Gear Of The Year: Best accessories of 2019
Time to reveal the winners of this years’ Gear of the Year awards, the final awards of the decade! First up, it’s our top accessories.
WINNER: Loopmasters Loopcloud 5
Loopcloud is the ultimate way that you can select and interact with samples – both millions from Loopmasters own roster and also, now, from your own collection. It has had many fast and dramatic updates, but version 5 saw the addition of some superb and imaginative features which push the application further into creative DAW territory than ever before. In fact, it even has its own multitrack recording feature that allows you to put together sketchpad ideas quicker than you might believe. There are also effects and a couple of instruments, but the real fun is to be had in the sample editing side of the software where you can create incredibly complex patterns and rhythmic ideas either using a single sample or longer sections of audio.
You can get into Loopcloud for free or with three levels of subscription. The free version gets you the software and you get five free sounds a day to download. The Artist subscription is £5.99/month; Studio costs £9.99 and Professional £17.99. The more you pay, the more free samples you get per day and cloud storage: up to 50 samples a day and 250GB of storage on the Professional sub, for example. With version 5, Loopcloud has come of age. In our review, we said: “The bottom line is with each upgrade – and especially this one – Loopcloud is getting more creative with your audio. What was the master of sample management is fast becoming the fastest and most inspirational block-busting writer’s tool out there.”
Highly commended: Audient Nero
Audient has long been regarded as one of the real industry leaders when it comes to mixing consoles and interfacing, however the company’s attention to quality is still evident across their other products, the Nero is a tactile monitor controller that replicates the monitor sections of vintage mixing consoles and presents them in a desktop studio form. Its remarkably well built and has solid buttons, knobs and digital inputs that support up tot 192kHz/24-bit signals.
In our review, Adam Crute said “Nero comes in a chunky, solidly built black enclosure that’s perfectly sized to sit alongside your computer keyboard or DAW controller. The device’s controls all live on the top surface of the enclosure, which is angled so that the controls are tilted towards you, as they would be on a large-format mixing console. It’s a well-built monitor controller that’s just like the monitor section of a mixing console”
IsoAcoustics ISO-Puck Mini
Monitors, by their nature, vibrate. That’s great when those vibrations are travelling to your ears as sound waves, but less desirable when they are causing your desk to vibrate in sympathy or causing the speakers to move back and forth. IsoAcoustics has made its name on products designed to prevent this phenomenon.
The ISO-Puck mini is their latest design and its made for nearfield and midfield monitors.
Our reviewer placed four ISO-Pucks under each of his monitors, placed on his desk and found focus and intelligibility were restored immediately. He even described the difference as “night and day… back comes bass control, precise stereo imaging, detail and coherence.” The ISO-Puck Mini comes highly recommended to help you realise your monitors’ true potential.
Kali Audio Mountain View
We first came across Kali Audio through the company’s debut offering, the sensibly-priced Lone Pine studio monitors. The company’s follow-up product, Mountain View, is a smart but simple device that delivers a Bluetooth signal to a professional audio setup. For playback, checking ideas and simply enjoying music wirelessly through your pro setup, this is a brilliantly executed idea. And it’s good value, too.
The benefits of owning a mobile recording device are obvious. Capturing ‘found sound’ is the primary goal, environmental noise and atmosphere that no plug-in can really offer. Then there are those moments of inspiration. A small device to catch fleeting musical ideas would be the ideal net, but isn’t that device your phone? Good question, but the Olympus LS-P4 has some good answers.
The LS-P4 is a great device for capturing the moment, but also good enough for getting good acoustic recordings very quickly into your DAW. Yes, your phone will do that particular job, but the LS-P4 will do it with less fuss, better quality and more mobility.
Push Turn Move
There are plenty of books that look at classic synths, but none that really delve into the concepts behind how we interact with them. Written by Danish designer, author, lecturer and electronic musician Kim Bjørn, the 352 pages are filled with beautiful images of instruments, controllers and interfaces, from a wealth of industry heavyweights including Moog, Korg, Ableton, Elektron, NI, Roland and more. The bulk of the book unpacks the art and science of interface design through well-chosen chapters that focus on the user, sound, control, layout, concept and time.
As such, it works as a quick-fix, coffee table book that can be flicked through, and also as an extensive essay on the concepts of instrument design that could inspire developers new and old. Also, the research and scope are wide enough that we can’t see any need to update it for some time to come. The quality of the content and design is exceptional, making it something to cherish and return to again and again.
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.