The 19 Best MusicTech Innovations

As a technology-based website & magazine, we’re bound to come across a lot of innovation, but there has been so much over such a small space of time that we couldn’t narrow it down to 10, So here are 19…

Akai Advance Series 

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Possibly the finest piece of Akai technology since the ‘S’ range of samplers? Yes, we do hype things, but the Advance system gives NI’s Komplete Kontrol a run for its money. So great is the onboard screen that you will not use your computer screen for a whole range of functions. Some don’t like the big knobs but, with our failing eyesight, we do…

Celemony Melodyne

Melodyne was magic from a dark place when it was released. This software could take audio and adjust its pitch like no other, and has gone on to be used creatively in all aspects of music production and even features as a standard part of DAWS such as SONAR.

SSL Matrix

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Is it a mixer, a DAW controller or a missing link between your DAW and all of those amazing bits of outboard gear you want to use with your software? It’s all of those, but the latter feature was the one everyone wanted, and you wonder if the Matrix were released today whether people would lap it up – such is the appetite for working with old and new tech together…

NI Reaktor

Native can be thanked for all sorts of innovation in software, but Reaktor opened up plug-in development to the masses – OK, the geeky masses – to the level that a vast community of instruments and effects now exists for all, which has to be a good thing. And after redefining software, it did the same with hardware…

Focusrite Liquid Channel

While the world was going software mad, Focusrite turned the tables somewhat by modelling 80 compressors and preamps and putting them into a 2U rack unit. The result, for a not inconsiderable price of £2,345, offered such a great combination of modelling and hardware that it became one of the first products to break down the very definitions of hardware and software. Who cares what it is, if it sounds this good?

Novation Launchpad

Launchpad hasn’t the first pad controller dedicated to Live, but it was the first portable one developed with Ableton – and that important footnote helped make it one of the most popular pad controllers. These days, launching Live clips with hardware has become an art form in itself with everyone – Ableton included – joining the party, but Launchpad is slick, innovative and illuminating…

The Universal Audio Platform

On hardware cards such as the UAD1, the Universal Audio format gradually took off and expanded, and while others fell by the wayside (TC’s Powercore), UA remains one of the major players.

NI Komplete Kontrol S-Series

Native took a long time to design and redesign this range of keyboards, but with hi-def screens, ‘complete controls’ and coloured light keys, there’s no better way to control the Komplete suite – itself worthy of inclusion here.

Novation Remote 25 SL

The most innovative controller keyboard of its generation, the SL series from Novation automatically mapped the parameters from whatever software you had open to its front-panel controllers, so you could just get on with controlling it – no fuss, no bother.

iZotope RX

While an audio restoration tool might not be at the top of your shopping list of must-have plug-ins, RX offers an incredible array of both technical and creative features that puts it well beyond anything else. Its spectra-based audio editing lets you get further inside your sound than anything else, making it one of the most versatile tools around.

Kemper Profiling Amp

As far as modelling amp technology goes, little can touch the very cool-looking Kemper Profiling amp. You can use it as a modelling processor with onboard presets, or set it up to model any configuration you want. Possibly the greatest piece of guitar tech over our lifespan…

Arturia BeatStep

A bit of a punt this, as we have just got the Pro version in and not yet tested it as we write this; but the original is a superb product. It might look like a simple interface, but it’s one that unites both hardware and software to make MIDI triggering of both platforms intuitive and flexible – all within a tiny and portable footprint.

iPad 

We have to include the iPad. As innovative products go, the iPhone or iPod Touch could also be listed, but the iPad gets the plaudits simply for allowing people with big fingers and poor eyesight (iSite) to enjoy touching software. With Korg’s Gadget and a host of synths, the iPad had made proper mobile music making possible. At bloody last.

SE Reflexion Filter

The simple ideas are often the best… and the most copied. SE’s Reflexion Filter is a vocalist’s dream piece of gear: a mini vocal booth, much more cost-effective than a treated vocal room. Insert head, sing, reflections reduced, better recording, job done.

Apple MacBook Pro 

Of course there were Apple Macs before the MacBook Pro; there were even MacBooks before it, but if you want to identify a computer – a mobile computer – that’s powerful enough to run a bunch of audio plug-ins and software titles, then it has to be the MacBook Pro. From Logic to Live and a whole host of outboard and interfaces, the Pro brought the studio producer out of his or her studio to the big wide world, and music production to the masses.

Ableton Live

Technically, Live wasn’t released over the last 150 issues of the magazine, but you know what? Who cares? We’re including it anyway, as it ‘matured’ during our lifetime… And as it made everyone look at music production in a different way, as opposed to the top-bottom, left-right way of the traditional DAW, it has to be included. And then there’s Push, which definitely did come out in our lifetime.

Korg Gadget

The iPad has had great synths (by Arturia, Korg and more), and it has had great DAWs (Apple, Steinberg, FL, etc), but a combination of the two? Proper tunes (very electronic ones) can be put together with Gadget from a range of instruments, with more to buy. It all makes this a proper iPad music production experience…

Music IO

MusicIO could revolutionise how you make music. It lets you link iOS and OSX together to treat your iPad and apps as instruments within your DAW. Very cool.

Teenage Engineering PO Series 

Three calculator-style devices that could have been in our Cool top 10, but for the fact that not only do they give you beats, bass and synth from devices so small you could carry all three in one pocket, but they were marketed with zero hype yet were the centre of attention at this year’s NAMM show.

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