Gear Of The Year: Best guitar accessory of 2020
Wireless systems, an amp-headphone hybrid, a Paul Kossoff-inspired PAF and more.
Winner: Audient EVO 4
This little box promises to bridge the gap between guitar and computer in the simplest and most user-friendly fashion yet. Not much bigger – if about two inches deeper – than a smartphone, this black plastic box keeps the controls as minimal as possible and it will even set the recording level for you. For technophobic guitar players who were bitten by the home-recording bug during the pandemic, you won’t find a more intuitive interface.
Sennheiser Wireless Digital XSW-D Pedalboard Set
For players looking to adopt a wireless approach on a permanent basis, the Pedalboard Set comprises a slim, lightweight transmitter and a rugged pedal which serves as a base station, chromatic tuner and charging unit for the transmitter.
The range is very good, and in fact the only way we can provoke any sort of drop-out is by situating the amp on the second floor and advancing into the street outside, guitar in hand. With a maximum of four milliseconds of latency, there’s never any squashy delayed feeling to the front of the note, and the standard 2.4 GHz transmission means an end to worrying about what frequency you’re on. Very impressive.
ThroBak Electronics Koss-301 MXV
Like the vintage PAFs we’ve owned and tried, these ThroBaks – which are based on the pickups in Paul Kossoff‘s Les Paul – provide extreme clarity, touch sensitivity and amazing sustain. But compared to the vintage units, the ThroBaks’ more forward midrange combines with slightly more aggression in the upper-mids, but all the clarity and precision are there to cut straight through a mix. Single notes also have more girth, especially on the bridge.
Dubbed a “personal guitar amplifier system”, the Waza-Air takes the form of a pair of headphones and wirelessly connects to your guitar. It’s touted to deliver three-dimensional ‘amp-in-a-room’ tones based on five amp types from the brand’s Katana series.
The headphones are designed specifically for this system. The Waza-Air features three environments to ‘play in’: Surround mimics a recording studio, Stage emulates a live environment with a virtual backline behind you, and Static uses a gyro sensor to continually change the tone depending on your head position.
As an alternative to the popular Mastery models, the Descendant is a great-feeling, great-sounding vibrato that affords the user more adaptability as well as some 21st-century quality of life features that make it a powerful piece of kit. If you’re looking for a vibrato with more control over break angle and string path as well as a more futuristic look, the Descendant is a great option.
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2020 categories here.