Music Gear Meta-Reviews

Gearank meta-reviews tell you what large numbers of musicians and experts have been saying about specific models/items to help you swiftly grasp their pros and cons in real-world use and situations.

Instead of being limited to one reviewer's opinion, you get expert analysis of the reviews, feedback, discussions and comments a multitude of owners and users have shared via store ratings, forum discussions, videos, blogs, articles and the like.

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)

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 - 4 Analog Inputs

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.

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 1-Channel 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 1-Channel Active 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 1-Channel 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.

Shure KSM8 Dualdyne Dynamic Handheld Microphone

Shure KSM8 Dualdyne Dynamic Handheld Microphone

While most claims for innovation are mostly hyped, the Shure KSM8's dual diaphragm design moving coil capsule is a genuinely new technology that achieves a wider sweetspot and reduces the dreaded proximity effect. This allows for more freedom of movement and positioning, while keeping the sound quality consistent.

This complex capsule design is a bit more sensitive and prone to damage, but since this mic is developed by Shure, you can be sure of reliability and durability.

Audio-Technica AT2010 Handheld Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2010 Handheld Cardioid Condenser Microphone

The AT2010 is a live vocal mic which has a design based on Audio-Technica's AT2020 studio mic and uses the same 16 mm low-mass diaphragm.

In fact this mic is rated more highly than its studio cousin and tops the rankings for sub-$100 live vocal microphones.

Monoprice 611705 Tube Guitar Combo Amp 5W 1x8

Monoprice 611705 Tube Guitar Combo Amp 5W 1x8

The Monoprice 611705 gives us genuine tube tones in an affordable and practice friendly package. It packs an all-tube 5 watt amplifier with 12AX7 preamp tube and a 6V6GT power tube for authentic old school tones.

Shure SM7B Studio Dynamic Vocal Microphone

The Shure SM7B Studio Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Used by big name artists such as Sheryl Crow, Sammy Hagar of Chickenfoot and System of a Down's Seri Tankjan just to name a few, the Shure SM7B continues to be one of the most in-demand and sought after vocal mics on the market today - both for recording and live performances.

Even the King of Pop Michael Jackson, who could have whatever microphone he wanted, recorded vocal parts of Thriller using the original SM7.

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Max Reverb Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Max Reverb Pedal

The Holy Grail Max is part of Electro-Harmonix popular line of reverb pedals, with this one carrying a few more features for sonic versatility while still keeping the interface and control options within old school territory.

For a pedal with a wide palette of reverb sounds, this pedal features a simplistic set of controls that allow for reverb type switching, and adjustments for the time and blend parameters.

Digitech Polara Reverb Pedal

Digitech Polara Reverb Pedal

The Polara reverb pedal features an interesting mix of classic and modern reverb types, and some of the algorithms are based on staple studio gear from Lexicon.

This interesting combination makes it a viable pedal for both the minimalist and those who want to experiment with the reverb effect.

EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V2 Reverb Pedal (Discontinued)

EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath Reverb Pedal

The EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is not your cookie cutter reverb pedal, it works more like a delay pedal that utilizes multiple short delays to create unique ambience. This makes it distinct from conventional reverb pedals that let you pick between expected reverb modes via switching algorithms.

This difference in design allows for interesting new sonic textures and ambience that are simply not possible with regular reverb pedals, it also means that some of the familiar reverb modes will not be available.

Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb Pedal

The Electro-Harmonix Cathedral is a versatile stereo reverb pedal, featuring 24-bit AD/DA conversion and true stereo input output compatibility.

It features 8 reverb algorithms, from old school reverb types like Hall, Room, Plate and Accu Spring, to modern algorithms that include Reverse, Grail Flerb, Grail Spring and Echo.

TC Electronic Hall Of Fame Reverb Pedal

TC Electronic Hall Of Fame Reverb Pedal

The list of virtuosi that have been associated with the Hall of Fame (HOF) Reverb pedal is impressively long, and full of familiar names that include Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Larry Carlton, John Scofield, Andy Summers, Steve Morse and many more.

