Music Gear Meta-Reviews

Most of the articles listed here are what we call "Meta-Reviews". These are done by analyzing reviews, comments and discussions from around the world as we process items to calculate their Gearank score.

Auphonix MPF-1 Pop Filter

Auphonix pop filter

While the popularity and affordability of desktop USB mics have made home recording more accessible, some manufacturers didn't take compatibility with standard pop filters into account.

This is where Auphonix came in with their specially designed clamps that conveniently and securely attach to popular USB desktop mics like the Blue Yeti.

The Auphonix pop filter features a double mesh filter design and comes in a round shape that is 6" in diameter (also available in a smaller 4" version). It also features an adjustable gooseneck for precise and stable positioning.

On-Stage Stands ASVS6GB Pop Filter

On-Stage Stands ASVS6GB

The On-Stage ASVS6GB is a straight forward pop filter that follows the conventional form factor, with a simple nylon mesh serving as its filter.

The diameter is 6", while the gooseneck is 13" long, both of which are good enough for most applications.

While it does not have as much plosive stopping power as dual mesh ones, it does provide good enough filtration to warrant a good number of positive reviews.

Raxxess Stoppit Pop filter (Discontinued)

Raxxess Pop filter

The RaXXess Stoppit filter is an affordable filter that gets the job done with its straightforward design and practical price tag.

It follows conventional pop filter design with a 6" diameter round fabric filter that is attached to a gooseneck and a clamp. The clamp allows for quick and secure attachments to mic stands and desks, making it useable for desktop recording as well.

It also features a secondary pivot joint that lets you set the screen angle to match the specific pickup axis of the mic you're using.

Pauly Ton Pauly Superscreen Pop Filter (Discontinued)

Pauly Ton Pauly Superscreen

The Pauly Superscreen Pop Filter is a premium handmade filter that's meant for professional studio work. The high-price tag is justified by being handcrafted in Germany, its high build quality and its proprietary gooseneck - which is flexible yet stable - able to stay in place for a very long time unless moved.

Fender Champion 20 Guitar Amplifier 20W

Fender Champion 20

The Fender Champion 20 is arguably one of the most versatile amps in its price range, with 8 different amp models and onboard effects.

The amp models cover vintage Fender Amplifiers, a Vox model, a Marshall model, and three high-gain models.

The onboard effects are also a great inclusion, featuring the majority of modulation effects the average guitar player is likely going to need. The amp also comes with Fender style reverb, which is the most copied reverb ever.

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus (HSS) Solidbody Electric Guitar (Discontinued)

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus

The Fender Modern Player Telecaster combines the singlecoil neck pickup of a Telecaster, with the singlecoil midde pickup a Stratocaster, and a humbucker pickup on the bridge.

In addition, the bridge pickup is wired so you can split the coils, which means that you're not missing the single coil sound on the bridge position when you want it. It also sports a Stratocaster bridge with string-through-body tailpiece.

All in all, this guitar gives you more tone options, while keeping the classic appeal of the Tele.

Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

With its 131dB SPL and 12" woofer, the Yamaha DBR12 has enough projection and low-end for competent FOH use. But since it has Yamaha's clarity and built-in EQ capabilities via the D-Contour switch, it continues to be highly rated for being a good monitor speaker as well.

It operates similar to the smaller DBR10, but with a slightly bigger profile that allows for a bit more bass frequency emphasis.

With its versatility, the DBR12 is a true all-in-one stand-alone speaker that can serve many purposes.

Electro-Voice ZLX-12P 12" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

Electro-Voice ZLX-12P 12" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

Electro-Voice is known for providing speakers with good specs at a more affordable price point, and the ZLX-12P is a good example of how successful their strategy is.

At just under $400, this powered speaker can get really loud with its 1000W (Peak) class D amplifier built in, which drives a 12" woofer and a 1.5" tweeter.

Positioning flexibility makes it an even better deal.

But what really makes it a market favorite is its clean Hi-Fi sound, which makes it a viable stage monitor with more bottom end, thanks to its 12" speaker.

Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass PJ (Discontinued)

Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass PJ

With so many new bass guitar designs available, its impressive how the old Precision Bass design of Fender continues to be in demand up to this day. The Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass PJ is an affordable take on the iconic bass, complete with a split-single-coil bridge pickup, only this one has an extra Jazz Bass style single-coil, hence the label PJ.

Line 6 Spider Jam Modeling Guitar Amplifier 75W

Line 6 Spider Jam

The Line 6 Spider Jam is true to its name, a guitar amplifier that's meant for convenient jamming, be it with a band, or on your own by playing along with the loops you created, or with the amp's loaded jam tracks.

At its core is a 75 Watt solid-state amplifier that drives a distinct PA speaker like configuration, having a 12" Celestion speaker and a 2" tweeter.

Blackstar ID:30 TVP Guitar Combo Amplifier 30W

Blackstar ID:30 TVP Guitar Combo Amplifier 30W

The Blackstar ID:30 TVP is a portable 30W 1 x 12" combo amplifier with interesting features and sonic versatility. TVP stands for Blackstar's "True Valve Power", which lets you switch between different virtual poweramp valves to vary the response of the amp. It lets you choose between 6V6, EL84, EL34, KT66, 6L6 and KT88, with each one adding varying tube like coloration and characteristics to your tone. In addition, the ID:30 TVP comes with six different preamp flavors: Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1 and OD 2.

