Music Gear Guides

These guides are designed to help you find the most highly rated options when you're buying music equipment. Every item presented has its Gearank and the number of online reviews, ratings, and discussions that have been analyzed then summarized by our gear experts.

The Top 10 Best Powered PA Speakers

Powered PA Speakers

Powered Speakers, also known as active speakers, are loudspeakers with amplifiers built into their enclosures. This combination results in improved versatility, making powered speakers more and more popular among musicians, sound engineers, and DJs.

The Best MIDI Interfaces - $36 to $200

MIDI Interfaces

Whether you're looking to get your first MIDI interface, or if you're looking to upgrade so you can plug more MIDI devices simultaneously into your computer, then this guide is for you. Note that many of these interfaces are class compliant so you'll also be able to use them with iOS or Linux as well as Mac and Windows.

The Best Portable Digital Audio Recorders - Handheld

Portable digital recorders

Portable audio recorders are versatile devices that are used for recording rehearsals, live shows, and field recordings.

This guide is for you if you want to purchase a recorder to capture better quality audio than you can with a phone app.

The Best Powered / Unpowered Pedalboards

Pedalboard

In addition to keeping your stompboxes organized, pedalboards address clutter, storage, gear protection and transport needs. Here we take look at which boards are considered the best by users and experts, including those with and without a built-in power supply.

Best Studio Monitors - Under $200 and up to $500

Active Studio Monitor

When you need to work on your recorded music you need to hear exactly how it sounds, warts and all.

Generally speaking, multimedia and hi-fi speakers are not suitable for the task because they tend to color the sound. This is where good studio monitors come in...

The Best Guitar Tuners: Clip-on, Pedal, Handheld, Rackmount & Soundhole

Guitar Tuners

Whether you play Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic-Electric Guitar or Bass, we've got you covered when it comes to choosing your next tuner. In fact, we short-listed 52 tuners and analyzed over 23,000 sources to bring you what we believe is the most comprehensive guitar tuner guide currently available.

The 5 Best Electronic Drum Amps

Drum Amplifiers

If you're looking for an amplifier to use with your electronic drum set then this guide will help you decide which one is best to get for your situation.

Note that there are other types of amps which can also be used with electronic drums, so read the "Things To Consider" section if you would like to know about the alternatives.

The Best Wireless Guitar Systems Under $500

Wireless Guitar

Getting a wireless system for your guitar can free you up from being tied to your amplifier and reduce cable clutter on stage.

We short-listed the 20 most popular systems at major online American music gear stores and examined over 2,600 sources to bring you the highest rated options on the market.

The Best Electronic Drum Sets - $500 to $5000

Electronic Drum Sets

We sought to make this the most comprehensive guide to electronic drums by conducting a detailed survey of the most popular and highly rated electronic kits at major online American music gear stores, which led to us short-listing 27 kits for detailed analysis for which we examined over 1,900 reviews, ratings, videos, and forum posts.

The Best Bass Preamp Pedals + Rackmount

Bass Guitar Preamps

Looking for a portable and affordable alternative to your expensive and bulky bass amplifiers? Or are you simply looking for a way to improve your sound? If yes, then this gear guide is for you, featuring the best bass preamps available.

The Best Digital Piano Keyboards From $450 to $1000

Digital Pianos

There's just no replacing the feel and sound of acoustic pianos, but they are not always practical when considering real world space and budget restrictions. This is where we come in with our feature on the Best digital piano keyboards, featuring market favorites in the sub $1000 price range that have impressed student and professional pianists alike.

The Best Keyboard Stands From $25 to $250

Keyboard Stands

A solid and reliable stand is a must not just to help with playing, but also to protect your precious keyboards and synthesizers. This article focuses on stands primarily designed for 49 key instruments and up - if you need a stand for a mini or micro keyboard then you should probably consider getting a music laptop stand or something similar.

The Best Microphone Preamps from $49 to $1000

Mic Preamps

Stand alone mic preamps are a great way to enhance the quality and character of your microphone recordings as well as allowing you to add extra mic enabled channels to your setup. Ordinary preamps built into audio interfaces and mixing desks are usually solid performers but dedicated preamps can add that extra warmth and clarity.

The Top 5 Best Junior Drum Sets For Kids

Junior Drum Sets

This guide is intended for adults, including both musicians and non-musicians, who want to buy a drum set for children around 10 years old or younger. If the intended recipient is much older than that, or if they're tall for their age, then please refer to our guide for full-sized beginner drum sets.

