#5: Maschine [$250-599]
Whether it be the MK II or the Mikro, the Maschine played a large role in the developing of many new producers in 2012. The ease of the interface allowed many a newcomer to production to have easy access to as close to a plug n’ play DAW as you can get. The package boasts a huge sample library that has everything you might need and then some to get started in production. It really evens out accessibility of production tools – right off the bat, the sample library levels the playing field by providing any user with an enormous bank of high quality samples for use in pretty much any situation. The software is a great way to start making music; while not on par with a traditional DAW like Ableton or Logic, Maschine lets you dive right into simple music production and fleshing out ideas with ease. Overall, there were definitely better tools to pick up for seasoned veterans, but it seems like just about everyone nabbed one of the Maschine models for one reason or another. For the prices available, you really can’t beat the Maschine as a standalone piece or an addition to an existing studio.
#4: Smartphone [$100+]
Hitting number four on the list is the purchase that everyone seems to have already made, the smartphone. Besides being a portable music player, this gadget hits the list for its mobile app store. Software such as Soundcloud, 8tracks, Spotify, Shazam, Google Music, Pandora, Songza and many other emerging companies make everyone’s smartphone a music discovery machine. Download the ones listed above and try out some others to maximize the potential of your smartphone.
#3: Klipsch S4 [$55]
These in-ear buds are the highest combination of sound quality, durability, and price. When you’re on the go and don’t want to carry around a big set of headphones, these are the perfect supplement. Also a big consideration is their comfort. Many in-ear buds bother me. These fit great, stay in, and the nibs don’t fall off easily. You can grab a pair for just $50.
#2: Dropbox [$0-499/year]
Dropbox is at the forefront of the cloud hosting movement. As a freemium service, there is no cost for limited data, but you do have to pay for more. How is this a music related purchase? While not a shiny gadget, Dropbox is the best way to backup and share tunes, hands down. Get one today, and start a folder with a friend.
#1: Audio Technica ATH-M50s [$99]
These studio monitor headphones are a clear choice to top my list for musical tech purchases. These closed ear headphones are remarkably flat, not distorting the audio with dramatic lows, and produce a much more accurate sound. They are comfortable, and their durability is quite impressive; these cans have made it through many months of getting tossed around in my backpack and reckless DJing. While these headphones were released before 2012, it has not been until this most recent year that people have been catching on. I’d be a rich man if Audio Techinca was paying me a sales commission. I bought a second pair after I yanked the cord through a shut door, stripping the jack from the wire. Their only downfall is the somewhat annoying 10 foot cord, try the curled wire to avoid that problem. While these headphones MSRP for $200, you can find them for about $99 now. You cannot find better headphones for less that $600, making these the top music tech purchase of 2012.