Open Mic: What’s The Best New Electronic Music Technology Of 2014?


2014 was a great year for music technology.
dorit-chrysler-thereminiThe year brought multiple new analog synthesizers, major DAW releases, new software synths, interesting new MIDI controllers and lots of inexpensive electronic music apps – many of which we have featured in our best of 2014 posts.

We’ve shared our picks – now it’s your turn.

What got you excited in 2014? Was there gear, software or something else introduced in 2014 that you think will really inspire people to make new sounds and new music?

30 thoughts on “Open Mic: What’s The Best New Electronic Music Technology Of 2014?

    1. That was a great technology, but Apollo had apps for midi over bluetooth far before Apple implemented it on ios 8. Just like inter app audio was a rip off of Audiobus. I love my iOS devices but hate when Apple rips off technology from small devs. Also the Apollo midi over bluetooth works on all ios’s- not just ios 8. I find that it is easier to use and more stable than Apple’s version.
      Still fantastic technology. 🙂

    1. Anyone who downvotes this has clearly never used the synth and is one of those tedious, close-minded, hardware snobs living in the past. Serum is a BRILLIANT synth and sounds as good as an Access Virus with a more versatile engine. I have gotten some jaw dropping sounds out of it and it is by far the best wavetable synth, hardware or otherwise, that I have ever used. I get some of my best sound design moments from this very simple to comprehend GUI by importing my own wavetables and going to town with modulation. The visual feedback on this thing is something that all synths should aspire to. It has become my go to synth for many applications, not that I’ve shelved Omnisphere or Zebra2. On top of all the great features, Serum just straight up sounds fantastic.

      1. I downvoted the comment because I disagree that it was a “major oversight.” I tried Serum when it was first released. I think it is a quite well-designed integration of many “past” ideas, with very good sound quality. Serum fanboys often say that its GUI makes synthesis easier to understand, so Duda has obviously met the needs of his market. However, I tried every preset and many sound quite similar. I do not find that Serum has the sonic range of Oddity2, or the originality of Samplemodeling Flutes. Clearly YMMV!

      2. It is odd, just reading a 10/10 review of Serum in CM mag which ends, “We’re not being over dramatic when we say it is possibly the most sonically versatile synth we’ve ever used, and certainly one of the best sounding” – and that isn’t a conclusion for synth released in 2014 but ever, nor is that statement excluding hardware synths in stating that . And seems to be a balanced opinion that many, including myself, share. So why the haters? IMHO, I think it undermined opinions held for years, regarding what soft synths are and what they can do and the limitations of them. I think some people want to brush it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist rather than rethink an outdated opinion. But the genie is out the bottle and it won’t be going back in that bottle, we have crossed that threshold. It is odd how Synthopia site is pretending that the best software synth ever was never released in 2014, that isn’t a little odd, you got me thinking that you are deaf or hold a vendetta 🙂 You may have to explain that one to me Synthopia? With a lot more than a shabby excuse.

          1. They are just really tedious- everyone is tired of hearing how much they love it, and was already sick of hearing about it months ago…

          2. agreed, very polarizing synth for some reason….. at the very least, it’s one of the best synths to come out last year, at least from perspectives that people who don’t like the sound of it can appreciate…. a great ux, good sounding etc… perhaps it didn’t get as much attention here because from a smaller dev?

            1. when hype is created intentionally in the reviewing process people will naturally get more ‘social’ in their urge to resist or accept that hype. it is just one of the many simpleton tactics of groupie war pseudo-accomplishment that fledgling people chase in life before they get to the stage of just using things as tools and enjoying them or not. Even as they progress in some ways most people still retain a certain urge to believe or disbelieve others instead of objectively or at least open-mindedly surveying the tools around them.

        1. Off on a tangent: i cant take any article seriously that summerises with the phrase. “One of the best.” its not a committed statement. Just about every film review says “this film is one of the best”. Ive heard radio djs say “this is one of the best tracks of the summer” about 20 different tracks. Its hard to take a review seriously when non committal ststements are used to describe how good something is. In contrast. The synthtopia “10 best” articles (though contraversial) were very commited and a more substantial read.

        2. Any time someone refers to anything or anyone as “The greatest of all time,” they need to be taken out back and thrashed with sticks for a while. Its too silly. A lot of people bust their asses to create this gear and not every piece of it will suit every viewer. So? Serum and KV331’s Synthmaster are rather similar, but the real question is Do you really want that capable a synth so it can be a good centerpiece or not? Neither of those is for casual use; they’re sound design monsters. I’m into whether or not the new wundertoy speaks to me and fills any actual musical need. If you’re arguing about whether something is overhyped or not, you’re asking the wrong questions.

