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..

CAD Audio U37 USB Condenser Microphone

CAD Audio U37 USB Condenser Microphone

The CAD Audio U37 USB is a very affordable USB condenser mic which allows for direct audio recording via USB cable.

There's a nifty 10dB overload-protection switch and a nifty bass-reduction switch that allows for handling high SPL sources. The built-in pad can also be used to reduce room noise, which large diaphragm condensers are known to capture.

Samson C03U USB MultiPattern Condenser Microphone

Samson C03U USB MultiPattern Condenser Microphone

The Samson C03U comes with impressive quality and multi-pattern versatility at a price point that's easily accessible. It captures audio at 16-bit resolution with up to 48kHz sampling rate and it comes with dual 19mm internal shockmounted diaphragms with neodymium elements for improved SPL handling.

Adding even more value to this mic is the ability to switch between supercardioid, omnidirectional and bi-directional (figure-8) polar patterns, which make the C03U viable for single and multiple source capturing.

MXL 990 Condenser Microphone

MXL 990 Condenser Microphone

The MXL 990 Condenser Microphone has a 3/4" gold-sputtered diaphragm and a frequency response range of 30Hz-20kHz, designed to to retain high and low frequencies and keep the overall sound well balanced and transparent. This transparency allows it to work well with commonly recorded sound sources in home studio environments, including acoustic instruments and vocals. It is wrapped in a vintage inspired metal exterior that looks good and can take a beating, making it an inspiring mic to have in case you need the extra encouragement.

Monster Rock M ROCK2-12A - 12' Instrument Guitar Cable

Monster Rock Instrument Guitar Cable

If you're asking how a guitar cable would cost this much, Monster Cable will point you to its features - patented time correct windings which they say help improve sound transfer, the extra-flexible Duraflex jacket and IsoTec vibration isolation that helps reduce operation noise.

They also employ what they call multi-gauge design, and they claim that as a whole, the cable's design helps alleviate unwanted hum, crackles, and drop outs.

Martin D-16GT 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-16GT Acoustic Guitar

The Martin D-16GT is made in the USA and features solid woods for the top and body,

In November 2016 we announced that this was the 3rd highest rated acoustic guitar priced between $1,000 and $2,000. On January 24, 2018 it was removed from our recommended list because it no longer ranked in the top 3 in its price bracket - you can see our current recommendations in our guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000.

Martin D-15M 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-15M Acoustic Guitar

The Martin D-15M is the highest rated acoustic guitar under $2,000.

The all Solid Mahogany construction of the top and body has proved extremely popular. Although this guitar comes in another version, the D-15M Burst, this version is far more popular and more highly rated.

In fact we first announced the D-15M was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $1,000 and $2,000 in November 2016, and as of January 2018 it is the highest rated of all acoustic guitars under $2,000.

Taylor 314 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor 314 Acoustic Guitar

The Taylor 314 sports a solid top as well as solid back and sides. Its Grand Auditorium shape provides versatility for both finger picking and strumming.

This has been on our recommended list since November 2016 when we named the 314 as the Second Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar between $1,000 and $2,000. In January 2018 we announced that it had become the 3rd highest rated in that category which you can see in our guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000.

Martin DRS1 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Martin DRS1 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Martin DRS1 was the highest rated acoustic-electric guitar in the $500 to $1000 price range in November 2016 - this won't come as a surprise to anyone other than some of the hard-core Epiphone devotees. Based on its high Gearank Score, it would almost certainly still enjoy that status today if it wasn't for the fact that we removed that category from our guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars in January 2018.

The stand-out feature of this Dreadnought guitar is that it has an all Solid Sapele top and body.

Taylor Big Baby BBT 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Taylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar

Taylor are one of the most highly respected brands for acoustic guitars and the 15/16 size BBT is the closest you can get to owning a new full-sized Taylor for less than $500. Although the body is slightly smaller than regular dreadnoughts, it has a full-sized scale length at 25.5".

Seagull S6 Original Cedar Slim 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Seagull Guitars S6 Original Cedar Acoustic Guitar

Seagull bills this guitar as "entry level" however it's clear from reviews that it is much more than that.

Since we first put it on our recommended list back in November 2016, it has continued to be one of the highest rated acoustic guitars in its price bracket, and as of now in January 2018 it is the highest rated acoustic guitar between $300 and $500.

Seagull Entourage Rustic Dreadnought 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Seagull Entourage Rustic Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Seagull is one of the leading brands in this price range - in fact both the Entourage Rustic Dreadnought and the S6 Original Cedar were the equally highest rated acoustic guitars in the $300 to $500 price bracket when we first put them on our recommend list back in November 2016.

As of January 2018, this is the second highest rated acoustic guitar in the $300 to $500 price range - second only to the Seagull S6 Original Cedar Slim.

