Best Of 2018: FX And Music Accessories

It's not all about instruments - the FX and accessories you choose for your studio can transform it and help make your tracks sound even better. Here are the best released in 2018.  

Elektron Analog Heat MkII

The newest upgrade to Elektron's Analog Heat stereo analog distortion hardware brings smoother, more accurate encoders, enhanced live performance features and more. The Analog Heat MkII has received a new OLED screen, which is great for performing in clubs and other areas where there is little light, as well as new buttons, which have been upgraded to be backlit - also helpful in dim environments.

There are also new encoders, which are much smoother than before, and the Overbridge software for DAW integration of course. Heat is a piece of gear you won’t regret adding to your arsenal - it all comes down to workflow and how much you value the personal connection that hardware brings when compared to software.

Eventide EuroDDL Delay

Eventide's first Eurorack module is the EuroDDL, a multi talented delay unit. EuroDDL's default sample rate is 192khz and it can handle delay times anywhere from 0.11ms to 10 seconds at that rate. The sample rate can be adjusted in 16 steps down to a lo-fi 12khz, respectively bringing delay times up to 160 seconds. Aside from "regular" delay, EuroDDL contains an analog low pass filter that can be applied to the feedback loop, a 20db drive toggle on the input, as well as reverse and infinite looping toggle buttons. Phase inversion is also available and can make a difference with millisecond long delay times.

Finally, send and return jacks let you insert external effects into the feedback loop. To top it off, the onboard display is extremely useful in establishing timing, tempo and visualizing the impact of CV modulation. The module is fairly straightforward and a one-page manual makes understanding the lay of the land quick and easy.

IK Multimedia Leslie

A bit of a curve ball here, but the Leslie speaker effect isn’t just for organs - it can be applied to almost anything for creative and unusual results. This software effect contains 11 officially certified Leslie models consisting of 5 Amps (Leslie 147, 122 vintage; Leslie 122A - brand new tube; Leslie 3300w new hybrid and Leslie G-37/Studio 12 brand new hybrid) and 6 rotary-speaker cabinets (Leslie 147, 122, 122A; Leslie 3300w, Leslie G-37, Leslie Studio 12). The company’s Dynamic Interaction Modeling technology has been used to capture the many nuances of the system’s behaviour.

The Leslie effects sound amazing - naturally, on Hammond organs they are at their most recognisable. They swirl and bite, faithfully capturing the soul and grit of that classic rotary speaker effect. Hugely customisable, it’s easy to tweak and tailor the sound, moving mics, swapping modules and mixing as you go. When working in a DAW, realtime parameter changes are easy enough to program using automation. If playing live, you’ll want the Amplitube version so you can assign physical pedals to the various rotary speed controls and change these in realtime. Ultimately this is a great-sounding collection of Leslie effects that will really elevate your Hammond sound - and other sources too - to the next level.

Price: 129.99 EUR each for T-Racks and AmpliTube versions
            179.99 EUR for a bundle of the two



Koma Elektronik Field Kit FX

The Field Kit FX is a super versatile effects unit that boasts a Frequency Shifter, Looper, Spring Reverb, Digital Delay, Bit Crusher, 4 Channel Mixer with VCA’s and tone control, a mini sequencer and ADSR, all under CV control. The Field Kit FX I can also be expanded with the FX Expansion Pack, which offers a spring reverb tank and other goodies.

The layout of the Field Kit FX is nice and clean, so most people will grasp the concept quickly. If you use all of the inputs, the cable "spaghetti layer“ becomes a bit crowded, and getting to the 22 knobs in time can become a challenge. In a bigger modular system, the Field Kit FX gives you an extra ADSR, a 4-channel-mixer with integrated EQs, plus the audio effects section that also can be used to alter CV modulation signals.

The Field Kit FX feels almost like a musical instrument of its own. It's a great tool for experimentation: send some spikes to the delay and modify the time; use this in combination with the reverb and the pitch shifter to get an outer space drumkit; spice up your leads with short delays or add some gnarl and grit with the bitcrusher - for sure, this Field Kit FX is versatile.

Price: Field Kit FX – Modular Multi-Effects Processor

Field Kit FX Eurorack Panel

Field Kit FX Expansion Pack 



Soundtheory Gullfoss Intelligent EQ

Gullfoss by Soundtheory is an “intelligent automatic EQ” plug-in that uses the company’s “computational auditory perception technology” to identify and fix problems in a mix. The company says it can change its frequency response more than 100 times per second without introducing audible artefacts or degrading signal quality. It lacks user-draggable EQ dials or points, but does in fact have some unique controls that you can change. Five parameters let you set the way the EQ reacts to the source material - although of course it will continue to analyse and adapt in real time too.

Automatic EQ is an interesting idea and one can certainly see the appeal of being able to strap a sort of magic processor across a mix, tell it how much to rein in or boost certain frequencies, and then let it constantly adapt itself to keep the mix balanced. Gulfoss does work well, and whatever complex maths are going on behind the scenes do a good job of finding problems and treating them in real time - if you’re happy to let an algorithm make some decisions for you.

