What DAW & Software Does Skrillex Use (+ His Amazing Studio Gear)

What Software Does Skrillex use? For producing and for live

With his unique heavy bass style, Skrillex has become a superstar of the EDM world, and quite possibly one of the most successful DJs ever. So what software does Skrillex use to get his sound? And what gear makes up his studio? Read on…

In both his studio and live shows Skrillex uses Ableton plus an array of plugins to enhance its functionality. These include things like the FM8 and Vanguard synths and effects units by Izotope and Ohm Force among others. He has also been also known to use Serato for some DJ gigs. 

As with any successful producer, however, Skrillex’s arsenal is varied and vast, so let’s take a deeper look…

What DAW Software Does Skrillex Use Most?

Ableton Live

When Skrillex is asked what software he uses, Ableton Live is always cited as his DAW of choice. Ableton Live is an incredibly popular software among EDM and dance music producers as it is not only just a sequencer but it also allows you to build and arrange music.

As a piece of music production software, Ableton works slightly differently than a lot of other options. It is incredibly flexible as both a bit of studio software and for using live. It includes many features such as clip looping, live triggering, and cross-fading that can be used by DJs as well as in-studio producers.

Ableton’s arranger is based around clips. It is by manipulating these short pieces of audio that you build up a track. And, using full tracks, can be used by DJs to create mixes.

Skrillex uses Ableton to produce his music

Ableton also allows you to use plugins and extra effects as well as inputting instruments and hardware to record.

Push to see the price on Amazon, Ableton is available in 3 levels: Intro, Standard, Multitrack. The Standard version will do you fine for DJing.

What Software Does Skrillex Use For Plugins?

As well as Ableton, Skrillex relies heavily on plugins to build a lot of his sounds. Some of the plugins he uses for his basslines include:

FM8 Synth

FM8 used by Skrillex
Native Instruments’ FM8 Synth

The FM8 is a plugin by Native Instruments. As well as creating your own sounds, it includes over 1200 preset sounds.

Which is what Skrillex will do to make his sounds unique.

Push to see price on Amazon (FM8 is part of the NI Komplete suite which comes in 2 levels: Select with 13 other instruments/effects or Full with 50+ other instruments/effects. You can also buy an upgrade from Select to Full).

Massive Synth

Massive by Native Instruments
Massive by Native Instruments

Another plugin he uses is Massive, again by Native Instruments. Massive is a synth that gives a producer complete control over things like the way the sound oscillates as well as being able to manipulate the waveform and modulation.

Massive is one of the most popular synths used in the dance music world.

Push to see price on Amazon (Massive is part of the NI Komplete suite which comes in 2 levels: Select with 13 other instruments/effects or Full with 50+ other instruments/effects. You can also buy an upgrade from Select to Full).


Sylenth1 by LennarDigital
Sylenth1 by LennarDigital

LennarDigital’s Sylenth1 is another synth namechecked by Skrillex. Aiming to emulate a real-world synthesizer it incorporates everything from oscillators filters as well as adding effects like distortion, phaser, delay or reverb.

Again all of these plugins allow you to manipulate and change every single aspect of a sound. This is how individual DJs and producers can create their own unique style.

Vanguard analog synthesizer

Vanguard by reFX
Vanguard by reFX

Another synth plug-in that Skrillex has mentioned in multiple interviews is the Vanguard analog synthesizer.

This again allows you to manipulate oscillations, envelopes, the amplitude of music as well as delays and reverbs.

What Software Does Skrillex Use For Effects?

The question of what software does Skrillex use for effects probably has a thousand answers. Especially given how many plugins are available for Ableton. That said, some of the ones he has discussed are…

Ohm Force Ohmicide Distortion

What software does Skrillex use? Ohmicide by Ohm Force
Ohmicide by Ohm Force

Skrillex has been known to use the Ohmicide distortion plugin. This allows you to pass in sound that you have created with one of the above plugins and then distort it and manipulate it further. As the manufacturers themselves describe, you can change the sound from slight dearth dirt, to pure carnage.

Skrillex himself said it’s an absolutely crazy multiband distortion compression EQ and filter, which pretty much lets you do anything.

Armin van Buuren and Tom Rollins of the Chemical Brothers also reportedly use Ohmicide.

iZotope Trash2

Trash2 by iZotopeTrash2 by iZotope is another distortion and effects plug-in that has been known to be used by Skrillex. It is using plugins like these that he can get his heavy, dirty sound.

Push to see price on Amazon.

What Software Does Skrillex Use For Vocals?

When it comes to what software does Skrillex use to process his vocal recordings, then there isn’t a huge amount of information. He has discussed vocals a couple of times, however.

Celemony Melodyne

A feature of some of Skrillex’s tracks is the manipulation of vocals and for this, he often uses another plugin called Melodyne.

What software does Skrillex use for vocals? Melodyne by Celemony
Melodyne by Celemony

It is designed specifically to work with vocals and allows you to change everything from the length of notes so being able to change the pitch.

