MXR M300 Reverb
As 2016 draws to a close, we've been reflecting on the year in hi-tech music-making gear, asking you to vote for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months.
Now it's time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Over the next 10 slides we'll be revealing what you've decided are the best new hardware effects and outboard gear of 2016, counting down to your number one. First up is the luscious spatial stompbox, the MXR M300 Reverb...
We said: “This compact little pedal features emulations of six different varieties of reverb. These range from a straightforward room verb through to plate and spring varieties, via a delay-driven Epic setting and a modulated reverb mode. All six modes sound gorgeous – with glistening highs dialled in and out to taste via the Tone control. Connect up an expression pedal and you can morph between two different reverb settings too, which is a great touch.”
Tegeler Audio Vari Tube Recording Channel
We said: “The VTRC-1 is a big beast at 3U high, with retro styling, and it borrows quite a few ideas from famous old units – Pultec style EQ, Vari Mu and Opto compression. It is a great channel strip at a sensible price. If you are in the market for one and you like the sound of valves it's well worth checking out.”
We said: “If you want to synth up your guitar/ bass, there is no easier way than the SY-300. There is so much range available and it’s deceptively easy to use considering the range of functionality it possesses. The USB, MIDI and external control make it a flexible and easily integrated tool that can slot into a larger set-up and, even when not being a synth, it makes a mean effects box.”
We said: “The ASP800 is a very useful tool. With its impressive basic pres and converters it's already better than many competitors in the same price range but, with the addition of those two variable channels, it is truly excellent and very capable of putting colour into your music. And for this price, it can only be considered a bargain.”
Thermionic Culture The Swift
We said: “The Swift is a truly detailed EQ which adds warmth, presence and depth to anything in need of a little help or some radical changes. It is clean and powerful and near silent in operation. About as good as a valve EQ can be.”
Electro Harmonix Mel9
We said: “The Mel 9 Tape Replay Machine is a pedal that takes an input signal – it’s primarily designed for guitar, but works nicely with a clean-ish keyboard sound too – and converts into a Mellotron emulation. There are nine sounds on offer, covering a broad range of knowingly inaccurate, gorgeously retro ‘orchestral’ tones.
“The technology works impressively well, tracking the input sound well across a broad frequency range (EHX say it will work as low as the A string of a bass guitar). Attack and Sustain controls help create those classic swelling string sounds, while independent Effect and Dry outputs make it easy to dial in the sound alongside the original signal. A very cool studio tool at a good price.”
Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast
What we say: “The TB12 builds on the WA12 in a double-wide module with two discrete op
amps and output transformers, HPF, line input, transformer bypass, capacitor style switching, detented output attenuator and input metering. The output attenuator allows you to drive the op amps into overt harmonic distortion. Switching between steel and nickel core transformers does most of the ‘colouring’, with the former squeezing into the mids. Along with the subtler changes from the op amp and capacitor (clean/vintage) switching, you can really tailor your source before recording.”
Elektron Analog Drive
What they say: “Analog Drive represents something completely new. The eight different analogue distortion circuits makes the Analog Drive the most flexible stompbox there is. And it sounds just beautiful. It is the perfect match for any guitar rig and does wonders for mono synthesizers and vintage drum machines too.”
Rupert Neve 542 Tape Emulator
What we say: “The Portico range’s most revered model, the 5042 Tape Emulator, gets the 500 treatment as the 542, offering a subtle yet powerful saturation and colouration effect to the tonally curious. The Input Trim and Drive knobs, along with the 15/30ips and Blend controls, give a full range of harmonic distortion and response shaping, and for afters the Texture section adds some extra excitation in the form of Silk Blue/Red.”
Winner: Elektron Analog Heat
What we say: “Elektron’s first effects processor combines eight excellent varieties of analogue distortion, a two-band EQ and multi-mode filter. With an LFO, envelope and CV/pedal control onboard, it’s a good tool for adding movement and shape to sounds. It’s the Overbridge capabilities that put it top of the pile though, allowing Heat to function as a 2x2 interface and process DAW audio as a plug-in.”