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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Jan 2019 > GEAR OF THE YEAR 2018

GEAR OF THE YEAR 2018

What a year of gear it’s been! Fantastic hardware, incredible new software, and dozens of contenders for this year’s MusicTech Gear Of The Year Awards. Your votes have been counted and – cue drum roll – it’s time to reveal the winners…

As years go, 2018 has been a huge one in terms of studio gear. There have been some massive DAW updates, and even bigger hardware announcements.

The continued dominance of analogue gear – whether that be the resumption in manufacture of a certain Neumann microphone or the dozens of synth releases – has meant that the studio of 2018 has become the perfect tech hybrid. In many cases, it’s been the smaller releases – at least in terms of physical size – that have made the headlines. IK Multimedia’s UNO Synth arguably stole the Superbooth show, while Universal Audio’s diminutive Arrow interface ‘won’ NAMM, the music-gear show that kicks off each and every new year.

So, as we hurtle towards 2019 and this January’s NAMM, it’s time to pause and reflect and indulge in that most traditional of acts… No, not Christmas, we mean the MusicTech Gear Of The Year Awards!

A couple of issues back, we selected nominations for each of more than a dozen categories. All nominations had to score well with our expert team of reviewers. This meant that each nominated product had to score a 9/10, or at least a MusicTech Innovation or Value Award, to be included. We then put that longlist of nominees to a public vote and you lot have been doing just that, via the magazine and our website, www.musictech.net. We have now – in true Strictly… style – checked and verified that all of the winners were worthy (and, yes, ironed out the odd ‘spurious’ peak in voting) and now present to you the Winners and Highly Commended second places in each category. Ladies and gentlemen, sit back and enjoy the best gear of 2018…

Best Accessory WINNER

ISO ACOUSTICS ISO-PUCK

£50/PAIR

Contact SCV Distribution 03301 222 500 scvdistribution.co.ukisoacoustics.com

The Accessory category in any awards list is, you may think, one where any old indescribable product can be thrown in because it doesn’t fit elsewhere. But in music-technology gear, this category is one of the most important. Where would your studio be without accessories? Without any acoustic panels on the walls? Without any headphones? Where would it be without cables? Without a MIDI-to-CV interface? Without books that give you all of the help and advice you need?

This year’s winner of Best Accessory is something you might not have considered before, but has emerged as being your most essential purchase of 2018 – and something to keep your monitors stable. ISO Acoustics’ ISO Pucks are small circular rubber pucks, rather like ice-hockey discs, though far more useful. As monitor isolators, they stop vibrations from the surface on which you place your speakers from colouring the sound in any way. They are available in packs of two and realistically, you need at least three under each monitor. But they deliver the results, better even than dedicated isolated speaker stands that cost a lot more.

We said: “These won’t give you the same mind-blowing revelation that a new set of monitors can do, but there is a subtle increase in low-end tightness. Mixing is, of course, all about these subtleties and we’re pretty convinced that the ISO-Pucks offer you a considerable amount of extra clarity. Plus the cost might be a lot less than the speaker upgrade you’ll need to get similar results.”

HIGHLY COMMANDED

ASTON MICROPHONES SWIFTSHIELD

£79

Contact Aston Microphones 0845 500 2500 astonmics.com

Aston has certainly won enough plaudits for its range of microphones in recent years. This UK company has taken that world by storm with models such as the Origin, Spirit and Starlight, so naturally, it was probably only a matter of time before it developed a dedicated pop shield and shockmount for them. SwiftShield is just that, and is made up of the Aston Swift shockmount and Aston Shield pop filter – hence the name.

“The Swift was very easy to use”, Mike Hillier said. “Both units have been designed to make setup as quick and easy as possible. The best devices are so simple as to be almost invisible in the studio. Aston’s SwiftShield makes setup and pull down simpler and faster, keeping your sessions running smoothly.”

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About MusicTech

As another year sails off into the horizon, it’s time for us to take stock of the plethora of tech, gear, software, hardware and everything in-between that has landed on our doormat this year. Yep, you guessed it – the time is upon us once more to decide who receives our annual Gear Of The Year Awards. This year, we’ve once again enabled readers to vote for their favourite gear online, and, combined with our editorial deliberations, we have selected the ultimate winners for each category as well as those Highly Commended runners-up. Elsewhere, our pages are packed with tutorials, reviews of the latest hardware and software (some of which may make it into next year’s Gear Of The Year) and much, much more. We hope you enjoy the issue.