Year one of the new decade offered up a slammin’ set of new audio products sure to make any audio-head squeal with joy. Check out my picks for the best products of 2011 based on their uniqueness, great feature sets and overall quality.
1. The Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite plug-in accelerator gives users a powerful, desktop unit that powers a growing list of plug-ins via FireWire.
2. The Bag End INFRASUB-18 Pro and PMM-8 monitors provide a turnkey, stellar sounding, full-range system that sounds bigger than its size.
3. The Retro Instruments Powerstrip Recording Channel features a great sounding tube preamp, EQ and compressor in a two rackspace unit.
4. The Empirical Labs Doc Derr 500 Series Module takes the compact format to a new high with multi-button access to a wide range of hidden EQ features.
5. The groundbreaking Sonnox Fraunhofer Pro Codec Pug-in gives the user feature rich AAC and MP3 encoding in real time.
6. IK Multimedia’s Amplitube Custom Shop offers a la carte pricing, try-before-you-buy, and consistently excellent digital models.
7. Sonodyne’s SM 100Ak Monitors produces excellent bass response, a wide sweet spot and superb imaging, all in a small and affordable package.
8. JZ MIcrophones’ Vintage 12 is a version of the legendary AKG C12 replacing the original C12 tubes with high-quality transistor technology with equivalent frequency response with fewer maintenance and care issues.
9. The Waves Vintage Aphex Aural Exciter plug-in offers a completely unique plug-in application of a vintage and boutique hardware processor.
10. Monster Turbine Pro Gold in-ear speakers yields a great listening experience, are musical across the entire frequency range, have an open top and faithfully represent bass and mid-range frequencies.
11. Grace Designs M501 preamp is a great sounding, pristine mic amp at a fair price. Its ribbon mode, DI input, high gain and low noise make it a must-buy for anyone with an open 500 series rackspace.
12. Cubase 6 knocked this upgrade out of the park by offering stable 32- and 64-bit operation (Mac and PC), filling feature gaps from past versions, plus faster workflow, great tempo detection and accurate MIDI conversion.
13. The Sennheiser HD800 headphones serves up impeccable fit and finish plus musical and balanced reproduction in an open-ear and super-comfortable form factor.
14. Cakewalk’s SONAR X1 brings an excellent new GUI, SkyLight and ProChannel enhancements and an arsenal of stock plug-ins and instruments.
15. Pelonis Sound and Acoustics Model 42 Compact Studio Monitors are not only unique looking, but present an excellent listening experience that can be tailored to any environment via DSP, all in a super-small footprint.
16. Pro Tools HD Native broke through a number of price-per-feature barriers brining near-TDM throughput to users at an extremely affordable price point.
17. The Magma Expressbox 3T PCIe expansion chassis for Thunderbolt technology created a breakthrough for those needing portable and powerful DAW workflow via a laptop.
18. AEA’s KU4 directional ribbon microphone is an accurate re-do of the vintage KU3 from RCA. It offers excellent reproduction of a wide range of instruments plus vocals making it an instant redux-classic.
19. The Dangerous Music Liaison offers easy and super-clean switching between six stereo-insert loops, assignable to two stereo buses; flexible and parallel processing; instant recall of any gear patched through the unit; and seamless integration with Dangerous Master.
20. The DPA 2000 Series are the company’s first mics for less than $1,000. It features separate heads and bodies that are compatible with DPA’s higher-end capsules for easy upgrades.