This is a real game-changing interface that was worth the wait. A massive 24dB of gain on the inputs with what has to be the flattest built-in preamps on the market. No menus also mean no hassle. Every function has a button, even opening the control panel! If you need more inputs, there is ADAT expansion, MIDI I/O, S/PDIF, line inputs, reamp outputs and a USB hub! If this isn't on your must-have gear list, you're going to want to make room for it.
The engineers over at Lewitt have really outdone themselves because a microphone that is this inexpensive should not sound this good. The LCT-240 Pro has no bells and whistles, just a very airy and smooth sounding capsule that is incredible on voices and acoustic guitar. This is truly at a price made for everyone.
If you like the classic sound of Chicago-style preamps (which most engineers do), then you will love the sound and (especially) the price point of the WA-412. It has that classic sound and is loaded with Altran transformers. This is a prize piece that can make almost anything sound good.
The Faderport 8 is the successor to the highly-praised Faderport. It's a tool that allows engineers hands-on control, easy automation, and the ability to mix with your ears, not your eyes. A very honorable mention is the Faderport 16, but has not been released yet.
87-Style microphones have been a coveted industry standard for decades. Warm Audio excels at bringing vintage sounds to the modern studio at an incredible price. The WA-87 is no exception. Bruce at Warm Audio meticulously recreated the original capsule used in the 60's. It brings back the lush mids and has a way of putting vocals up front like no other microphone can. It also shines on overheads and guitar cabinets at a fraction of the price of the original.
The Clarett OctoPre is one of the best ways to expand your interface channel count. Clarett range preamps have 118dB on the input and amazingly clean and clear preamps. They are also equipped with an air switch on each channel that models the world famous ISA preamps. If that's not enough, there is an insert point on every channel that allows you to send the preamp to an outboard compressor or EQ!
When we think of synthesizers, giant analog classics from the 70's and 80's come into our minds. These days, finding a really good analog synthesizer for a decent price seems like a daunting task. Korg's MS-20 Mini is a game-changer because it pays homage to the original MS-20 from 1978 but at a size and price within the grasp of the modern studio. This a an awesome way to get started in analog synthesis, or even expand an already great collection.
Aston Starlight - $699/pair or $349 each
Aston is a very new brand in the microphone scene, having only been around for just under two years. Their Starlights made it onto this list not only for the super smooth sound, but for the extra features it has. Each microphone has a built-in laser that help you accurately place the microphones every time. This is especially useful for drum overheads and acoustic guitar. The capsule is also very unique in that it has three different voicings - Vintage, Modern and Hybrid. Check out this article to hear what they sound like and read more about them.
Focusrite has gone all-out and constructed the most versatile high-end audio interface on the market. The back of this unit is loaded with any connection you could ever think of. Lightning-fast thunderbolt connectivity, Dante, Pro Tools HDX, ADAT I/O, S/PDIF I/O, 8 world-class mic preamps, 16 line inputs and outputs, dedicated monitor outputs, word clock and loop synch. Focusrite is currently working on a Windows driver and a Dante control panel. This high-end piece will soon be the standard in audio interfaces and converters.
That's our list of favorite from 2017. Let us know what you think of this year's picks and what you're looking forward to for next year!
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