On-Stage MS9701TB+ Heavy-Duty Tripod Telescoping Boom Mic Stand

On-Stage MS9701TB+ Heavy-Duty Telescoping Boom Mic Stand

As the name suggests this stand is designed to take on a heavier load and set of work requirements than lighter-weight stands with its heavier diecast leg housings and thicker tubing.

The center clutch grip is coupled with an anti-rotating device on the lower shaft which is designed to make single hand adjustments easier.

Most importantly the Telescoping Boom lets you position the mic wherever you need it - including overhead.

Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000 Powered Column Speaker System (Discontinued)

Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000

The Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000 strays from traditional form-factor with its column design, featuring 8 x 2.75" neodymium drivers, along with 2 x 8" LF drivers and a 1" HF driver.

This design, together with its powerful 1000W amplifier allows for improved clarity and dispersion.

It comes equipped with Klark Teknik DSP with Spatial Sound technology that tweaks the sound subtly to match venues or your preferences.

In addition to all that, it comes with convenient Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to stream audio from your computer and mobile devices.

Gallien-Krueger MB112-II Bass Combo Amplifier

Gallien-Krueger MB112-II Bass Combo Amplifier

The Gallien-Kruegger MB112-II is a true workhorse road-worthy bass combo amp that packs quite the power and tone in a relatively light and compact profile.

Yamaha NTX1200R Natural Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Classical Guitar

Yamaha NTX1200R Natural

This guitar is similar to the NTX700 in that it has a thin body and small nut width designed to be more playable for guitarists who are crossing over from a steel string instrument.

What sets it apart from it's cheaper sibling is that the NTX1200R comes with solid rosewood back and sides giving it richer tones slightly more similar to a traditional classical guitar.

Cordoba C7 CD Nylon String Guitar

Cordoba C7 CD (Canadian Cedar) Nylon String Guitar

From the tonewoods used in its construction, to the dimensions of the body, neck and nut, the Cordoba C7 CD has a true Classical Guitar design.

Cordoba C5 Nylon String Classical Guitar

Cordoba C5 Nylon String Classical Guitar

The Cordoba C5 is a step up from the C3M with most commentary on forums agreeing that the C5 has better sustain despite the specifications for the two instruments looking very similar. Where they differ is that the C5 has a slightly larger upper bout width, slightly longer overall length, slightly smaller soundhole, higher quality tuning pegs and a gloss finish instead of matte.

Cordoba also say that this is one of their top selling guitars.

M-Audio MIDISPORT 2x2 Anniversary Edition USB Bus-Powered MIDI Interface (Discontinued)

The M-Audio MIDISPORT 2x2 was part of M-Audio's 20th anniversary celebration, it expands on the features that are found on the first edition model released in 2000.

Aside from offering two of each MIDI inputs and outputs, it features a stand-alone MIDI merge and THRU functionality, ideal for connecting multiple MIDI devices and daisy chaining.

Connectivity is made easy by simply plugging it into a computer device, and is also powered via USB.

Peavey XR 1220 Powered Audio Mixer (Discontinued)

Peavey XR1220 Powered Mixer

There's no denying that Peavey has won the confidence of many with the quality of the music gear they manufacture, so it's not surprising to find their products doing well in the market - including the XR1220 Powered Mixer.

This lightweight mixer packs quite a lot of bang per pound, weighing in at just 25 lbs., it sports 20 channels and a host of complementary features that make it a viable workhorse mixer and poweramp unit for small to medium sized venues.

Yamaha P-115 88 Key Digital Piano (Discontinued)

Yamaha P-115 88 Key Digital Piano

The P-115 is based on Yamaha's uber expensive CFIIIS 9' concert grand piano, recreating its heavy playing feel and its distinct clear piano sound in a compact and portable form factor.

It starts off with Yamaha's fully weighted "Graded Hammer Standard" action keybed, which emulates the feel of hammers hitting acoustic piano strings.

To get the sound right, the company employed their "Pure CF Sound Engine" which sampled the CFIIIS at different volume and dynamic levels, resulting in a more organic and responsive sound.

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Parlor Guitar (Discontinued)

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

The humble parlor guitar continues to be a popular portable instrument, even with so many modern alternatives. The Gretsch G9500 is a great example of its staying power in the market, with its classic design that reproduces the vibe and feel of old Gretsch Rex guitars from the '30s. More importantly, it comes with a compact form factor that makes it an ideal portable instrument, or a grab-and-go couch guitar.

Monster Classic Coiled Instrument Guitar Cable (Discontinued)

Monster Classic Coiled Instrument Guitar Cable

Since it is pricey, it's only natural for increased expectations, yet Monster Cable is not one to back down. They've been building their reputation on premium audio cables, which include their recreation of the classic coiled guitar cable. While it sports an old school coiled cable look, this one follows the company's modern design to the letter, with its 20 AWG copper conductor, 90% copper spiral wrap shielding, duraflex jacket and twisted pair construction.

Vox VX50KB 50W Keyboard Amp

Vox VX50KB 50W Keyboard Amp

The Vox VX50KB breaks with keyboard amp tradition and instead of trying to faithfully reproduce the input signal, it actually adds warmth with it's use of old vacuum tube technology which is usually found mostly on guitar amps these days.

It provides independent volume control over all 3 channels, however the 3-band EQ applies to the master output so you can't EQ channels independently.

