REVIEW

Here is the first ten things in the list of our favourite things from 2017

It’s a mix of things that we couldn't have done without, some things that made our lives far easier, some things we found out about through making Gearshoot that we now use all the time, and just some cool things that blew our minds.   We think they are all worth checking out and considering adding to your workflow, and want to express a big thanks to the manufacturers of all these things for all the tireless hours they put in.   Please support them so they can come up with even more cool stuff.

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So here are the first ten in no particular order:

1 - Meter Plugs [particularly Dynameter and Perception]

Meter plugs have some really cool plugins in their line up that have really sped up some of our work flows this year and are particularly important if you are considering putting any of your stuff on streaming services.
We were introduced to Dynameter by Ian Shepherd last year from his handy site http://productionadvice.co.uk/, and since then it sits permanently in our metering chain. We love the looks of it and it’s so intuitive to read, plus it helps you understand how your music is working dynamics wise compared to other tracks and how the you can have your music sound its best on the various streaming channels.

Meter Plugs also do great plugins like Perception.   If you are doing any mastering this plugin should almost be a compulsory purchase.   The clever thing about this plugin is that it matches the  loudness levels of your audio before processing and after processing file.   As you are doubtless aware, unless something is loudness normalised it is really hard (nigh on impossible) to make an accurate comparison as to whether what you are doing is making it better or worse (e.g. anything slightly louder will be perceived as ‘better’ - which would run you into problems once it goes onto e.g. Spotify).   If you haven’t tried this plugin just do it, it will enlighten your understanding of audio, EQ and compression in ways you never expected and honestly make you a better, and more ‘magical’ person at mastering.

For more info, videos etc, and to get your own copy check out Dynameter here and Perception here

 

2 - Voxengo Span

This free plugin by Voxengo is an absolute gem.
Just a straight up spectrum analyser with a very tweakable interface and a whole load of depth of extra functions you can get into...
Our advice: Get it and use it, why not is is free and is awesome.

Handy tip - In the Settings set the slope to 2.73, that makes the slope flat for pink noise!

Get it for free here

 

3 - ATC Monitors

Over here at Gearshoot last year we invested in a lovely pair of ATC SCM110ASL-Pros to help us get through our day.

They are amazing sounding monitors that make the listening for our comparisons and reviews so much easier to do. The precision and clarity of these monitors is absolutely fabulous and makes doing our work faster, easier and even more fun (and have made our clients eyes mist over with joy on more than one occasion).
The whole ATC range are amazing, so we are more than happy to give a tip of the hat to them and recommend you find some to listen to.


Hit up your local dealer and see if you can check some out

4 - Waves Kramer PIE Compressor

If this is a compressor that has flown under the radar for you we seriously recommend that you check it out.   The originals are hard to come across and definitely not cheap, but luckily the folks at Waves have created a really accurate plugin version of it (like really accurate!).

We also have an original PYE comp sampled into Gearshoot (thanks to Roundhead Studios - check out their epic gear list) so you can decide how accurate you think it is as well.
This was a compressor that really stood out for us a shootout/review of 20 different plugin compressors  and we got some really good responses on it.
The Waves Kramer PIE has now become a favorite when used in parallel on drum busses, it has a unique sound and engaging harmonic richness that it brings, especially as you push it more.
Thanks Waves, round of applause.
Here's a player with some examples we made up for you.

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And click this link to compare it to 19 other compressors
Find out more info, or get the Waves Kramer PIE here, you know you want to

 

5 - Buzz Audio DBC-20

 

Buzz Audio from New Zealand has been making pro audio gear and shipping it around the world for years.   The REQ 2.2 stereo equalizer has been a favorite in mastering houses and on mix busses since its inception.