  1. Not so much new tech, but finally manufacturers are starting to FINALLY FINALLY get it: musicians don’t just want cool synths… we want more ways to play and record them.

    Dave Smith put an incredible sequencer on the Pro 2. Moog gave us more controls and sequencing on the Sub 37. Elektron continued to make use of their innovative sequencer. NI gave us new controller keyboards that take the pain away from working with software AND updated maschine for more melodic options! Nord took the whole 4 patch morphing idea to the new level with the Lead 4. Korg is on board with their motion sequencing, new electribes, KP3+, and Volcas. Even the modular guys got the Audio Damage sequencer and that crazy xy touch pad module thing I’ve been drooling over on youtube.

    1. I agree with that, as someone who is going to school for computer science I think the technology is absolutely fascinating, something I’d want to see code of, and a really clever idea to make software that emulates the circuitry behind the sounds of their old instruments.

  2. I love my hardware gear, but for me, some of the most exciting new developments this year were advances in wireless MIDI, and all the new high quality iOS apps. There are so many really great apps out there that are fun to use, sound great, and cost a fraction of what software plugins cost, and they are getting better and more advanced all the time.

    The iPad has unchained me from my desk, introduced me to new music making apps, and has opened up options that were not available to me previously. Pretty amazing with the way things are, but also looking at a bright future ahead, in regards to what we will be able to do with them musically.

  3. more hardware manufactures using CV 😉

    but for me i would have to say iZotope has been the best development
    this has more than anything else, inspire me to make new sounds and new music.

  4. To me the options for controlling Ableton. APC40 MK2, Novation launch Control XL, Touchable 3 and the plethora of amazing Max4live devices have made music production fun and wildly inventive.

  5. I love my hardware but I love my iOS devices too. I think the update of Audiobus allowing you to save your app configuration and having multiple app chains was a major step in ios technology.
    Plus Native Instruments finally updating their apps to play well with others was a great thing too. As far as the comment above about Auxy and Figure- they are cool apps for the low to no price on iOS, but Figure took a giant leap backwards with the removal of Dropbox, email, and forcing you to use their beta community to collaborate with others. The app is years old and it went years backwards in one update. But it is a basic app for a dollar so you cannot expect miracles with 8 bars.

    Also Korg continuing to make affordable analog hardware. It might not be as kick ass as Moog, Arturia, or Dave Smith- but for the price point I could afford to buy the Mono line in 2013 and the Volca line in 2014.

    That is just my opinion.
    Happy New Year!

  6. Greetings Synth Fans,

    I’m amazed at how far this industry has come in the past few years alone, really stoked that DSI, Moog, and others are bringing the sequencers back which seemed to have been left out of most synths for way too long. One place where I think every manufacturer could really improve and innovate and help the music is in the unique features of the sequencers. Future Retro’s Zillion is an amazing sequencer which takes it much further than a simple step sequence. DSI by including the fine granularity over scales turned his sequencer into a next gen musical instrument that is based on solid musical foundation and not just random voltages not that those are bad all the time but it’s 2015 and we have software abilities. I think it’s a shame Roland didn’t choose to include the fill patterns in the TR8 like on the original, those added a nice layer of complexity to the pattern.

    At the beginning of the year I thought much more highly of the AIRA line, I have since sold my TB3 and replaced it with a Cyclone TT303 which to me sounds much more authentic and is only a few hundred dollars more than the AIRA version. The TR8 I still like but after months of twiddling the knobs and using it I really am sick of the digital ACB sound, I far prefer the Tempest’s 808 and 909 sounds vs. the AIRA TR8, and I understand that programmers have to model those 7X7 sounds and that’s why the new expansion pack costs $95, but DSI released a monstrous update for free for the Tempest yesterday with way more sounds, so I’m sure that took someone at DSI HQ some effort and cost some money but really think it’s neat that he is not sucking blood from all the people who bought in on his Tempest like Roland is… I really like seeing the Tip Top audio 808/909 modules and am planning on building a modular groove box soon mostly because of those modules. I hope those guys keep rocking like DSI, Moog, Korg, Oberheim.. Here’s something worth mentioning,, Korg open sourcing some of their software,,,, that is huge! I would really like to see DSI or Moog open source some software for their sequencers or whatever else and let the open source community of hackers do what they love to do which is expand the possibilities for us all.

