2016 was one hell of a year for music gear. Something new was being released almost every month, and keeping up with all of it was no easy task.
Magnetic's Gear Editors Kane Michael and Tyler Robinson have selected some of the most influential and inspirational DJ / Production gear of 2016.
We are also getting ready for the big kickoff of 2017! Team Magnetic will be at the NAMM conference in January with live coverage of the hottest gear for the new year.
But let's take a look back, shall we. Here are some must haves from 2016.
Roli Seaboard Rise
When Roli revealed the Rise, little brother to the Grand, many people weren’t sure what to expect. Fortunately it didn’t take long for the keyboard to catch on, and since then Roli has been the dominant name in MPE functionality. What makes the Rise so great, is that it is truly the next step in midi controller capabilities, seamlessly blending real world expression with in a digital world. Click here for our full review. Review: Roli Seaboard Rise
Pioneer Traktor Compatibility
Although this list is mostly hardware, Pioneer’s recently launched Traktor compatibility is a huge blessing. I don’t personally use Traktor, but as someone who used to plug in sound cards and controllers for a performance, being able to take a single USB from your computer into a DJM or CDJ is a game changer. Less gear means less potential for disaster, as well as smoother transitions between performers. Read: Pioneer Traktor Compatibility
2016 has been one hell of a year for the synthesizer giant Korg. They’ve had so many great releases this year that it was tough to pick just one, that being the Minilogue. A great looking and sounding analog synth, at a price that one just can’t resist. Sure Roland has had some great surprises as well, but what puts Korg in the lead is that, even their Volca series pocket synths are actually analog. This isn’t a debate on analog vs digital, but the effort Korg has been making with their hardware makes them the winner. Korg Minilogue
Dave Smith OB-6
When two of the greatest names in synthesizer history announced a collaboration, imaginations ran wild. After countless theories as to what they could be creating, the OB-6 was revealed to much elation. The best of both companies, using the latest technology, has resulted in a premium line piece of gear that sounds like a thousand angels on high. The worst part is the price, which is expected for such an incredible product. Dave Smith OB-6
Making a double appearance on this list is club standard Pioneer. Their PLX-1000 was quite a surprise for a company that is the leader in digital audio players, but with analog back on the rise, an affordable record player was not only a smart move, but an essential one. After putting the player through the wringer, I can say that it can handle more than enough stress. But what separates it from competitors, is the ability to directly rip your favorite vinyl directly to Rekordbox. Review: Pioneer PLX-500
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB
Definitely my favorite piece of gear this entire year, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB is an essential piece to any studio. Not only is it one of the most powerful audio interfaces with two award winning mic pre-amps, and digitally controlled analog monitors, but it unlocks the power of the coveted UAD Powered Plug-Ins and even runs them internally. This means that with essentially 0 latency, the Twin can run UAD vintage compressors, EQs, Tape Machines and powerful mic pre-emulators that would usually cost a small fortune in hardware form. Simply having the Twin plugged into your computer allows you to use some of the most powerful and highest-quality plug-ins in the world, and that alone puts it on top of my list for 2016.
Finally a controller that truly combines DJing with production, the Roland DJ-808 takes things to a new level with the integration of the most iconic drum machines in history into a controller. If you know anything about the origins of house music, or even hip hop music, you know the importance of the Roland TR-808 and 909. Roland's new controller offers those sounds and more instantly, built directly in with a 16-step sequencer. Now you can add unique grooves to your DJ mixes and change them up on the fly. I'm still waiting to see the capabilities of this thing in a warehouse party setting. Roland Celebrates 909 Day with New Controller
Pioneer DJ DDJ-RZX
With multiple entries in our Top 10 List, it is obvious to see that Pioneer has had a powerhouse year in 2016. This year saw the release of the DDJ-RZX, a truly all in one controller that even incorporates video to the DJ into the mix. With three powerful, touch integrated screens, the DDJ RZX gives full control of audio and visual components in an instant. Although the price tag is pretty steep for a controller, the power of completely and instantly controlling audio and visuals together is truly revolutionary in a controller. Pioneer Launches All-in-One Controller
Neumann TLM 103 Condenser Microphone
Although this particular piece of gear did not come out in 2016, this was the year that we got to review it and so we're putting it on the list. One of the most powerful and versatile microphones in the market. A relative of the infamous industry standard U87 microphone at a fraction of cost, the TLM 103 holds its own in recording extremely high-quality audio. If you're looking for a solid recording microphone and have some money to put behind it, this one is a surefire bet. Neumann TLM 103 Condenser Mic Review
Maschine has become one of the most powerful and popular drum programming devices in the industry, and this year Native Instruments stepped it up with their next generation. The Maschine Jam takes music production out of the laptop and into a more physical space. It truly allows artists to feel like they are jamming out while writing music, which brings back some of the magic of randomly playing a note. The Jam integrates seamlessly into any DAW and can be used for everything from writing chords or melodies, sketching entire tracks, drum sequencing and much more. Maschine Jam is the Next Step in Making Music