Paul’s picks

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With the Sound On Sound awards upon us, I thought I’d give you my list of top products currently on the market. My picks are based on a number of factors including price, quality, feature set, and most importantly – sound. There are those out there who will wonder why I haven’t listed Neve, Prism Sound, Telefunken, etc. Well, I wanted to choose new and innovative products that are well within the grasp of the general recording public – this is not a hall of fame. So, without further ado, here are my top picks:
Best DAW: Pro Tools 11
  • 64-bit (more accessible RAM for more power)
  • Brand new audio engine
  • Dedicated input buffer (record low-latency inputs on large sessions)
  • Offline bounce (much, much faster bounces)
  • Dynamic host processing (turns plugins on when they’re needed and off when they’re not)
  • 30% longer faders (I’d have mine 2ft long if I could)
  • Still the industry standard

Best interface: Universal Audio Apollo

  • Incredible sound quality
  • Top build quality
  • Great, workhorse mic preamps
  • Expandable
  • Future proof with Thunderbolt option
  • Excellent software console
  • UAD2 cards on-board
  • Amazing customer support
Best monitor speakers: sE Munro Egg system
  • Incredible sound – very balanced and detailed
  • Unbelievable bass extension (and they’re 6″ drivers!)
  • Very well built with a 20 year warranty!
  • Great control unit with multiple inputs and headphone output
  • Mid freq control for critical mid-range mixing
  • Very clever blue lights to position the monitors perfectly
  • Designed by acoustics guru Andy Munro
Best microphone: Miktek CV4
  • Unreal clarity, quality, and detail
  • Top shelf componentry – Telefunken, AMI, come on!
  • Beautifully hand-made
  • Works on EVERYTHING
  • At least 1/2 the price of its competitors
  • Michael Wagener loves it!
Best mic preamp: Focusrite ISA One
  • Simply a heavenly sounding preamp
  • Classic Neve style circuitry
  • VU meter
  • All the options you need on a preamp
  • Fantastic DI section
  • Great for home and commercial studios alike!
Best headphones: AIAIAI Young Guru
  • Excellent for mixing
  • Designed from scratch by top engineer Young Guru
  • Super comfortable
  • High quality jack plug
  • Look very cool (well, they are AIAIAI)
  • Blessed by Nada Brahma
Best control surface: Icon QCon Pro
  • Cheap, cheap, cheap!
  • Motorised faders
  • Capacitance sensing touch-faders!
  • Total control for most DAWs
  • Tiltable, backlit, LCD screen
  • 12-segment LED metering on every channel
  • Illuminated buttons
  • Passive headphone through with volume control x2
  • Aluminium construction
  • Expandable with the EX extender unit – also cheap, cheap, cheap!
Well, there you have it. Those are my top picks for products this year and I don’t think there are better products in the same range as any of these choices.
However, for all of the forum bothering gear nuts out there…I’m well aware of the new offerings from Antelope, Barefoot, Neve, A-Designs, and so on and I’m drooling over them just like you are.

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