July 25, 2024


Buzz The Music

The Best Music Tech Equipment of 2023 – Editor’s Choice

The Best Music Tech Equipment of 2023 – Editor’s Choice


Warm Audio/Universal Audio

Choosing the best music tech equipment of 2023 is a difficult job. Gearnews editor Bob Malkowski chooses his top 5 picks of the year.

The Best Music Tech Equipment of 2023

If 2023 has proven one thing to me, it’s that in this industry, you never know what’s around the corner. We’ve seen an incredible diversity of products come to market at all price points. Interestingly, employing technologies both vintage and state-of-the-art.

In many ways, there’s never been a better time for you to shop for music tech gear. It’s astonishing the diversity of products on offer, as well as the sheer value for money that’s out there. As a result, it’s made my job of choosing the best music tech equipment of 2023 even harder!

I’ve found it to be a real challenge whittling down the year’s releases to just my top5. Nonetheless, after a lot of thought, I’ve done just that. I’ve used guiding criteria for putting this list together: I’m choosing gear that I’ve had hands-on use of. Equally, gear that I use regularly and often as part of my personal workflow.

Hand on heart, each of these choices represent my personal best music tech equipment of 2023

Universal Audio – Del Verb Ambience Companion

It’s been a remarkable year for Universal Audio who have given us a seemingly constant stream of products. Most notable has been their continued push and dedication towards effects pedals.

I’ve been fortunate enough to review several UAFX pedals this year. UAFX’s amp simulations are, for me, unrivalled and yet it’s not an amp sim pedal that’s made this year’s list…

Universal Audio Del Verb

The Del Verb Ambience Companion is one of those very rare products which delivered a WOW moment from the moment I plugged into it. It’s one of those very rare “magic boxes” where you can put in whatever you want and out the other side, you get something magical.

Additionally, when you look at the number of reverb and delay effects you get for your money, in one box, you can’t help but be impressed. I think what strikes me the most about the Del Verb though, is that it almost transcends being a box of emulations. I find myself thinking “I need to whack some Del Verb” on this.

If you’re looking for a fantastic-sounding ambience pedal, or you’re shopping for a reverb or delay pedal, then I urge you to try the Del Verb. I’ll even go as far as calling it a “modern classic”…


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Warm Audio WA-MPX

Warm Audio is another company that’s been on fire this year. We’ve been treated to all kinds of analogue goodies from microphones through to effects pedals and studio processors. It’s been difficult to decide which one of their releases to nominate for the best music tech equipment of 2023.

After deliberation, however, the WA-MPX tube mic-preamp is a very deserved winner. I first reviewed the WA-MPX in April 2023, and found it to exceed my expectations. Here was a tube mic pre-amp that was quieter than many solid-state preamps, had more headroom and had a big, round, girthy tone.

Warm Audio WA-MPX and WA-2MPX

What’s more, the WA-MPX is just so damn versatile. It’s become my go-to front end for all mono sources in my home studio. Vocals are the obvious application, but the WA-MPX also makes a fantastic Bass guitar DI box, too. Don’t forget that there’s also a dual-channel version available…

Perhaps the biggest reason I’m nominating the WA-MPX, however, is that it’s a genuinely credible “re-imagining” of a classic circuit. While heavily based upon the Ampex 351 preamp, it’s packaged into a format never previously available; unless you were prepared to rebuild and modify vintage tube circuitry, that is!

Cloning of vintage and boutique gear is a contentious subject. However, Warm Audio’s approach of bringing obsolete, unavailable and inaccessible gear to the masses is laudable. With its thoughtful and well-designed updates, the WA-MPX stands out as the best of Warm Audio’s releases of 2023


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GForce Software – Minimonsta 2

GForce is another company that has been behind quality release after release in 2023. We’ve unreservedly liked everything we’ve seen from GForce this year. However, one release in particular stood out for me, and that’s Minimonsta 2.

