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..

Peavey Dark Matter 112 12" Powered PA Speaker

Peavey Dark Matter 112 12" Powered PA Speaker

Peavey's Dark Matter 112, a 12" powered speaker has versatile tuning capabilities via built-in DSP technology.

The unit's digital brain lets you fine tune the resulting sound to match different rooms, by selecting preset EQ curves or by changing the bass and treble parameters yourself.

Kremona Verea Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Guitar

Kremona Verea Cutaway

If you hadn't heard about Kremona before, you'll be glad you have now. Originally emanating from Bulgaria and now with operations also located in the USA, this guitar manufacturer has a history that dates back to 1924 - they even survived the post war era when they were nationalized by the then communist government in their home country.

The Verea Cutaway is a hybrid instrument with a small 48 mm nut width that even electric guitarists find easy to transition to.

Cordoba GK Studio Negra Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Guitar

Cordoba GK Studio Negra

Back in August 2016 this was the highest rated nylon string guitar in the $500 to $999 price range, and although there are now higher rated options, this is still a pretty good acoustic-electric classical guitar.

Cordoba designed the GK Studio Negra as a Flamenco Guitar rather than a classical with a solid spruce top, slightly reduced scale length, thinner nut width and body depth, low action, spanish fan bracing and protective golpeador.

Lucero LC100 Nylon String Classical Guitar

Lucero LC100 Nylon String Classical Guitar

Lucero is a Guitar Center brand (owned by GTRC Services, Inc.) and with the exception of Amazon, it's primarily available through retailers that are part of the Guitar Center group including Musicians Friend, Music123 and Woodwind and Brasswind.

The Lucero LC100 is positioned as a student/beginner instrument with a slightly smaller scale length and nut width than standard classical models but still within the size range that can be considered a Classical Guitar.

CAD Audio EPF-15A Pop Filter

CAD Audio EPF-15A Pop Filter

The CAD EPF-15A is an affordable pop filter that doesn't stray too far from standard designs, featuring a 6" washable nylon mesh screen that's made to protect your mic from plosives and from moisture due to saliva.

Its nylon mesh screen is described by users as having a similar feel to regular hose stockings albeit thicker, and it is connected to a flexible gooseneck holder that allows for positioning.

The EPF-15A pop filter also comes with a swivel mount for added flexibility.

Blue Microphones The Pop Universal Pop Filter

Blue Microphones The Pop

Unlike conventional designs that come with a circular shaped mesh filter, this one has a stylish bent rectangle shape. The mesh itself is built using metal wire, instead of the usual nylon, giving this filter a vintage appeal that better complements the look of most microphones.

Other features include a flexible gooseneck and a mounting bracket for clamping on to a mic stand.

Sterling Audio STPF2 Pop Filter

Sterling Audio STPF2 Pop Filter

The STPF2 pop filter from Sterling Audio comes with their own dual layer mesh design, providing improved dissipation of unwanted pops. It also uses the mechanism of having two mesh filters separated by an open air space which helps better dissipate excess air movements, only this one features a 6" mesh made from nylon.

Behringer EPS500MP3 Portable PA System

Behringer EPS500MP3

While there will always be naysayers, there's no stopping Behringer's popularity and reputation, as evidenced by the many highly rated products that they have in the market today.

Neumann TLM 102 Studio Microphone with Standmount

Neumann TLM102 Studio Microphone with Standmount

While it is by no means cheap, the TLM102 is one of Neumann's most affordable condenser microphones, with its significantly smaller size and stripped-down features.

But don't let its compact size stop you from considering this top rated mic, because it carries over the brand's renowned sound and build quality at a more accessible price point.

Avantone CV-12 Multi-Pattern Large Capsule Tube Condenser Microphone

Avantone CV-12 Multi-Pattern Large Capsule Tube Condenser Microphone

The Avantone CV-12 is a large diaphragm condenser mic that utilizes a Russian made 6072A tube, which gives the mic a sound that even highly-paid pop stars like Taylor Swift appreciate. For someone who can afford the most expensive vintage mics, Taylor Swift uses the CV-12 for all her studio vocals, which means that you most probably have heard the CV-12 in action.

Other interesting features of this mic include its 9 selectable polar patterns, and its use of a dedicated PS-12 power supply, so it has enough power to drive the tube.