Editing pitch allows you to correct mistakes by singers or in extreme cases you can actually turn a bad singer into a good one. Melodyne essentially allows you to treat vocals like an instrument and manipulate them in a computer after recording.

When you hear crazy vocals that have obviously been manipulated electronically, then there is a high chance it was done in Melodyne.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Vocoders (kinda)

Another tool a lot of music producers use for human vocals are tools called Vocoders. However, Skrillex himself has stated that while he does use them, this tends not to be for vocals.

Instead, he will use them to manipulate other types of audio more than he will for vocals.

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What Microphones Does Skrillex Use?

Shure SM58

For all his vocal recording, Skrillex has said in interviews that he records everything through a Shure SM58 microphone plugged into his Sapphire audio interface.

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Blue Yeti USB Microphone

A Blue Microphones Yeti USB microphone can be seen in various interview photographs.

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What Hardware Does Skrillex Use?

On the Road

Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 Audio Interface

Skrillex has stated that he uses the Focusrite Saffire Pro to make up a vital part of his mobile setup.

With such a heavy touring schedule, he often has to produce on the road and uses the Sapphire Pro 14 on a MacBook Pro running Ableton Live.

Push to see price (updated model) on Amazon.

KRK Rokit 5 G3 Studio Monitors

Skrillex has mentioned in several interviews that he uses small KRK monitors while on the road.

Due to their sound quality and portability, specifically the KRK Rokit 5 G3 studio monitors.

Push to see price (updated model) on Amazon.

Novation 25SL MK II

Novation 25SL
Novation 25SL

With the importance of portability, Skrillex is known to use the Novation 25SL MK II while on the move.

Aside from the keyboard, this includes all sorts of buttons and triggers that allow you to map and use it with any modern DAW, Ableton in Skrillex’s case.

Push to see (latest model) price on Amazon.

Live Shows

When performing live Skrillex often goes way beyond what most DJs do. And he can often be seen creating sounds or playing keyboards live on stage.

Akai Professional MPK49 Keyboard

Akai Professional MPK49
Akai Professional MPK49

One of the keyboards he is known to use is the Akai Professional MPK49 USB MIDI keyboard.

Aside from being a keyboard, this includes drum pads, faders, and pots. You can choose exactly what you map those functions to within Ableton on the laptop, making it super flexible.

Push to see (latest model) price on Amazon.

Apogee Duet 2 Audio Interface

Skrillex also uses an Apogee Duet 2 USB audio interface directly plugged into his laptop.

The apogee duet is a headphone amp, MIDI interface and audio interface. Aside from anything else allows you to create and record professional-quality audio while on the road. Its small size makes it super portable.

Push to see price on Amazon.

M-Audio Trigger Finger MIDI Controller

Another piece of live equipment often seen at Skrillex’s shows is the M-Audio Trigger Finger MIDI controller.

This is based around 16 pads that can be used to trigger drums or sound samples on a laptop.

This helps create more of a live feel rather than just straightforward DJing. Pots and sliders are also included on the trigger finger and can be used to manipulate audio or FX.

Push to see (latest model) price on Amazon.

Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ Soundcard

Another piece of equipment he uses for his live and DJ set is the Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ soundcard. This is a relatively simple bit of equipment that acts as a portable audio interface, allowing you to plug your laptop into larger sound systems.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Love DJ gear?

So do we, check out our favorites…

In His Studio

Akai Professional APC40

Skrillex has an Akai Professional APC40, which makes sense given it is specifically for Ableton. Although it can be used for performance they are slightly larger so they are mostly used as a studio tool.

Push to see price on Amazon.

SSL Matrix Digital Mixer

Matrix SSL Mixer
Matrix SSL Mixer

In his home studio, Skrillex can be seen to have an SSL Matrix digital mixer. This is a professional, large studio mixer that allows him to channel and manipulate multiple tracks at the same time.

Antelope Audio Orion 32 multi-channel AD/DA converter

Also as part of his studio setup Skrillex has an Antelope Audio Orion 32 multi-channel AD/DA converter.

This is an extremely high-quality audio converter that also provides an audio master clock that lets producers sync multiple bits of equipment to provide reliability when mastering recording.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Focusrite Clarett 2Pre

For his permanent studio setup, Skrillex also uses Focusrite Clarett 2Pre. Which is an audio interface designed to provide low latency monitoring and recording for microphones.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Alesis QX25

Another keyboard that Skrillex uses is the Alesis QX25 keyboard controller. A fairly no-nonsense and simple keyboard the QX25 can be connected to virtually all MIDI equipment and software.

It has 25 velocity-sensitive keys as well as simple pitch and modulation wheels. While being powered via the USB cable makes this a handy and durable keyboard for on the road producing.


iZotope Ozone 5

iZotope Ozone
iZotope Ozone

Mastering is a hugely important part of any producer’s workflow. For his mastering, Skrillex uses iZotoype’s Ozone 5 Mastering System which he describes as super versatile and something that everybody uses.

Push to see price on Amazon (Ozone is available in 2 levels: Standard and Advanced)

What Headphones Does Skrillex Use?