Sennheiser EW 172 G3 Wireless Guitar System (Discontinued)

Sennheiser EW 172 G3

The Sennheiser EW 172 G3, carries over the benefits of their wireless microphone technology but tweaked for guitarists to enjoy.

Notable guitar friendly features include a guitar tuner, equalizer, and cable emulator.

The guitar tuner feature by itself can replace an entire pedal, while the 5-band EQ and cable emulator allows you to better fine tune your sound, ideal for those who want more control over the resulting sound.

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Pedal Tuner for Guitar & Bass (Discontinued)

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Pedal Tuner

Pedalboard space is an ever dwindling resource for many guitarists, prompting many manufacturers to produce compact versions of their popular pedals. The TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini is one such pedal, a compact version of the Polytune 2, with no battery power option.

Like its bigger sibling, this pedal allows for polyphonic (multi-note) tuning, in addition to conventional chromatic tuning. It also features a Stroboscopic mode that allows for even more tuning accuracy, down to ±0.1 cent.

Arturia BeatStep Pro MIDI Pad Controller & Sequencer

Arturia BeatStep Pro MIDI Pad Controller & Sequencer

The BeatStep Pro showcases 16 drum sequencer pads and two other independent sequencers, with 64 steps per sequence.

It's both a sequencer and controller that syncs with any computer via USB.

Other connections include MIDI In/Out CV/GATE, drum gate, and clock sync connectivity - great for those who prefer working with external hardware, such as analog synthesizers.

IK Multimedia iRig Pads MIDI Pad Groove Controller

IK Multimedia iRig Pads MIDI Pad Controller

IK Multimedia's iRig Pads is a portable 16-pad MIDI controller designed for iOS devices, as well as Mac and PC.

It allows you to easily set up and connect with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with its included Lightning cable.

Its small and lightweight build makes it easy to slip in your bag and carry around. Despite it being small, it has the essential controls for sequencing - two knobs, two push buttons, one slider and one pushbutton rotary encoder.

Novation Launchpad Mini MK2 MIDI Pad Controller

Novation Launchpad Mini MK2 MIDI Pad Controller

The Launchpad Mini is a compact alternative to Novation's Launchpad Pro.

With a lighter and more compact design, it features 64 multi-colored mini pads and 16 programmable buttons for triggering clips, playing drum racks, controlling your mixer and different types parameters.

It's class compliant allowing you to connect with any PC or Mac device and iOS devices via Camera Connection Kit.

Akai Professional LPD8 Laptop MIDI Pad Controller

Akai Professional LPD8 Laptop MIDI Pad Controller

The LPD8 is a slim USB pad controller that's light-weight and small enough fit in your laptop bag or backpack.

The 8 backlit pads have a similar feel to Akai Professional’s MPC line - after all they basically invented the pad controller concept.

The LPD8 is also USB class compliant so it is plug and play with different versions of Mac and PC devices, and compatible with most DAWs.

Dave Smith Instruments Mopho x4 Analog Synthesizer (Discontinued)

Dave Smith Instruments Mopho x4 Analog Synthesizer

The Mopho x4 from Dave Smith Instruments features 4-voice polyphony with an all analog signal path.

Each of those four voices exhibits dual oscillators, two sub octave generators, four LFOs, an arpeggiator, a Curtis low-pass filter, three envelope generators, and a gated 16 x 4 step sequencer.

This analog synthesizer comes with a full-sized 44-note pressure-sensitive keyboard and free assignable pitch and modulation wheels.

Yamaha P-255 88-key Stage Piano (Discontinued)

Yamaha P-255 88-key Stage Piano

The Yamaha P-255 is a digital stage piano with full-weighted and graded hammer action keys that are made of synthetic ivory.

It has a built-in Pure CF Sound Engine that produces Yamaha's piano voices, such as the CFIIIS concert grand piano.

It also has built-in rhythm patterns for sequencing drums and percussion tracks, which makes it suitable as an accompaniment for live solo/duo type performers.

Zoom G1Xon Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal (Discontinued)

Zoom G1Xon

When it comes to value for money, it'll be hard to top what the G1Xon is able to do.

It doesn't just give you multiple amps (22 models) and effects (105 effects), it also comes with a 30 sec-looper and 68 rhythm accompaniments that will make practice more interesting and effective.

Those are a lot of features in a small unit, thankfully Zoom implemented an interface that makes tweaking and configuring easier.

Blackstar HT-1R Tube Combo Guitar Amp 1W 1x8 (Discontinued)

Blackstar HT-1R

The Blackstar HT-1R is a compact tube amp that's designed to produce genuine cranked tube tones at lower volumes. This is the same as the lower priced Blackstar HT-1, with the only difference being that the HT-1R includes reverb while the HT-1 does not.

This is made possible with a 1 Watt amplifier circuit that houses an ECC83 preamp tube, which is essentially a 12AX7 just named differently by Europeans, and a ECC82 poweramp tube - also called a 12AU7.

Blackstar HT-1 1W 1x8" Guitar Combo Amplifier (Discontinued)

Blackstar HT-1 1W 1x8" Guitar Combo Amplifier

More often than not, you have to drive tubes hard to get it to sound great. The Blackstar HT-1 lets you do just that, while keeping your volume levels manageable because it is rated at just 1 Watt.

This compact amp houses an ECC83 preamp and ECC82 power amp tube, both of which work together to produce Blackstar's high-gain friendly tones, which would normally be hard to get in a bedroom or small studio setting.

