Gear of the Year 2016 – The Best Innovation

In a year chock full of innovations it was difficult to even compile the shortlist. However we feel (and so do you!) that these two products really paved the way forward this year. It’s the best innovations of 2016…

Highly Commended Innovation – Sonarworks Headphone Calibration Software

innovation sonarworks

Price €99 Reference 3 software, €199 software plus specific headphone calibration
Contact via website


It’s not exactly winning the Highly Commended Award for its name, but Sonarworks’ Headphone Calibration Software is a lot more exciting than it sounds. The idea is that the software is preloaded with models of the most popular sets of headphones on the market and can adjust what you hear through each to present a perfectly flat response – ideal for mixing and mastering.

“Many of us don’t have a studio with a perfectly flat response,” said reviewer Alex Holmes, “so having a trustworthy alternative like this is incredibly useful. It’s also great for collaborating with someone who has a different set of headphones. Given the quality of the results, €99 seems like a small price to pay to dramatically improve the quality of your listening tools, and if you’re really serious, then the individual service will get you even closer to perfection.”

He concluded: “A unique and innovative solution that can instantly make your headphones sound smoother and less fatiguing.”

Winner – ROLI Seaboard RISE 49

innovation roli

Price £949.99
Contact 0207 254 2155

We’re big fans of ROLI here at MusicTech. Any company that tries to do something a little different gets our seal of approval and the Seaboard range of keyboards does just that, offering multiple dimensions of touch which means you can play and manipulate your sounds across the keyboard like no other.


You can play the Seaboard like an ordinary keyboard, but that would be missing the point, because when you combine it with the excellent EQUATOR software you really get to see and hear what those extra dimensions can do for you.

“EQUATOR is the engine that shows off the expressive capability of the hardware,” said reviewer Andy Jones. “The software is a little unapproachable at first, but becomes more obvious and accomplished as you go through the presets and realise what does what. Simply play the keyboard – press, stroke and nudge – and you’ll soon see which parameters alter on screen and get to grips with the features. And with three oscillators, sample-based synths, a noise engine and FM, there’s plenty of flexibility to create different sound types.”

And when compared to the smaller RISE 25, he added: “RISE 49 might just be a bigger version but the extra length does accentuate the added expression that the RISE concept affords. The bottom line, then, is that bigger is definitely better. With a nicer case and a bigger range of keys, it may not be quite as compact and bijou as the 25, but RISE 49 is a fabulous concept which is made real by some great-sounding software. This could well be the RISE to go for if you’re more of a performer than a sonic experimenter.”

Check back tomorrow for the next category!