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James Michael Nugent

James Nugent, author and contributor at Higher Hz

James is a professional pianist, sound designer, music educator, and senior writer at Higher Hz, where he covers pianos, MIDI controllers, and synthesizers.

Having studied music initially as a pianist, he developed a passion for composition and harmony. That passion led him to sound design and the world of digital/analog synths. After starting his career as a working musician, James took a step back from performing to focus on other areas within the music industry. Over the past 20 years, James has gained vast experience as a performer, educator, composer, and content creator.

James has worked on various educational projects to highlight the many benefits of music. Through collaborations with organizations like Youth Music UK and brands like JBL, he has worked as the lead on campaigns to encourage young people to get involved in music. James has also composed music for campaigns promoting mental health awareness.

As such a synthesizer and tech enthusiast, testing, reviewing, and demoing new hardware/software is something James spends a lot of time on. Working as a writer, James covers some of the largest music industry tradeshows (especially synth-based ones like Superbooth), creating content showcasing the latest releases from manufacturers and developers.

Creating content has become an integral part of James's career and an area where he has worked with some of the music industry's leading brands. James has created demo and tutorial content for brands like Akai Professional, iZotope, and Plugin Boutique, gaining hundreds of thousands of views.

James is a music maker first, and anything he writes comes from an honest perspective of someone who loves music.

The 9 best synth VST plugins for every budget and taste

Synth VST plugins are so good these days that they convert even the most ardent hardware purists to software enthusiasts.

I’ve tested a wide selection of plugins, including some familiar classics and some recent releases, to find the best synth VSTs available in 2024.

The 6 best budget MIDI controllers under $100 and $200 for beginners

A good MIDI controller is often one of the most powerful tools a musician/producer can buy, and you don’t have to pay a small fortune.

I’ve tested a range of budget controllers to find the best options available between $100 and $200. These MIDI controllers are ideal for beginners on a tight budget but are good enough for advanced musicians.

The 5 best piano VST plugins in 2024: Free, budget, and premium

Piano VSTs are so good these days that the idea of carrying a concert grand piano in your backpack is no longer absurd. OK, not an actual grand piano, but you can take that unmistakable sound anywhere you can fit a laptop.

I’ve been testing the best piano VST plugins available in 2024 to give you my top picks. My list will feature some of the most popular VSTs, lesser-known gems, and something for every budget (even free).

The 8 best digital piano and keyboard brands in 2024

So many keyboard instruments are available, but a relative handful of brands typically dominate the market.

Of course, there are always a few exceptions, but in this article, I’m looking at the brands that consistently produce the highest quality keyboards and digital pianos year after year.

The 4 best 88-key weighted MIDI keyboard controllers in 2024

When choosing a MIDI keyboard, we often focus on production tools, features, and the number of assignable controls, and that’s usually the right approach. But, sometimes, what we need most is the perfect keyboard action for the type of work we do.

I’ve tested a wide range of 88-key MIDI controllers to find the best fully-weighted and semi-weighted options on the market.