Mixdown: Gear of the Year 2023

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Mixdown: Gear of the Year 2023

Mixdown Gear of the Year
Words by Mixdown staff

Here are our favourites for the year, in no particular order!

Mixdown’s Gear of the Year list is hotly debated within the Mixdown office. Having the luxury of being able to try all of this affords us a unique vantage point, and so here it is: Mixdown’s Gear of the Year list for 2023.

There’s no order to this list, our picks all doing their bit to serve different functions from instruments to dedicated microphones, audio conversion and amplification. They take the best technology as well as feedback from users, ultimately serving to help us create, write, compose and record—as well as listen back to it all!

Read all the latest product & music industry news here.

Dyson Zone headphones

While admittedly looking and feeling like a glimpse into the fashions of the future, the Dyson Zone are, at their core, a stellar offering from tech experts Dyson. Their drivers are focused on providing zero-distortion, making for a crisp clear response with fast dynamic recoil properties and accurate transient response across the entire frequency spectrum, the Zone’s offering everything right down to 6Hz.

The Dyson Zone headphones are also controllable via the MyDyson app, offering Dyson EQ (‘enhanced’), Bass Boost and Neutral for different users with their own preferences.

The Dyson Zone serve as both a stellar consumer headphone as well as a well-balanced and professional sounding monitor headphone. What’s more, they feature an in-built air purifier, again the MyDyson app allowing you to monitor real time air quality information to gauge ambient NO2 levels. Sonically and literally, you can breathe easy with Dyson Zone headphones.

Adam A7V

ADAM Audio are market leaders in every category of studio monitor. Their S series occupy the upper echelon, offering otherworldly precision across the entire frequency spectrum, this cutting-edge technology informing the other ranges and trickling down into increasingly accessible boxes, including the Adam A7V.

Joining the rest of the A-series range, the A7V features a 7” Woofer (Multi-Layer Mineral) and German Handmade Precision X-ART Tweeter with rotatable HPS waveguide. While at first glance it might look similar to Adam’s huge range of monitors, the materials that make up the construction of the A7V are what sets it apart, all of this controlled by DSP-based software for room correction.

The tweeter is built from a new glass fibre polymer, the HPS waveguide designed to disperse sound more consistently within a space. The woofer is designed to push audio out with equal consistency, the mineral material being a better option than what’s historically been used for woofers.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP

USB microphones have come in leaps and bounds recently, Audio-Technica leading the way in making easy-to-use and robust microphones that combine world-class sound and function.

The AT2020USB-XP is one such mic, with a soft-touch mute button on its chassis, coupled with red and blue lighting to communicate the mute function. Surrounding the mute button itself are headphone volume controls, as well as a blend between computer audio and microphone audio for latency free monitoring if needed.

The included pop filter prevents plosive from affecting an otherwise great sound, while automatic gain control helps to maintain consistent output levels for both spoken and sung vocals. This makes the AT2020USB-XP perfect for music making, podcasting, gaming and other content creation.

Audix PDX720 Signature Edition

Classy, signature good looks aside, the Audix PDX720 Signature Edition is something special. The Low-Cut and Presence Boost controls make it perfect for broadcast style applications, or musical sources where broadcast mics make sense! These controls are covered by a magnetic cover that prevents accidental bumps and switching.

The PDX720 is reasonably flat, but helps to crystalise a source in a space, the source crystallising in the stereo field and PDX720 helping to add depth.

Its clean, crisp response offer a blank canvas for your own effects, processing and grit, the Audix PDX720 simply providing a clean, full-frequency representation of whatever it’s pointed at. A handy addition to anyone’s mic locker!

Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave Wavetable Synthesizer

The Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave Wavetable Synthesizer is an incredible, forward thinking design that borrows from the PPG Wave series. The 3rd Wave itself is a synth with 24-voice polyphony and the ability to serve as a 4-part multi-timbral instrument.

It has a set of controls that are hard to beat, with a workflow design to make creating and generating unique sounds as easy as possible. Its design is built for creation, the interface and layout making it easy to select, effect and modulate sounds.

Build quality is unparalleled, also featuring a Fatar keyboard for professional and refined playability at its core.

beyerdynamic MMX 200

Headphones can really make or break your workflow. Whether you’re making music, creating content or gaming, your headphones need to be transparent as possible, both sonically and physically as a physically uncomfortable headphone can really interfere with your focus, as can cables.

