We love electricity, music and all related gear, it’s true! And It turns out that 2011 was a remarkably good year for pro audio innovation! From headphones to software and synths and more, we’ve whittled down the list of our favorites for you here. San Diego’s ProSound is excited to present our top five choices of must-have gear for 2011:
5. Shure SRH440, (oh yeah — and the SRH840 and SRH940, too)
With Shure’s 2011 debut into the most popular $99 headphone category, is it just us or should these ear cups not be allowed to resonate so well at such a low price point? You can actually mix and/or track with these phones, plus there’s ample enough volume for drummers – all whilst maintaing that essential fidelity for mixing.
Shure’s foray into the headphone scene boasts a combo rare to find in such a well-built, wallet-easy, headphone. Created for comfort & long life, all pairs come equipped with an adjustable and collapsible headband, replaceable ear cup pads, as well as a detachable cord.
It is rare to find a headphone setup that is built this well AND sounds this good! That it jams a 40mm neodymium driver to heartily reproduce those deep bass sounds, equaled with clear mids and highs – we rate this the best headphone for home studio and general recording for 2011. Take home the best in-class headphone this year!
4. Spectrasonics, Omnisphere & Trilian
Hands down, Spectrasonics brings us the best pro audio VST* instrument plug-ins of the year! The Omnisphere and Trilian comprise our most recommended, advanced and expansive virtual instruments to be found in 2011! Both boast a huge amount of new and inspiring, superb-fidelity sounds. Together the two sport a staggering 74GB sound library, offering a extremely robust and diverse array of sounds! Best part is they are constantly being updated with more sounds and even better performance. So they just keep getting… well, more & more awesome!
One of the most useful and intuitive things we found about this pair is that you can scale the Steam Engine (the underlying technology in both Omnisphere and Trilian) for efficiency in most presets for solo, forward instrument use, or to less processor-intensive versions of the presets for ensemble use. Those who work on large or complex projects know how vital CPU usage & management is! We are also quite impressed by the clear, easy-to-understand interface this pair of VST’s brings to the table. Match this with the added benefit of their excellent response and sensitivity to great nuance in user adjustment, the Omnisphere and Trilian take the cake for us on the 2011 VST-front, hands down! *Available also in AU and RTAS formats.
3. Apogee Duet 2
Two ins and four outs of the absolute highest audio quality make the Apogee Duet 2 a portable, solid sonic option for any small studio or mobile musician! Yes, yes it may seem a bit “small” for the price, but all it’s compactness and sleekness carries quite a punch AND will fit nicely in your laptop bag!
24 bit recording quality, balanced outputs, microphone preamps with up to 75db of gain, highest performance Mac drivers, full color OLED display and configurable touch pads optimized for fast function access are among the highlights that make this beautiful box our top audio interface pick for 2011!
2. Korg Kronos
Five years back we saw the Korg OASYS and it was mind-blowing.. recall how well it worked, how good it sounded and it’s musically-oriented/easy-to-use programming layout. The performance nuance and user control was over-the-top good…but it was $8500, and that kept it a bit out of reach of most folk. Now the Kronos is here and it is the OASYS, except revved up for 2011 with better production build quality, three models (61 key unweighted and 73 and 88 key weighted) and all nine engines from the OASYS built-in, as well as USB audio and MIDI!
The cover of Keyboard magazine proclaimed ‘Is this the best synth ever?” The answer is an emphatic ‘Yes!’. In it’s class of do-it-all production stations, look no further than the Korg Kronos if you demand professional sound and unprecedented usability! Four Karma engines that respond to user articulations beautifully are built in and can make you sound like a genius instantly, with only the most basic workstation understanding.
Nine separate synthesis engines cover just about everything you can think of and then some. Spend some time getting deep with the manual and this sweet piece does stuff you ain’t never heard before! The SSD internal storage comes stock with an unequaled vastness of library depth of sampled and synthetic starting points. The possibilities are endless. Seriously, this machine is deep… and as Korg says, a game-changer!
1. Pro Tools 10
Avid, Digidesign and Pro Tools have already changed the world nine times and they did it again in Pro Tools 10, (and the forthcoming HDX upgrade). This is, by far, the best ProTools ever. With Gain Clips, floating point math, hugely improved ballistics, compatibility, speed and stability, “1,000db of headroom” and hundreds more under-the-hood refinements and improvements, this is the most significant product release of 2011. Just shut up and buy it, you will not regret it, (pair it with the Duet 2 for small portable work) …and your recording love-life will be better forever.
But wait…. buy all five of these together, and you will be lost in music-production heaven for a really long time….
Thank you for reading our top five gear of 2011 post, let us know if you have any questions! We’ve been the go-to source for electronic music gear, software, vintage synth repair, recording studio & sound system design and technical support since 1978. Stop by and visit our showroom / repair shop and ask some questions, or peruse our online store where we offer free shipping! Double warranty comes standard with most purchases from ProSound, and you can rest assured that we’ll help you get up and recording fast!