In 1985, creating electronic music was an exciting but expensive endeavor. The cost of making electronic music during this era varied widely depending on several factors, including the equipment used, studio time, and the artist’s level of expertise. To understand the expenses involved, let’s delve into the key components of electronic music production in 1985.

It’s important to note that the cost of making electronic music in 1985 could vary widely. Established artists might have had larger budgets, while newcomers might have started with a more limited set of equipment. Additionally, DIY musicians often found creative ways to cut costs, such as building their own synthesizers or using less expensive gear.

How Much Did Electronic Musicians Pay For Hardware Synthesizers in 1985?

One of the most significant expenses was hardware synthesizers. In the mid-1980s, popular analog synthesizers like the Roland Jupiter-8 or Yamaha DX7 could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 each. Artists often invested in multiple synthesizers to achieve a diverse range of sounds.

How About Drum Machines?

Drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 were essential for creating electronic rhythms. These machines typically cost around $1,000 to $1,500 each. It should be noted that the TR 808, in particular, was an icon of 1980s electronic music.

Sequencers in 1985

Sequencers were crucial for composing and arranging electronic music. Hardware sequencers such as the Roland MC-202 could cost several hundred dollars.

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How Much Did Samplers Cost in 1985?

Sampling technology was relatively new in the 1980s, and dedicated hardware samplers like the Fairlight CMI were incredibly expensive, often priced at tens of thousands of dollars.

MIDI Equipment

The introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) revolutionized electronic music production. MIDI controllers and interfaces added to the overall cost.

Studio Space:

Many electronic musicians required dedicated studio space to house their equipment. Renting or building a studio could be a significant ongoing expense.

Recording Equipment:

High-quality recording equipment, such as reel-to-reel tape machines, mixing consoles, and outboard gear, was essential for producing professional-sounding music. These items could cost thousands of dollars.


Software and Sound Modules

While software for music production was in its infancy, some artists used early computer-based sequencers and sound modules. These were expensive by 1985 standards, considering the limited capabilities compared to modern software.


Cables, connectors, and other accessories were necessary for connecting and maintaining the equipment. These costs could add up over time.

Training and Education:

Many musicians invested in training courses to learn how to use their equipment effectively. Books and workshops were additional expenses.

Sound Design and Effects in 1985

Creating unique sounds and effects often required experimentation and investment in additional equipment like effects processors.

Promotion and Distribution:

If an artist aimed to release their music, they needed funds for pressing vinyl records, cassette tapes, or CDs, as well as promotional materials and distribution.

The High Notes and Costs of 1985 Electronic Music Production – Conclusion

In summary, producing electronic music in 1985 was a costly endeavor due to the high prices of hardware synthesizers, drum machines, and other equipment. However, the passion for creating innovative sounds drove many artists to invest in their craft, leading to the development of the electronic music genres that continue to influence music today.

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