The Best Gear Of The Decade: 2014

Here are six of the best studio products that we reviewed in 2014.

In 2014 we experienced more compact monitoring, gorgeous, ethereal sample collections, increasingly high-quality headphones and the continued integration of hardware and software…

Genelec 8010A

What we said: “A remarkable set of monitors that provide a professional quality reference at medium listening levels in an effortlessly portable format”

Were we right? With the 8010A’s, Genelec sparked a trend in high quality compact monitoring that continues to this day with stellar recent examples from the likes of JBL and IK Multimedia. The ‘on-the-move’ producer has come of age this decade, and these diminutive monitors are a prime example of the types of tech that makes that lifestyle feasible.

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Conclusion: Genelec is well regarded as an innovative company, and later in the decade, the point source monitoring found in ‘The Ones’ solidified that perception. But we’d argue that products such as the 8010A monitors have had a far greater impact on the smaller-studio music maker.

RATING

  • Innovation – 9
  • Impact – 10
  • Price Then – £499 (pair)
  • Price Now – £435 (pair)

Read our full review here.

Best Service Shevannai: The Voices of Elves

GOTD Best Service Shevannai: The Voices of Elves

What we said: “An excellent collection that caters for what could be a small market, but there isn’t much competition out there. As a quality collection for a very specific job, Shevannai is excellent”

Were we right? Eduardo Tarilonte’s unique sample collections went on to further delight and bewitch us throughout the decade, but Shevannai is where the love affair truly started. As the decade continued we began to see even more very specifically tailored sample collections, which have expanded the arsenals of sound designers and composers tenfold.

Conclusion: Throughout the 2010s, the sample library and virtual instrument world has exploded, with sounds that would otherwise take a lot of painstaking work to create being readily available. Shevannai is a fine example and one of our absolute favourites. One of the more memorable products we reviewed this decade.

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 9
  • Price Then – £135
  • Price Now – £123

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

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GOTD Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

What we said: “The Komplete Kontrol system brings Kontakt and Reaktor software to life, like having them all in hardware. An essential purchase if you have Komplete, and after seeing them in tandem, you might just consider both as the ultimate music production package.”

Were we right? The concept of deep hardware control of increasingly expansive, limitless software instruments and effects has flourished this decade. The S-Series of keyboard controllers from Native Instruments remain peerless for both their ease of use, rock-solid build and aesthetic charm.

Conclusion: The S-Series (and further series from NI) still stand as some of the best hardware controllers money can buy, coupled with Native’s ever-expansive Komplete software bundles and the myriad treats they contain. We’re still standing by our at-the-time assertion that the S-Series is a strong contender for ‘ultimate music production package’. Komplete Kontrol indeed.

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 9
  • Price Then – From £429
  • Price Now – From £299

Read our full review here.

Modartt Pianoteq 5 Pro

GOTD Modartt Pianoteq 5 Pro

What we said: “Still the best way to get authentic, believable acoustic piano and similar sounds on your computer while using hardly any space. Powerful and playable”

Were we right? Now in version 6, it was this version of Pianoteq that firmly cemented itself as our go-to piano plug-in of choice. The flexibility, depth of sound and the tweaking controls were unlike anything else we’d encountered, while the actual piano sounds themselves were superbly recorded. This software effectively put pay to our seemingly endless quest to find real sounding piano in software.

Conclusion: Still one of the strongest software instruments of the decade, Modartt’s ever-developing Pianoteq has found many contemporaries from the likes of Toontrack and Synthogy, but Pianoteq stood pretty much alone at the time with both its deep scalability and real-time control. The space-saving architecture (version 5 came in at just 40MB) appealed to the hard drive conscious consumer, too.

RATING

  • Innovation – 8
  • Impact – 8
  • Price Then – V5 Pro: €399
  • Price Now – V6 Pro: €369

Read our full review here.

Audio Technica ATH-M50x

GOTD Audio Technica ATH-M50x

What we said: “They take what some see as an industry standard up a notch. These are among the best headphones you can get for your studio.”

Were we right? Well… we’re still using them! The ATH-M50x ‘phones have proven their durability and longevity since 2014. While AT’s more expensive M70x’s later provided a more consistently flat monitoring experience, the M50x’s remain a supreme budget alternative. We use them for a range of purposes, including on-the-road music production duties as well as film-watching (for which they’re also immersive and comfortable) They’re expertly balanced and have a clarity that other headphones can only aspire to.

Conclusion: As we’ve previously explained, the decade has witnessed the growth of the mobile music maker, which naturally demands that headphones step up to the plate to serve as balanced, comfortable and durable monitors. The M50x’s are just that, and the various pairs of M50x’s still to be found in our studio are testament to that fact.

RATING

  • Innovation – 7
  • Impact – 8
  • Price Then – £159
  • Price Now – £109

Read our full review here.

Korg Gadget

GOTD Korg Gadget

What we said: “A fresh take on iPad synthesis and sequencing from Korg. Simple enough to use but powerful and fun with some excellent sounds.”

Were we right? From its humble iPad-only beginnings, Gadget has grown from a simple collection of linkable (and excellent) synths and drum machines into a fully featured DAW in its own right, and one of the most fun and genuinely enjoyable examples of modern music technology released this decade. The ease of use with the initial version translated very well to the larger and deeper Mac version, though the touch screen simplicity of the original remains unsurpassed.

Conclusion: Following the evolution of Gadget, you can see how Korg has essentially rebuilt the DAW from the ground up, with ease of use and speedy music-making being the major considerations. Though the pricing structure varies depending on which version of Gadget you plump for, the £19.99 entry fee means that it remains a steal and something every producer of electronic music should have on their iPad.

RATING

  • Innovation – 9
  • Impact – 10
  • Price Then – £26.99
  • Price Now – £19.99

Read our full review here.

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

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