MusicTech 214: The best gear of 2020

In this issue: the best synths, plug-ins, DAWs, hardware instruments, accessories and more of 2020.

This year has given us more time than ever to spend in our studios. And, despite the challenges across the music industry, the pace of new tech releases hasn’t slowed. We’ve seen stacks of new software, hardware and instruments at MusicTech this year, and we celebrate it all in our cover feature.

 
Among our numerous tutorial features this month, we explore how to recapture the flavour of classic sampling techniques with modern software. Elsewhere, we delve into the soundtracking process behind one of the year’s biggest videogames, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as Sarah Schachner and Jesper Kyd explain how they fused contemporary techniques with ancient instruments to forge an all-new palette.

We spend some time with J Willgoose Esq, better known as the bow-tie-sporting frontman of Public Service Broadcasting, who created a new solo record in lockdown, harnessing the power of long-neglected tech to do so. We also Zoom to Iceland to check in with multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds and discover why he’s searching for peace.

Meanwhile, on review this month, we scope out Spitfire’s Abbey Road One, Rob Papen’s Blade 2 and Arturia’s KeyStep 37, among others. Enjoy this issue and have the merriest of Christmases.

MusicTech 214 includes:

  • Gear of the Year 2020 – From monitors to soft-synths, we chart the gear that should be remembered from a year we’d like to forget
  • Sample magic – We pull back the curtain and reveal the art of modern sampling
  • Recolour your tracks – Apply a fresh lick of paint to your sounds with this amenable workshop
  • InterviewsSarah Schachner and Jesper Kyd, composers of the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla score, tell us how they crafted their uniquely new Norse sound palette; Public Service Broadcasting frontman J Willgoose Esq on old tech and his new LP; Ólafur Arnalds on his lockdown exploits and ongoing search for peace
  • Tutorials – Multi-sampling with Sampler in Logic; Brand-new and updated devices in Live; Synthesising drums in Cubase; Performing with the Show Page in Studio One; Creative vocoding in FL Studio
  • Reviews – We get hands-on with the Spitfire Audio Abbey Road One: Orchestral Foundations, UVI World Suite 2, Arturia KeyStep 37, Røde PodMic, Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Pro and more
  • DVD – 3GB of video tutorials, workshops, software plug-ins and samples including Evolving Soundscapes (samples), The Wave Warden Odin 2 (freeware), Nembrini Audio NA 808 Overdrive Pro (freeware), Rob Papen Blade 2 (demo), Using Ableton Live MIDI FX to create Berghain-style techno synth leads (tutorial) and more
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