Gear of the Year 2013: Clean Capturing & DAWs

It’s that time of the year again – that time where we cast an eye backwards to the past 12 months with all of its ups and downs, and settle on what new kit is worthy of the prestigious Audio Media Gear of the Year seal.

The Audio Media team spent a good chunk of 2013 at trade shows, in studios, and at live productions and have seen, first hand, what has made the cut this year.

Along with the continued support of our cast of reviewers who have worked tirelessly putting everything from plug-ins and DAWs to consoles, mics, and monitors through their paces we’ve compiled a final list of 20 products that we think have risen above the rest whether it’s for functionality, features, looks, or, more than ever, price/performance ratio.

Have a look through the list and tell us what you think on Twitter using #AMGearoftheYear.

Clean Capturing:

Audio-Technica AT5040

A new evolution in studio microphone technology, the debut of Audio-Technica’s flagship in the new 50 series, the AT5040, caught quite a few people off-guard with its four rectangular diaphragm design. The innovative quad-element capsule is designed to capture an incredibly pure and natural sound and it does just that with the help of an advanced internal shock mounting that effectively decouples the capsule from the microphone’s body.

(Read the review in Audio Media August 2013.)

The bottom line:

“With a crazy new diaphragm design that’s twice the size of other regular vocal mics this has got to be one of the best sounding mics I’ve come across. Extreme low end, extreme detail and presence, and with a cool, innovative new mic schockmount clamp design to math.”

Alan Branch, Grammy award-winning producer and engineer

DPA d:facto II

Walking the fine line between studio and live, DPA’s d:facto series has steadily been gaining ground in both markets for its clear sound reproduction and solid, Danish manufacturing. The latest iteration, the d:facto II, continues this tradition and is equally at home both in the studio or on stage. With SPL handling of up to 160dB, the mic can handle almost anything thrown at it while maintaining a smooth and rich tonal quality.

(Read the review in Audio Media April 2013.)

The bottom line:

“DPA does not disappoint. The build quality and precision engineering is artful and obvious. The exactness of the machining is quite stunning, beautifully made in Denmark with obvious pride.”

Ben Burns, live sound engineer


Avid Pro Tools 11

A complete rewrite and restructure of the existing Pro Tools software, Avid’s latest version of its industry-standard Pro Tools software is built to take advantage of the hardware available today. A new 64-bit architecture and a completely redesigned audio engine deliver multiple times the processing power of Pro Tools 10. While some have felt the growing pain with their favourite plug-ins not yet available in the new AAX format, the benefits (including offline bounce) far outweigh the negatives.

(Read the review in Audio Media May 2013.)

The bottom line:

“Pro Tools 11 brings next generation speed, power, and architecture to the industry giant. Including the Avid Media Composer, offline bounce, and dynamic allocation are the deal clinchers for post.”

Mike Aiton, owner, Mikerophonics Post

Apple Logic Pro X

Eagerly anticipated for four years, Apple’s new Logic Pro X is an evolution of its previous version that adds some unique features to an otherwise very powerful DAW. While retaining all of the functionality of Logic Pro 9, X’s big new features include a more intuitive layout, track stacking, flex pitch, MID effects, a virtual Drummer, and the all-new Logic Remote iPad app.

(Read the review in Audio Media September 2013.)

The bottom line:

“More evolution that revolution, Logic Pro X brings pitch editing, a friendly auto-drummer, and a new interface to Apple’s flagship DAW.”

Stephen Bennett, musician, engineer, writer