So, with the mince pies nearly gone and New Year’s resolutions looming on the horizon, Making Music.com is taking a look back on some of the news and reviews from the last 12 months, for the music tech gear and software that caught our attention. Click on the links to go to the full articles.
January brought us the bass drum synth Punchbox, an all-in-one tool to get you a solid low-end foundation. Can a plug-in with a single aim really make an impact?
On the hardware-side, Arturia announced the MiniBrute 2 which included a CV/Gate matrix for all your modular requirements.
In February, Red Room Audio launched an orchestral sample library and add-on packs, under the banner of Palette, summed up in the review as “…superb and evocative patches which lend themselves to ensemble score creation.”
The diminutive iRig PreHD from IK Multimedia made an impression when it came to mobile recording solutions and we said it was “…an affordable solution to getting quality audio into an iOS or Android device while on the move.”
March saw an addition to Spitfire Audio’s Evo range of evolving sound sets with an endorsement from Olafur Arnalds, with his Chamber collection.
There was also an outstanding package of keyboard instruments from the relatively unheard of Q Up Arts and their California Keys collection. Our reviewer was impressed and said the they were “…extremely playable and they sound fantastic.”
April brought the Kickstarter launch of a new gesture-based MIDI controller in the shape of the Enhancia Neova ring which was loved by Stevie Wonder at a trade show. It has since achieved its Kickstarter goal and is going into production.
As May moved us towards summer, Sonivox announced a new Supersaw and FM synth called Stratum, which combined the buzzy, multi-oscillator Supersaw favoured in some genres of dance music, with the glassy and ethereal world of FM synthesis.
And while we’re talking about buzzy synths in dance music, the D16 Group gave us their familiar-looking software Lush-101, where our review deemed it “…incredible…” and “…fantastic value…”
July offered more new Solo Strings from the (frankly prolific) Spitfire Audio stable, which updated an earlier sample set, with our reviewer summing up saying “You know a library has got it right when it makes you want to play and compose. And that’s exactly what Solo Strings does.”
August seemed to be the month of off-the-wall-ness with two sound mangling pieces of software. Firstly, UVI Meteor, helping soundtrack and sound designers to create swells and impacts simply and quickly.
Then, the rather curious DAW Cassette by KLEVGR, which imparts tape-like saturation to your recordings. But not any old tape saturation…lo-fi compact cassette-type, to really mungle with your fidelity, which our reviewer suggested sounded like recording in a Stasi interrogation room (in a good way!)
As we wandered into Autumn, Spitfire Audio again offered a new collection, but this time they were studio recorded versions. Gone was the lush sound of AIR Lyndhurst and the Evolution grid and in came the dry and focussed sound of the close-miked, Studio Strings Professional, which we said were “…another superb sound set to add to your compositional arsenal.”
In hardware news, Antelope Audio extended their range of Edge family microphones to include an ingenious, four capsule, multi-pattern model which allowed for all manner of stereo miking techniques.
And for its 20th anniversary, Fruity Loops DAW got its own dedicated, grid-based hardware controller in the shape of the Akai Fire which allowed for four devices to be chained together to make an impressive 8×32 grid to work with.
November gave us some more synth action in both software and hardware guises. Firstly, Xils Lab’s PolyM gave us their software re-creation of the Polymoog analogue synthesiser from 1975, which made our reviewer go all misty-eyed, saying “…what hits you the most about the PolyM is the sound which evokes memories of many old electronics recordings.”
But, bang up-to-date, we reviewed the IK Multimedia UNO Synth, their first foray into hardware analogue synthesis. It’s small enough to fit in a rucksack, but has bags of features and sounds and is equally at home on the move or in the studio.
And so, as December drew in, we got news of a new microphone from Aston Microphones called the Stealth. A hybrid dynamic mic with four-voicings, an onboard preamp and a genuinely new internal shock system, this looks to be a killer bit of kit for the new year.
We wonder what else 2019 will bring…?