Epiphone SG Special (HH) 6 String Electric Guitar (Discontinued)

Epiphone SG Special (HH)

The SG (Solid Guitar) was originally meant to be a re-design of the Gibson Les Paul and Gibson gave it the same name. Les Paul wasn't involved in the redesign and asked that his name be removed and so Gibson obliged and renamed it the SG.

The new design was meant to boost sales because the original was fading in the market, and it worked with more than 6,000 units sold during the first 3 years after the 1961 launch - more than 3 times the number of the original Les Paul Standards sold from 1958 to 1960.

Squier Bullet Strat (SSS) 6 String Electric Guitar (Discontinued)

Squier Bullet Strat (SSS)

The Stratocaster, AKA 'The Strat', is almost certainly the highest selling electric guitar design of all time having first been released in 1954.

The list of famous Stratocaster players is almost endless, but it includes some of the greatest of all time including Jimi Hendrix and Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd

Epiphone Les Paul Special II (HH) 6 String Electric Guitar (Discontinued)

Epiphone Les Paul Special II

Les Paul created an early solid-body electric guitar in his spare time after work at the Epiphone factory in the early 1940's famously known as "The Log". It is believed that this was the first solidbody 'Spanish guitar' every built. He went on to develop the idea further until he took it to managers at Gibson sometime in 1945 or 1946 who immediately...
...did nothing.

Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

The Fifine K669 is a USB condenser microphone that comes with an adjustable tripod desk stand and a 6 ft. long USB cable.

Yamaha Revstar RS420 (HH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Yamaha Revstar RS420

Released late in 2015, the Yamaha Revstar RS420 is relatively speaking, a new comer.

Said to be inspired by vintage street-racing motorbikes, this guitar has a unique shape that looks familiar, without being just another clone of classic designs.

And it's not just about looking unique and cool, because this guitar also sports some distinct tones, courtesy of its push-pull dry switch. Instead of merely splitting the coils of its humbuckers, Yamaha implemented built-in filters to morph the sound into single coil sounds that are hum-free.

Ibanez JemJR Steve Vai Signature (HSH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Ibanez Jem Jr

First launched in 1987, the Ibanez Steve Vai Signature Jem continues to be one of the most popular and instantly recognizable signature guitars in the world, so much so that it has grown into a line of guitars in itself. And the JemJR serves as its expansion into the mid-tier, following after the design of the original white Jem, with the same double cutaway mahogany body, monkey grip, lion's claw trem cavity, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard with "tree of life" inlay - only this one uses more cost effective materials and production.

PRS SE Standard 24 (HH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

PRS SE Standard 24

Paul Reed Smith guitars, have grown to compete with big brand contenders in a relatively short amount of time, thanks to the quality of their guitars. And while they are well known for their more expensive instruments, they have since expanded into more budget friendly price ranges with their SE Standard range, including this 24-fret model based on their popular Custom 24 guitar.

Schecter Omen Extreme 6 FR (HH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Schecter Omen Extreme 6 FR

From a repair shop, Schecter grew to be a parts manufacturer that supplied guitar companies like Gibson and Fender. It didn't take them long to start producing their own guitars, some which ended up in the hands of professionals like Ritchie Blackmore, Chris Poland, Jeff Loomis and more. While ownership has changed (now owned by the same parent company that owns ESP guitars), the company didn't stray from what made them popular - modded versions of classic guitar designs.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard (HH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Of the many Les Paul clones in the market, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard lets you get as close as possible to the original Gibson version, while keeping the price affordable. And thanks to technology and fierce competition, the quality gap between the two different models is getting smaller and smaller.

Following the "Standard" formula, this guitar features a mahogany body with maple top, and a set-in mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, all of which give this guitar a familiar and elegant look.

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar (SS) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar

The Jaguar is one of those guitars that didn't do well while it was originally in production, but became much more in demand afterwards - thanks to guitarists like Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante, Johnny Marr and more.

These days, a vintage Fender Jaguar will cost you many times the original price, so having an affordable option like the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar was a welcome addition to the market.

Jackson JS32 Rhoads (HH) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Jackson JS32 Rhoads

This guitar bears the name of Grover Jackson and Randy Rhoads, the same two who helped kick start this company.

The asymmetric V shape of this guitar was co-designed by Rhoads himself, which gave this instrument a distinct shape that appeals to many rock guitarists.

All the shred features are available in this budget friendly instrument, including a 24-fret fast action neck, twin high-output humbuckers and a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo.

Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer Drum Machine (Discontinued)

Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer

The Roland TR-8 is a modern recreation of the iconic Roland TR808 and TR909 drum machines, both of which helped shape what we know today as modern house, dance, techno and hip-hop music. Marvin Gaye, Rick James, Beastie Boys and many more have put these drum machines to good use and helped fuel its popularity.

Note that this model has been superseded by the Roland TR-8S.

Boss DR-880 Drum Machine (Discontinued)

Boss DR-880 Drum Machine

While they are more popularly known for their guitar effects pedals, Boss also has a number of drum machines in their production line. One of the highest rated ones that they offer is the DR-880 DR. Rhythm, which combines traditional drum machine features with modern sequencing.

What's interesting about this drum machine is its easy to use interface, the velocity sensitive pads are prominently placed and well spaced for convenient manual drumming, or you can simply trigger any of the 1000 patterns that are pre-loaded into the unit.