The Best Studio Monitor Subwoofers

Studio Monitor Subwoofers

Studio subwoofers free up your main monitors to better handle the mids and highs - the end result being better overall sound quality and clarity. This guide tells you what you need to know to add a subwoofer to your studio monitors along with a list of the best studio subwoofers currently available.

The Best Condenser Mics Under $100 - XLR & USB

Condenser Microphones

When budget is limited, we often go for gear that can do more. This applies to condenser mics in the sub $100 price range, where musicians are mostly looking for an all-in-one budget friendly microphone. This list reflects this particular demand, featuring condenser microphones that have proven themselves to be valuable additions to home studios and stages world over.

The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

Portable PA Systems

Portable PA Systems are designed to provide convenient sound reinforcement that can be easily setup, packed away and carried for transportation.

If you're unsure about exactly what a 'portable' PA System is that's probably because there is no standard definition, so we have defined them in the Methodology section of this guide.

The Best Guitar / Instrument Cables

The Best Guitar Cables

Guitar cables can't make you sound better, but bad ones can make you sound bad, if not totally cut off your sound. This results in uninspiring and often awkward experiences that musicians try to forget. To avoid this we present the best guitar and instrument cables, covering a wide price range so you can choose one that fits your preference and budget.

The Best Beginner Drum Sets - Acoustic Under $500

Beginner drum sets - Pearl & Gretsch

If you go to many of the major online retailers you'll find well over 100 options priced under $500 listed in their drum set categories which can be very confusing if you're just starting out.

This guide simplifies the process of buying a beginner drum set and tells you what you need to know to avoid some of the pitfalls in buying drum kits online.

The Best In-Ear Monitor Systems For Singers & Musicians - Wireless

Wireless In-Ear Monitors

Hearing yourself well can often spell the difference between mediocre and inspiring performances.

In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) let you do just that, by feeding personalized sound directly to your ears while blocking out ambient sounds on stage.

The Best Mic Stands - From $18 to $200

Microphone Stands

This guide is designed to help anyone who wants to get some new full-sized microphone stands either for stage or studio use.

The Best USB Audio Interfaces - 4 / 8 / 16 Channel

The Best Audio Interfaces

As you take your home recording to the next level, you will outgrow your 2-channel audio interface. This guide is designed to help you with this expansion, featuring the best stand-alone audio interfaces that have 4 to 18 channels.

NB: We have separate guides devoted to 2-Channel and iPad audio interfaces.

The Best Electric Guitars Under $500 - Solidbody

Electric Guitars Under $500

For solidbody electric guitars, the $200 to $500 price range is where things start to get serious - quality is good enough for mid to advanced level players, while the prices remain beginner friendly. This guide aims to help you narrow down the options to only the most popular and top rated ones, so you can confidently and conveniently pick what suits your playing style.

The Best Acoustic Guitars - From $100 to $2000

The Best Acoustic Guitar Brands

This guide is intended to help anyone who is currently looking to buy a new acoustic or acoustic-electric guitar with a budget between $100 and $2000. Hundreds of guitars and over 16,000 reviews, ratings and discussions were analyzed to produce what we believe is one of the most comprehensive acoustic guitar guides you'll find anywhere online.

The Best Microphone Pop Filters

Microphone Pop Filters

The basic mechanical filtration of pop filters is so practical and efficient, that we still haven't found better alternatives. Positioned between the singer and the microphone they stop fast moving air from hitting the mic capsule and while filtering unwanted "pops", they also prevent saliva and moisture from getting into the microphone.

The Best Reverb Pedals for Guitar

The best reverb pedals

Reverb refers to the reflection of sound as it bounces off physical objects, and manipulating this effect continues to fascinate guitarists, so much so that it has become a staple feature in many guitar amplifiers. Because of the need for hands free control, manufacturers long ago built the effect into the stompbox format and many have added advancements in Digital Sound Processing (DSP) technology.

The Best Cheap Electronic Drum Set For Beginners

Budget Electronic Drum Sets

Electronic drums are a heck of a lot of fun to play with, but more importantly they're the best way to learn, practice and improve your chops without making all the noise associated with acoustic drums - just slip your headphones on and you're good to go!

