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.
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.
3. Monoprice 8323 Headphones
It's shocking how good these phones are for $20. 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.
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 mixing, recording, recording drums, mastering, being a studio musician or a touring musician, improving your band, producing, navigating the new music business, social media for musicians, studio building, guitar tone, and making videos. From about $16 to $30.
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 flashligh. It's perfect for checking all those dark spaces during a session or a show. Just $22 for a 3 pack.
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 Mic Preamp
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. Warm Audio WA76 Compressor/Limiter
I happen to think that the 1176 was the best compressor/limiter ever invented, since it works on just about any source and even does
An absolute steal at $599. Also check out their great API-style WA12 mic preamp as well (I own a couple of those too).
11. Audio Technica AT-LP60USB Turntable
If you want to get into the vinyl world but don't want to worry about a buying a special phono preamp, this turntable by Audio Technica takes care of all that for you. It has a built in preamp and its 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.