Skrillex is often seen using various brands and types of headphones.

Beats Pro / Beats Studio / Beats Mixr

What headphones does Skrillex use? Beats
Beats Pro, Studio, Mixr models

There are plenty of photos of him wearing all versions of Beats by Dre headphones. The Studio versions, the Beats Pro and even the Beats Mixrs on-ear headphones.

Push to see price on Amazon (Beats Solo Pro, Beats Studio3, Beats Ep)

Audio-Technica ATH-M50

Skrillex is also known to use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s in the studio as well.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Sennheiser HD 202 II

Skrillex has also been photographed wearing the Sennheiser HD 202 II.

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SOL Republic Master Tracks

Live he has also used the SOL Republic Master headphones over-ear headphones.

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Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6

While DJing has also been seen to use the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphones.

Push to see price on Amazon.

Skrillex's Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 / Sennheiser HD 202 II / Nocs NS900 / SOL Republic Master Tracks / Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6

So it seems when it comes to headphones that Skrillex doesn’t have any one particular brand that he sticks to consistently. It may well be that he just uses the best ones for the job he is doing at that time.

To see our recommended headphones head here, they’re a banger!

Monitors / Speakers

Skrillex has had many types of monitors in his studio setup and of course, these will change over time.

Barefoot MiniMain12 Studio Monitors

Barefoot MiniMain1
Barefoot MiniMain1 Monitors

At some point, he had some Barefoot MiniMain12 studio monitors.

Barefoot MicroMain27 Gen2 Studio Monitors

Skrillex also has some Barefoot MicroMain27 generation 2 monitor speakers in his studio. Whether they are still set up and actively used is unknown.

Does Skrillex Play Any Other Instruments?

Yes, Skrillex plays guitar.

He has several guitars including a Fender Classic Series ‘72 Telecaster Deluxe, as well as a standard Fender Stratocaster (see price on Amazon).

He also has a Moog E1 electric guitar that he has taken on tour with him.

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What DJ Equipment Does Skrillex Use?

Being such a prolific DJ means that Skrillex uses a wide array of different DJ equipment.

Pioneer CDJ-2000 Nexus & Pioneer DJM Mixers

A typical setup of Pioneer CD decks and Mixer
A typical setup of Pioneer CD decks and Mixer

Not surprisingly, often it is the industry standard Pioneer CDJ2000NX2 (push to see price on Amazon).

And a wide variety of mixers from the Pioneer DJM-450 mixer, Pioneer DJM-900NXS mixer and a DJM2000NXS, which he uses to control the overall sound when performing a live set (push to see Amazon prices).

What Software Does Skrillex Use for DJing?

To organize and manage his music library Skrillex uses Pioneer’s Rekordbox.

When performing things like radio mixes he has been seen using Serato Scratch Live DJ software (push to see price on Amazon).

What Laptop Does Skrillex Use?

Skrillex uses an Apple MacBook Pro for his live shows which he runs Ableton, as well his various plugins.

He has said in interviews that he is purely Apple, this suggests that his studio is run by Apple computers as well.

Push to see MacBook Pro price on Amazon.

How Does Skrillex Write His Tracks?

Skrillex himself has said that he very writes depending on how he’s feeling at the time.

So while he keeps a library of everything he’s created, he is constantly growing and learning new ways to use his software and create new sounds. This means his production can take him in lots of different directions.

Where Does Skrillex Get His Inspiration From?

Skrillex is known to take inspiration from all around him. He has even attributed the writing of some tracks to things like the sounds he heard while having breakfast at Denny’s.

He’s also known to imagine things in his mind’s eye which he then turns into music. This helps him portray the feeling that he may have had at the time.

Being such a good producer he also often just plays around with sounds and with music. This helps him come up with his unique take on things and the Skrillex style that you are familiar with.

Where Did Skrillex Learn His Skills?

Skrillex is self-taught when it comes to production and this has helped inform his style over the years.

If a producer’s learning is too formalized i.e they studied it at a university, this can lead to their sound being slightly generic. Unless they are extremely talented of course. However, Skrillex was self-taught he created his own rules for doing things and it’s this interpretation that allows him to push the boundaries.

Skrillex is also known to produce and work very quickly. This helps him be prolific, create lots of music and learn very fast. He is then able to choose and develop the best ideas and make decisions quickly. When something doesn’t sound right he does not get stuck on endlessly trying to fix it.

So in conclusion, What Software does Skrillex Use?

Being so talented and loving equipment so much Skrillex’s software and setup is ever-evolving. But one thing that remains consistent is Ableton as the base. He then uses any and every plugin he wants to design the sounds that he has imagined in his head.

What next?

  • If you have any questions or know any equipment not mentioned then drop it in the comments!
  • Has Skrillex inspired you to become an EDM DJ? Find out how to do it here
  • Looking for tips to taking you DJing to the next level, check our HUGE list here


  • Skrillex image by Rob215, licensed under CC 2.0
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Remember you can find Skrillex on our EDM superstar DJ T-Shirt, featuring him & 125 others

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