10 most innovative music-making products of 2009

15th Oct 2009 | 15:59

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Eigenlabs Eigenharp
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Last week the MusicRadar community rewarded innovation in music-making by choosing the Best New Product of 2009 at the MIA Awards. The victorious 'trio' (yes, that's a clue) were more than worthy winners, but it's the cutting-edge list of runners-up which this gallery pays homage to.

The 10 coolest, most-imaginative new music-making releases of the year as voted for by you. First up: The cosmic oboe...

... or the space bassoon, or the sci-fi tuba - whatever you want to call it, the Eigenharp is certainly a unique piece of kit, and one which its manufacturer believes to be "the most revolutionary new musical instrument of the last 60 years".

While the jury's still out on that claim, the Eigenharp does feature keys, a breath pipe and two strip controllers and comes with its own native soundsets and MIDI-enabling USB 2.0 connection. And, although it arrived slightly too late for inclusion in Ask MusicRadar's poll, it's done enough to warrant a place in our countdown on futuristic looks alone!

Definitely one to watch in 2010. For now, see it in video here, or check out the gallery of close-ups here.

Next: DW Eco-X Project Kit

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
DW Eco-X Project Kit
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

There’s nothing particularly innovative about a shell made from equal amounts of birch and bamboo, but when both materials come from sustainable sources, it’s a rare opportunity for drummers to publicly display their green credentials. That, and the Eco-X drums are around 30 percent cheaper than the Collector's Series equivalents!

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“While the kit represents a substantial saving on an equivalent custom version, it's still a lot of money. That said, it's an impressive set of drums capable of producing quality sounds with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly.” (Read the full DW Eco-X Project Kit review)

Your votes:

"DW Eco-X Kit - when the world is falling apart around us, we should celebrate any product with an environmental conscious!." (From Tom via email, thanks)

Next: Novation Automap for iPhone

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Novation Automap for iPhone
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

MusicRadar scooped an exclusive video of Novation’s Automap iPhone App at LIMS 09 - not only was it one of the most affordable new products at the show (and on this list!), it was also one of the most intriguing. In short, it takes the Automap technology from the SL and Nocturn hardware controllers and puts it on your iPhone or iPod touch, enabling you to adjust your music software’s controls in the palm of your hand.

MusicRadar's verdict:

“As well as enabling you to tweak plug-ins, the new app can also put you in control of your DAW, and looks to have considerable potential as a live performance tool. Although there’s certainly novelty value attached to this thing, it’s no toy, either.” (Watch the Novation Automap for iPhone video)

Your votes:

“Novation Automap 3 iPhone App.” (Thanks, MarkMosher)

"There's not many apps I would pay for but the Automap one is well worth it IMHO." (Thanks, Rob)

Next: Roland AX-Synth

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Roland AX-Synth
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

Roland first entered the keytar market with the SH-101 in 1983, so the AX-Synth is far from being a new concept. However, releasing a revised version for a young market obsessed with the sounds and fashion of the ’80s is a stroke of genius, and as cutting edge as any other idea we’ve seen this year.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The AX-Synth is great fun to use, it looks fantastic and the onboard sounds are a real bonus and are generally very useable. We want one!” (Read the full Roland AX-Synth review)

Your votes:

“The AX-Synth is the best music-making product of 2009. Just ask Brett Domino! (from Vince via Facebook, thanks)”

"You gotta alove the Keytar!" (Thanks, Pete)

Next: Sonic Charge Synplant

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Sonic Charge Synplant
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

Synthesizers have rarely stepped off the familiar path of oscillator, filter and amp over the last 20-odd years… until Synplant dumped all familiarities in favour of a “genetic approach” to sound design in 2009! Learn how to plant the ‘seed’ here.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“It could have ended up in the little shop of synth horrors, but Synplant has flourished into a superb, prize-winning specimen - superb sounds with a gorgeous, inspirational interface.” (Read the full Sonic Plant Synplant review)

Your votes:

“SonicCharge Synplant.” (Thanks, MarkMosher)

"In terms of innovation, Synplant has impressed me more than most in the past year." (Thanks, Jimmy)

Next: Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive Pedal

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive Pedal
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

The Demon Drive is a major departure from Pearl's Eliminator, and from the chain drive pedals that have ruled the roost since the 1980s. Why? Because it has a direct, rigid-link drive on a par with the well-established Axis pedal. But it’s the sheer versatility (there are eight basic settings) and use of NiNjA skateboard bearings that give the Demon its innovative edge.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“As each new generation emerges, with increasingly accurate skills, gear must keep pace. The Demon pedal is Pearl's comprehensive response to that challenge - adaptable, precise and mightily impressive - just be absolutely sure that direct drive really is the salvation you're looking for before shelling out.” (Read the full Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive P-3002D review)