Rode NT2-A Large-diaphragm Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

Rode NT2A Large-diaphragm Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

There's no denying Rode's reputation in the microphone market, and the NT2-A is one of their more popular products, a versatile large capsule condenser microphone designed for studio use with multiple pickup patters, switchable high-pass filters and variable attenuation control. This allows the mic to work with different sound sources, including multiple instruments playing live at the same time.

Sennheiser MD421 II Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Sennheiser MD421 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

The Sennheiser MD421 II is a dynamic mic that's designed to handle really loud sound sources, so much so that the they don't even list the max SPL of the mic. They just mentioned that 160dB may cause some issues, but it's a sound level that's very hard to find in real world situations.

With its high SPL handling and its five position bass roll-off switch, this mic can capture any sound source, from loud snare, to guitar and bass amps - used by pros like Kurt Cobain, Elton John, Owl City and many more. Interestingly, this mic also works really well with vocals, specifically for rap, scream, shout and other loud vocal styles.

SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large-Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

SE Electronics sE2200a II C

Although not as popular as some other brands, SE Electronics have made a name for themselves in the professional mic market, thanks to many artists and engineers who recommend their products.

One of their most popular models is the sE2200a, a mic that was used to capture the voice of popular singer Amy Winehouse for her album "Back to Black". The sE2200a II C is the second version of the mic, and it inherited most of the features of the original, with the main difference being its improved black rubberized finish and bundled shock mount.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio USB Microphone

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio USB Microphone

The iRig Mic Studio is a large-diaphragm condenser USB mic which comes with free software including models of the Neumann U-87, Groove Tubes VELO-8, and AKG D20 mics for the VocaLive app. Other bundled software includes Cubasis LE, T-RackS CS Classic, and 25 credits for use in AmpliTube, T-RackS and SampleTank. More information on the included software is available from IK Multimedia.

Blue Microphones Spark Digital USB Microphone

Blue Microphones Spark Digital USB Microphone

A condenser mic with both USB and Lightning Connectivity, the Spark Digital is based on the design of Blue Microphone's Spark Studio Mic.

Apogee MiC 96k USB Condenser Microphone

Apogee MiC 96k USB Condenser Microphone

The Apogee MiC 96k is a cardioid condenser mic with high sampling rates designed to offer professional quality both in the studio and for mobile recording.

This mic is used by Singer/Songwriter and Producer August Rigo whose recent work includes Justin Bieber, One Direction, Musiq Soulchild, and America’s Got Talent vocal coach.

Dean ML XM (HH) 6 String Electric Guitar

Dean ML XM

Dean Guitars was founded by 19 year old musician Dean Zelinsky in 1976 and right from the beginning they were making guitars for heavey metal and began making the ML series in 1977.

Behringer Ultracoustic ACX450 45-Watt 2-Channel Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp

Behringer Ultracoustic ACX450

The Behringer ACX450 is a 45-watt 2 channel combo amp for acoustic guitar. The first channel is for guitar/instrument and the second is for Mic/Line input.

It doesn't have all the features of more expensive amps, there's no phantom power, FX loop, headphone jack, DI or Line outs, but based upon the reviews it does a fairly good job of being a straight-up acoustic amp with a low price.

Carvin Audio EM900 Wireless In-Ear Monitor System (FCC 2020 Compliant)

Carvin Audio EM900

From building guitar and bass amps, Carvin Audio have expanded to stage and recording audio equipment, and this includes the EM900 wireless in-ear monitor system.

For the price, it competes directly with other systems that are two to six times more expensive, having features that include automatic scanning and syncing, along with 2 channel mixing for personalized monitor mixes.

Other features include PLL (phase lock loop) that helps remove static, LCD display on both the transmitter and receiver and braided cables for reliable use of the receiver pack on stage.

Vox Valvetronix VT20X Guitar Amplifier 20W

Vox Valvetronix VT20X

Vox helped define the British clean and overdriven tone back in '50, used by iconic artists the include the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and many more. They have since been acquired by the Japanese company Korg which helped steer Vox to incorporate amp modeling into their amplifier designs. The Valvetronix VT20X is an excellent example of how they meld old school tube tones with modern digital sound processing.

Casio WK-7600 Portable Keyboard Arranger 76 Key

Casio WK-7600

While the naming convention maybe different, the Casio WK-7600 is essentially the same as the CTK-7200, with the main difference being the extra octave that the 76 Key configuration provides.

