Gear of the Year 2016 – Best Hardware Instrument

What a year for hardware… again! There’s no doubting that the move for many studios is well and truly back to analogue, back to hardware and back to having tactility with gear – pretty much so you look like you’re making music rather than writing an essay!

Highly Commended Hardware Instrument – Korg minilogue

highly commended hardware instrument

Price £469
Contact 01908 304600


The minilogue was one of the highlights of last year’s NAMM show, and is a true return to form and analogue for Korg and at a great price. “There is no doubt that this synth is a pretty wonderful product,” said reviewer Dave Gale. “It’s full of great analogue character, rock-solid in stability with the new v1.2 firmware, and is nothing short of a joy to use.

At this price, the minilogue is something of a no-brainer. Eight top-quality VCOs for under £500? That makes this a bargain. Korg really has done a great job here, it’s a great machine.”

Winner – Yamaha Montage

best hardware instrument yamaha montage

Price Montage 6: 61-note synth action, £2,250; 7: 76-note synth action, £2,625; and 8: 88-note fully weighted, £3,000
Contact Yamaha – 0844 811 1116

This year’s hardware winner isn’t analogue – but boy is it a technical marvel. The Montage is pretty much the synth to end all synths, with an incredible engine (or two), brilliant onboard effects, hundreds of sounds and an amazing touchscreen that sets it apart from anything else out there and makes it a joy to use.

Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Montage is huge, not just in terms of its size (the 88-note in particular) and its sonic arsenal, but also in terms of its scope. Yamaha knows that its digital synths have to deliver – and this is the new mothership that promises to do just that, with hands-on controls, with huge sounds, with two synth engines, with a Motion Sequencer and with a massive and brilliant screen at its centre.


“Montage is a triumph in so many ways. How could Yamaha manage to update MOTIF and produce something which the range didn’t already have covered? Well, the company has taken that concept – a cover-all keyboard for everyone gigging and recording – and added some surprising and successful twists.

Bringing FM into the equation is a stroke of genius, especially with the way it’s implemented with so much power. But my absolute favourite feature is the Motion Control Sequencer.

“You will have to get your head around it to get the best from it, but it can take your efforts into sonic areas that will surprise and delight you, and areas you may not have considered.

“Montage is the mother of all synths,” he concluded. “Climb on board.”