While one can argue that endorsement plays a big role, we also have to consider that these guitarists are at the level where they can use any pro reverb gear they want, and yet they choose the HOF pedal.

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Ray4 4-String Bass Guitar (Discontinued)

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Ray4

"Sterling by Music Man" is a sub-brand of Ernie Ball Music Man, tasked to manufacture affordable instruments that can compete in the entry level market. The SUB Ray4 is one of their standout instruments, a more affordable version of the original Music Man Stingray bass, the popular bass that pioneered the use of built-in active EQ controls on production line bass guitars.

DigiTech RP1000 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor (Discontinued)

DigiTech RP1000

It's impressive how after over a decade, the DigiTech RP1000 still continues to be among the top rated multi-effects unit in the market. This longevity is mostly thanks to the RP1000's intuitive controls, pedal-friendly effects loop, and it's generous number of footswitches.

It lets you use up to 5 different effect types, of which there are 86 to choose from, more than enough to satisfy even the most experimental of players.

It also comes with 55 amp models and 26 cabinet models that you can mix and match to get your desired sound.

AKG C414 XLII Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

AKG C414 XLII Large-diaphragm Condenser Mic

Luther Vandross, Christ Martin (Coldplay) and Paul McCartney are just three of the many vocalists who have been seen using the AKG C414 on stage or in the studio. And rightly so because the AKG C414 is one of the most versatile in the market, with five polar patterns to choose from.

midiplus X4 mini 49-key MIDI Keyboard Controller

midiplus X4 mini MIDI Keyboard Controller

The midiplus X4 mini is a portable and compact MIDI controller that has a simple design with the essential features needed for sequencing MIDI.

It features transport and 4 assignable encoders, octave buttons, LED display, pitch bend, and modulation touchable strips.

M-Audio Keystation 49 II - 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (Discontinued)

M-Audio Keystation 49 MkII

The Keystation 49 II showcases a light-weight build with velocity sensitive synth-action keys.

This controller has transport and directional buttons that allow you to control your DAW, as well as an assignable slider for volume controls.

In addition to being class complaint, it is also compatible with iOS devices which adds to its portability and convenience, ideal for those who use an iPad for sequencing music on the go.

Alesis VX49 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (Discontinued)

Alesis VX49 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

The VX49 features a 4.3" full color high-resolution display screen that allows you to directly manage your DAW and virtual instruments plug-ins. It allows you to load up different synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines like a standalone workstation keyboard.

This MIDI controller also includes Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software that integrates with your computer and allows you to filter, select, and preview patches of any stored VST plug-ins.

CME Xkey Air 25-key Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard Controller

CME Xkey Air 25-key Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard Controller

The CME Xkey Air 25 is a portable 25-Key MIDI keyboard controller that does away with extra features, and focuses on playability and portability.

It is easily one of the most modern looking controllers in the market today, with its very slim and lightweight profile, which makes it easily stand out from the competition. Its thin profile makes it visually compatible with modern wireless computer keyboards, tablets and thin laptops. And like laptops, it comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that allows you to use it without having to drain the power of your mobile device.

Korg microKEY25 USB 25-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller

Korg microKEY25 USB 25-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller

The microKEY25 comes in a simple light-weight form that has the right amount of functional features.

It's technically Korg's smallest piano-style MIDI controller in terms of dimension, which makes it easy to carry around and saves space for other gear.

Compatible with Mac, iOS, and Windows operating systems, this USB-powered controller is easy to set-up with no driver installation needed.

Traveler LTD EC-1 Travel Guitar

Traveler LTD EC-1 VB Travel Guitar

Traveler Guitar teamed up with ESP LTD to develop the Traveler LTC EC-1 - a travel guitar version of ESP's LTD Eclipse.

