The Best Gear Of The Decade: 2012-2013

Here are six of the best studio products that we reviewed from 2012 to 2013.

Around this time, the iPad started to catch our eye for it’s MIDI controlling and music-making capabilities. We saw the introduction of the Lemur App, Traktor DJ and Figure to name a few. But a couple of other products have stood the test of time since then…

Korg Volca

What we said: “To get a true analogue synth with built-in sequencer for this price is a pretty good deal. We’ll be very interested to see what the modding community comes up with once they start pulling these puppies apart.”

Were we right? It wasn’t obvious at the time of release that the Volca series would expand from three instruments to ten. But that’s a clear indication that Korg’s compact, affordable devices became sought after. Although, there hasn’t been much in the way of modding that was noteworthy.

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Conclusion: Korg has been building on the Volca series, introducing a modular device, sampler and more, with no reason to stop. Some have labelled these as merely toys, however, if YouTube can tell us anything, it’s that the link capabilities between Volcas made room for extensive experimentation.

RATING

  • Innovation – 9
  • Impact – 8
  • Price Then – £120
  • Price Now – £130

Universal Audio Apollo

GOTD Universal Audio Apollo

What we said: “Apollo redefines the FireWire audio interface, with integrated UAD processing and future Thunderbolt support. A truly inspiring tool for DAW-based recording and mixing”.

Were we right? In a word – yes. We’ve discovered UA Apollos in countless studios over the last seven years, it’s been a massive game-changer for many producers. To integrate an audio interface with the real-time DSP to power UAD is somewhat revolutionary. With Unison technology, the versatility one has available to them in the recording and mixing process is unprecedented.

Conclusion: This was a clever step forward from Universal Audio, and the company is continuously rolling out new updates, interfaces and plug-ins to the UAD library. There’s not much to indicate that the market for UA will drop. Long live Apollo!

RATING

  • Innovation – 10
  • Impact – 9
  • Price Then – From £699 (Twin MkII)
  • Price Now – From £461 (Twin MkII)

Ableton Push

Ableton Push

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What we said: “Push is a great first foray into hardware, though some minor functions have not been implemented yet. However, as updates are released, we’re sure users’ needs will be addressed, and we can see a bright future for Ableton’s bold move into hardware”.

Were we right? Well, we now have Push 2, which did indeed make improvements on functionality, workflow and the general look and feel of the instrument. While it was a bold move from Ableton to release a hardware controller when products like Novation Launchpad were still proving successful, it’s a move that paid off.

Conclusion: What makes Push special is its seamless integration with Live and game-changing performance features. Push has quickly become a desired piece of kit for Live users across all genres, and shows how powerful the Ableton ecosystem can be. Although, there is one downside – the Live and Push bundle hasn’t got any cheaper since it’s introduction in 2013…

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 9
  • Price Then – £499
  • Price Now – £499

Logic Pro X

GOTD Logic Pro X

What we said: “Logic Pro X brings the usual collection of new instruments and effects, but it’s the redesigned interface that will have the most profound impact on both new and existing users”.

Were we right? It’s true, the new GUI was quite the talking point around the release of Logic Pro X. We also mentioned the impressively low price back in the 2013 review, and that remains one of the main selling points for the comprehensive DAW. It costs slightly more now, but at £199, it really is one of the most cost-effective solutions for creating professional music, whether it’s recording live instruments or creating a fully electronic dance track.

Conclusion: Apple’s DAW hasn’t received a major update since 2013, but it has seen a number of small updates that improve workflow and expand on its library of instruments and effects. It remains the go-to DAW for many professionals and beginners alike, and although some minor updates would be welcome (EXS21 still hasn’t been given a redesign), Logic Pro X pretty much does everything it needs to. Perhaps Logic Pro 11 is right around the corner, especially knowing that the new Mac Pro is about to launch, too.

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 9
  • Price Then – £139
  • Price Now – £199

U-He Diva

GOTD U-He Diva

What we said: “Diva is a good, solid synth that’s capable of generating excellent sounds. There’s great depth of sound editing, though beginners should be able to start tweaking and will invariably unleash something that sounds pretty cool”.

Were we right? U-he Diva quickly became a staple soft synth for bedroom producers and professionals alike. It’s been regarded as the most analogue-sounding software synth on the market, likely due to its meticulously modelled filters from classic mono and polysynths.

Conclusion: Diva has been available now for over seven years, and one of the major disadvantages the music tech community has found is its huge processing requirements. Naturally, as our computers progress with time, this becomes less of a problem. One thing that proves Diva’s imperishability is the fact that users are still comparing it to currently available hardware – and it’s been known to come out on top.

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 9
  • Price then – €179
  • Price now – €179

Read our full review here.

Moog Minitaur

GOTD Moog Minitaur

What we said: “The Minitaur is a serious piece of kit with an attractive price, and the perfect way for anyone on a tight budget or limited space to get the classic Moog bass sound. Even if neither of these is a pressing concern, it’s tremendous fun to play with and capable of producing some gorgeous, earth-shaking basses. In a world of complex hi-tech, the Moog Minitaur is refreshingly hands on”.

Were we right? While certainly one of the more affordable ways to become a Moog fan, the Minitaur packs a whopping punch for its price. It’s certainly been used by a wide breadth of musicians and producers, and is known for its incredibly warm analogue bass tones. It’s compact form factor lets it slot into all kind of set-ups, too.

Conclusion: Moog Minitaur is still a solid choice for a mono bass synth, and now at £350 it’s hard to argue with. There might be other manufacturers chiming in with classic synth clones at affordable prices, but is there any comparison to the real Moog sound? Judging by its new lower price and cult following, Moog Minitaur is here to stay.

RATING

  • Innovation – 7
  • Impact – 8
  • Price Then – £499
  • Price Now – £350

Check out the full Gear Of The Decade: 2010-2019 list here.

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