Incredible sonics aside, the beyerdynamic MMX 200 take this in their stride. They’re wireless, so there’s no cables to get tangled, but the headphone band itself is lightweight and comfy, controls for the headphones’ playback positioned perfectly on the cups that also contain the 40mm driver system. Stellar sound offers you better spatial awareness in a game, as well as crystal clear playback of sounds needed for a competitive edge.

The MMX200 are leading the charge of beyerdynamic’s range of headphones intended for gaming, adding to the immersion and focus required for gaming and content creation.

Melbourne Instruments NINA

We love a home-grown legend don’t we? Australia’s history of groundbreaking synths (started by the Fairlight CMI in 1979) is continued by Melbourne Instruments’ NINA.

The NINA is a 12-voice, 4-part multi-timbral synth. Its modern, cutting-edge design is encased in a classy, retro-style enclosure, the large, tactile and motorised knobs all offer digital control and recall. The knobs themselves offer haptics control, allowing you to switch between detented control or smooth control and anything in between.

NINA has a practical and logical interface layout, allowing easy access to 400+ presets, as well as having space for 16,000 of your own! Sonically, the NINA offers two analog VCOs, a Digital Wavetable Oscillator and ‘Moog’ style Ladder Filter for creating your own sounds, offering MPE compatibility for extended control.

Austrian Audio MiCreator Studio

USB microphones are all good and well, design for use wherever inspiration strikes, but that requires a robust mic design! There’s none more robust than the MicCreator from Austrian Audio. The rugged design is eclipsed only by the high-SPL handling of the mic itself, allowing you to capture great sounding ideas and sounds on the go without risk of audible distortion or damaging the mic!

“Many times a quick riff, a scratch vocal, or unplanned content creation is the best performance, so why not capture everything with studio quality sound,” says Martin Seidl, CEO of Austrian Audio. “​Whether you’re at home or on the go, MiCreator Studio always keeps Austrian Audio recording quality within reach.”


What do you get when you combine two mainstays of the electric guitar world? The PRS NF 53. Borrowing from one of Paul Reed Smith’s own personal guitars, the NF 53 is a single-cutaway electric guitar with a pair of PRS’ own PRS Narrowfield DD (Deep Dish) pickups.

The PRS NF 53 features a maple neck and fretboard, embedded with PRS’ classic ‘Birds’ inlays, communicating your location along the 22 frets. The body is Swamp Ash, providing a comfortable weight and blistering tone. It lends itself to bright, articulate fingerpicking like would’ve been done in the 50s, as well as modern rock and blues tones, and just about everything in between. The brass saddles hint at the NF 53’s origins, though PRS have elevated a design beyond whatever you might have imagined. Its bolt-on neck refines the tone overall, making for a supremely playable, comfortable and great sounding guitar.

Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Special 

The Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay is one of the most famous bass shapes of all time. Re-issued and reinvented countless times, 2023 saw the range re-invigorated with the 2023 Ernie Ball Music Man StingRays, available in both 4 and 5 string designs, and with either one or two humbuckers. Colours include Sea Breeze, Laguna Green, Pueblo Pink, and Butter Cream, in following current colour trends.

The StingRays for 2023 are as playable, functional and comfortable as they’ve always been, though bringing modern specs like Neodymium humbuckers, an 18V, three-band EQ active preamp and roasted maple neck and compensated nut to the fore.

The StingRay Special has a five-point sculpted neck joint and refined body contours, making it the most comfortable StingRay … so far!

Ampeg Venture V3

There’s something special about an Ampeg isn’t there? They’re both reliable and iconic, and used across the world because of these traits. The new Venture series is no different, the Ampeg Venture V3 head encapsulating what we love about Ampeg and packaging it into a modern, refined and transportable package.

The Venture V3 packs 300 watts of pure Ampeg power into a mere 1.8kg package. It features all the standard Empg switches for sculpting your tone, e.g. Ultra Lo and Ultra Hi switches, with EQ controls and easily switchable Super Grit Technology.

Switch between SVT or B15 voicing, and harness everything that makes Ampeg such widely trusted brand in a practical package.

Fender Tonemaster Pro

The Fender Tonemaster Pro has once again pushed the envelope for guitar tone. Borrowing from the tech used in Fender’s Tonemaster range of amplifiers, the Tonemaster Pro is a floorboard-style unit that encaptures decades of Fender’s innovation in amplifier design.

The Tonemaster Pro contains over 100 of the world’s most famous amplifier sounds, but with a design and interface more focused on usability and ease-of-use than the competition. It has a full colour touchscreen, allowing you to turn and adjust digital knobs on the fly, all the while saving your sounds to use as you see fit. There’s multiple ways to arrange your effects and tones depending on your workflow, with great sound at its core and a new challenger in the growing world of amplifier emulation products.