Meris Polymoon

There are some effect pedals that make sense used on a desktop even more than being close to a foot. The Polymoon 24-bit digital delay pedal from Meris is one such box. It’s a digital delay with head-spinning possibilities thanks to its extensive modulation options.


Polymoon doesn’t just add some delay or modulation to sounds - it transports them into a whole new dimension. It sounds pristine and is capable of producing quality and detail you may not be expecting. WithPolymoon, Meris have once again delivered an inspiring effect pedal that is a "must-check out" for studio producers and musicians alike.

Korg Volca Mix

Korg’s Volca Mix is designed specially to let you control and live mix your Korg Volca units. The three dedicated, gold tipped audio cords are a welcome addition for a cleaner audio signal and are helpful in separating the micro patch cables from the intended audio cables when you’re in a hurry. You may want to dedicate one pocket of your backpack to all of the cables, making it easy to keep all Volca accessories together for on-the-go and have everything you need for performances and sessions.

Volca Mix takes care of so many Volca needs at once in terms of power, sound and sync that it’s almost crazy not to pick it up if you have more than one Volca unit. This is especially true if you are new to Volcas in general as it can save you a lot of money in batteries, power adapters and weird little adapters to hook your Volcas up to other Mix devices. Korg has designed a well designed, one stop shop for Volcas. It’s even got built-in speakers so you know it’s going to be fun at the parties and on the go.

AudioThing Outer Space Reverb

Outer Space is an emulation of Roland's classic RE-201 Space Echo featuring three different tape playback heads where the rate can be synced to the host tempo or a delay can be set in milliseconds. Each tape will affect the sound in a subtle but different way, especially at higher feedback (intensity) settings. The repeat rate affects the delay rate of the tape heads globally. The intensity knob is the delay feedback and next to it Wow and Flutter knobs can be found. There's an Echo volume section which can be used to produce dubby and tripped out sounds and this would be a particularly appropriate feature to automate.

Affordable and easy to use, Outer Space has a multitude of built-in presets that sound great and are wonderful starting points for adding unique echoes and delays to your sound. This is a useful plugin that could be used for a variety of purposes and would complement a variety of instruments. One of the most notable uses could be to create dub effects in tracks, but the Outer Space may also be useful for guitarists, keyboardists, synth players and producers. Outer Space is a great sounding plugin emulation that makes creating unique and beautiful delays a breeze.

Positive Grid Bias Amp 2

Bias Amp 2 is available both as a standalone application and in all the usual plug-in formats. It comes in three versions: Standard, Professional, and Elite. As well as highly customisable and great sounding amp and speaker modelling it has Amp Match - allowing the user to capture the sound of their favorite amp, or even try to capture a favorite guitar sound from a recording. You simply select the Amp Match module, route the desired amp signal into it, and the audio will be analyzed.

Bias Amp 2 is clearly targeted for those users who are very much control freaks when it comes to their guitar tone, and it definitely delivers in spades. But even for those who are more players than designers, the amp sims on tap here are top-notch, and the extra capabilities may come in handy, especially when working sessions with guest guitarists who have specific needs.

Price: Standard: $99; Professional: $199; Elite: $299



Zynaptiq Intensity

Zynaptiq’s Intensity is described as a ‘new kind of audio processor for mixing, mastering and sound design.’ Intensity brings out any sound source’s detail, enhancing the perceived loudness and density while also adding clarity. It’s also worth noting that it was built using techniques found in facial recognition algorithms in line with the developer’s commitment to bring the world of artificial intelligence into the audio processing world.

There are only a few controls in Intensity, the most important being the ‘Intensity’ circuit. This is the main control that brings out the clarity and depth in the sound source. Here you can adjust the amount usingthe horizontal control inside the circle and at the same time adjust the dry/wet aspect of how much the overall effect will be heard in the sound. If you want more independent control over specific frequencies in the sound, the Bias knob can be using which acts similarly to an EQ.

A present pack of Bias curves are provided for quick auditioning. You can also create your own Bias curve using the custom setting option. If you are looking for more volume on your output, the soft-knee saturating limiter is handy and sounds very warm.

Radial Key Largo

A keyboard mixer, USB interface and performance pedal in one single unit, Radial's Key Largo is a ‘do it all in one box’ mixer, USB audio interface and pedal trigger that aims to become the ‘hub’ of your keyboard world.

In a nutshell, you can plug in three separate physical hardware keyboards/synths/workstations, a computer setup, have control of all the volume, and send ‘front of house’ or your mixer/recording setup a single stereo feed of everything. If you’ve got your own reverb or want to have control over which keyboard gets a specific amount of said 'verb, you can do so. If you want to completely disengage the effect loop with the press of a button, no problem. With a 1/4” cable connected to the side you can even utilize the sustain ‘button’ on the Key Largo as a sustain pedal. Oh, and did we mention standard MIDI jacks on the side that interface with the USB bus? This thing really does everything.

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Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More


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