Hordes of great guitars, basses, amps, stompboxes, and accessories came through our doors this year, but these specimens caught our eyes, ears, and wallets with their exceptional performance, tone, and value.
Universal Audio Apollo Twin (September)
The Apollo Twin audio interface looks too dang simple to do all that it does. But whether you’re powering a Mac-driven stage rig or recording on the go, it has a way of rendering listeners flabbergasted with its wildly authentic-sounding analog modeling. The included plug-ins (UA 1176 and LA-2A compressor and 610-B tube preamp modelers among them) make this a formidable little desktop-studio asset—especially with the Console virtual mixing board app. And this combination of power and portability make the Apollo Twin an easy Premier Gear winner.
$699 (single processor), $899 street (dual processor), uaudio.com
A year’s worth of gear at Premier Guitar adds up to a whole lot of wood, wire, silicon, germanium, aluminum, and steel. It also makes up a whole universe of musical possibilities, which is what strikes us as we look back on the Premier Gear Award winners for 2014. From luxurious acoustics to ridiculously buttery-sounding amps and furiously frantic vintage-style fuzzes, there are almost infinite sounds to be extracted from this roster of favorites.
As always, you’ll see the full spectrum of manufacturers represented, too—from garage circuit tweakers to industry giants. And apart from the beautiful sounds that you’re likely to extract from these instruments of expression, that diversity among builders might be the thing that makes this industry so fun and special. We all share the joy, ecstasy, emotion, and rush of creation that music brings. And from these 43 award-winning guitars, pedals, amps, audio interfaces, and accessories, we expect y’all will brew up more than a little magic in the years to come. Happy music making, and enjoy the ride.