Welcome to the MusicTech Buyer’s Guide where we round up some of the best products recently reviewed in the magazine and online. Last time we covered unusual software so this time it’s, you guessed it, six pieces of great, unusual hardware…
Best Steampunk – Wasaphone MK II Mic
Contact via website
Take an old phone receiver and house it in a recycled flour dredger (no, really!), add an XLR connection and mounting bracket and you have the Wasaphone Mk II mic. With a limited bandwidth of 200Hz to 2kHz you get a lo-fi gritty sound, certainly something more unusual than the results from more expensive flashy mics from the big names in microphone technology.
Reviewer Mike Hillier said: ‘For live use this style of mic is incredibly useful, enabling you to get a lo-fi vocal tone with no effort. Instead of using pedals to get a lo-fi tone, and then hoping to solve the impedance headache, you can simply plug-in the Wasaphone MKII like any other mic.’ He concluded: “The Wasaphone is a fun and creative microphone, which inspired us into several recordings.”
Full Review: Wasaphone MKII Review
Best mobile mixing – Fender Passport Studio Speakers
Price £490 (per pair)
These are a great set of portable monitors you can take anywhere so they’re ideal for the jobbing mix engineer who wants to use a set of monitors that they know well as a reference when mixing outside of the studio.
Reviewer Huw Price was impressed with them even as stanalone monitors: ‘This is a cleverly designed, carefully thought out and affordable product that fills a niche in the market’. He concluded: “An interesting concept that’s well executed and priced – and they sound pretty good too.”
Full Review: Fender Passport Studio Speakers
Best body beats – Korg Cliphit
You want unusual, then this is unusual, especially as it’s been produced by such a huge global company as Korg. Cliphit is an egg-shaped electronic drum that you can beat it like a drum, but also attach a (supplied) kick trigger for your feet to play the kick drums, and also three (supplied) trigger clips which you can attach to any loose clothing – or anything else – and hit with any remaining limbs. Attach those clips to the a desk, to boxes, to literally anything that you can attach a croc clip to.
‘The kits are good enough, ranging from standard, through rock and pop,’ we said. ‘It’s another great curveball from Korg,’ before concluding “Love the idea, and we love Korg for coming up with this leftfield gear. It’s the ideal device to unleash your finger and toe beats..”
Best beats – Arturia Beatstep
Contact Source Distrubution
It’s not that unusual but there is something about Arturia’s BeatStep that seems to redefine the who MIDI control genre. Whether it’s its compact nature, the gentle learning curve or the fact that it become so intuitive to use, we’re not sure. But we do know it’s an excellent piece of kit and that we’re looking forward to the Pro version announced at NAMM. Reviewer Hollin Jones said…
“It’s an excellent MIDI controller. For triggering in software it’s intuitive and fun, and it also works as a hardware trigger and sequencer via its more old-school outputs. The setup software is well designed and the unit is sturdy. It’s a great choice for anyone working with MIDI-triggered instruments, be they hardware or software.”
Full Review: Arturia Beatstep
Best DIY – DIY R.E. Colour
Price Colour Palette Kit, £75; HFT, £19; CTX, £36; 15IPS, £19.
The 500 series module concept is not an unusual one in itself but this Colour Palette from DIY Recording Equipment offers the DIY community something a little different in that it has space for three Colour Modules which you should be able to fit yourself. Reviewer Mike Hillier said:
“Colour is one of the most fun tools we’ve played with in a long time. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not adding one to your rack. If you have space in your rack, it’s a no brainer.”
Full Review: DIY R.E. Colour
Best band gear – JamHub Green Room
If you are in a band you’ll understand the need to practice, but where can you do it without annoying the neighbours? Well, pretty much anywhere with JamHub’s GreenRoom. This hub hardware enables up to seven musicians to plug in and play together with headphones.
“The GreenRoom excels at providing an attractive, compact and convenient way to rehearse silently at home or on the move,” said reviewer Alex Mobaraki. “It combines all the essential bits of kit necessary to enable virtually silent ensemble rehearsals in one well-designed, compact and lightweight package.”