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine

Alesis SR-16

Alesis' founder and MXR co-founder Keith Barr entered into the realm of drum machines with the help of Marcus Ryle, who later founded his own company called Line 6. And decades after, the brand is still sought after when it comes to drum machines, with the SR-16 being one of their most popular.

This compact and affordable drum machine was first released in the early '90s, and as a testament to its quality, it is still in production today, with only minor updates to its features and sounds!

Akai Professional XR20 Beat Production Station Drum Machine

Akai Professional XR20

The XR20 is a portable beat production tool that comes loaded with 700 pre-loaded sound samples of drums and percussion instruments, as well as synths and bass.

All of these samples are triggered by the unit's 12 backlit pads, which allow for real-time creation of beats and groove.

There are also a number of essential effects available, including EQ, compression and reverb.

Korg Electribe 2 Drum Machine

Korg Electribe 2 Drum Machine

The Korg Electribe is a sampler and sequencer that lets you craft classic to modern electronica grooves, with 409 analog modeled drums, percussion, bass, synths and other instrument sounds.

Combine all these sounds with its 36 built-in effects and you get a very versatile drum machine unit that goes beyond the usual.

More than merely crafting drum parts, you can actually build tracks if not entire songs with all the instruments available.

Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer Vocal Effects Processor (Discontinued)

Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer Vocal Effects Processor

While other processors cater to instruments like guitars, the Roland VT-3 does not worry about any of that, as it focuses all of its resources to vocal sound quality and effects.

Another important distinction is its tabletop profile, which is designed to complement the rigs of DJs and sound engineers.

Still In case you want hands-free control of bypassing/engaging the effect, you can plug in a standard footswitch pedal.

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass 4-String Bass Guitar

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass

The original Fender Jazz bass first appeared in 1960 and is the second electric bass guitar to come out from Fender's production line. With its distinct two pole piece per string single-coil pickup design, it emphasized the midrange and upper-mids for a cutting tone that allows bassists to stand out in a mix.

The highly rated Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass is an affordable take on this timeless classic, featuring a more comfortable modern "C" shape profile, 34" scale length, 1.5" nut width and rosewood fingerboard.

Epiphone Toby Deluxe IV 4-String Bass Guitar

Epiphone Toby Deluxe IV 4-String Bass Guitar

Gibson acquired the Tobias brand which I think was to get their hands on these sleek, ergonomic and boutique quality bass designs. Being one of Gibson's sub-brands, Epiphone was a willing beneficiary, releasing affordable production line versions of the original Tobias bass design.

The Toby Deluxe IV resulted from this joint venture, carrying over the same asymmetrical neck and body shape that make it look more expensive that it actually is, and comfortable to play.

Dean ML Metalman 4-String Bass Guitar

Dean ML Metalman Bass

When I first set out researching for top rated bass guitars in the entry level price range, I did not expect to see Dean Guitars doing well in the bass market. But the ratings speak for themselves, their ML Metalman Bass is a great example of how they get good feedback with their appeal to metalheads.

There's nothing unique about this instrument's specs, following the standard basswood body and maple neck configuration, as well as the 34" scale length and 1.5" nut width neck.

Fender Squier Affinity Series P/J Precision 4-String Bass Guitar w/ Rosewood Fingerboard (Discontinued)

Fender Squier Affinity Series P/J Precision Bass Guitar

The Affinity Series is Squier's entry level line of instruments, allowing up and coming musicians to own affordable versions of Fender's popular instruments.

This particular model follows after the Precision bass, which was first released way back in 1951, albeit in a more cost effective build.

It's impressive how the old Precision bass design still rates highly among today's players considering its age, it still is one of the most copied and best selling bass guitars in the world.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass SS 4-String Bass Guitar (Discontinued)

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass SS (Short Scale)

Squier is a sub-brand of guitar manufacturer giant Fender, they make affordable versions of Fender's popular instruments, including bass guitars.

The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass SS was their most popular bass in the sub $200 price range, thanks to it being easy on the eyes, ears and more importantly easy on your wallet.

Marshall MG30CFX 30-Watt Solid State Guitar Amplifier

Marshall MG30CFX Guitar Amp

Marshall is easily one of the most recognizable amplifier brands today, used by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, Randy Rhodes and many other iconic guitarists. So it's not surprising at all to find them rating so highly in the entry level, and they did so by embracing digital sound processing while retaining their analog tonality. It may not have as many extras as other amps in its category, but it carries enough to make practice and even small venue gigging interesting.

Acoustic B30 Bass Combo Amplifier (Discontinued)

Acoustic B30 Bass Combo Amplifier

If you’re experienced with live sound, or are willing to learn, the Acoustic B30 could potentially be a very good tool both on stage and in the studio. The amp, while only rated at 30-watts, if miked has more than enough features to produce very respectable tone. This is further enhanced by the inclusion of a 12” speaker, which helps to give the amp a warmth and depth lacking in those with smaller speakers. The B30 also has plenty of punch, though because this amplifier only has a 30-watt rating this is only really going to shine through on recordings or solo practice sessions.

Behringer V-Tone Bass Driver BDI21 Preamp DI Pedal

Behringer V-Tone Bass Driver BDI 21 Bass Preamp DI Pedal

Behringer can go against the competition by producing quality gear that's ridiculously affordable, and this time they did it with the V-Tone Bass Driver BDI-21.