Takamine EF508KC 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Takamine EF508KC Acoustic-Electric Guitar

It is somewhat surprising to see a laminate top in this price range, however the presumption is that due to the high cost of Koa, and this has an all Koa body, that this was necessary to keep the price down.

Takamine have quite a number of highly rated acoustics and this was their most highly rated model when first recommended it back in November 2016..

The NEX body shape is Takamine's own design which they describe as a "scaled-down Jumbo at heart".

Mackie PPM1012 Powered Audio Mixer

Mackie PPM1012 Powered Audio Mixer

Mackie is well known in the live sound enforcement industry for providing quality equipment at accessible price points. As expected, their mixers are well received, including the PPM1012.

This lightweight mixer comes with a 500-watt RMS power amp that can drive both main speakers and monitors, providing an all-in one solution for small to medium sized venues with its 12 total channels and complementary features.

Gibson J-35 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Gibson J-35 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Most Gibson Acoustic guitars are priced above $2000 however there are a few priced below that and the J-35, while not the cheapest, was the highest rated of them all in November 2016. Just in case you're interested, the cheapest Gibson Acoustic at most stores is the Gibson J-15 which is also very highly rated.

Gibson first launched the J-35 back in 1936 and this version is still handcrafted in the USA just like the original.

Mackie ProFX16v2 Audio Mixer

Mackie ProFX16v2 Audio Mixer

The Mackie ProFX 16v2 is one of the more affordable analog mixers available, with essential features that include having 16 channels, multiple input options including a footswitch connection and 7-band graphic EQ.

This is essentially the budget friendly alternative to the other mixers in our buying guide, only this one is not streamlined - rather it packs quite a lot of extras including 16 mixer friendly effects and USB connectivity.

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Digital Audio Mixer

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Digital Audio Mixer

Presonus, who are known for their music production software, have successfully infiltrated the mixing console market with the StudioLive 16.0.2 digital mixer.

As the name implies, this mixer is designed to address the needs of both studio recording and live performances, having 16 channels, extensive EQ controls and Firewire computer connectivity. And what makes this mixer even more appealing is its reasonable price tag, allowing more musicians and sound engineers access to a true workhorse mixer at a lower price point.

Ibanez AC240 OPN 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Ibanez AC240 OPN 6 String Electric Guitar

All Mahogany guitars are very popular as evidenced by many of them rating so highly in this price bracket and higher ones as well.

One point of difference that this Ibanez guitar has are the Ibanez Advantage™ bridge pins which are designed to make them easier to remove and to put back in when you're changing strings

QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Subwoofer

QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Sub Woofer

QSC are one of the leading brands when it comes to powered PA speakers of all types and this includes their QSC KW18 powered subwoofer.

It comes with casters and a 36" mounting pole making it easy to position wherever you need it.

It's built tough with a birch plywood enclosure and 16 gauge steel grilles.

Ibanez AW54 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Ibanez AW54 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

The AW54 is also known as the AW54OPN or AW54 Open Pore Natural.

This is part of the Artwood series which Ibanez says is their "modern approach to acoustic guitar tradition" and it has an all Mahogany body including a solid Mahogany top.

Back in November 2016 we announced that this was the highest rated acoustic guitar under $200 with a street price of $199.99, and I can now confirm that as of January 2018 it remains the highest rated acoustic guitar under $200!

Epiphone DR-100 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Epiphone DR-100 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Epiphone says that the DR-100 has long been their top selling acoustic guitar and based on what we gleaned from our research this could well be the highest selling acoustic in its class.

For many years the DR-100 has been the choice of many as a student guitar and a low cost 'campfire' option - that's a term used to describe guitars you can take on camping trips without having to worry too much about getting it damaged as you would with an expensive guitar.

Jasmine S-34C 6 String Acoustic Guitar

Jasmine S-34C

Jasmine make a number of entry level guitars but none of them come close to being as popular or as highly rated as their S-34C model.

It has a street price around $100 and it was the only acoustic guitar in the sub $100 price range that had sufficiently high ratings for us to include in the first edition of our guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars and we're currently recommending it in our guide to Acoustic Guitars for Beginners.

Behringer VS1520 Passive PA Speaker 150W 15" Woofer

Behringer VS1520 Passive Loudspeaker 15" 150W

When it comes to entry level music related gear, Behringer is one the first brand names to come to mind. And it's not just about being cheap because the quality of their releases are getting better and better, while keeping their price ridiculously low.

The Behringer VS1520 shows they can do a reasonable of balancing cost with quality, with good features for small size venues having a 15" woofer and a 1.75" tweeter.

JBL PRX412M Passive PA Speaker - 1200W (600W RMS)

JBL PRX412M Passive PA Speaker - 600 Watt RMS

The JBL PRX412M speaker can get really loud, compared to other passive speakers with similar cone size. It has a very high peak capacity of 1200W, and like other JBL PRX speakers, each one has to pass a rigorous test which subjects the speaker to 100 straight hours of high level input.