Your votes:

“Give it to Pearl for the Demon Drive pedal because every drummer I know keeps banging on about how great it is. And I know a lot of drummers.” (Thanks, rabbitrabbit)

"The Demon Drive deserves some credit." (Thanks, Mark)

Next: Yamaha NX Guitars

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Yamaha NX Guitars
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

It’s fair to say that the announcement of Yamaha’s NX series nylon-string electric acoustics at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2009 confounded more than a few people. Those expecting a traditional approach (the company has been making nylon-string ‘classical’ instruments since 1952) were greeted with a narrower nut, smaller fingerboard radius (perfect for modern electric types) and a fantastic purpose designed pickup/preamp system. It’s no wonder Rodrigo y Gabriela like ‘em so much…

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The Japanese giant might have redefined the nylon-string electric genre here. We’re not saying these are the ‘best’ out there but, to date, we’ve not heard a plugged-in electro nylon that, price-for-price, sounds better across such a broad stylistic range. Go try one.”

Your votes:

"The NX guitars are new and Yamaha are trying to do something new with them. As a classical guitarist - they get my vote." (From Mick via email, thanks)

Next: Propellerhead Software Record

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Propellerhead Software Record
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Why is it innovative?

Reason is perhaps the definitive self-contained electronic music programming suite. However, if you wanted to extend your productions to include audio tracks, your only real option has been to use a separate DAW… until Propellerhead Record came along. This multitrack audio system offers real-time multiple sample rate support (you can combine file types within a session and they'll all play correctly), automatic timestretching and BPM-tagging. Find out how both products ‘merge’ perfectly here.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“It's at its best when used alongside Reason, but this is a very solid start for Record. A rock-solid audio engine with an easy, familiar workspace.” (Read the full Propellerhead Software Record review)

Your votes:

“Propellerhead’s Record is great, the Props are doing what they do best. The SSL mixer makes it cool, there's no doubt it'll be usable, it's definitely inspiring, and it's definitely released this year, the shrink wrap won't even be officially off till September, so it's fresher than fresh!! So… you don't need to look any further now, do you? :-)” (Thanks, bikesource)

“Propellerheads Record too :)” (Thanks, matisq)

Next: Akai APC40

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Akai APC40
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

Although Novation’s Launchpad has since arrived to steal some of Akai’s thunder, the APC40 was the first ‘official’ Ableton Live controller, setting the benchmark for performance (that's why there's a P in the title, after all). As a piece of hardware, it's not revolutionary by any means, but like the Reason/Record partnership before, it’s the marriage of hardware and Live software that excels.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Amazing buttons, no-brainer setup, a hefty build-quality and a great balancing act between price and function - it’s the Live controller everybody now has to beat.” (Read the full Akai APC40 review)

Your votes:

“Akai APC40.” (Thanks, MarkMosher)

"Loving the APC40." (Thanks, JonS)

Next: the winner!

10 most innovative music-making products of 2009
Korg nanoSeries
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Why is it innovative?

From Korg’s grand unveiling last summer via MusicRadar’s exclusive first look and full, in-depth reviews, right up until Akai’s ‘nano-inspired’ mini MIDI controllers one year on, it’s fair to say that the nanoSeries’ arrival got - and kept - the music-making industry talking.

The small size and streamlined design of each controller screams “why didn’t anyone do this before?!” - and it’s this pocket-sized, pack-up-and-play approach that’s made the nanoSeries such a hit with computer (particularly laptop-based) musicians. Congratulations, Korg!

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The nanoKontrol may well be the smallest mixing device ever created: it offers surprisingly good sensitivity and an impressive, functionality-enhancing Kontrol Editor. The nanoPad’s Flam and Roll buttons and X-Y pad are also worthy additions to the list of highlights and, while the nanoKey slightly disappoints, all three members of the nanoSeries family are super-portable and ridiculously affordable.” (Read the full Korg nanoKontrol, nanoKey and nanoPad reviews)

Your votes:

“Korg nanoPads should win this.” (Thanks, spoonking)

"+1 for Korg nanos." (Thanks, Phil)

"The nanoSeries will probably win this because they are small and pretty cool looking." (From Ben via email, thanks)

Korg said:

Speaking to MusicRadar, Korg's Managing Director, Rob Castle, was suitably chuffed: "The Nanos have been a great success and we are particularly proud of the Best New Product award as it was voted for by members of the public." He means you, people! (Read the full list of 2009 MIA Award winners)

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