This small stompbox is packed with essential preamp and DI box features, but what makes it special is that you can get it for a mere fraction of the cost of other similarly spec'ed units.

Even with its compact size, it gives you all the essential controls for customizing your sound, including multiple knobs for tweaking the EQ (Treble, Bass and Presence).

Radial Bassbone OD Bass Preamp DI Pedal

Radial Bassbone OD Bass Preamp with Overdrive Pedal

The Bassbone OD is a featured packed bass preamp from Radial Engineering, part of their long list of specialized DI boxes and preamps designed for different instruments.

There are a lot of things you can do with this preamp, with two channels that allow for two sound sources, including piezo equipped acoustic and upright basses.

It has dedicated EQ and Gain controls per channel along with other tone shaping knobs and switches.

Tech 21 SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI Preamp Pedal

Tech 21 SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI

The SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI (PBDI) is meant for players who need to change their sound between songs or even mid-song.

It retains SansAmp's well received all-analog preamp circuitry, and adds a digital component to manage the controls, so you can conveniently store and recall settings in real time. This means that you get the best of both worlds, analog sound quality and digital preset switching, all in a single package.

Nord Piano 3 88-key Stage Piano (Discontinued)

Nord Piano 3 88-key Stage Piano

The Nord Piano 3 offers a straightforward interface with dedicated and easily accessible parameter controls. Its triple sensor keybed has improved weighted action keys giving it dynamic response and control at any velocity level.

It contains 1GB worth of sampled acoustic and electric instruments, which can also be interchangeable with the use of the Nord Piano Library. The sample synth section and effects section allow you to customize and tweak these samples in order to create your own blend of unique sounds.

CAD Audio PRO-7 Drum Microphone Kit (7 Mics) (Discontinued)

CAD Audio is known for offering robust microphones at a low-cost.

The PRO-7 from CAD Audio contains these microphones: one K212, three TM211s, one SN210, and 2 CM217s.

The KM212 is a large diaphragm microphone that is designed for kick drums, bass guitar cabinets, and other instruments with low frequency response. It features good transient response with a wide frequency range for precise bass clarity and detail.

The TM211s are dynamic mics designed for toms with attached drum mount clips.

MAKA MK-21 Soprano Ukulele 21 (Discontinued)

The Maka MK-21 is a 21" soprano ukulele that comes packed with features that are normally reserved for more expensive instruments.

The body is crafted from mahogany, while the neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard - a combination that's popular with guitars. Together with its Nylgut nylon strings from Aquila, this ukulele produces a focused yet warm tone. Another stand out feature is the use of buffalo bone for the nut and saddles, which is expected to be better than the usual plastic saddles and nuts that are used on other ukuleles in this price range.

Apogee Quartet 12-Channel USB Audio Interface for iPad / Mac / iOS

Apogee Quartet 12-Channel USB Audio Interface

The Apogee Quarter is a USB audio interface specifically designed for Mac and iOS devices, featuring four analog combo XLR/TRS inputs, four Apogee preamps, a Lightpipe input for expanding to 12 inputs, and it has a versatile set of eight output ports.

Still, the main selling point of this interface is its premium quality AD/DA conversion at 24-bit/192kHz, which compliments Apple's popular smartphones, tablets and computers really well.

DigiTech JamMan Stereo Looping Station

DigiTech JamMan Stereo Looper for Guitar and Vocals

The JamMan Stereo is the current JamMan series flagship looper pedal, and while it has been years since it was first introduced, it is still very much relevant and in demand.

It stays true to the original JamMan design, focusing more on the needs of singer/guitarists with its four footswitch interface, stereo input/output, and microphone compatibility via a balanced XLR input.

DigiTech JamMan Express XT Stereo Looper

DigiTech JamMan Express XT

The JamMan Express XT is DigiTech's response to the compact looper hype, with more recording time, stereo input/output and better LED monitoring.

Like other small loopers, it has a single footswitch that lets you record, play, overdub, undo and redo a single loop.

But it stands out from the crowd with its longer 10 minute total looping time, and dedicated LED lights that let you know whether you're recording, overdubbing or on playback.

Electro-Harmonix 360 Nano Looper

Electro-Harmonix 360 Nano Looper

The Electro-Harmonix 360 Nano Looper offers essential looping functionality for guitarists in a compact nano size stompbox.

The label 360 refers to its recording limit, which is up to 360 seconds, or a total of 6 minutes.

To help you organize your loops better, this loop pedal lets you store up to 11 different loops, as long as you don't go over the 6 minute limit. This is its standout feature, because it lets you store and play loops that contain riffs, melodies and song ideas, for use when practicing, performing and writing songs.

Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 15-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

Behringer Ultracoustic AT108

The Behringer AT108 is an affordable and compact acoustic amp with 2 channels and a dedicated XLR input. This means that this small amp works like a small PA system where you can amplify both your guitar and microphone. With its 15W power rating, you can't expect much volume from the amp, but it has more than enough for solo practice and for acoustic jams.

As expected, features are streamlined to keep the cost down, but it does have a line input jack for playing along with your favorite tracks, and there's also a headphones out for quiet practice.

AER Compact 60 Mk3 60-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp (Discontinued)

AER Compact 60 Mk3 60-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

The 60 watt AER Compact 60 Mk3 has 2 channels with the first a dedicated instrument channel and the second one switchable between instrument an mic input with phantom power.

