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GEAR OF THE YEAR 2017

It’s that time of year when we announce the best studio gear as chosen by you and the experts at MusicTech. We have over a dozen categories: from accessory to synth, monitor to mic, so read on for the greatest gear of this year…

We love this time of the year at MusicTech. It truly is the end of the ‘gear year’, because just around the corner in January, the NAMM Show in America heralds in a whole raft of new hardware and software releases, so now is the best time to celebrate the old before the new sweeps in.

And what a year we’ve had. There have been some outstanding releases, especially in the areas of Eurorack, hardware instrument, monitor and software library. There have also been so many great orchestral collections, we’ve come up with a category just for them, and as an extra-special treat we also announce overall awards for Best Hardware Product and Best Software Product of the year.

So how does our Gear Of The Year process work? Well, a couple of months ago, we selected nominations for each category based on how well the products had performed in our published tests or reviews that we’d already had lined up for the December 2017 issue of MusicTech.

Generally speaking, a nominated product had to score at least 9/10 to be included. We then put these nominations out to a reader vote and thousands of you have done just that over the last few weeks, via the magazine and www.musictech.net. We then assembled an esteemed panel of MusicTech judges – see page 14 – to look at the results, and check and verify that all of the winners were worthy (and had not been helped across the line by some ‘spurious’ voting!). So, over the following dozen pages, we present the winners and highly commended runners-up in all 13 categories. Read on, then, for the best gear of 2017!

Best Accessory

AKG K872 HEADPHONES

£1,199 STREET

Contact Sound Technology 01462 480000 www.soundtech.co.uk, www.akg.com With a retail price of close to £1,500 (although you can get them for the price above if you shop around), these headphones had better deliver: and they certainly do. If you want comfort, pin-sharp accuracy – and we mean pin-sharp accuracy – then these are for you.

The K872s are the closed-back version of AKG’s similarly priced and similarly accurate K812s, but the difference between the openand closed-back listening experience is astonishing. The open-back version sits you in the middle of a what sounds like a wider mix, with some of the sound escaping and broadening the experience.

The closed-back K872 experience is somewhat harsher in terms of accuracy – nothing escapes, so you hear the minute detail – meaning these are probably the better options for precision mixing. You might not always like to hear your mixing mistakes, of course, but the 872s present them to you so you can correct them, which is what good music-production headphones and monitors are all about.

“They’re going to tell you about your music, and they don’t give a flying fuck about how you feel about it,” said a very sweary and melodramatic Andy Jones.

“Everything is noticed and that’s where you might not like them. Don’t listen to MP3s on them – they reveal that format to be as shit as it really is. And if you have a fragile ego about your own mixes, be prepared – these won’t hold back.

“So which do you choose? You’re asking the question. Do you really want to know the answer?” Ooh, get him…

GIK ACOUSTICS ALPHA PANEL

£75 TO £180

Contact GIK Acoustics on 0203 815 8608 www.gikacoustics.co.uk

That an acoustic treatment panel has won this year’s Highly Commended Award – and by some distance, it has to be said – is heartening, as it demonstrates the MusicTech readership’s know-how… because arguably acoustic treatment is the most important part of a studio’s creation (apart from the blue LEDs you simply must put in at the end, naturally).

GIK really knows its stuff when it comes to acoustics, and regularly scores well for its treatment solutions. Reviewer Alex Holmes also knows his acoustics too, concluding: “If you’re looking to breathe a little life and high-end balance back into your room and are limited for space, then these Alpha panels are one of the finest options currently available.”

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About MusicTech

2017 has been an exciting, innovative year for new music-making technology, from machine-learning plug-ins to laser-guided microphones and from scientifically crafted, point-source monitors to boutique synthesisers, the past 12 months has offered up new variations on classic gear and inventive new creative tools for making and recording music. We pay tribute to the best gear of the year in our roundup, with our winners compiled by a fusion of reader votes and our expert panel. Elsewhere this issue, we have the second part of our new A-Z series with Gear4Music, chat to MPG Award-winning mastering engineer Mandy Parnell and Grammy-winning producer and engineer Mark Rankin, and cast of our eye to the future with tutorial content in the latest iterations of Live and Reason. Additionally, you’ll find all the latest reviews from the likes of Toontrack, Dynaudio, Sonokinetic and more.It's been an excellent year for the music-technology industry, and MusicTech as a magazine. Here’s hoping 2018 will be equally as fruitful… enjoy the issue.
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