Casio CTK-7200 Portable Keyboard 61 Key

Casio CTK-7200

For the price the Casio CTK-7200 carries a hefty amount of features that would normally cost much more. So while it is still a beginner to intermediate level performance and practice keyboard, it is also a useful music production tool for seasoned musicians who want to record, arrange and produce tracks.

Yamaha PSR-E453 Portable Keyboard 61-Key

Yamaha PSR-E453

The PSR series is one of Yamaha's more popular line of keyboards, and it continues to carry the brand in the entry to mid-tier market.

The PSR-E453 sits at the sweet spot where the price is still within the entry level range, while the features cross over into intermediate and even advanced territory. Compared to the YPG-235 which feels more like a piano, the PSR-E453 plays more like a synth/organ, and features more sounds and more control over the sounds for experimental and modern electronic music styles.

Monster Classic Balanced XLR Cable - 20'

Monster Classic Balanced XLR Cable - 20'

Monster Cable was started in 1979 by an audiophile engineer who experimented with copper qualities and different wiring methods to see if cables can be engineered to work and sound better.

By 1980, their popularity spread via word of mouth, fast forward to the future, the company continues to produce premium cables, one of which, the Classic Balanced XLR has garnered high ratings and recommendations.

While many of their claims of sound quality enhancement are disputed by those in pro audio circles, they do make cables that are solid and sturdy.

Hosa XLR-115 Balanced XLR Cable 15'

Hosa XLR-115 Balanced XLR Cable

Hosa Technology started back in 1984, specializing in providing affordably priced cables for stages, studios and video recording applications. They have since grown to be one of the major providers of affordable audio cables, and the Hosa XLR-115 is one of the reasons why they continue to thrive in this market.

This particular cable is meant for stage use, with its OFC spiral shield and sturdy die-cast connectors with cable strain relief.

Lehle RMI Acouswitch IQ Acoustic Preamp DI Pedal

Lehle RMI Acouswitch IQ Acoustic Preamp DI Pedal

The Lehle RMI Acouswitch IQ is a preamp pedal that's meant for professionals who gig with multiple acoustics - so it is understandable for it go under the radar for many.

Behringer ADI21 V-Tone Acoustic Driver DI Acoustic Preamp Pedal

Behringer V-Tone Acoustic Driver DI Acoustic Preamp Pedal

The Behringer V-Tone Acoustic Driver DI is an affordable alternative that provides good preamp functionality and tone shaping, at merely a fraction of the price of other acoustic preamps.

Behringer has managed to squeeze in a few features for the low price, having a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids and a nifty tube emulation circuit that adds analog warmth to any pickup equipped acoustic instrument.

Fishman Aura Spectrum DI Acoustic Preamp Pedal

Fishman Aura Spectrum DI Acoustic Preamp Pedal

Fishman continues to be the most popular supplier of built-in electronics for acoustic guitar manufacturers, and as such, they have the know how and experience to build good acoustic preamps like the Aura Spectrum DI.

Instead of going for basic pre-amplification and tone shaping, Fishman decided to take it further by injecting this unit with their Aura Acoustic Imaging technolgy, which applies amp modeling technology to recreate the sound of popular acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments.

Rupert Neve Direct Interface (RNDI) Active DI Box

Rupert Neve Direct Interface (RNDI) Active DI Box

Neve is well known for their preamps and studio consoles, but they've since expanded into the DI market with the highly rated RNDI.

There's not much going on in terms of features and connectivity, but what makes this unit special is its great combination of simplicity and audio quality. Thanks to its Class A discrete FET amplifier, this compact unit made the sound quality of Neve studio consoles more accessible and portable.

Countryman Type 85 Active DI Box

Countryman Type 85

Countryman continues the be the DI of choice for many musicians and professionals, thanks to its impeccable reliability and its transparent sound.

Marshall MG15CFX 15W 1x8" Guitar Combo Amplifier

Marshall MG15CFX 15W 1x8" Guitar Combo Amplifier

Marshall Amps need no introduction, it continues to be the brand of choice for professionals and legendary guitarists that include Angus Young, Joe Perry, Eric Johnson, Steph Carpenter, Slash and many more. And they're not just building amps for the stars, they also have practice amps for up and coming artists and wannabes!

Line 6 Spider V 30 Modeling Combo Guitar Amplifier

Line 6 Spider V 30

Affordable amp modeling is Line 6's specialization, and their ability to churn out great sounding, budget friendly versatile amps helped propel their brand name to worldwide recognition. Now owned by Yamaha, we can only expect their efficiency to further improve, forcing other manufacturers to up their game and in the end, giving us better options in the low to mid-tier market.