AER amps are used by virtuosi such as Tommy Emmanuel, Martin Taylor and Yoshiteru Ito, and other well known artists including Luka Bloom, Eric Johnson and Colin Hay.

AER Alpha 40-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

AER Alpha 40-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

AER has been one of the dominant brands in high-end acoustic guitar amps for several years and the 40-Watt Alpha is their popular entry level amp.

Tommy Emmanuel is one of the most notable artists who uses AER acoustic amps, albeit with their much more expensive Domino 3.

Although you can plug both your guitar and mic into it, it's less useful as a small PA than many other options because it only has 1 channel meaning your effects loop is applied to both inputs. It does however provide 24V phantom power on the XLR input.

Roland AC-33 30-Watt Battery Powered Portable Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

Roland AC-33

Roland has a great reputation for making high quality transparent instrument amplifiers and in the past they produced some of the highest rated keyboard amps and that experience translated well to their acoustic amps.

The 30-Watt AC-33 is a highly rated stereo 2-channel acoustic guitar amp that comes with the added bonus of being able to be run on battery power making it ideal for street performers.

One channel is dedicated to guitar and the other is for microphone input. It also has a built-in 40 second phrase sampler / looper.

Rode NT1-A-MP Matched Stereo Pair Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Rode NT1-A-MP Matched Stereo Pair Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphones

The Rode NT1-A-MP (the “MP” stands for matched pair, so it’s not a different model from the NT1-A) is commonly regarded as one of the quietest studio microphones available that’s still realistically priced for the average person. Low ambient noise is important in recording, because if you’re mic is too noisy it can result in a messy recording.

Samson C02 Stereo Pair Small-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphones

Samson C02 Stereo Pair Small-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphones

The Samson C02 Stereo Pair Condenser Microphones are engineered with versatility in mind. They’re intended to record a variety of different instruments well, spanning everything from breathy vocals to loud and crashing cymbals.

Joemeek threeQ - Channel Strip with Mic Preamp (Discontinued)

Joemeek threeQ

The Joemeek threeQ preamp is generally well liked by most reviewers who report it generates very little noise. It has been positively mentioned when used with condenser, dynamic, and even ribbon mics - whether using phantom power or not.

The EQ is generally well received and reported as being easy to use.

The compression with its fixed 5:1 ratio really tends to divide opinions. It colors the sound and is quite noticeable when driven hard, but much less so at low levels.

BBE Acoustimax Acoustic Preamp DI Pedal

BBE Acoustimax Acoustic Preamp DI Pedal

BBE Sound Inc. is known for their popular "Sonic Maximizer", which improved the clarity and volume of many recordings. They have since branched into live sound reinforcement and have made their technology suitable for acoustic instruments, resulting in the BBE Acoustimax.

While it may not have as many extra features as other acoustic preamps, it works great where it matters, having extensive tone shaping controls and providing great sound courtesy of the built-in Sonic Maximizer.

Tech 21 SansAmp Para Driver V2 Acoustic Preamp DI Box

Tech 21 SansAmp Para Driver V2

This multi-purpose preamp/DI Box from Tech 21's popular SansAmp line is dedicated to acoustic instruments.

Like the their popular bass preamp box, the SansAmp Para Driver comes with a preamp complete with tone shaping elements, the main difference being this one is voiced to complement the sound of acoustic instruments.

This preamp pedal is known for adding analog tube like warmth that fattens up the usual thin and quacky sound of piezo-pickups.

LR Baggs Venue DI Acoustic Preamp DI Box

LR Baggs Venue DI Acoustic Preamp DI Box with EQ and Tuner Pedal

Known for their pro quality acoustic instrument guitar pickups, it is only natural that LR Baggs know how to make your acoustic guitar signal sound great when going straight to PA. And so they showed their skill with this feature packed unit, combining preamp, tone shaping and DI box functionality all in one unit.

More than just a "stuffed up" unit, the preamp, EQ and DI Box functionalities work really well together or when used sparingly. Even virtuosos like Leo Kottke have been spotted putting this unit to good use.

Fishman Platinum Pro EQ/DI Analog Acoustic Preamp Pedal

Being the most popular supplier of built-in electronics for acoustic guitar manufacturers, Fishman knows how to make acoustic guitars sound good. As such, it is only natural for them to come up with a quality acoustic preamp like the Platinum Pro E, an analog Class A preamp with 5-band EQ, phase control, notch filtering and compression.

It has two footswitches, first of which is a boost switch for upping your volume on specific song parts, while the other one lets you engage the unit's built-in chromatic digital tuner,

Behringer Ultra-DI DI100 Active DI Box

Behringer Ultra-DI DI100 Active DI Box

Behringer's ability to manufacture feature-packed gear at ridiculously cheap prices has been giving premium brands a run for their money. And what makes them even more threatening is how the quality of their products continue to improve while still retaining their low price advantage.

Radial StageBug SB-1 DI-Box

Radial StageBug SB-1

The Radial StageBug SB-1 DI Box is meant for stage instruments that use long cables, including acoustic guitar, bass and even keyboards.

It has a compact and lightweight profile that is easy to carry around, and since it runs on 48V phantom power, you don't need to worry about batteries or wall warts.

At the core of his DI Box is an active circuit that converts your signal from high to low impedance, it also balances and buffers the signal to drive long cables straight to PA.

