Gear of the Year: the most innovative products of 2016

Gear of the Year: the most innovative products of 2016

The turn of the year is approaching – and with it also the anticipation for a great New Year’s Eve party and ambitious resolutions for 2017. But hold on! Before we jump ahead, let’s take a look back at 2016’s most innovative instruments and equipment.


Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System

Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System

 

The Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System has shown 2016 that the sound of classic microphones and preamps are also made affordable for home studios. With the “VMS”, you can replicate the sound of numerous first-class high-end mics and preamps, at the price of a good mid-range microphone. The Virtual Microphone system from Slate Digital is one of the most innovative tools and belongs in this year’s “Gear of the Year” list.

 

Arturia MatrixBrute

Arturia MatrixBrute

The Arturia MatrixBrute with its good old analog sound and almost limitless creative possibilities was a huge inspiration to us in 2016. The MatrixBrute offers a large matrix modulation panel, many filters, an effects section and an extended sequencer mode and impressive user interface. In addition, you can comfortably control its parameters via editor software. Truly a “Gear of the Year”, which is also well equipped for 2017 and beyond!

 

Korg Minilogue

Korg Minilogue

The Korg Minilogue proved that “small but powerful” still very much applied to 2016. This four voice polyphonic analog synthesizer not only offers arpeggiators and step sequencers on a width of just 37 keys, but also scores big with excellent processing and extensive MIDI connectivity. And with its affordability to top it off, it definitely belongs to the list.

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Zoom ARQ Aero RhythmTrak AR-96

Zoom ARQ Aero RhythmTrak AR-96

The Zoom ARQ Aero RhythmTrak AR-96 proves that 2016 was also the year of the futuristic controller. The AR-96 is a pocket-sized flying saucer looking MIDI controller, drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer and looper. The sound is produced by playing it like a tambourine. Therefore it’s a clear candidate for “Gear of the year”.

 

Korg Volca FM

Korg Volca FM

The Korg Volca FM is an affordable version of the legendary Yamaha DX7. This FM synthesizer will not only persuade you with its typical 80s sound, but also with its features i.e. sequencer, display and macro controls. A small investment for the up and coming year.

 

Yamaha MD-BT01 Wireless Midi Adapter

Yamaha MD-BT01 Wireless Midi Adapter

With the Yamaha MD-BT01 Wireless Midi Adaptor, MIDI cables are now deemed unnecessary. It transmits MIDI data via Bluetooth connection to your iPad, iPhone or Mac. And because you simply plug the two adapter ends into the corresponding MIDI jacks, this wireless MIDI solution is one of the top products of the year.

 

XVive Wireless System U2

XVive Wireless System U2

The XVive Wireless System U2 shows that in 2016 wireless signal transmission has never been as compact. Not only are the transmitter and receiver not much bigger than a key chain, it also offers low latency, a wide frequency range, a built-in lithium battery and a range up to 30m. Therefore, the System U2 is simply a must on our list of most innovative equipment of the year.

 

Roland EC-10 EL Cajon

Roland EC-10 EL Cajon

When the Roland EC-10 El Cajon was released in 2016, gone were the days when a Cajon was just a simple wooden box. The EC-10 EL is a hybrid Cajon, with a built-in sound module and 30 pre-configured kits. Furthermore, this electric Cajon can be powered by battery or power supply. Hence: “Gear of the year”.

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Zildjian L80 Low Volume 468 Box Set

Zildjian L80 Low Volume 468 Box Set

The Zildjian L80 Low Volume 468 Box Set made many drummers happy in 2016. The extra-quiet cymbals make it optimal to for quiet practicing, or unplugged sessions. With a Hi-Hat, Crash and Crash/Ride this set offers authentic feel while playing at low levels. Therefore it’s one of the most innovative cymbal sets of the year.

 

Beyerdynamic DT-1990 Pro 250 Ohms

Beyerdynamic DT-1990 Pro 250 Ohms

The Beyerdynamic DT-1990 Pro 250 Ohms, circumaural headphones for mixing and mastering was also released in 2016 and impressed us immediately. Its analytical sound, almost perfect wearing comfort and good price-performance ratio make these studio reference  headphones a suitable “Gear of the Year” recommendation.

 

Native Instruments Maschine Jam

NatiInstruments Maschine Jam

The Native Instruments Maschine Jam also came in to the market this year, and has been a versatile pattern sequencer matrix ever since. In combination with the premium sounds and the included Komplete 11 Select instrument collection, the Maschine Jam becomes a powerful sound machine and a creative controller. And thanks to the illuminated Smart-Strips with Dual-Touch, you can use this “Gear of the Year” tool on a dark stage both handed.

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Ableton Push 2

Ableton Push 2

As from this year, Ableton Live fans were finally able to get their hands on an Ableton Push 2. This MIDI controller with 64 illuminated pads, eight touch-sensitive rotary knobs, touch strip and multi-color display lets you quickly and creatively work with DAW, plugins, grooves and more. Push 2 definitely belongs in the top products of 2016.

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Varytec BAT series

Varytec BAT.BAR 240 RGB

Since Varytec BAT series were made available this year, stages have been reliably radiant and atmospheric, even without annoying power cables. This powerful, battery- powered LED bar can provide several hours of stage lighting. Alternatively, you can operate the Varytec light elements of the BAT series with a power cable. Clearly it’s a candidate for our “Gear of the Year” list.

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Pioneer Toraiz SP-16

Pioneer Toraiz

The Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 is a sampler and step sequencer combined, with an 8 GB sound module and analog filters which you can intuitively expand your DJ set. Depending on the setup, this small helper can replace a laptop, software and other controllers. Furthermore, eight outputs let you externally mix the sound of the SP-16 perfectly, placing it in our top products of the year list.

 

EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run

EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run

2016 was also the year in which the EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run made the hearts of guitarists beat faster. This reverb and delay pedal provides up to 3 second long delay times, six different delay modes and a reverb plate reverb effect, thanks to DSP power. In addition to reverse delay and swell reverb, the stereo inputs and stereo outputs of the Avalanche Run also give this a huge “thumbs up” placing it rightfully on our “Gear of the year” list.

 

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Lawrence started playing the electric guitar because of his passion for rock music. Back in the day he played in a metal band, but now plays more for himself.

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