Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10 Great Christmas Gifts For Musicians And Engineers 2014

We could all use a little bit of shopping help when it comes to buying holiday gifts for the people around us in the music and recording business. If you're in a quandary about what to buy, you're in luck as I have a list of recommendations that covers a wide variety of items and price ranges. All of these following products (except for the last one) I use regularly.

1. Etymotic Reaserach ER 20 Hear Protection Ear Plugs
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 the Etymotic Ear Plugs I feel absolutely naked and scared when I don't have them on me. At less than $10, you just can't go wrong.

Equator D5 monitors image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
2. Equator DS5 Monitors
You want to know my secret weapon when it comes to mixing? It's these little Equator monitors. I've used them on every mix for the last 2 years and all I can say is they're the best small monitor I've ever used. You just can't find a better pair of speakers at this price point ($399) anywhere. Get the matching isolation pads too, an absolute bargain at $20!

3. Monoprice 8323 Headphones
It's shocking how good these phones are for about $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.

4. Books by Bobby Owsinski
Okay, so I'm a little biased, but if you're looking for a book for someone in the music business, you'll hopefully find one of mine that will hit the sweet spot. There's something for everyone, including books on mixingrecordingrecording drumsmastering, being a studio musician or a touring musicianimproving your bandproducing, navigating the new music business (the newly released third edition of Music 4.0), social media for musiciansstudio buildingguitar tone, and making videos. From about $16 to $30.

Blocklite LED flashlight image

5. The Blocklite 
This falls under the category of "Why didn't I think of that?" Blocklite is a simple LED add-on to any 9 volt battery that turns it into a flashlight that's perfect for checking all those dark spaces during a session or a show.

Lynda.com Audio Mixing Bootcamp image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
6. Lynda.com Courses
If you don't know about Lynda.com then you really should. They're the #1 portal on the Internet for video learning, with over 3800 high-quality courses on just about any kind of tech you can think of. While you're there, check out the courses I've done for Lynda. Lynda is just $24.99 for a full month, which allows you to access as many courses as you can watch. Here's a free 7 day trial.

7. Advanced Audio Microphones
If you're looking for some modern versions of the vintage mics that we all know and love but can't afford, then take a look at the Advanced Audio line of microphones. These mics are used in studios around the world every day and on some of the biggest movies made in Hollywood too. And you won't believe how low the prices are. I own and use some, and I'm going to get a few more.

8. 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. At $8.99, it's unbeatable.

9. Golden Age Project Pre-73
Everybody wants a Neve preamp but a lot of us can't spring for a couple of channels of 1073s. The Golden Age Project Pre-73 was built to sound a lot like the 1073 and it does a pretty good job of it. It's not the real thing, but for only $350 it's surprising how close it gets.

10. Audio Technica AT-LP60USB Turntable
If you want to get into the vinyl world but don't want to worry about a special phono preamp, this turntable by Audio Technica takes care of all that for you. It has a built in preamp, the the USB port means you can plug it directly into your computer if you want. It even comes with a phono to 1/8" adaptor cable and a copy of Audacity software.


Richard Parker said...

As Christmas is the season of gifts, We can consider smart phones too as an option! Latest smartphones are out in market to gift your loved ones..

Anonymous said...

Bobby, thanks so much for these suggestions. I'm buying the earplaugs and tuner right now!
I love your blogs. Keep up the great work!

Pete said...

Thanks for the tips, Bob! I bought the earplugs on your recommendation and they proved immediately useful at a loud concert. Much, much better than previous earplugs I've used.

Good luck with the blog!

Arthur Driessen said...

I'm disappointed that you are recommending the AT-LP60USB. There is no weight on the tone arm which causes new records to skip and old records to be unplayable. I went through three before I admitted that it was the model and not the specific table that I had. I moved up to the 120USB though which is the big brother of the 60 and that is worth its weight in gold!


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