As per the original Minimonsta, Minimonsta 2 is based heavily upon the sound, architecture and aesthetic of the legendary Moog Minimoog. Rob Puricelli reviewed Minimonsta 2 back in February 2023 and commented the following:

All the finesse, simplicity and functionality of a Minimoog but with a range of enhancements to make it truly shine

Black Compact

In a sentence, I think Rob’s summed up what makes Minimonsta 2 so great; it’s a Minimoog but accessible and so much more versatile. Many of the limitations of the original hardware Minimoog are circumvented. For example, you have the option of a proper, four-stage ADSR envelope, dedicated filter and pitch LFO and so on.

From a songwriting perspective, I greatly appreciate the superbly curated bank of presets. You’ll find a wealth of inspirational sounds which act as a great springboard when writing. Minimonsta 2’s UI then makes it easy to tweak and save the sound to your preferences.

Of course, all of this would be superfluous if Minimonsta 2 didn’t sound any good. However, GForce’s modelling is spot on, sounding warm, fat and true to the original. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also polyphonic? Minimonsta 2 is one of those plugins I now consider to be an essential part of my toolkit.


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PreSonus Eris Studio 8

One of the most important aspects of any studio setup is your monitor speakers. And yet, it’s an area in which we can often be guilty of overlooking. A new pair of monitors will never be as exciting as a new synth or guitar, and yet they’re a deeply important part of your studio.

When PreSonus overhauled its Eris series of monitors in September 2013, it was substantial news. The Eris range offers a no-frills opportunity to buy well-specified studio monitors for extremely reasonable prices. I decided it was worth buying a pair of Eris Studio 8’s to see if the specs met reality.

The Eris Studio 8s do what they say on the tin, with no drama, no fuss and at a truly accessible price tag. Clean, relatively transparent monitoring with a wide bandwidth and serious, meaningful bass extension. If every home studio had accurate monitoring, the quality of everyone’s releases would improve overnight.

The PreSonus Eris Studio 8 make my list of best music tech equipment of 2023 because they remind us of something important: affordable, “utility” products are just as important to our industry and our art as shiny glamorous products.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Eris Studio 8 to anyone looking for a decent pair of monitors at a fair price.


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Two Notes Opus

And finally, one of the most surprising and most versatile products that have come across my desk in 2023. The Two Notes Opus is one of those products; packing an unbelievable amount of audio tools in something which literally fits in the palm of your hand.

I’ve been a fan and active user of Two Notes’ products for some time, but like many, wondered when we might see their first “end-to-end” modelling solution. Most companies would choose to debut a new technology with a high-end, expensive flagship product, but not Two Notes!

For the price of one boutique stomp-box, the Two Note Opus gives you an amp and cab sim unit, with a balanced DI output. It’ll also serve as a hardware IR loader and will accept signal input from instrument to speaker level.

What’s more, the Opus genuinely sounds and feels good! In my review in November 2023, I stated that The Two Notes Opus deserved to be in every gig bag. I absolutely stand by that; it’s such an amazingly useful tool at such a reasonable price. The Opus certainly would have “saved my bacon” on a few occasions over the years!


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Best Music Tech Equipment of 2023

So there you have it! My choices for best music tech equipment of 2023. Do you agree with my choices? Do you feel there were products more deserving of being on the list? If so, drop me a line in the comments!

As we look ahead to 2024, I’m excited to see what products we have coming around the corner. Don’t forget to bookmark our page on NAMM 2024, as I’ms sure we’ll see some very exciting releases coming just around the corner!

More Information

Image Sources:

  • Best Music Tech 2023: Warm Audio/Universal Audio
  • Classic reverbs and delays: UAFX
  • Meet the Warm Audio WA-MPX and WA-2MPX preamps!: Warm Audio
  • Minimonsta 2 Black Compact: GForce Software
  • Two Notes Opus 1: Two Notes

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