Cranborne Audio Carnaby 500

EQ is a pretty conventional concept at this point, rudimentary even to an extent. That was until Cranborne Audio decided to shake things up with their Carnaby Harmonic EQ, a three band EQ that uses harmonic saturation to boost and cut frequencies.

What this means, is that besides having somewhat conventional controls, the Carnaby responds dynamically as well, the input pushing and pulling against the bands instead of simply boosting and cutting. The Carnaby has Input and Output controls overall, as well as selectable frequencies for the High, Mid and Low bands as well as control over how much you push into the selected frequency.

Love this idea? The Carnaby features an Opto-Sync function that allows you to sync two Carnaby units for stereo sources. In this mode, all controls from the left unit are automatically sync’d to the right. Even without Opto-Sync engaged, the controls are stepped for recall or fine tuning!

Warm Audio WA-1B

Warm Audio have developed a stellar reputation for masterful recreations of the most famous gear in history at a much more affordable price.

Their latest pro audio offering, the WA-1B is one such unit that follows a famously perfect match for stellar vocals, a tube compressor with modern fine tuning and control.

The WA-1B is a mono unit with standard Attack, Release, Ratio, Threshold and Gain controls. You can toggle between fixed or manual attack and release controls, with two side chain inputs, as well as offering the ability to toggle between input, output or compression controls on the backlit VU meter. The WA-1B offers heavy handed compression without an overly compressed sound, making it perfect for primary elements within a mix, bringing them forward and keeping them there. 

Focusrite Scarlett Gen 4

How can you improve on an already stellar offering from Focusrite? With a new generation of interfaces of course! The Scarlett Gen 4 builds on the huge range of Scarlett interfaces that have enabled musicians across the globe to write, arrange, mix and monitor their music.

The 4th Gen mic preamps are Scarlett’s most detailed preamps ever, with 68dB of gain available, with various models in the range including the familiar Solo, 2i2 and 4i4. The preamps also feature Auto and ‘Safe’ modes for booth auto-gain adjustment and to protect the preamps from clipping in ‘Safe’ mode. ‘Air’ mode engaged offers a big studio sound in a small unit.

The Gen 4 connects via USB-C for super fast data transfer, power also available via 5V DC cable, making for an incredibly portable solution to making music.

Neumann MT 48

Neumann have an unmatched reputation for pro audio, extending across their range of microphones, monitors and now their audio interface: the MT 48. The MT 48 is a 4-in, 8-out audio interface (hence the name). It has class-leading AD/DA converters with enormous dynamic range and 4 independent mixers with integrated talkback. All of this is controlled by an intuitive touchscreen user interface, offering access to DSP processing (EQ, dynamics, reverb).

Connect via USB, ADAT and AES67, and access the preamps with dynamic range of 136dB. The Neumann MT 48 is the new standard, from masters of their craft.

It’s built well, designed magnificently and sized for mobile work if needed! Neumann are pushing the envelope in the modern, with decades of experience building the best gear in the biz.

Apogee Jam X

Apogee have been pushing boundaries since the mid 80s. Now, more than ever, they’re packing unbelievably well-designed functionality into increasingly compact equipment. This is on show most of all in the Apogee Jam X Mobile Guitar Interface, a portable, pocket-sized interface with a built-in analog compressor.

The Jam X features a single ¼” input for your guitar, and a 1/8” output connects to either headphone or powered speakers depending on your preference. The rugged metal body encloses the analog compressor, with variable presets, as well as the unit offering 24 bit/96kHz recording and a Blend mode for zero latency recording. It interfaces with both Mac and Windows, as well as iOSand iPad. The Jam X includes Ableton Live Lite and an extended 60 Day Trial of Archetype: Tim Henson by Neural DSP.

PreSonus StudioOne 6.5

StudioOne has slowly been climbing the ladder of all the world’s most used DAWs, and being used by more professionals all the time. This year saw them introduced StudioOne version 6.5, including a seamless Dolby ATMOS integration.

The most immediately striking thing about Studio One is its clean, customisable user interface. It’s designed to bring together usability and function into a really customisable workflow to ensure you can remain focused on the creativity and not the function of your DAW.

Designed to be as invisible in the process as possible, StudioOne 6.5 ships with plugins, virtual instruments as well as conventionally helpful routing functionality to send and receive audio where you need it to go!