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Noisegate’s Best Music Gear of 2021 Round-Up!

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It’s definitely been one of those years, I’m sure we can all agree! Fortunately, the world didn’t explode and most of us are still here. Whilst we were locked down, jabbed a few times and didn’t go to many gigs, the world of music gear kept going keeping most musicians active with something to do. Noisegate’s senior contributors have summarized their best picks for 2021. Take a look at these choices ranging from musical instruments, synths, software, pro audio products, technology and more — some you may have missed over the year or possibly overlooked. It’s fair to say that some of these products were actually announced late last year, but we only started to see them appear this year due to the pandemic. Anyway, looks like 2022 will be a whole lot better. Thanks for stopping by and we look forward to bringing you more in the new year. Take care and happy holidays from everyone at Noisegate.

Audio

Best new Audio Interface: Universal Audio Volt
  • 5 models with a range of features and connectivity options
  • Onboard analogue circuity derived from UA’s classic hardware processors
  • Extensive software bundle

 

Worthy mention: Arturia MiniFuse

  • Affordable and easy to use
  • Software bundle including Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab Intro and plugins from Arturia’s FX Collection

Best headphones: Korg NC-Q1
  • Noise-cancelling and sound filtering for DJs
  • Protect your ears!
  • High-resolution audio
  • Long battery life

Best Multi-track/Handheld Recorder: Tascam Portacapture X8

  • 32-bit float point recording
  • Wireless control via Bluetooth and Control app
  • Large responsive touch screen
  • Multiple recording modes for different content creation: podcasting, ASMR, music and more.

Best New Stick PA: JBL PRXONE

  • Best of Harman technologies: dbx processing, Soundcraft designed mixer, JBL driver and Crown amplification.
  • Triple tier DSP for everyone from beginners, intermediate and professional users.
  • 7 channel digital mixer controllable via JBL Pro Connect App

Best New Podcaster:  Tascam Mixcast 4

  • Editor software fully integrates the Mixcast 4
  • Voice changer, noise suppression, compression and other useful processing for high-quality podcast recordings
  • 5 headphone outputs with multiple input options; microphone, instrument, TRRS for phone connections and multitrack interface capability

Best New USB Microphone: AKG ARA

  • Easy USB set-up
  • High-quality recording
  • Two microphone pickup patterns, cardioid and omnidirectional.

Guitars and Bass

Best New Guitar: ESP LTD Rainbow Crackle 
  • Limited Edition in a ‘Rainbow Crackle’ finish
  • High-end pickups & hardware
  • Unique custom ‘Rainbow Crackle’ finish generally found on boutique ranges
Worthy Mention: Fender Cory Wong Stratocaster
  • Sapphire Blue Transparent satin lacquer finish
  • Seymour Duncan Cory Wong Clean Machine pickups
  • American Ultra Modern “D” Neck profile and body contours
  • Vintage-style 6-screw tremolo and deluxe locking tuners
Best new bass: Spector NS Ethos 5
  • Maple body with Poplar burl top
  • Aguilar pickups
  • 24 fret rosewood fingerboard with 12th fret inlay
Best new pedal: Source Audio Ultrawave Pedal 
  • Multiband processor with distortion & tremolo functions
  • Multiband frequency control
  • Built-in compressor utilised on the Neuro App software
  • Dedicated guitar and bass models are available

Best new valve pedals: Blackstar Dept 10 Pedal Range 

  • Valve powered pedals with USB connectivity to cab sim software
  • ECC83 valve-driven pedals
  • USB connection to serve as an interface and connect to free cab sim software
  • Blackstar’s ‘ISF tone stack’ control

Best new floor modeller pedal: Neural Quad Cortex
  • Insanely powerful
  • Limitless sound design possibilities
  • Flexible i/o with intuitive connectivity

Synthesizers

Best new poly synth: Arturia Polybrute
  • 6-voice analog synth with deeply integrated morphing functionality
  • Each preset has two states which can seamlessly morph between
  • 61-note velocity/pressure-sensitive keyboard
  • 3-axis Morphée controller and ribbon controller for a real-time tactile expression

Best new semi-modular synth: Korg 2600M
  • Perfect recreation of the legendary ARP 2600 (at 60% size)
  • Adds MIDI and USB
  • Real spring reverb
  • Compact size, impressive build quality

Best new FM synth: Korg Opsix

  • Altered FM: radical reimagining of classic 6-operator FM synthesis.
  • Multiple operator modes including Classic FM, Filter FM, Ring Mod, and custom algorithms.
  • Subtractive functionality with classic filter models
  • Polyphonic sequencer

Best new hybrid synth: UDO Super 6
  • Binaural analogue-hybrid
  • 12 voice polyphonic
  • Classic front panel design and layout
  • Intuitive modulation matrix
Best new wavetable synth: Korg Modwave
  • Mind-bending Kaoss Physics
  • Huge selection of wavetables
  • Also includes gigabytes of samples plus support for user samples
  • Multi-lane sequencer derived from wavestate’s wave sequencing 2.0
  • Easy to use editor software

Best new Eurorack Module: Steady Sate Fate SSF Triptych

  • Multi re-routable effects: multimode filter, distortion and comb delay
  • Designed in collaboration with Boys Noize and Baseck
  • Multimode VCF capable of self-oscillation
  • Multimode Distortion
  • High gain Input VCA with transistor saturation/overdrive

Best new desktop synth: Modal Skulpt SE
  • 4-Voice Virtual-Analogue Synthesizer
  • Portable and lightweight with USB and battery power
  • 4 voices, 32 oscillator synth engine with 12-slot modulation matrix, Sequencer and Arpeggiator and built-in effects
  • Software editor/plugin for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android

Drum Machines/Beat Production

Best new sampler workstation: Native Instruments Maschine+
  • Combined sampler, drum machine and synth.
  • Standalone operation
  • 9 Instruments, 35 Effects and 1000s of sounds

Best new portable sampler: Roland SP-404 MkII
  • Rapid workflow, portability, and tactile approach
  • OLED screen
  • Significant improvements from the lo-fi legend

Best new drum machine: Erica Synths LXR-02
  • 6 drum voices and a powerful sound design engine
  • Over 30 adjustable parameters per voice
  • Flexible, performance-oriented 64 step sequencer
  • Performance mode with mutes, rolls, master bit crush, and kit morphing

Software

Best new synth: Arturia Pigments 3 
  • Two oscillators with selectable virtual analog, wavetable, sample playback, or additive synthesis engines
  • Many filter types from Arturia’s catalogue of classic emulations
  • Easy to follow visual modulation routing system
  • Regular substantial free updates

Best new synth collection: Korg Collection 3
  • Comprehensive compendium covering decades of classic analog and digital Korg synths
  • 11 plugins including miniKORG 700, MS-20, PolySix, M1, Triton and Prophecy.

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