Universal Audio, Squier + more: our top five gear releases of the week

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Universal Audio, Squier + more: our top five gear releases of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Catch up on everything that arrived under the radar this week.

Missed everything that’s gone on in the gear world this week? Never fear – we’ve got you covered.

This week, we’re checking out a new(ish) interface from Universal Audio, a bunch of other picks from Fender’s big release week and more. Ch-ch-ch-ch check it out!

This week’s top picks:

  • Universal Audio Apollo Solo Interfaces
  • Squier Mini Stratocaster, P Bass and Jazzmaster models
  • Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Exotic
  • Behringer RD-6 Drum Machine
  • ASM Hydrasynth v1.5 Firmware Update

Catch up on all the latest Product News here.

1. Universal Audio Apollo Solo Interfaces

Universal Audio are recognised for being some of the best makers of audio interfaces in the biz, and a large part in making that happen was the success of their early Arrow interfaces. The company have now reissued the Arrow as a spruced-up new interface called the Apollo Solo and Apollo Solo USB 3 – the former being powered via USB/Thunderbolt, and the latter requiring a power supply.

The new Apollo Solo range offer sleek layouts with super clean preamps, with each interface featuring two inputs and four outputs, as well as solo DSP power, Unison technology and access to the UAD plugin suite. Each interface is also loaded with UAD’s acclaimed new Luna DAW, and should succeed in bringing UAD’s legendary processing power and quality to those who are slightly more strapped for cash.

2. Squier Mini Stratocaster, P Bass and Jazzmaster models

Whether you’re looking for something pocket-sized to cart around for instant jam sessions or you’ve got a young one who’s keen on shredding, you’ll be all over this one. Squier have introduced three new tiny Stratocaster, Jazzmaster and Precision Bass models into their range, giving small hands the chance to learn their craft on some of the brand’s most iconic instrument shapes.

With a super affordable pricetag and vibrant finishes such as Dakota Red, Daphne Blue, Surf Green and Shell Pink, these new Squier Minis definitely look like the real deal. They even feature poplar bodies and C-Shaped maple necks, with each model featuring Squier singlecoil pickups except for the Jazzmaster, which boasts dual humbuckers. There’s also a left-handed Squier Mini Stratocaster available for all those small southpaws out there  – nice!

3. Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster Exotic 

Last year, Fender followed up the release of their Acoustasonic Telecaster with two limited edition models that featured incredible tonewoods like Ziricote, and they’re now following up that trend with this year’s Exotic Acoustasonic Stratocasters. The company have shared two new variants of the electric/acoustic hybrid model  with one being crafted from Cocobolo with a White Limba neck and another with a Black Limba neck and Ziricote body.

While all the electronic specs and neck profiles of the original Acoustasonic Stratocasters remain the same, these new tonewoods really go the distance to ensure these Exotic models are worthy of all your attention. Last year’s Ziricote Acoustasonic Telecaster proved to be an amazing sounding and feeling spin on the much-talked-about hybrid, and it’ll be interesting to see if these Stratocasters retain that quality.

4. Behringer RD-6 Drum Machine

A clone of the classic (and criminally overlooked) Roland TR-606 drum machine, Behringer have announced that their RD-6 Drum Machine is finally shipping, and is expected to arrive in stores some time in the next two or three weeks.

As well as featuring all the features and sounds of the original unit, the RD-6 also provides a clap from the DR-110 drum machine, a 64 step sequencer with room for 32 patterns up to 256 bars in length, and a distortion circuit modelled on the Boss DS-1 for adding some dirt to your drums.

The RD-6 is billed to be the perfect companion to Behringer’s TD-3, with the pair making for a classic acid house combo that’ll provide oodles of squelchy, hard thumping fun. It’s also available in a bunch of different finishes, including some very cool translucent colours that seem to be inspired by old ’90s iMacs and Gameboys – we dig it.

5. ASM Hydrasynth v1.5 Firmware Update

Finally, Ashun Sound Machines have released a firmware update for last year’s powerful Hydrasynth, an awesome wavetable synthesiser that’s available in both desktop and keyboard variants. Firmware version v1.5 brings a whole bunch of awesome updates to the table, including five new filter models for Filter 1 (12dB LPF, 6dB LPF, 48dB LPF, 12dB PBF and a HPF), as well as a new multi-mode filter for Filter 2.

There’s also the very cool addition of microtonal tuning capabilities, letting you load the Hydrasynth with 32 microtonal scales via MIDI tuning standard files to channel your inner Aphex Twin or King Gizzard into some synth scapes. There’s also an updated modulation and randomiser engine, expanded step mode for the LFOs, a new distortion feature and a latch mode, making for quite a comprehensive update overall.

Never miss a story – sign up to our mailing list for all the latest gear news and reviews.