Roland KC-110 30W 3-channel Stereo Keyboard Amp - Battery Power Option

Roland KC-110 30W 3-channel Stereo Keyboard Amp

Roland claim that this 30 Watt amp is the world's first stereo keyboard amp that can be battery powered and I haven't seen anything to refute that.

It runs for up to 9 hours on 8 AA batteries - this includes rechargeable batteries.

It has 3 channels - the first has an XLR input for a microphone and the other two are line level inputs.

It also has reverb and chorus built in which can be controlled via an optional footswitch.

Epiphone Dove Pro 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Dove was first introduced by Gibson back in 1962 and it has earned its place as a classic. Based on the reviews I've read guitarists are quite happy with this budget acoustic-electric version from Epiphone, thanks to it's distinct appearance and traditional tone.

Sennheiser e965 Large Diaphragm Handheld Condenser Microphone w/ Switchable Polar Patterns

Sennheiser e965 Large Diaphragm Handheld Condenser Microphone

The e965 is Sennheiser's top-tier handheld microphone for live singing - it has large dual diaphragms designed to get as close as possible to the sonic qualities of their studio mics.

It has a shock mounted capsule and built in pop and wind shield. It also has a low cut switch to reduce ambient and wind noise.

Both the polar pattern and 10 dB pad switches are located under the grille which you have to unscrew in order to access the switches - this makes it impossible for the singer to accidentally switch them on stage.

Roland R-05 Wave/MP3 Handheld Recorder Meta Review

Roland R-05 Wave/MP3 Recorder

The Roland R-05 has a sturdy build with a metal exterior.

It features onboard editing and built-in reverb. Musicians will find this handy when it comes to its practicing, because it has a backing track feature that allows you to change the tempo without changing pitch and it can also playback loops.

Optional accessories include a windscreen and a tripod mounting socket.

M-Audio Keystation 88 MkII - 88-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio Keystation 88 MkII - 88-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio designed the Keystation 88 primarily for computer based musicians rather than performing pianists.

You can't expect all the bells and whistles in an 88-key controller at this price, however it has been well received and reviewed for what it is - a fairly good controller to use with software. As well as PC and Mac it can also be used with an iPad although you'll need to buy the optional power adapter or a powered USB hub to get it working with an iPad.

Electro-Harmonix Voice Box Vocal Effects Processor Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Voice Box Vocal Effects Processor Pedal

Well known for their extensive line of quality guitar pedals, EHX knows that there's always room for one more pedal. So with the Voice Box, they decided to create a pedal for singing instrumentalists to play with, resulting in a vocal effect pedal that can handle harmony and vocoder duties in one package.

Akai Professional Advance - 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboard

Akai Professional Advance - 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboard

Akai's Advance series of MIDI keyboards differs from the MPK series in that they have a strong emphasis on virtual instrument control - both for recording and live performance.

NB: This had a Gearank score of 84 back in February 2016, however its ratings have dropped since then and it's no longer on our main recommended list - for our current recommendations see our guide to The Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards.

Breedlove Pursuit Nylon: Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Guitar Meta-Review

Breedlove Pursuit Nylon Acoustic-Electric Guitar

In a market saturated by clones, Breedlove's unique and eclectic acoustic guitar designs provide a refreshing break. This distinct design approach definitely applies to their mid-tier Pursuit Nylon - a true modern nylon acoustic-electric that easily stands out from the rest. And the difference goes beyond just skin deep, because this particular model strays from traditional specs to make the instrument more at home for steel string players.

Vox VT40X Modeling Guitar Combo Amp 40W Meta-Review

Vox VT40X

When digital modeling was introduced, the modeled tones lacked fidelity, nuance and dynamics. However, technology has been quickly catching up, blurring the sonic distinction between the real amps from their modeled counterparts.

Behringer XD80USB 8-Piece Electronic Drum Set Meta-Review

Behringer XD80USB 8-Piece Electronic Drum Kit

The XD80USB is similar to the XD8USB with the main differences being:

  • It comes with the HDS240USB sound module with 175 sounds and back-lit LCD screen.

  • The three tom pads are all dual zone.

  • The cymbals are dual zone including the hi-hat.

There were a few more people who expressed negative opinions of the kick pedal even though it's the same piece of hardware as the XD8USB.