It features the same single cutaway carved top body, albeit made smaller. It also sports the same neck specifications as its bigger sibling, with a 24.75" scale length and 1.625" nut width. This means that you get the same playing feel in a more portable instrument.

To give you authentic Eclipse tones, this guitar sports an ESP Designed ALH-200B Active Humbucker on the bridge position, which is powered by a single 9V battery.

Traveler Escape Mark III Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar

Traveler Escape Mark III

As the name implies, Traveler Guitars is a manufacturer that specializes in providing full-size guitar playability in a compact profile that fits into the overheard compartment of commercial planes.

The Traveler Escape Mark III offers full-size playability (25.5" Scale Length and 1.75" nut width) without the bulk and fragility associated with conventional acoustic guitars.

Cordoba Mini M Travel Acoustic Nylon String Guitar

Cordoba Mini M

The Cordoba Mini M is the travel guitar of choice for many nylon string players, with its miniature size and solid specs.

Speaking of solid, this portable nylon string guitar comes with a solid spruce top, which is quite special given its price tag.

And while the body size follows after traditional parlor shape, the neck offers classical playability courtesy of its 1.96" wide nut, but with a shorter scale length of 20.7".

Fender MA-1 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar

Fender MA-1 Acoustic Guitar

The Fender MA-1 is a 3/4 size acoustic guitar with a traditional "Parlor" guitar shape.

It is primarily meant for students, but it has proven to be a good grab-and-go instrument for experienced players who are always on the move.

The specs don't promise anything out of the ordinary, rather it utilizes cheap tonewoods like agathis for the top and sapele for the back and sides.

Still, this guitar continues to gather good reviews from players who point to its compact size, playability, build quality and ridiculously low price.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD Audio Interface

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

The U-Phoria UMC204HD audio interface gives you two channels to work with, along with complementary features that you'd usually expect on more expensive units.

With its MIDAS-designed mic preamps and 24-bit/192kHz AD/DA conversion, you get the same sound quality as their popular mixers, but in a more portable form factor and at a mere fraction of the cost.

Each channel comes complete with essential controls, including dedicated gain knobs, Line/Instrument level switches, audio signal pad switches, and a headphones volume knob.

Korg microKEY2 37 Mini-Key MIDI Controller

Korg microKEY2 37 Mini-Key MIDI Controller

Korg's microKEY2 is the second generation controller based on the original microKEY.

Similar features retained from the first generation are its compact size, simple design, and basic controls, while new features added to this version include iOS support via Apple Camera Connection kit (sold separately) and an assignable damper pedal jack.

TC Helicon Voicetone Mic Mechanic 2 Vocal Effects Pedal

TC Helicon Voicetone Mic Mechanic 2 Vocal Effects Pedal

The TC-Helicon VoiceTone Mic Mechanic 2 is a compact pedal that's meant to fine tune and improve your vocals.

It does away with fancy bells and whistles, and sticks to essentials like reverb, echo, pitch correction, and TC-Helicon's Adaptive Tone technology, which intelligently tweaks compression, EQ, de-essing and gating as you perform to improve the resulting sound.

For more control over the ambience of your voice, the pedal offers a total of 8 reverb and echo presets, including variations of Room, Studio, Hall and Delay.

TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Vocal Effects Processor Pedal (Discontinued)

TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Vocal Effects Procesor Pedal

TC-Helicon continues to be the go-to effect pedal brand for vocalists, with artists like Depeche Mode, Mr. Big, the late George Michael and many more endorsing their products. As proof of this, VoiceLive 3 is still the among the most sought after vocal effects pedal, even with the arrival of newer units from TC-Helicon and other manufacturers.

Alesis Forge Kit Electronic Drum Set (Discontinued)

Alesis Forge Electronic Drum Set

This is among the most feature-packed sets in the sub $500 price range, and it also includes drum sticks.

It has quite a lot of pre-set kits, user configurable kits, and sounds for the price.