The Best Studio Mics For Vocals - $100 to $1000

Studio vocal mic for recording

This gear guide will help you find the right studio recording microphones for your budget and needs.

The focus is on top rated condenser and dynamic mics that are currently being used to record vocals in home recording and professional studios.

The Best Drum Machines - Electronic Hardware

Drum machine

While there's really no replacing a good drummer, the convenience, versatility and reliability that drum machines provide make them very practical and useful.

The Best Cheap Bass Guitars - Electric Under $300

5 Budget Bass Guitars

Here we look at top rated 4-string bass guitars in the sub $300 price range, great for students of the instrument and for guitarists who want to have an affordable bass on hand for recording. Be it for yourself, or for a special someone who's learning the ropes, these bass guitars are market proven to provide satisfactory sound, performance and value.

The Best Portable Keyboards - MIDI Enabled Under $500

Portable Keyboards

Unlike standard MIDI keyboards, a portable keyboard has built-in speakers so you can play anytime without having to plug in additional equipment. The keyboards included in this guide have built-in speakers plus they have MIDI so you can also use them with your computer.

The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $200

Budget Guitar Amps

This guide is designed to help anyone who is currently looking for a good inexpensive guitar amplifier. We have only included combo amps which you can take out of the box and start using immediately without having to buy an additional speaker cabinet.

The Best Classical & Nylon String Guitars - $99 to $1000

This guide covers all the main types of guitars with nylon strings including classical, flamenco, hybrid and both acoustic and acoustic-electric models.

It also provides advice on topics such as Tonewoods, Scale Length, Nut Width, Action / String Height, Acoustic and Acoustic-Electric options.

The Best Acoustic Guitar Amps - Under 50W, 100W & 100W+

Acoustic guitar amps

If you have an acoustic guitar with pickups you need a specialized acoustic amp if you want to bring out the natural tone of your instrument.

These amps aim to be transparent so they are also good at amplifying vocals - this means that many of these amps are also designed to work well as small PA systems.

The Best USB Microphones for Recording & Podcasting

USB microphones

When you want a microphone to record with that's "plug and play", and you don't want to deal with using an audio interface, that's when you need to get a USB mic.

They are also great for mobile recording because you can just plug them directly into your laptop or tablet without any additional power requirements in most cases.

The Best XLR Cables

XLR Cable

Balanced XLR Cables are used to connect microphones and other balanced output music gear into mixing consoles. They continue to be the industry standard for both recording and live performance because they can shield your signal from interference, and transfer your audio over longer distances.

The Best PA Subwoofers - Powered & Passive

PA Subwoofers

If you're a DJ, musician or live sound engineer, the first thing you will have noticed when looking for professional PA subwoofers is that the market is extremely crowded with an almost endless number of options - this guide will help you decide which subwoofer to get by showing you the highest rated ones currently available.

The Best Stage Monitors - Powered & Passive

Stage monitors

Stage monitors allow performers to hear themselves and others on stage. Without stage or floor monitors it can be very difficult to stay in time and sing in tune.

We have decided to focus this gear guide on floor monitors (also called wedge/foldback speakers) since they provide good area coverage and they are what most people use.

Best Acoustic Preamp Guide

Acoustic guitar preamps

Preamps for acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments are great for bringing out a more natural and clear sound. Every kind of acoustic pickup has it's trade-offs and good preamps help emphasize the acoustic tone, add warmth and make the sound more realistic as well as reducing any unwanted frequencies.

The Best Keyboard Amps - $90 to $1000

Keyboard amplifiers

Keyboard amplifiers tend to be quite versatile with many able to amplify a wide range of input sources from keyboards and synths to vocals, electronic drums, acoustic guitars, bass, drum machines and backing machines. Some of the multi-channel options can even be used as small PA systems ideal for practice sessions or performing in small venues.

The Best Passive PA Speakers Under $1000

Passive PA Speakers

Passive PA Speakers are designed to work in conjunction with an external power amplifier.

Since the amplifier is not included in the speaker cabinet, passive speakers are generally lighter, and are easy to maintain and troubleshoot. This setup also allows for easier expansion as long as you go within the limits of your amplifier.

The Best DI Boxes

DI boxes

The main job of a DI Box is to convert your (1/4" TS) instrument lead signal 'directly' into the (balanced 3-pin XLR) microphone inputs that a mixing console typically has. Unlike a simple headphone adaptor (1/4" to 1/8") it has to convert the differences in impedance and voltage between the two sides of the connection.