Radial Pro48 Active DI Box

Radial Pro48 Active DI Box

The Pro48 is essentially a stripped-down, budget-friendly version of the J48, providing the same sound and build quality without the extra features.

It is also smaller and lighter, which can be handy, while still retaining Radial's brand of reliability.

Those who want a more affordable alternative to the J48 has been satisfied by the Pro48, and since it only costs around half, they were able to buy more units for other instruments - resulting in a more pronounced improvement in the overall sound of their band or venue.

Fractal Audio FX8 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

Fractal Audio FX8

Fractal Audio is a relatively small company that competes directly with the world's biggest amp modeling and effects manufacturers. They built their reputation on the quality of their premium priced guitar processor called AxeFX, but has since expanded into relatively more affordable territory with the AX8 and FX8.

The FX8 has a great balance of quality, complexity and practicality and is a true multi-effects "only" unit, so there's no amp modeling feature to get hung up on.

Boss ME-80 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

Boss ME-80

The Boss ME-80 combines the versatility of digital sound processing with the intuitiveness of analog stompbox like controls. It is a more old-school version of their flagship multi-effect pedal, the GT-100, meant for guitarists who prefer familiar analog controls over complex buttons and menus.

Since real knobs occupy space, this multi-effects processor is quite bulky, a welcome compromise that makes it easier to setup and adjust on the fly.

DigiTech RP360 XP Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

DigiTech RP360 XP

With its ability to run up to 8 effects simultaneously, the DigiTech RP360 XP gives you more flexibility in a compact form factor without compromising exterior durability and aesthetics. It also comes with a lot of nifty extras which include a 40-second looper, 60 rhythm tracks and a built-in chromatic tuner.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S25 25-Key MIDI Controller (Discontinued)

 Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S25 25-Key MIDI Controller

The S25 from Native Instruments' Komplete Kontrol series is designed to integrate with NI Komplete instruments.

Its main feature includes the Light Guide - LEDs above each key that offers visual feedback on performance controls, such as chord / arpeggiator or scale mode. The triggered notes light up once a key is pressed in chord or arpeggiator mode, while the notes in a scale light up on the keyboard in scale mode.

Roland KC-880 320W 5-channel Keyboard Amp (Discontinued)

Roland KC-880 320W 5-channel Keyboard Amp

This was Roland's flagship stereo keyboard amp, before being superseded, producing 320 watts total power and sporting 5 stereo input channels.

It comes with built in stereo DSP effects which apart from the regular reverb, delay chorus etc., also includes a 'rotary' stereo effect which emulates a Leslie rotary speaker system.

Like the KC-550, it also comes with a stereo I/O link for chaining multiple amps together.

It also comes with removable casters making easy to move around.

Roland KC-550 4-Channel Mixing 180 Watt Keyboard Amp (Discontinued)

Roland KC-550 4-Channel Mixing 180 Watt Keyboard Amp

This 180 Watt amp comes with a 15" woofer for producing strong bass tones but also has an output for a subwoofer if you want additional power on the bottom end.

A handy feature is the dual balanced XLR outputs which allows you to send the signal over long snake cables to a PA mixing console without the need for a stereo DI box.

It sports an output select switch and a shape switch for making quick tonal adjustments.

Roland KC-150 65 Watt 4-Channel Keyboard Amp (Discontinued)

Roland KC-150 65 Watt 4-Channel Keyboard Amp

This is a 4 channel amp with volume control on each channel and a master 2-band EQ. It has an XLR input for dynamic microphones and a stereo RCA Auxiliary input.

Like all the Roland KC series amps it has an output for a subwoofer if you want to beef up the bottom end.

It is used by keyboardists as a practice and performance amp and also as a stage monitor. It is also used by musicians of all types as an amp and a personal PA system - including acoustic guitarists and electronic drummers.

CEntrance MicPort Pro USB Audio Interface (Discontinued)

CEntrance MicPort Pro

The CEntrance MicPort Pro is a top rated plug-and-play USB audio interface that's built to discretely connect to microphones.

It has a compact profile that can directly mount to a mic, and housing its mic preamp and A/D converter. It essentially transforms regular microphones into USB mics, which allows you to continue using your preferred mic in recording, and at the same time free up valuable space on your desk.

It is meant to be a space saving solution for those who record everything through microphone, be it musical instruments, podcasting, singing and others.

VHT Special 6 Tube Combo Guitar Amp 6W 1x10

VHT Special 6 Tube Combo Guitar Amp 6W 1x10

As the name implies, the VHT Special 6 Hand-Wired is an affordable tube amp with old school point-to-point wiring, ideal for those who want to customize their own amps.

But it's not just for tweakers and builders because its default setup is already good enough for most reviewers, as evidence by its high ratings.

This amp comes in a compact combo configuration with a 6W amplifier and a 10" speaker. It doesn't stray too far from familiar territory with its 12AX7 preamp tube and 6V6 output tube.

ProCo StageMaster Balanced XLR Cable 30'

ProCo StageMaster Balanced XLR Cable 15'

ProCo Sound is more popular for their guitar distortion pedal called "Rat", but they also make affordable musical equipment including microphone XLR cables. Their StageMaster is doing well in the market, thanks to its accessible price tag and good performance. Having a thinner 24 AWG wire, this cable is meant to be flexible and easy to roll for stage performance use.