The snare and toms have rubber heads that have a relatively natural response which are all mounted on a 4-post chrome plated aluminum rack which has plenty of strength while remaining relatively light-weight. The kick tower pad is also large enough to use a double kick pedal with it.

Yamaha DTX400K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set (Discontinued)

Yamaha DTX400K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

The Yamaha DTX400K is a worthy entry level electronic drum kit which comes with many features to help you learn and improve your drumming.

It's the cheapest of Yamaha's DTX entry-level range and some of the savings have come about by only including single zone drums - the next step up, the DTX450K, improves upon that with a 3 zone snare.

Alesis Nitro Kit - 8 Piece Electronic Drum Set (Discontinued)

Alesis Nitro Kit - 8 Piece Electronic Drum Set

Back in 2016, our research showed that the Alesis Nitro Kit was by far the most popular electronic drum set in the sub $500 price range. It was also the highest rated set under $300 by quite a wide margin - leaving all other options in this price bracket so far behind that it's the only one that got our recommendation for the sub $300 price at the time.

In addition to coming with a snare, hi-hats, kick and 3 toms it also has 2 additional 2-zone inputs on the module to allow for future expansion - you can use these for extra toms or cymbals.

Yamaha DXS12 12" 600W Powered Subwoofer (Discontinued)

Yamaha DXS12 - front and back views

This 12" subwoofer from Yamaha uses their built in D-XSUB low frequency processing technology, which they say produces a stronger bottom end than you would expect from a 12" driver.

With its relatively smaller woofer and 600W RMS power rating, this subwoofer reproduces more sonic detail at the cost of losing some ultra low thump.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen USB Audio Interface 2-Channel (Discontinued)

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen USB Audio Interface 2-Channel

Focusrite continued their market dominance with the 2nd generation Scarlett series of audio interfaces, which included the immensely popular Scarlett 2i2. Focusrite says it is, "The best selling USB audio interface in the world".

This 2nd Gen version features upgraded A/D resolution of 24-bit/192kHz, lower latency, improved instrument input and improved hardware.

Having said all that, the Focusrite mic preamp within the unit is still its main standout feature, as it is still highly regarded by many for its sound quality.

Sennheiser XSW 72 Instrument Set Wireless Guitar System (Discontinued)

Sennheiser XSW 72 Instrument Set Wireless Guitar System

The Sennheiser XSW 72 is a wireless system designed for use in small to medium size venues, which cover most of the venues that guitarists play in, including bars, coffee shops, churches and more.

The transmitter comes in the form of a body pack with Sennheiser's locking cable that secures the connection of your guitar and body pack and it runs on two AA batteries which give you up to 10 hours of operation.

TC Electronic BG250-115 MKII Bass Combo Amplifier (Discontinued)

TC Electronic BG250-115 MKII Bass Combo Amplifier

So, right off the bat this amp is a bit out there. If you’re a traditionalist, or you want a plug and play amp, this is not the piece of gear for you. On the other hand, if you’re willing to put the time into fiddling with it you may be surprised at the value this amp presents.

Fender Rumble 40 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

Fender Rumble 40 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

The Fender Rumble 40 V3 is a significantly different amp compared to its smaller sibling, the Rumble 25. While the circuit itself is the same, there are extra controls to change the amp’s voicing. The key to the versatility this amp possesses are the EQ switches. The amp has a contour switch (changes the mid-range profile), vintage (gives the amp a warmer tone), and bright (enhances the high-end). When one of these switches are engaged you can use the EQ knobs to further change the amp’s tone.

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Closed-Back Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Closed-Back Headphones

The ATH-M30x are another affordable pair from Audio-Technica's M-series range. They have a strong mid-range definition tuned for detailed audio monitoring. In terms of build, their circumaural design provides good sound isolation in loud environments. Their collapsible design provides space-saving portability and makes them ideal for field recording. The 40mm neodymium magnet drivers deliver accurate frequency response important for tracking or mixing.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Closed-Back Studio Headphones

The ATH-M20x monitor headphones are an upgrade to the ATH-M20, and were launched along with upgrades to the entire ATH series. These headphones feature a modern design built with pro-grade materials without neglecting comfort. Its neodymium drivers with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils reproduce detailed low-frequency responses.

