Sometimes we need a little bit of help when it comes to choosing Christmas gifts for the people around us in the music and recording business. If you have no idea what to buy, here’s a list of recommendations that covers a wide variety of items and reasonable price ranges. All of these following products I use regularly.
Yes, I’m biased, but if you’re looking for a music or recording-related book, you’ll hopefully find one of mine that will hit the sweet spot. There’s something for everyone, including books on mixing, recording, mastering, music business advice, social media for musicians, and many more. If you’re just starting to mix, my Music Mixing Workbook will give you step by step exercises that will get you where you need to go fast. From about $16 to $40.
I personally never go into a loud audio situation without these little gems. They are soooo much better than foam or wax earplugs in that they cut the level down without affecting the frequency response. Since I found these ER20’s, I feel absolutely naked and scared when I don’t have them on me. At around $18, you just can’t go wrong.
This was made specifically to add an extra 10 or 20dB of clean gain to ribbon or low-output dynamic mics like an RE-20 or SM7, and the dBooster does that exceptionally well. But it also adds a little something extra that I really like that you don’t get from other similar boxes. One of the best $179 purchases you’ll ever make.
This is the best DI on the market, period. It’s built like a tank and will last forever, and captures the low end that those cheap DI’s could only dream about. You need at least one of these. At $229, it’s still a bargain and you will hear the difference immediately.
It’s shocking how good these phones are for $33. They’re pretty comfortable, have a really tight fit, and provide a surprisingly balanced sound. In fact, I would trust the low end on the 8323’s more than on a couple alternatives that I have that cost 4 or 5 times more. Don’t let the “DJ-style” in the description scare you, these are terrific for the price.
Everybody wants a Neve preamp but not everyone can spring for a couple of channels of vintage 1073s. The Golden AgeProjectPre-73 was built to sound a lot like the 1073 and it does a pretty good job of it (and the latest MK III version is even better). It’s not the real thing, but for only $379 it’s surprising how close it gets. If that’s too expensive, get the Pre73 JR version for only $249. The Pre73 is what I used to use for my podcast voice until I upgraded to an RND Sheffield channel strip.
If you want to either learn mixing from the ground up or increase your mixing skills, I offer the Music Mixing Primer and Top 40 Mixing Secrets courses (along with a number of cool bonuses). You can also get monthly song and mix critiques, “What Makes This Song A Hit” sessions, Q&A webinars and invites to the “Advice Lounge” with a subscription to my Hit Makers Club. Lots of free stuff too.
We’ve all gotten used to using software guitar tuners, but when you want to tune as fast as possible, this is the best tuner I’ve found. It clips right onto the guitar so you don’t even have to plug it in, and it even has a built-in metronome. At $20, it’s unbeatable.
If you have stringed instruments in your studio (and I bet you do), this thing is great for keeping them clean with ease. Not only that, it will help keep the dust off your keyboards, computers, and just about anything else in the studio. A steal at less than $9.
If you’re ever struggled with trying to position a 57 and a small diaphragm condenser mic, or a pair of XY or ORTF mics, or replace that clip for a Sennheiser MD421, Wilkinson Audio is the place to find the solution. Reasonably priced (but on sale for the Holidays) at between $17.50 and $27.50, these clips will solve your positioning problems in a second.
These are some great last-minute musical Christmas gift ideas for a musician or engineer that you can get fast before the Holiday (don’t forget to treat yourself too).