We live in great times when it comes to creating great audio recordings and producing great music, there’s never been more choice for music making.
As Editor I got to review a lot of new stuff this year, the rest of the team will have their own favourites but here are my top picks, many of which I went and bought myself to use. In no particular order they are.
Universal Audio Apollo Twin
If you are in the market for a new interface for your Thunderbolt-equipped Mac then you must check out the Apollo Twin, this is one of the easiest Editors Choice Awards I’ve ever had to give… it’s a bloody beautiful miracle!
Read the whole Universal Audio Apollo Twin review here
Softube Console 1
It still seems that the jury is out on the future of mixing, but the for me the Console 1 seems to do something that many of the other solutions seem to still fail to manage and that’s taking us back to mixing with our ears. Anything that achieves this has got to be a good thing in my book. It’s not cheap at around £650/$1000, but it is a lot cheaper than the alternatives, it’s easy to use, works with the minimum of fuss and promises a lot more iterations in the future… it’s a new way of mixing which I don’t think most will understand until they use it. An utterly brilliant invention from the Swedes, it gets my Editors Choice.
Read my Softube Console 1 review here
Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Audio Interface
Does the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt deliver on the sound and ‘ultra low latency’ performance? The simple answer is yes. Enough for me to have gone and purchased this unit, it’s not coming out of my rack any time soon. In the words of Victor Kiam “I liked it so much I bought the company.” Well not quite, but it is now my new interface, bought and paid for with my hard earned. When I first saw the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt I thought this unit was made just for me, now having used it I was right. It’s not going to be everyone’s choice, especially of you are a PC user, but I think for those Mac users wanting a flexible, great sounding and low latency audio interface this one has to be on your short list.
Read the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt review here
Waves Abbey Road Reel Tape ADT
Wave have a lot of plug-ins to choose from, the Waves Abbey Road Reel Tape ADT is a gem. For vocals, guitars and keyboards needing some width this is gorgeous.
Positive Grid BIAS Desktop Guitar Amp Modelling Plug-in
I’m not a huge fan of guitar amp emulations, they often lack the immediacy of a real amp and the top end can often sound fizzy and unconvincing. However the Positive Grid BIAS Desktop really delivers on both points, add to this the abiity to share sounds with other users and model other amps Positive Grid BIAS Desktop offers a great package.
Eve SC205 2-Way Monitor Review
The Eve SC205 have garnered a lot of praise from reviewers and owners alike - it’s not hard to understand why. The Eve SC205 offers a nice transparent and open top end and a tight low end. I am a bit of a mid freak and want to know it’s not missing in a mix. One concern I had with the SC205s would be that the mid was going to be lost by their openness, my fears were unfounded and after some time of working with them I found my mixes were coming out with more detail and a better bass in them.
Read the Eve SC205 Monitor review here
UAD Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Collection Plug-in
There are a lot of Neve 1073 emulations on the market, the UAD is one of the best, especially when used with the Apollo using their Unison technology.
We tested it and also did a shoot out.
Watch the UAD Neve 1073 plug-in review and shoot out here
Fabfilter Pro DS DeEsser
De-essing doesn’t get better and easier than this. Fabfilter have made one heck of a plug-in with the Pro DS plug-inthat gives both options for an immediate simple solution and also enough control to deal with even the most troublesome audio.
Toontrack EZDrummer 2
Toontrack created a lot of hype about EZDrummer 2, the good news is that it lived up to the hype. It’s an easy to use great sounding drum VI that offers both enthusiasts and professionals needing great sounding drums perhaps the easiest way to create convincing drum parts.
Maag PREQ4 500 Series Pre Amp With Air Band
If you are looking to join the world of 500 series or the owner of a 500 series rack with some spare slots, or someone looking for a high quality pre-amp, then the Maag PREQ4 should be on your short list. It’s not the cheapest pre-amp you can buy but neither is it the most expensive by a long shot, but this $849 pre-amp with its complete feature set, as well as their legendary AIR band is a something that’s not leaving this studio anytime soon.
Read the Maag PREQ4 review here
Audient ASP880 8 Channel Pre Amp
The Audient ASP880 is everything I hoped it would be. Great sound, whisper silent operation and now cheaper than the older version - what is there not to like? If you need 8 channels of British pre-amps, built in A/D conversion and the flexibility this unit offers then you would be nuts not to check it out.
Read the Audient ASP880 review here
Brainworx Dangerous BAX Eq Plug-in
A great hardware emulation from Brainworx, this plug-in is part of the magic sauce on my mixbuss. The EQ is perfect for giving a mix the final sheen and the M/S processing makes getting the image right a much easier task.
Exponential Audio R2 Reverb Plug-in
When I first encountered Exponential Audio plug-ins I was so thrilled by the sound of the PheonixVerb reverb plug-in that I completely missed the R2. However after some encouragement from Mike I started to try it. If you want some great sounding reverb effects with some very nice modulation on the tails if you so wish then check out the Exponential Audio R2, it is now my go-to reverb.
Blue Cat Audio PatchWorks
While we waited for AAX plug-ins to port to Pro Tools 11 Blue Cat gave us this little gem to host plug-ins we were waiting for and those that will never be AAX. Blue Cat have not rested on their ass, they continue to make this plug-in even more useful.