One of the more recent music production software for PC’s to hit the beat making scene is the BTV SOLO by 2 x Grammy Award winning music producer Dallas Austin, who has worked with many huge name artists including Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Will.I.Am, Lady Gaga and Madonna.
The accolades sound great don’t they? Well, it really means nothing if BTV SOLO does not allow you to produce great music. Fortunately, Dallas knows a thing or two about making hit records, and has implemented the same professionally engineered sounds and technology that he uses, in his software.
I’ve had the opportunity to try a demo of BTV SOLO and in my review, I’ll be going through all the good and not so good points of BTV SOLO, and how it compares with other competing music production softwares.
Our Final Verdict:
Ideal For Beginners: The layout, navigation, functionality and versatility are all specifically designed for beginner music producers.
Pre-Loaded Sound & Drum Kits: There are over thousands of professionally engineered sounds and drum kits included to get your creative juices flowing.
Import Your Own Sounds: You can import .wav or .aiff 16-24 bit sound files and add it to your sound library. This is great for sampling.
Sample & Chop: You can import a song or movie audio clip that you like, and chop it up and adjust its sound to suit your track.
Tonnes Of Effects: There are so many on-board effects to create some weird and cool sounds, which you can play about with.
Custom Sound & Kit Builder: You can create your own drum kits and sounds so that you have your own important signature sound that’s easily recognizable.
MIDI Controller Connection: You can connect an external MIDI controller device such as a MIDI keyboard, so that it’s easier to play melodies.
Two Licenses: You can use this software on two of your own PC’s, or give a copy to a friend if you’re kind enough.
Lifetime Upgrades: There are big plans to increase the capabilities of BTV SOLO, and you’ll get all those updates.
Affordable: Very, very reasonably affordable price which again, is why it’s ideal for beginners.
No VSTi Plugin Option: Currently, there’s no option to install VSTi’s (virtual studio technology) on this, or use this as a VSTi to use with other audio workstations, though it’s in the plans for future updates.
BTV SOLO Overview
You might be thinking that the layout of BTV SOLO looks familiar. That’s because essentially, it’s a simpler version of BKE Tech’s Beat Thang Virtual software, and a software version of their Beat Thang Hardware.
To put it briefly, BTV SOLO can do most of what the more expensive Beat Thang Virtual and Hardware can do, but doesn’t come with a sampler nor VSTi, and has less sounds. So without further ado, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Ease Of Use
If you’ve ever used or seen interfaces of other music production software, you’ll immediately recognize that the BTV SOLO is unique. It’s laid out like an MPC (music production controller) machine, which allows you to quickly access different drums and sounds for a fast and flexible workflow.
On the left hand side is where all your sounds and drum kits are listed, which can be assigned to the key pads at the bottom main area. Just above, are 16 channels, each representing a different sequence.
The screen display shows everything that you’re currently playing, in an easy to understand manner. To the right of the it are a few sound effects, with more options present on the screen when a particular sound is selected.
That’s really it. You can get used to it in just a few hours because it’s so simple. Then you can literally produce a beat in an hour or so just by using your keyboard and mouse, or an external MIDI controller.
External MIDI Controller Option
I absolutely love the fact that you can use an external MIDI controller such as a keyboard or a drum pad. What this means is that you can play melodies and drum patterns directly from your MIDI device, and it will correspond in BTV SOLO’s interface in real time.
This makes is much more practical and easier to produce a beat, rather than using your computer keyboard. You cannot find this feature in online beat makers or other cheaper music production softwares because they’re simply not sophisticated to handle such technology. You can check out the Top 10 Best MIDI Keyboards here.
In other cheap music production softwares (especially online ones), you’re largely limited on effects and mastering tools, and as a result, you end up with a beat that sounds very amateurish.
There are three main components that makes a great instrumental – Your creativity, use of great sounds and mastering the track. BTV SOLO incorporates features that makes this possible.
Sounds & Drum Kits
Firstly, it helps to have already professionally engineered sounds and drums. Secondly, they need to sound appealing. This software offers both.
Although I haven’t been through the thousands of sounds and hundreds of drum kits that are included, the one’s I have tested out, sounds very high quality.
It’s the kind of sounds you would hear in number one hit records. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because these are the same sounds used by Dallas Austin, super producer and founder of BTV SOLO.
You also have the option to import your own sounds into the workstation and use them, or you can develop your own sounds completely from scratch. Sound expansion packs are available for additional costs.
Effects & Mastering Tools
Making full use of the effects is what will separate your beats from someone else’s. There’s a whole load of different effects tools including phasers, flangers, pitch-shifters, coil and old vinyl effects, reverbs, delays and more.
If you’re a beginner, you likely won’t know what the majority of them do until you play about with them. They essentially make your sound unique, and will certainly open up more ideas in your head.
Mastering is where things get a bit more technical, but that’s a good thing, because it will help you to carefully listen to the very miniscule but important changes in sounds, and how they’re arranged.
Mastering tools such as compression, limiting, volume adjustment and EQ serves to edit minor flaws and spruce up sounds. You’ll quickly learn about the final tweaks that a beat needs in order to become perfect for listeners.
Custom Kit & Instrument Builder
So you have over a hundred drum kits already installed, but what if you want to import your own sounds or select specific kicks, hi-hats and snares to create a favorites list?
With the Custom Drum Kits builder you can assign each instrument to sound pad, and create your own combination. This keeps all your favourite sounds in one place, and really does help you to make beats much faster.
The instrument builder works the exact same way, but with more flexibility as you can layer multiple instruments together to create a completely new sound.
Very few other music production softwares within BTV SOLO’s price range offer this feature, and those that do, are not as simple to use, and definitely not as effective.
BTV SOLO is a highly praised music production software because of its innovation and practical design. You shouldn’t expect anything less from a producer who has worked with some of the most prominent artists.
Here’s what some producers and industry insiders had to say about BTV SOLO:
Please note that the above testimonials are for the Beat Thang Hardware, which is pretty much the physical version of BTV & BTV SOLO.
|OS||Windows & Macs|
|Pre-Loaded Drum Kits||100+ (professionally engineered)|
|Pre-Loaded Sounds||1000+ (professionally engineered)|
|Pre-Loaded Tracks||100+ (royalty-free)|
|Sample Editing Tool|
|On-Board Effects / Mastering||- Phasers / Flangers / Vibratos / Choruses / Pitch-Shifters / High & Low Pass Filters|
- Delay & Reverb
- Pitch / Pan / Cutoff / Resonance per Sound
- Modulation / Pitch Wheels
- Compression / Limiting / EQ
|Advanced Tools||- Attack / Decay / Sustain / Release|
- Kit Building and Keyspanning
- Custom Kit & Instrument Builder
|Sound Importer||.wav or .aiff 16 bit - 24 bit|
|MIDI Controller Connection|
|Video Training & Support|
- It’s a brilliant music production software that replicates the BKE Hardware and BTV Pro software.
- Simple enough for beginners, but powerful enough for seasoned music producers.
- You can go from rookie status to expert producer with the provided high-quality training videos.
I consider the BTV SOLO to be the best beat making software for complete beginners simply because it’s so easy to grasp. Granted, it’s not as comprehensive as premium DAW’s such as FL Studio, Cubase and Pro Tools, but that’s because it’s not supposed to be.
The point is that it’s a great platform for beginners to begin on, and also to advance on. I’m blown away by the beats that I’ve heard others produce by using just BTV SOLO. I highly recommend that you at least see it in action for yourself.
Our Final Verdict:
If you want to start making beats or become successful at it, then you're going to need some great music production equipment to enhance your skills. Take a look at the following: