Akai MPC One
After the huge success of the MPC Live (and its recent follow-up, the Live 2), Akai went back to basics with the MPC One, and boy has it taken off. The combination of the classic boxy aesthetic of original units is only made better by the powerful OS of MPC’s inbuilt software, while a touchscreen display allows for an intuitive approach to sampling, slicing and sequencing. A must-have release for any self-respecting hip-hop producer.
Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre
In what looks set to be one of the biggest products from the company in 2020, Ernie Ball Music Man are relaunching the Sabre; a bespoke Super Strat of sorts that was originally released back in the ’80s. Sporting a roasted and figured maple neck with an okoume body and carved maple book-matched top, these new Sabre models are some of the sharpest yet from the cherished company, and we’ve heard nothing but good things from those lucky enough to play them. We can’t wait to get our mits on one soon!
SSL 2 / SSL 2+ Audio Interfaces
One of the biggest show-stoppers of NAMM 2020 was that SSL were branching into the home recording sector with the affordably priced SSL 2 and SSL 2+ audio interfaces, which seem to have won the hearts of bit-rate savvy bedroom producers from all over the world. With best-in-class preamps, a 4K enhancement mode based on the brand’s legendary 4000 series console and included SSL plug-ins, these interfaces truly are the best bang for your buck options on the market, and we simply can’t speak of them highly enough.
AMS Neve RMX16
Here’s something we never thought we’d see happen in 2020: the legendary AMS Neve RMX16 reverb has been reissued in a much more practical rack format, bringing the ’80s classic back for a whole new generation of producers. One of the most famous digital reverberator units of all time, the RMX16 now features several new algorithmic modes to make it a touch more versatile, as well as a nice big OLED screen for simple navigation. It may be steep in price, but when you consider the impact of the original unit, we’re 100% sure it’s worth it.
Vox Cambridge 50
While they may be best known for the big old chimey tube amps of yore, the Cambridge 50 proves that Vox are just as agile in the modelling department as they are with valves. The Cambridge 50 gives players the luxury of a NuTube in the preamp stage and a Celestion VX12 speaker for an authentic, jangly Vox tone, as well as a plethora of great sounding digitally modelled versions of classics amps to make for a tonal chameleon perfect for studio or stage.
Korg SV-2S Stage Vintage Piano
The original Korg SV-1 was a huge deal for keyboard players in the 2010s, and is celebrated as being one of the best stage pianos released in that decade. Korg look set to continue that streak with the new-and-improved SV-2, which adds onboard stereo speakers, 128 voices of polyphony, an upgraded tube-based effects system and 72 preset sounds, ranging from lush Rhodes pads, brittle transistor organs, sparkling FM synths and beyond.
PreSonus StudioLive ARc Mixer/Interface range
Perfect for ensembles, podcasters, rehearsal studios or producers, the PreSonus StudioLive ARc USB-C series combines a live mixer with a versatile audio interface for an all-in-offer you simply cannot refuse. Available in either 8 or 16 channel variations, the StudioLive ARc series is complete with PreSonus’ awesome XMAX preamps, and features onboard SD card recording, high-quality digital effects, Bluetooth 5.0 and much more.
Fender Tom Morello Signature ‘Soul Power’ Stratocaster
Surely one of the most anticipated signature guitars of all time, the guitar community went totally bonkers when Fender confirmed a Tom Morello ‘Soul Power’ Signature Stratocaster earlier this year, and for good reason. Featuring a 22 fret Deep C maple neck and loaded with Fender noiseless single coils and a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbucker in the bridge, a Floyd Rose locking tremolo and, of course, a kill-switch, it’s the perfect tribute to Morello’s famous Audioslave-era axe.
Markbass MB Kimandu 5
After conquering the amp world with their range of compact cabinets and Class-D amps, Italian audio firm MarkBass have turned their sights to the instrument sector, and if this year’s Richard Bona signature Kimandu 5 model is anything to go off, then us bassists are in for a treat. The Kimandu is a genuine funk machine, delivering incredibly versatile tones with a beautiful Canadian maple neck profile that screams out for slapping, popping, thumping and plucking. Definitely one of the most exciting basses we’ve had in at Mixdown HQ for a while!
Behringer MonoPoly Synthesiser
Notorious synth cloners Behringer caused a huge stir with everything they released last year (surely the Poly-D was the most hyped release of the year), so when they unveiled their take on the Korg Mono/Poly back in May, the reception was overwhelmingly positive. Synth nuts were stoked to see the brand had chosen such a cult classic to revive, and their take on the classic four VCO analogue unit only seems to improve on that of the original, with MIDI I/O, CV patch points and a new compact chassis putting the cherry on top here.