Sadowsky Bass Preamp DI Pedal Meta-Review

Sadowsky Bass Preamp DI Pedal

This pedal is as straightforward as it gets with just three knobs that let you adjust volume, treble and bass. There's no fancy overdrive and advanced EQ effect, rather it is simply meant to improve the quality and signal-to-noise ratio of your bass guitar sound.

Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Preamp DI Pedal Meta-Review

Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Preamp DI Pedal

Ampeg drew from their experience and reputation as a popular bass amplifier maker to design the SCR-DI, a preamp stompbox that brings with it the Ampeg amp flavor, with built-in overdrive and DI box capabilities.

Epiphone Goth Thunderbird-IV 4-String Bass Guitar Meta-Review

Epiphone Goth Thunderbird-IV Electric Bass Guitar

If you're surprised to find that the Epiphone Goth Thunderbird IV got such a high Gearank score take comfort in knowing that I was too. Metalheads just love this bass guitar and after careful consideration of the reviews, I'd have to say that I'm convinced that it really is one of the best for its specific genre - which is rock and metal. It starts off with a black finish alder body and a 34" scale maple neck with a wider 1.73" nut.

Roland UA-55 Quad-Capture 4-Channel USB Audio Interface Meta-Review

The Quad Capture is a sleek audio interface with the company's brand of quality and functionality. It features two XLR/TRS combo inputs that is equipped Roland's VS preamp.

Roland gave the Quad Capture Auto-Sens, which automatically adjusts the gain levels for optimum clip free sound. This feature makes the UA-55 easy to use with different instruments, making it novice friendly.

NB Although this is a 4-channel interface it only records from 2 analog inputs + 2 digital inputs simultaneously - you can't record from 4 simultaneous analog sources.

LR Baggs Session DI Acoustic Preamp Pedal Meta-Review

LR Baggs Session DI is a more compact alternative to the Venue DI, described as a tool that gives you studio quality miked acoustic sound in a more convenient plug and play setup. And it looks like they aren't just bluffing, based on the reviews, and overall positive reception.

Novation 61 SL MKII Meta-Review - 61-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller (Discontinued)

Novation 61 SL MKII

Far from an ordinary MIDI keyboard, the strength of the Novation 61 SL MKII is in its wealth of control options and convenient automatic mapping with popular DAW software that include Ableton, Logic 9, Pro Tools, Cuebase/Nuendo, Reason/Record, and Sonar. Most notable of these controls are the 8 touch-sensitive encoders that feature 11 segment LED rings and infinite rotation. Other controls include transport buttons, 8 pots, 8 sliders, 8 soft feel trigger pads, and a touch sensitive speed dial.

QSC K12 12" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W (Discontinued)

QSC K12

I have processed thousands of review sources for Gearank and rarely have I seen a product that is so consistently raved about by its owners as I have just now while researching the QSC K12 12" Powered PA Speaker.

Marshall AS100D 100-Watt Acoustic Guitar Combo Amplifier

Marshall AS100D

Marshall's acoustic series amplifiers designed specifically for acoustic guitar are quite popular and the AS100D is one of their better selling models.

It sports 4 channels with two of them having mic inputs - it can handle piezio and magnetic picups as well as vocal mics.

One channel is dedicated to vocal microphones with a mic preamp with phantom power and an XLR socket so it can effectively be used as a mini PA system.

Sennheiser e835 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone Meta-Review

Sennheiser e835 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

The Sennheiser e835 is both designed and manufactured in Germany and comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty.

When I was analyzing customer and expert reviews one of the aspects of this microphone that was continuously praised was its solid build and quality construction.

Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Cardioid Handheld Microphone Meta-Review

Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Microphone

Here's what I found when I processed over 1,500 customer and expert reviews of the XM8500.

The Behringer XM8500 is primarily designed for live vocals, however you will also find it being used on drums and other instruments and also for recording in home studios.

The thing that owners of the XM8500 most often cite positively is that this is an excellent microphone for the price given that it usually sells for only $20.

M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV Meta-Review

The M-Audio Oxygen 25 MkIV is the fourth iteration of the company’s sleek MIDI keyboard and it is highly rated by reviewers for having full size keys while being compact and easily portable at the same time. It carries over the same impressive keyboard feel with easy DAW integration via transport controls, and adds in 8 velocity-sensitive pads for triggering loops and samples.