JBL EON610 10" Powered PA Speaker with Bluetooth Control - 1000W

JBL EON610 Powered PA Speaker

The JBL EON 610 is a popular active loudspeakers , and while many use it as their main FOH speaker, a good many others have put it to good use as a stage monitor.

With its wedge shape, you can lay it on the floor and have a high headroom active monitor speaker that will be enough for even big stages and loud bands. And since it has a smaller 10" speaker, it has more clarity and sonic detail, making it great for vocals and instruments that do not require a lot of bass.

Peavey PV 12M Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

Peavey PV 12M Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

Peavey's passive speaker PV12M has good specs that translate well in actual use.

It features a 12" Sheffield Pro 1200+ woofer with a larger than usual 2.5" voice coil, and a 1.4-inch titanium-diaphragm compression, with a combined peak power of 1000W.

While it can be pole mounted, the PV 12M is specifically designed for floor wedge use, with its logo positioned horizontally. Thanks to its distinct trapezoidal enclosure, it can be angled at either 30 or 45 degrees from the floor.

Behringer Eurolive F1320D Powered Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

Behringer Eurolive F1320D Powered Monitor Speaker Cabinet

The Behringer Eurolive F1320D is a 300-watt (Peak) powered speaker that's specifically designed for stage monitor use.

While it can be set on a pole, the controls and the logo are positioned in such a way that works and looks great for floor monitor use. And since its from Behringer, you can expect that they pack in as many features as they can, including a 3-Band EQ, while sticking to a very accessible price tag.

Electro-Voice TX1152FM Tour-X 15" Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

Electro-Voice TX1152FM Tour-X 15" Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

One look at this passive speaker and you'll notice the difference, the tweeter and woofer have dedicated baffles. According to the company, this is designed to ensure that the sound coming from the two drivers are properly synchronized, resulting in a fuller and clearer sound for the one using the monitor.

With a peak power of 2000W and 15" LF Driver, this monitor is meant for handling louder mixes, including those with more bass.

M-Audio M-Track Eight - 8 Channel USB Audio Interface

M-Audio M-Track Eight

Introduced in 2000, M-audio is a popular brand that is well known for it's audio interfaces.

The M-Track Eight is the largest of M-Audio's M-track line and it delivers a straightforward no-frills 8 channels of mic preamp or line inputs. Each input channel has a dedicated gain control and level display and with a high headroom input that features M-Audio's Octane Preamp Technology. The two front inputs can be switched to allow Hi-Z instrument inputs such as guitar.

There are two headphone outputs with independent levels.

Komplete Audio 6 6-Channel USB Audio Interface

Komplete Audio 6 6-Channel USB Audio Interface

Native Instruments is another music software developer that has crossed over into the hardware side of the business, and have done so successfully with popular products like the Komplete Audio 6.

This 6-channel 24-bit/192kHz audio interface has been well received by both experts and home recording enthusiasts, thanks to its intuitive design.

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. NB: This has been superseded by the QSC K12.2.

QSC K10 10" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W (Discontinued)

QSC K10 10 inch 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

This is the 10 inch version of QSC's popular K series powered PA speakers.

It has received rave reviews, thanks to its excellent balance of sound quality, portability and reliability. With its 2000W Peak output power rating, the QSC K10 has plenty of headroom for most small to medium size venues, while maintaining studio monitor like clarity and sound detail. This premium sound quality is made possible by its quality components, directivity design and built-in DSP tuning, all of which work together seamlessly.

QSC K8 8" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W (Discontinued)

QSC K8 Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

The QSC K8 retains some of the features of its larger K10 & K12 siblings including the 1000W (Continuous) amplifier and 1.75" diaphragm compression driver.

RCF ART 310-A MK III 10" Powered PA Speaker

RCF ART 310-A MK III 10" Powered PA Speaker

The RCF ART 310-A MKIII is meant to be an active PA loudspeaker that can double as a reference monitor. To accomplish this, the speaker is equipped with two distinct voicings: flat and boost. The default setting is "flat", which is meant to be as transparent as possible so you here important details in the highs and mids without coloration and without the lows muddying up the signal. Pressing the boost button changes the voicing to offer more low end, making the speaker ideal for top use.

Turbosound Milan M12 12" Powered PA Speaker

Turbosound Milan M15  15" Powered PA Speaker

Acquired by Music Group (Behringer's mother company) back in 2012, UK-based Loudspeaker manufacturer Turbosound continues to produce quality loudspeakers.

The Milan 12 is their top rated speaker in the sub $500 price range, featuring a 12" woofer, 1" tweeter and a 1100W (Peak) amplifier. While it is primarily meant for FOH use, the Milan M12's input options allow it to work as a portable PA system for solo performers, and it can also serve as a stage floor monitor.

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

Roland UA-55 Quad-Capture

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.

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.