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 price ranges. All of these following products I use regularly.
1. Books by Bobby Owsinski
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. From about $16 to $40.
2. Etymotic Research ER20 Hearing Protectors 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, plus you get an extra one with each pair! Since I found these ER20’s, I feel absolutely naked and scared when I don’t have them on me. At around $14, you just can’t go wrong.
3. Studio Coffee Mugs
I don’t know about you but I hate it when you mix up coffee cups in the studio. After a while you can’t tell which one is which, and then you run out of clean ones. That won’t happen again with these cups that delineate what you do.
4. Royer dBooster 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.
5. Radial JDI Direct Box
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 $199, it’s still a bargain and you will hear the difference immediately.
6. Monoprice 108323 Headphones It’s shocking how good these phones are for $23. 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.
7. Golden Age Project Pre-73 Mic Preamp
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 use for my podcast voice.
8. Bobby Owsinski Courses If you want to either learn mixing from the ground up or increase your mixing skills, I offer the Music Mixing Primer and 101 Mixing Tricks course (along with a number of cool bonuses). There are also courses available on Music Branding, Music Production and monthly song critiques and Q&A webinars with my Hit Makers Club. Lots of free stuff too.
9. Snark SN-1 Guitar Tuner 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 $16 each, it’s unbeatable.
10. Music Nomad MN205 String, Body, and Hardware Cleaning Tool 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.
These are some great last-minute gift ideas for a musician or engineer that you can get fast before the Holiday (don’t forget to treat yourself too).