Empress Effects Analog Compressor Pedal (Discontinued)

Empress Effects Analog Compressor Pedal

The Empress Effects Analog Compressor is an interesting piece of equipment. Billing itself as a “studio grade compressor” it claims to have a sound quality that rivals the famed rack-mount units you’d find in a professional studio. Whether or not this is true is a matter of personal taste, but if you’re a guitarist or bass guitarist looking for a professional-quality compressor you can’t go wrong here.

Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compressor Pedal (Discontinued)

Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compressor Pedal

The Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compressor is an interesting piece of gear. The pedal utilizes optical compression, and allows you to switch between two different light sources. When used in LED mode, you get a reduction in compression and a faster attack and release.. The inverse happens when the pedal is in lamp mode, so you get more compression but a slower attack and release.

Seymour Duncan Vise Grip Guitar Compressor Pedal

Seymour Duncan Vise Grip Studio Grade Guitar Compressor Pedal

This pedal is arguably one of the best available for those of you who want a lot of control over how your tone is affected by your compression pedal. The most interesting feature of the Vise Grip is that you can control which unaffected frequency range is introduced back into your signal when you use the pedal’s blend knob.

Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Micro Guitar Compressor/Sustain Pedal

Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Micro Guitar Compressor/Sustain Pedal

The Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone is geared towards musicians willing to pay a premium for a superior tone and a more flexible pedal. It’s not a good fit for someone just looking for basic compression, but if you’re looking to gig consistently the Philosopher’s Tone is worth serious consideration.

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Guitar Compressor Pedal

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Guitar Compressor Pedal

The most important thing to know about this compressor is that it colors your tone, and some musicians feel that it does so pretty drastically. To our ears it seems to add in a twangy mid-range hump, which is likely why it’s been such a fixture in the country guitar scene for the last few decades.

D'Addario PW-GPKIT-10 DIY Solderless Pedalboard Guitar Patch Cable Kit

D'Addario DIY Solderless Pedalboard Patch Cable Kit

Since pedals come in different shapes and sizes, you will sometimes need patch cables of different lengths.

This is where the D'Addario DIY Solderless Pedalboard Patch Cable Kit comes in, as it allows you to custom cut a 10' foot cable to the exact sizes that you want. And as the name implies, you can easily attach the cables to the right angle plugs without the need for soldering tools or experience.

Donner Guitar Pedal Coupler 4-Pack

Donner Guitar Pedal Coupler 4-Pack

The Donner Guitar Pedal Coupler 4-Pack is a simple and practical solution for connecting pedals with jacks that are of the same height.

They are essentially two 1/4" plugs combined together back to back, eliminating the need for a cable to save even more space and cost.

For added eye candy they come with a nice gold finish that will add some elegance to your floorboard rig.

Planet Waves Classic Series Guitar Patch Cable 6" 3-Pack

Planet Waves PW-CGTP Classic Series Guitar Patch Cable 6"

The Planet Waves Classic Series patch cable is easily one of the most popular in the market today, thanks to its simplicity and affordability.

There's nothing out of the ordinary with its specs, and even its appearance is straightforward.

But what it lacks in extras, it makes up for with its build quality, which translates into durability and reliability. This is all thanks to its molded strain relief and nickel-plated plugs, which give it the ability to handle the rigors of traveling and performances.

AKG K702 Reference Studio Headphones - Open-Back

AKG K702 Reference Studio Headphones - Open-Back

The AKG K702 is a set of studio reference headphones that are equipped with a 3D-foam earpads to provide comfort for long wearing sessions.

The flat-wire voice coils and patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm provides a reasonably accurate level of frequency response making them suitable for precision listening, mixing and mastering.

