Best in music tech 2021

Best in tech 2021
(Image credit: Future)

As another year draws to a close, we're taking a moment to acknowledge the people and products that have helped make the last 12 months in music tech so exciting. 

Our end of year poll represents a mere cross section of the huge range of new gear and high-achieving producers and artists that have arrived or thrived in 2021. From audio interfaces and Eurorack gear, to software plugins and house, techno and hip-hop talent, our categories offer you the chance to tell us who deserves recognition this year.

Voting closes at midnight on 5 December and we'll reveal the results in the following weeks. Happy voting!


Best album production

We’re recognising some of the most creative sounds produced by music-makers in 2021. To that end, we’ve rounded up a (by no means exhaustive) list of the year’s most outstanding album releases, focusing on artists, bands and producers that have impressed us with their music-making abilities, and not just the music they’ve released.

Music tech personality

YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and their ever-proliferating rival platforms have continued to be democratising and (mainly) positive forces in music education, entertainment and criticism. This category is about recognising the talent and dedication of the people bringing you that content on a daily basis. 

Best produced track

As society has made a cautious return to normality this year, so have artists and producers. Stepping back into reopened studios, kicking off long-postponed tours and drawing on the inspiration provided by a reunion with the complexities of life outside our homes, musicians have returned full of ideas and as creatively adventurous as ever.

Best producer

The concept of the ‘producer’ is an ever-changing one. Once reserved for those working behind an expensive mixing desk amid four sound-proofed walls, the title’s now applicable to just about anyone who makes, records and releases music, and - thanks to the continued proliferation of music technology - there are now more people doing that than ever before. 


Best audio interface

Here we have put together a shortlist of the best new audio interfaces of 2021, but which I/O box gets your vote? Have you been impressed by any of the gear on the list below? Let us know who you think deserves the title.

Best DAW update

2021 has brought us updates to some of the industry's biggest hitters - Ableton Live, Logic Pro and Reason, to name just three - with each offering new features and workflow tweaks.

We want you to tell us which has been the most impressive overhaul - check out the runners and riders and place your vote below. 

Best drum machine or sampler

When we’re judging the best new music tech gear of 2021, then (which we are, by the way) drum machines and samplers need to come into the equation. Vote for your favourite new product below.

Best FX plugin

BEST IN TECH 2021: While many sectors have had to endure stock shortages over the past 18 months, plugin vendors have had no such problems. We've seen new effects emerging at the usual, staggering rate, all vying for space in your bulging virtual rack.

2021 has brought us new shapers, operators, imagers and benders in all manner of different processing flavours. Whether you want to get creative or simply need to make your mixes sound better, there's been plenty to chew on.

Having digested this year's plugin effects, we now want you to vote for your favourite. You have until close of business on 5 December to do the deed.

Best hardware synth

Which is the finest hardware synth of the year? We’ve put together a shortlist and we want you to vote for your favourite in the poll below. You only get one shot, though, so make it count.

Best midi controller or sequencer

Were you in the market for a new MIDI controller or sequencer in 2021? If so, what did you opt for? Which box gave you the control you needed over your music production this year?

Best modular gear

From DIY kits, to outboard gear and synths galore, there are around 400 manufacturers of Eurorack modules competing for your cash. Here we have rounded-up a small selection from the last 12 months, but which deserves the the title of best of the year? 

Best plugin instrument

Plugin instruments have been part of our music-making lives for well over 20 years now, but developers keep finding ways of making them better.

Best studio gear

Yes, it's the best of the rest 2021! 

In all seriousness, this is the go-to studio gear of the year - the crucial bits and pieces we all use but that often do not get a share of the limelight.


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