The Best 88 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

These are some of the best 88-key MIDI controller keyboards

If you've been looking at smaller sized MIDI keyboard controllers then the first thing you'll notice is that many 88-key controllers don't have all the knobs, faders and pads that the smaller ones have. That's because that rather than being designed primarily to control DAWs and plugins, a lot of 88-key controllers are designed to be instruments similar in playability to pianos and to control synths and sound modules be they hardware or computer based.

The Best Closed-Back Headphones for Recording

The best closed back headphones for recording

Closed headphones are essential for any recording setup to prevent spill into live microphones while tracking. The following list of recommended headphones are all circumaural (they cover your ears completely) and are designed specifically for use in recording rather than for standard consumer applications, although audiophiles will appreciate their high level of performance.

The Best 61 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

Guide to 61 Key MIDI controller keyboards

61-Key MIDI keyboard controllers are big enough for complex two hand playing, while still retaining compact and portable profiles. As such, they are ideal instruments for Keyboardists who are looking for a controller that can be used both in the studio and for live performances.

The Best Live Vocal Mics - $79 to $1000

Live singing microphones

This gear guide is focused on the best microphones for singing and rapping live as opposed to mics best suited to speaking conferences or making announcements over PA systems.

All of these mics are great for vocals, but some can also be used on instruments, and some are also handy studio mics.

Best Vocal Effects Pedal / Processor Guide

The Best Vocal Effects Pedal

From subtle reverb and compression, to robotic and alien sounds, vocal effects let you improve, tweak and even transform your voice. At first, this was achieved through post processing, but technology has made it possible for on-the-spot effects application and adjustments while performing. Even realtime pitch correction is now possible, along with automatic harmonies, essentially giving you your very own team of virtual sound engineers, vocal coaches and backup singers, all packed in a box.

The Best iPad Audio Interfaces

iPad Audio Interfaces

With the right audio interface, you can turn your iPad into a full featured recording studio. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, thanks to Apple's non-standard ports. So to help you find the best audio interface for your iPad, we have scoured the market for ones that actually work with the iPad and get good reviews, ratings and recommendations.

The Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

49 key MIDI controller keyboard

49 Key controllers hit the sweet spot for many musicians and music producers. They are much more of a playable instrument than their smaller 25-Key siblings, yet still compact enough to be reasonably portable and not take up too much valuable space in a home recording studio. If you're looking for something larger then take a look at our 61-Key or 88-Key MIDI Controller guides.

The Best Multitrack Recorders - Digital

multitrack digital recorder

These are stand-alone digital multitrack recorders that have everything you need built-in for recording, mixing, and producing music.

They have the advantage that they're relatively simple to use compared to DAWs on computers. They're well suited for mobile recording and in many cases you can export your recorded tracks to your computer.

The Best Microphones for Recording Acoustic Guitar - $99 to $1,500

The best guitar mics

The acoustic guitar has long been, and continues to be, the most accessible music instrument available.

Having the right mic to record this prolific instrument is critical to a good recording setup for any musician or studio.

The Best Channel Strips Under $500

Great sub-$500 channel strips

A channel strip is often the first piece of outboard gear, other than a simple mic preamp, that many home recording enthusiasts buy.

That's because channel strips provide a high degree of control over the input signal before it reaches your audio interface.

The Best Wireless Microphone System Guide - Handheld

The Best Wireless Microphones

Wireless systems are great because they free you up from being stuck in one spot.

Today's wireless systems are relatively free from interference and drop outs, so if the fear of these things happening has been holding you back then there's no longer any need to worry - just ensure you get a system with the range you need.

The Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

The Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

The great thing about 25 key MIDI controllers is their portability and the small amount of space they take up. They're not designed to replace a full size keyboard, but rather to offer convenience - that said some of the higher-end options are packed with an impressive range of features these days.

The Best Budget Audio Interfaces - 2 Channels

2 Channel Audio Interfaces

With the abundance of cheap audio interfaces, it's never been easier to capture your musical ideas and performances. As long as you have a fairly recent computer, all you need is a good quality audio interface and you're good to go. Here we look at top-rated and budget friendly audio interfaces, focusing on practical 2-channel units that allow for quick and reliable recording. We decided to narrow down the list to ones that are priced below $200, a reasonable budget for anyone who is gearing up for basic recording.