One of our favourite pieces recently designed by Tim Farrant over at Buzz is the DBC-20 Diode Bridge Compressor (to be honest we’ve always had a soft spot for Diode Bridge style Compressors since we first had a chance to hear one).
Buzz’s site boasts this compressor as being “Tight, colourful and rich with harmonics!”
Which is true, not only is the compression on this unit tasteful and versatile for everything from mastering (for which the DBC-M version is available) to locking in, or even smashing drums (Listen HERE) but this unit is also gold in its gain staging. Pushing this unit harder to drive the diode bridge and transformers really opens the use of this unit up and you can take it from clear and clean to really getting some nice harmonics as you push it.   Hopefully they make a plugin of this one day.   

 

Tim was kind enough to do an interview where he discusses some of the finer points of diode bridge compressors that you would do well to check out.

Give into your gear lust like we did and buy one from here.



6 - Hendyamps - Michelangelo EQ


Still, two years into owning the Michelangelo it is our favorite vibe EQ.   It slays on masters (a reason it is so popular with mastering engineers), plus has also found a regular place on the vocal buss, where the transformer saturation knob in particular can add exactly what a vocal needs (oh, and also on guitars as well).   Chris Hendy is also great to deal with if you want particular custom aspects.


Listen Here

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Check it out on Bass and Guitar here, then add any other instruments you want to hear
Buy one here and keep Chris busy making the world sound better (and check out his preamps, compressors and guitar amps as well).

 

7 - Focusrite Scarlett

 

Focusrite’s entry level interface series comes with great converters (cue gasp of surprise) at seriously good prices.   

From the nice and simple Scarlett Solo for vocals and simple instrument tracking through to the larger multiple input 18i20s these are really stable units with a striking look.
Whether you are getting into audio - need a bigger interface or a portable tracking unit check these out …. Chances are you had heard of them already.
But because this is Gearshoot, where you aren’t supposed to believe anything until you have heard it for yourself... check out this shootout against a range of entry level to high end converters to compare how they sound after 5 looped DA/AD passes and decide for yourself if you think we are right (or not) about how well the Focusrite converters stand up.

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Click on this link to hear how much a bunch of converters differ between a single DA/AD pass and five consecutive DA/DA passes.

Check it out here.
https://global.focusrite.com/scarlett-range

 

8 Slate Custom Series EQ

We recently put out part 3 of our ‘Digital EQs for Mastering’ Shootout review.   One of the EQs that really impressed us (particularly for the rock track example) was the Slate Custom Series Equalizer.   The Slate fans are really vocal about their love for Slate plugins, and we definitely agree with them on this puppy.   Sure, functions wise isn’t as complex and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some other popular digital EQs people use for mastering like Fabfilter Pro-Q 2, or DMG Equilibrium, but for the vitally important job of tone shaping and getting extra harmonics (like you might do in outboard with a Hendyamps Michelangelo or Pultec) this EQ would be a smart choice and a great combo with any surgical style EQ in a mastering chain (or buss).

Listen Here

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And in the Shootout Review click here

Find out more about this EQ, and if you like the sound of it you can buy it here so Steven can save up to get that lava lamp he has always dreamed of for his studio

9 EKADEK - Custom built audio gear

Greg Brice is a custom gear designer who has developed an solid international client base thanks to the special sonic qualities of his gear and his boutique customised aesthetic.   Last year he dropped off one of his Fat Lady Vari Mu compressors for us to check out and see what we thought.   To say we were impressed with it was an understatement.   It is possibly one of the lushest and harmonically engaging compressors or limiters we have had the pleasure of playing with.   Compare it to some of the other high end limiters we have on the site and you will quickly hear why Ekadek made our top 20.

Introduce yourself to the FatLady in the player below

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Or click on this link to load up a player that you can add and compare other compressors and limiters.

Check out the rest of Ekadek.com’s gear here, which includes kick ass mixers, preamps, EQs and all sorts of one offs, join his mailing list and see all the new and unique creations he produces.

 

10 - Triad-Orbit Mic Stands

These highly intuitive mic stand systems had been catching our eyes for a while, and we finally stumped up got a couple of their different stands last year. These things are super easy and smooth to set up to exactly where you need it to be with the quick change systems and ball and socket joints, (especially good if you have a short attention span), and they are built like a tank so will happily hold a big heavy expensive mic safely.
Check them out here at the Triad Orbit Site

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