At PC Magazine, we strive to look for the best digital music download services and the coolest MP3 players for music lovers. But there's an essential part of music we tend to overlook: the instruments!
Here, we spotlight some of the most high-tech digital music instruments on the market today.
Some teach you how to play by following the LEDs; others are targeted to the professional who wants to record, mix, and playback their tunes.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Digital Musical Instruments:
1. Ion iED01 Electronic Drum Kit
Playing the drums can cause quite an annoying racket, especially for your neighbors. Keep the music down while producing state-of-art sound with the Ion iED01.
This electronic drum kit includes five velocity-sensitive drum pads, 50 user drum kits with 233 sounds, two inputs for external kick and hi-hat pedals, and headphones. Get your drum sticks ready for $322.69 from Amazon.com.
2. Yamaha EZ-TP Digital Trumpet
If "tone-deaf" and "rhythmically challenged" are words that describe you, then the EZ-TP Digital Trumpet from Yamaha is the instrument for you. That's because you don't have to actually play it!
In Singing Play mode, simply hum or sing a melody into the mouthpiece, and the valves will light automatically to show you how to play the song. Once you've mastered the song, switch to Normal Play and play it on your own.
With the included Y-adaptor MIDI cable, you can connect the trumpet to your computer and download your favorite tunes to its internal 992KB memory. Play this digital trumpet for $277.04 from XPlanet.biz.
3. USB Roll-Up Piano
The most convenient kind of musical instrument is one that's easy to carry around.
The USB Roll-Up Piano ($45) is a thin, 49-note piano powered by USB. It features six tones, 100 prerecorded rhythms, eight percussion instruments and tempo adjustment.
Record your own beats and play them back on your computer. When you've finished recording your classical masterpiece, simply roll it up and go.
4. Behringer iAXE393-BK USB Guitar
The latest USB guitar to come from Behringer is the iAXE393-BK ($179.99). With it, you can transform your PC or Mac into a guitar amp and recording system.
Featuring a 22-fret maple neck, chrome machine heads, five-way switching and a stereo headphone output, guitar newbies will appreciate the variable playback function to play at your own speed.
5. Stanton T.80 Digital Turntable
If you prefer spinning music, scratch out a mean beat with the Stanton T.80.
This digital turntable with a high-torque direct drive motor features two start/stop switches for mixing or battling, three playback speeds (33, 45, 78 RPM) and a pitch control slider.
Its S/PDIF digital output lets you archive vinyl. For $249.95 at zZounds.com, you get the turntable, a Stanton 500B cartridge, slip mat, and cloth dust cover.
Who knew there are such things as electronic bagpipes?
The vPipes-Uilleann is based on "continuous sensor technology for the finger holes, bag pressure and popping, giving unique levels of realism currently unattainable with other electronic instruments."
It can be controlled using the keypad and backlit LCD display, which is built into the chanter. (Read: The "chanter" is a part of the bagpipe that creates the melody.)
In addition, it features an integrated synthesizer, serial MIDI in and out, reverb and chorus effects, and a four-band parametric equalizer. It operates either by Li-Ion batteries or 4 AA batteries.
The company explains that the vPipes is made on a "strict by order only" process and sells for $1,333.
7. Yamaha EZ-AG Guitar
Another instrument in Yamaha's EZ lighted instruments product line is the EZ-AG Guitar.
Perfect for beginners, the EZ-AG lets users follow the LEDs on the guitar to learn chords and strumming techniques. Listen along to the 25 preloaded songs by way of the internal speaker or headphone jack.
The EZ-AG comes with 20 realistic sounds, including guitar, banjo, and piano. Rock out for $199.95 from InstrumentPro.com.
8. Piano Wizard Premier
We're testing the Piano Wizard Premier in PC Labs right now. It's essentially an M-Audio 49e MIDI Keyboard with color-coded stickers on the keys.
Attach the keyboard to your computer via USB, and then follow the animation on the screen using the Piano Wizard software to learn how to play.
It comes with 200 songs to play along to with the option to upload your own songs. Available for both the PC and Mac, it sells for $199.95.
9. AKai EWI4000s Wind Instrument
Has your heart always belonged to wind instruments? If so, the Akai Professional EWI4000S is a great choice. It features a two-digit LCD display, touch-sensitive keys and octave roller, built–in MIDI output, and chorus, delay and reverb effects.
Running on 2 AA batteries, use the included software to edit, customize, and store sounds on your computer. It ships from Ewi-Evi.com for $669.
10. Ted Brewer Vivo2
The Vivo2 is the 21st-century violin. Constructed in a monocoque frame, the Vivo2 features an ebony fingerboard and chin rest, electric tuning, and headphone output. Geeks will appreciate the violin's internal LEDs that light every time you touch a string.
The Vivo2 is available with four or five strings, and sells for $1,601 and $1,904 respectively.
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