RØDE NT-USB Mini Microphone
For those dabbling in podcasting, streaming or producing who want the best bang-for-your-buck microphone available, look no further than the RØDE NT-USB Mini Microphone. A high quality condenser capsule ensures you get all the warmth and clarity you’d expect from a RØDE microphone, while an inbuilt pop filter, detachable magnetic desk stand and 360-degree swing mount makes it a great addition to any desktop. Plus, any product that offers a zero-latency monitoring mode gets a tick from us.
Pioneer DJ DJM-V10
One of the biggest launches of the year for those of us who spin wax or tote CDJs about, the Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 mixer is a huge release for DJs. The first Pioneer DJ mixer to utilise a four-band EQ on each channel, the six-channel DJM-V10 also features inbuilt compression for each channel and a huge array of routing options for outboard gear, making for a stacked DJ mixer that encourages both creativity and practicality – all without compromising one for the other.
Line 6 POD Go
Combining the versatility and power of Line 6’s recent run of Helix amp modelling rigs with the simplicity of the POD range we all know and love, the POD Go is a very welcome product for those of us looking to explore the flexibility of guitar modelling without obtaining a PHD in rigonomics. Stylish, lightweight, easy to navigate and jam packed with over 270 HX amp, cab and effects models, the POD Go is all you could want for a modelling rig of this size – plus, it’s even got an inbuilt 24-bit interface for re-amping and recording. Huge!
Billed as the ultimate companion to Moog’s semi-modular Mother 32 and DFAM units, the Subharmonicon is a bit of an oddball unit upon first inspection, but don’t underestimate its power: we’ve got a feeling this might be the year’s coolest synth so far. Utilising two seperate four-step sequencers, four rhythm generators, four subharmonic oscillators and two VCOs to create its unique tones, the Subharmonicon allows you to create whacky polyrhythmic sequences, generating abstract tones that can range from sleepy ambient to glitchy techno filth. A certified bleep-bloop machine for the staunch bleep-bloop purist.
ADAM Audio T8V Studio Monitors
If you’ve got a studio space big enough to justify running 8″ monitors, I cannot recommend the ADAM Audio T8V range enough. With a frequency range of 33 Hz – 25 kHz, the T8V is a mega choice incredible for those who typically operate in the realms of hip-hop and electronic production, while dedicated low-pass and high-pass filter knobs, a HPS waveguide and a U-ART 1.9” Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter help seal the deal to make ADAM Audio’s latest offering a certified winner.
Meris x Chase Bliss CXM 1978 Reverb
A mammoth collaboration from two of the biggest names in the modern effects game, the CXM 1978 Reverb sees Meris and Chase Bliss combine forces to deliver a ridiculously fancy pedal based on the coveted Lexicon 224. Complete with motorised faders for presets and MIDI control, the CXM 1978 Reverb delivers three hauntingly beautiful reverb algorithms (Hall, Room & Plate), while a Lo-Fi mode lets you experiment with murky, vintage digital reverb tones for something completely different. The world needs more collaborations like this!
Audient EVO By Audient Audio Interfaces
Renowned UK audio firm Audient’s new EVO range goes above and beyond to deliver something totally new to the market, offering two new high-quality, low-budget audio interfaces with a gamut of great features. Both the EVO 4 and EVO 8 interfaces feature USB-C functionality and high quality inbuilt preamps, as well as an intuitive Smartgain mode to automatically adjust the gain level when recording to make sure you’re never clipping. Whether you’re just starting out or want something affordable (yet awesome) for recording on the road, go EVO.
I think we can all safely agree that 2020 has been the year that we’ve realised the full potential of the live-stream. Roland’s nifty GO:LIVECAST aims to capitalise on this growing market, offering a hardware/app combo unit for punters to hook their mobile device up to in order to create professionally live-streamed content to share with the world. From mixing audio and triggering sound effects to displaying titles on-screen and more, the GO:LIVECAST is a comprehensive streaming studio unlike any other.
Fender American Acoustasonic Stratocaster
Sure, the Acoustasonic range may have its fair share of nay-sayers, but I fully stand by Fender’s American Acoustasonic Stratocaster. It’s a refreshingly unique take on the brand’s game-changing solid-body of yesteryear, while the sophisticated Acoustic Engine lets you tap into just about every acoustic and electric tone imaginable to make for a true sonic workhorse. It might take some time to get used to it, but the Acoustasonic Stratocaster is definitely worth the money.
TC Electronic Ditto+ Loop Pedal
The original TC Electronic Ditto looper took the world by storm when it was unveiled early last decade, so it should come to no surprise that the brand’s follow-up looks to be just as good as the original unit was. The Ditto+ features a new screen to help you keep track of what’s going on, as well as storage for 99 loops, backing tracks, a new extended looping mode, and even an inbuilt Pong game. What’s not to love?
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