TASCAM TH-02 Studio Headphones

The EQ sensitivity and relatively flat frequency response (for headphones this cheap) of the TASCAM TH-02 provides a somewhat clear and balanced sound.

The natural highs, clear mid-range, and rich lows are what make them comparable to some of the more expensive alternatives.

Both left and right ear-cups have a full 90-degree rotation and their folding design allows for compact and easy transport. They are suitable for either studio use or casual listening to music.

elysia xpressor 500 Series Stereo Compressor

This 500-series version of elysia's xpressor rackmount is a stereo compressor based on a Class A discrete circuitry. Its circuitry makes its transistors always conductive resulting in less crossover distortion and giving it a wide, open and punchy sonic base.

This universal compressor's switchable semi-automation lets you set the perfect attack that influences the attack parameter on short and loud impulses.

Its log release feature follows a logarithmic course to provide a gentle kind of compression instead of a standard linear progress.

Alesis Coda Pro 88-Key Digital Piano (Discontinued)

Alesis Coda Pro

The Coda Pro helps Alesis maintain its position as a serious contender in this market, thanks to its extra features which include five different chorus effects, five reverbs and there's even a built-in EQ setting for shaping your sound.

But what makes it a crowd favorite are the many student and teacher friendly features that include having two headphone outputs, a built-in lesson mode, and metronome.

Being a true digital piano, all of its 88 keys are fully weighted for acoustic piano like playing feel.

Korg MicroArranger Portable Keyboard 61 Key (Discontinued)

Korg MicroArranger Portable Keyboard

From its humble beginnings in 1962, Korg is now one of the biggest music gear producers in the world. The MicroArranger is a reasonably priced portable keyboard with "arranger" features built-in.

The Korg MicroArranger is more than just a practice and performance keyboard, it is also a powerful music production tool. It is part of the company's line of keyboard arrangers which normally require a more premium price tag.

Yamaha YPG-235 Portable Keyboard 76-Key (Discontinued)

Yamaha YPG-235

The YPG-235 portable keyboard exemplifies Yamaha's student friendly design, combining good playability and practice enhancing features while keeping the price accessible.

It features 76 graded hammer piano style keys that better resembles the playing feel of an acoustic piano, and give you more notes to play with compared to the usual 61-key configuration keyboards in this price range.

It also lets you utilize various sounds to play a variety of musical styles, keeping practice fun and interesting.

Casio CTK-2400 Portable Keyboard 61 Key (Discontinued)

Casio CTK-2400

Casio has produced a good number electronic devices, the most popular of which include affordable electronic keyboards. They continue to capture a big chunk of the competitive entry level keyboard market with their impressive ability to pack as many features as they can into budget friendly priced instruments, while keeping the quality high.

A great example of this is the CTK-2400, a super affordable portable keyboard that is packed with many practical features that beginners and upstarts will appreciate, including 400 voices, 150 rhythms and the step up learning system.

Casio CTK-4400 Portable Keyboard 61 Key (Discontinued)

Casio CTK-4400

The Casio CTK-4400 is a versatile and affordable portable keyboard with switchable touch sensitivity levels, wide sound library and other extra features.

The ability to choose between two sensitivity levels is impressive given its price tag, allowing you to tweak the feel of the keybed to match your playing style.

On top of that, the CTK-4400 gives you a staggering number of sounds to play with, totaling 600, which is more than enough for most styles of music.

Pyle Pro PDKM7 Drum Microphone Kit (7 Mics)

This is a budget option which is quite popular despite some of the cheaper materials used.

The PDKM7 from Pyle Pro Audio contains five dynamic drum microphones, two condenser microphones and drum mount accessories. It includes a lightweight carry case that protects the microphones and allows quick setup and safe transport.

Lewitt DTP Beat Kit Pro 7 Drum Microphone Kit (7 Mics)

The DTP Beat Kit Pro 7 from Lewitt is a high-end set of drum mics recommended by audio engineers for professional use.