    Really looking forward to the Korg Arp Odyssey,, will be happy to give them my money and I love my ms-20 mini. Still think it would be cool if they released the ms20 sequencer and especially the polysix.. Everyone wants a nice analog poly, who will be the first to do it right ? Behringer coming into this business doesn’t give me a good feeling, most of their DJ equipment is bottom shelf I guess I can expect the same from their synths. And why would they just pick the Odyssey ? Do we really need multiple Odyssey clones ? The original guy is working with Korg already so I’m not wasting time with an off shoot like Behringer. Behringer should innovate even if they bite some ideas from other guys they should still primarily try to innovate but if they are going to straight up clone stuff which can be cool at least go with something just as popular as an Odyssey but something most companies aren’t doing like a pure 808 re-make or something,, nobody is going to do that,, Roland won’t,, DSI or Moog won’t,,,,, I want to see a dope Analog drum machine from Moog even if it has a couple digital samples I don’t care,, but with a really cool sequencer and with two or three dedicated synths.. Like a top shelf groove box to compete with DSI but with neat innovative sequencer features like scales, alternating fill patterns,, nice pattern memory saving/copying/accessibility and pattern mode playing with transpose,, most importantly the ability to change each sequence step’s length and ability to hold, stay silent, or repeat the notes for that individual step length,, this would bring a lot more variation to the sequencers,, obviously the ability to send a few channels ( more than just one like on DSI Tempest ) of this out midi ports,, and external audio in x 2.

    Is Yamaha ever going to bring back the CS series ?

    Love the LED displays on PRO2 and Tempest that show the waves and envelopes real-time,, that is class!

  7. For me elektron rythm was my major purchase of the year, I love it, I needed a drum machine and I got a monster, I’m prob a fan boy oh well, the sound, and ease to program made my year truly enjoyable. That plus iconnect midi4, and the amazing discovery of a moog theremini for 100 dollars in a second hand store ( I live in Tasmania to find any peice of crap keyboard is rare to find moog you have no idea) all hooked up through ableton controlled by my hands down favorite app of the year touchable, almost ableton on an iPad ( once you turn off the screen) done that’s my list and all I could afford.

  8. It was the year of the SUB37 for me. The perfect moog, it even has its own sequencer! It’s got so much depth it’s almost a modular, without being a modular, and it just sounds FANTASTIC it’s also taught me a lot about sound design by being knob per function, i can really see how a sound is made.

    I was also HUGELY excited about the ModySix which gives the Korg a Polysix and 61 a midi upgrade! These are great old synths that just needed that bit of accessibility, and unlike other upgrades you don’t lose a single feature, in fact you gain several features!

    The biggest disappointment for me was Roland AIRA none of the machines did it for me except maybe the VT. But the worst part was that they promised a device (SBX-1) which could sync din-syncand midi all in one box. Then they priced it at a ludicrous AU$599! That’s more than I paid for my tr-606 thanks very much.

  9. Give me more! More hardware, more software. It all gives me a stiffy. It’s all in what you do with it. I like that everything is starting to integrate together. Software developers that only made daws for pc are now branching out to Mac. Mac is acting better with pc. Hardware is on board with both…. It only goes up from here guys and gals. What’s not to like. I dislike cynics when it comes to down to hardware, software, analog, digital debate(bitching) it all has its place in music and it’s all good!

  10. Once piece of hardware that I’ve enjoyed this year is my Pandoa-Audio MIDI Beam. I’d been looking for a reasonably affordable and reliable wireless midi solution for decades. With the exception of it being very particular about which batteries is uses the thing has been great.

  11. Anything that has brought affordable quality tech to the masses. Never mind the hiw brilliant the sub 37 or the pro 2 etc etc are.
    Im sure aira owners will agree (non owners may well disagree) that the tr8 is a brilliantly playable machine that is within financial reach of most. I know many who have sold 808s and 909 for the ugly black and green box and that says a lot..

  12. Definitely the AIRA synths.. I sold my stagnant Virus TI2 Desktop for the whole setup.

    A very convenient and fun to play synth setup. I especially like the scatter functions. I found the ability to craft a complete soundtrack with unique scatter effects and the inspiring arp did it for me. No other affordable option exists with the level of physical controls and ease of use. The sound quality is not a big deal for me compared to the flexibility and coming from a Virus.

    Personally what I found to be the most unique and fun setup was running the MUTE SYNTH II through a BeatBoy all into my Monotron.. Very epic hip-hop techno sounds achieved with those guys. And you can bust them out in class or at a friends place easily. Great for finding new melodies.

    I’d say 2014 was probably the BEST year of synths for me personally with those very different synth options at my disposal.

  13. My vote is for Caustic. Totally cross-platform, great sound, great user support from the developers. Any one of its devices alone would be worth the price – having all of them in one package is just absurdly great. I use the iOS version on my iPad/iPhone and the (free!) Windows version. It’s an incredible value; just the ability to use its Sample/Loop editor for editing .wav files to/from other apps – that alone would make it worth purchasing.

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