palette of sounds at your fingertips and no longer be limited to just the instruments that you own or have the ability to record at one time. If the idea of recording software makes you anxious, you can get started with something as simple as Apple’s Garageband if you are a Mac user or FL Studio on PC.

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