The Best New Gear of 2021: Effects, Electronic & Recording Gear

Despite the challenges the global pandemic poses to gear makers, musicians, and everyone else involved in the music gear industry, there was still an astonishing amount of innovative and useful music gear released in 2021.

Let's look at some of the truly exceptional releases—but don't just take our word for it. In each section below, we'll include some Reverb favorites, some favorites picked by others, and the new items Reverb users bought the most.

Effects Pedals

Andy Martin's top five pedals of 2021

Our resident pedal expert Andy Martin demoed more than 50 new effects boxes this year. What cracked his top five?

  1. EarthQuaker Devices Hizumitas
  2. Gamechanger Audio Light Pedal
  3. Jam Pedals Harmonious Monk
  4. JHS PackRat
  5. Benson Amps Germanium Fuzz

What Are Others' Favorites of 2021? The Guitar website split its faves between affordable and premium stompboxes. It named the Blackstar Dept 10 Dual Drive as its affordable winner, saying no other offered "more bang for your buck" than that all-in-one "pedalboard amp, guitar recording interface, overdrive pedal, virtual speaker simulation suite, and emergency gig-saver." The premium choice? Well, you might recognize it from Andy's list: the Benson Germanium Fuzz.

What's Everyone Buying?

As we reported in our "Best-Selling Pedals of 2021," the crowd's hands-down favorite this year is EarthQuaker Devices' Astral Destiny. Benefitting from a January release, it's still possible that the Hizumitas or another pedal might top it by the new year.

Synths & Electronic Gear

Fess' favorite new electronic gear of 2021

Our electronic gear host Fess Grandiose got to try out all sorts of synths, modules, and samplers this year. What were the top 10 releases for him?

  1. Roland SP-404MKII
  2. ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
  3. ModBap Modular Osiris
  4. Mutable Instruments Beads
  5. Novation Circuit Rhythm
  6. Erica Synths Matrix Mixer
  7. Golden Master
  8. Make Noise Strega
  9. Korg Modwave
  10. Noise Engineering Vice Virga

What Are Others' Favorites of 2021?

MusicRadar: MusicRadar's annual reader polls always offer up an interesting take on the year's best gear, artists, and online gear personalities. This year's winner for hardware synths is Sequential's Take 5, which the publication calls "essentially a Prophet-5 in a more compact and much cheaper chassis."

MusicTech: MusicTech, on the other hand, went bigger for its staff-picked hardware synth of the year—the Sequential Prophet-10 Rev4. Its choice for sampler/sequencer matched Fess' and many others, with the new 404.

What's Everyone Buying?

While our "Best-Selling Synths and Electronic Gear of 2021" lists were mostly dominated by products first released in previous years, Mutable Instruments Beads is the single-most popular new-to-2021 electronic instrument on Reverb.

Recording Gear

In partnership with Warm Audio, we demoed the WA-8000.

Back in October, we partnered with Warm Audio to break the news on the WA-8000, the company's affordable version of Sony's tony C-800G mic. A favorite of pop, hip-hop, and R&B vocalists, the C-800G can be found in high-end studios and Top 40 artists' personal mic lockers all around the world. The WA-8000 offers the same smooth, full-frequency response at about a tenth of the going price.

Again, you don't have to take our word for it. In its own review, Sound on Sound wrote out the pros and cons of the WA-8000. Pros include: "Successfully captures the essence of the original Sony C‑800G" and "Tight, consistent proximity effect." Cons? "None."

What Are Others' Favorites of 2021?

MusicTech: In its "Best Microphone of 2021" article, MusicTech picked another Warm Audio mic, the WA-87 R2 as its favorite of the year. This is the company's second take on the Neumann U 87, with a new profile that gives an "even more convincing U 87 sonic signature than before."

What's Everyone Buying?

This year, Universal Audio released its first line of affordable audio interfaces with the Volt series. While they've only been available for sale for a short time, the Volt 276 has been a favorite of Reverb buyers. A 2-in, 2-out interface, it includes a built-in 1176-style analog compressor that can add punch and color to drums, guitars, vocals, or anything else you record.

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