Numark iM1 DJ mixer
The Mixfader ($100) is a wireless programmable crossfader that can be used for scratching, pitch, and audio effects for a variety of apps on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Just think, with the whole family gathered around the dinner table at the peak of your holiday get-together, DJ TaterTot can entertain the eager eyes and ears of the onlookers with his or her Mixfader and Grandma’s iPad.
Don’t Forget Snarky:
For $15 to $25, a vinyl cleaning kit from ION Audio, Audio Technica, or Stanton will make cleaning their vinyl records easy. What’s that? They don’t have any vinyl? Definitely buy a cleaning kit. It’ll shed some light on that personal flaw of living a vinyl-less life.
Gifts for Singers and Songwriters
Like podcasters, singers can benefit from pop filters, reflection filters, and bottled water. In addition to those, check out the following items.
The Kaotica Eyeball ($200) serves as a portable microphone isolation system ideal for singers who record themselves in less-than-ideal rooms. It won’t improve their ability to summon a muse, but it can improve the quality of their recordings by reducing the level of ambient noise and room reflections picked up by their mic.
These little marvels work wonders for creative layering, stacking, and fun effects. The Vox Lil Looper ($160) and TC Helicon VoiceLive Play ($300) each offer looping and multiple effects, and the VoiceLive Play can even generate harmonies. It’s like singing with subservient clones! The TC Helicon SingThing ($400) includes a microphone and combines similar functionality with a built-in speaker and simultaneous mic, instrument, and music inputs. So, EVERYONE can hear the developing genius or artistic squawks of a misunderstood soul!
Singers and songwriters come up with ideas at the most random times and in quite random places. A portable recorder can empower them to get those ideas down and skip the deflating feeling of a forgotten melody or hook. Making another appearance is the iZotope Spire Studio. Its built-in microphone, support for external dynamic and condenser mics, instrument input, simple and smooth app integration, and flexible recording and mixing functions make for a top-notch combo.
Modal Electronics CRAFTsynth
If you’ve heard lots of talk about modular this and modular that, CV something, and “So I patched the VCO into blah, blah, blah,” a bundle of patch cables might be much appreciated. Pittsburgh Nazca Noodles or sets from Moog or Hosa for $10 to $40 will work with most synth modules.
Get a flashy microphone such as the Peavey PVi2 XLR Gold for $70 or a Taylor Swift poster ($10 to “the sky is the limit”) to not-so-subtly imply that they should be singing if they want to get any attention.
Gifts for Recording Engineers
Engineers don’t enjoy spending money on high-end cabling, although they want it. Buy him or her a quality mic cable from Canare or Mogami for $25 to $70 and show them that you care about the difference quad conductors and a great wrap can make.
Recording engineers are plagued by the curse of broken mic stands. Give the gift of hope for a better life with a new, fully functional mic stand from Atlas Sound, Gator Cases, On-Stage, or Ultimate Support. $20 and waaaay up from there!
Mic stand with microphone
These unassuming little platforms can improve the accuracy of monitoring when speakers are placed directly on tables, desks, and stands. The IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R ($80 to $160) and Ultimate Acoustics Ultimate Isolators ($45) are examples of units that will get the job the done, no fancy installation required!
Get a Lava lamp and label it “The Great Distraction.” It’ll give the engineer something to be entertained by when waiting for the client to finish writing lyrics in the booth.
Gifts for Podcasters
Podcasting is all about the power of the spoken word. Even if your dear podcaster drinks from an endless spring of creativity, poor audio quality will turn away listeners. I recommend the following categories to keep the quality crisp and uncompromised.
A quality voice deserves a quality mic. These are beyond easy to setup and have uniquely cool looks, which can provide a little boost in confidence and ‘tude. The Shure MV51 seems straight out of the ‘50s with its classic design and chrome grille, while the Blue Raspberry looks like a classic mic designed by the Jetsons. The MXL USB.009 combines the outwardly appearance of a traditional studio condenser mic with a non-traditional glow from a blue LED mounted behind the grille. All three mics offer comparable functionality and ease of use and sit in the $150 to $300 price range.
These will minimize the annoying and distracting “p” and “b” plosives that occur when people say phrases like, “Peter Bumpat of the Pelinski Point Police Force burned an appendage on a piping hot plate of Boston crème pies.” Check out pop filters from Stedman and On-Stage and expect prices ranging from $20 to $70.
These will reduce room reflections, a welcome change for podcasters recording in a bedroom, office, or studio without proper acoustic treatment. The CAD Acousti-Shield 32, SE Electronics RF-X, and Aston Microphones Halo work the same way—place the reflection filter behind the mic so it creates a curved shield around the back and sides of the microphone. Prices? $100 to $300.
Most likely, your beloved podcaster is already using the stock plug-ins that came with his or her recording software. Better plug-ins can make an absolutely massive difference in achievable sound quality. Check out the iZotope Elements Suite ($199), which includes a set of user-friendly and sonically life-changing processors ranging from noise-reduction to mastering.
iZotope Elements Suite
Bottled water—Aquafina, Fiji, or your favorite free-range, organic H2O; most brands will work for the intended purpose… to remind the podcaster to DRINK and make fewer of those annoying mouth clicks and lip smacks!!! No one wants to hear those! Expect to pay $1 to $10 per bottle.
Gifts for Vloggers
Successful vlogging requires a balance of quality video and audio. Speaking of balance...
EVO Gimbals Shift 3
For stationary recording scenarios, a simple tripod-style phone holder such as the Joby GripTight One GorillaPod or the Polar Pro Trippler allows your vlogger to have both hands free for wild gesturing and emphatic hand-talking. A small investment of 35 to 40 of your dollars pays big dividends in web-based attention for your vlogging loved one.
Smartphones have built-in microphones, but they’re embarrassingly bad for professional content. The Ampridge MightyMic W+ clips on the subject’s clothing and wirelessly sends audio to the smartphone for recording, while the Ampridge MightyMic S+ plugs in and attaches to the smartphone and provides directional sound pickup without being extremely close to the vlogger. The MXL MM-130 is better for classic handheld mic functionality. $50 to $100 gets you a slick smartphone mic to stuff in a gift bag or unadorned box.
In jest, a self-help book serves as a reminder that being popular online still requires a personality. Knowing that vloggers are more likely to watch than read, the book title is what really matters. Check out “How To Be Funny” and “How To Be a Bawse.” Or make your gift a stranger thing by going for the “Guide to Taxidermy,” because sometimes weird is what goes viral. $10 to $20 is all it takes!
Selecting the right gift for someone who is obsessed with things you know little about? That can seem like an insurmountable challenge if attempted without the aid of a guide. Hopefully, this guide gives some enlightening insight, interesting ideas, and a clearer picture of what to look for. Happy holidays and merry gifting!