It contains a dual-element cardioid DTP 640 REX, three DTP 340 TT dynamic mics, two LCT 340 condenser mics and one MTP 440 DM cardioid dynamic microphone.

The DTP 640 REX kick mic has a dual design with both a dynamic and a condenser microphone capsule. It has switchable frequency response settings for a rich or flat sounding kick drum.

Presonus AudioBox 22VSL 24-Bit/96 kHz 2x2 USB 2.0 Audio Interface (Discontinued)

Presonus AudioBox 22VSL

The Presonus Audiobox 22VSL is a straightforward 2-channel interface that thrived in the entry-level market.

At its core is its distinguishing feature, two XMAX preamps that run on 30V power rails, higher than the usual 10V to 18V that other preamps use. This increased voltage results in more headroom and translates into a richer overall sound, that many users approve of.

Roland DUO-Capture EX UA-22 USB Audio Interface (Discontinued)

Roland DUO-Capture EX UA-22 USB Audio Interface

The Roland 2-channel DUO-Capture EX UA-22 is highly rated for its portability. It can run on 3 x AA batteries, which allows it to work with mobile devices even in locations where a power outlet is unavailable. The use of batteries is especially useful when pairing the DUO-Capture with laptops, tablets and other mobile computing devices. Traditional power options like USB bus power and AC Adapter (sold separately) are also available so you only use batteries when its actually needed.

MXL 3000 Condenser Microphone (Discontinued)

MXL 3000

MXL knows how to combine useful features with affordable production, resulting in good quality affordable microphones. The MXL 3000 is a great example, with its large 25mm gold-sputtered capsule that is designed for miking vocals and instruments alike. Working in conjunction with its built-in FET preamp and transformer coupled output, this mic is capable of replicating the warmth of old recording without the bloated price tag that others usually ask for.

Blackstar HT Club 40 Guitar Tube Combo Amp 40W 1x12 (Discontinued)

Blackstar HT Club 40 Tube Guitar Combo Amp 40W 1x12

Thanks to ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) technology, Blackstar is able to expand the possible tones that you can get from an amp, and do so without stripping it of genuine tube elements.

The HT Club 40 is a great example of what this technology can do, this gig-ready tube amplifier has all the traditional features, while having comparable versatility to a digital amp modeler.

With 40 watts of power, two ECC83 and two EL34 tubes, and a 12" Celestion speaker, this amp has juice for professional gigging.

Bugera V55 Infinium Tube Guitar Combo Amp 55W 1x12

Bugera V55 Infinium

Bugera made it possible to own a feature packed 55W tube amp in the sub $500 price range with the V55 Infinium.

This two channel amp features a multi-gain preamp stage with three 12AX7 tubes, while a pair of 6V6 tubes drive the output. And it doesn't end with just tubes, because this amp comes with essential gigging features that include having two independent channels, a complement of EQ knobs, a switchable reverb and a boost switch for even more gain.

Moog MF Minifooger Chorus Pedal (Discontinued)

Moog Minifooger MF Chorus Pedal

The Minifooger Chorus Pedal is an interesting piece of equipment. It’s not quite like anything else currently on the market, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what it is you’re looking for.

Dunlop DVP1 Volume XL Pedal (Discontinued)

Dunlop DVP1 Volume XL Pedal

The Dunlop DVP1 Volume XL is a pretty standard volume pedal all things considered, with its two defining features being its large footprint and its torque screw. When we say “large footprint”, what we mean is that when compared to other pedals of this design the DVP1 is on the larger side. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your pedal board and preferences.

Keeley 4 Knob Compressor Pedal (Discontinued)

Keeley 4 Knob Compressor Pedal

Company founder Robert Keeley was once known for modifying mass produced pedals to make them sound good, first of which was a Ross compressor. Fast forward to today, Keeley electronics has grown into a manufacturer of original design pedals, which include their popular 4 Knob Compressor.