Gift guide 2020: Presents for producers under £150
Whether you’re looking to surprise the producer in your life or give yourself a festive treat, here are some presents to pop under the tree.
Even though Black Friday is behind us, there are still some great deals out there for producers during the festive season. If you’re looking for something fun to gift yourself or another producer, we’ve got just the stocking-fillers for you.
This section is all about affordable instruments and controllers – fun and useful additions to the studio for filling up the holiday downtime.
Teenage Engineering Capcom Series Pocket Operators
Price £85, plus £23 for a nifty case
Need to mainline some nostalgia? Look no further than Teenage Engineering’s Capcom team up Pocket Operators. The PO-33 and PO-28 reskinned and with new LCD displays, these little sampler/sequencers come pre-loaded with sound effects from the classic games emblazoned on their cases. If you need a little more Hadouken In your life, this is the answer.
Learn more here.
This portable, entry-level DJ controller is ideal for helping a budding DJ kickstart a new hobby, with ample features to master the basics of mixing. Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-200 can connect directly to any smartphone, with in-built tutorials using the brand’s free WeDJ app. You can also use djay, and edjing Mix to learn scratching and mixing. For a more in-depth look at the controller, you can read our review here.
Purchase the DDJ-200 at pioneerdj.com
Price From £125
A perennial favourite at MT, the Korg Volca series reinvigorated the low-cost analogue hardware market and these grooveboxes, samplers and synths still have a lot to offer.
Browse the Volca series at korg.com
Korg Nu:Tekt NTS-1
If you’ve grown out of lego and love synths, the NTS-1 is a must-have. This tiny DIY synth is easy to build and sounds way better than it has any right to at this price. Not only does it have great-sounding digital oscillators, but it also has built-in effects and the capability to load new algorithms, so you can keep updating it indefinitely. Read our review of the NTS-1 here.
Grab yourself a Nu:Tekt NTS-1 kit at korg.com
Price £109, £119 with travel case
From the makers of the innovative Instrument 1 comes an unusually playful controller, looper and synth. Play drums, bass, chords and leads on the simple playing surface that fits on your palm, or connect it via USB or Bluetooth MIDI for MPE control of your existing instruments.
Grab an Artiphon Orba at artiphon.com
Akai MPK Mini MK3
With its maturation into a third version, Akai’s ruggedly reliable device further refines the mini USB controller keyboard concept. Sporting 25 mini keys, eight velocity- and pressure-sensitive backlit drum pads, endless rotaries, an XY joystick and deep integration with MPC software, there’s loads of power packed into this tiny controller. With 2021 looking brighter for travel, the MPK Mini MK3 is a perfect companion.
Find out more at akai.com
Novation Launchpad Mini Mk3
If you or your loved one is more keen on clip launching and beat making than tickling the ivories, Novation’s Launchpad Mini Mk3 is a fantastic and affordable beast. In its latest incarnation, the mini controller has RGB backlit pads to better reflect what’s happening on screen. While there’s no velocity sensitivity, you can still use the Launchpad to play drum parts and there’s even a Keys Mode, just in case. We reviewed the Launchpad Mini Mk3 here.
Order a Launchpad Mini Mk3 at novationmusic.com
Between the egg nog and overeating, there might be a little time to learn anything this holiday. But if you want to up your production game, or learn a little history, then these books (and magazine, ahem) are a great place to start.
MusicTech Subscription – Save 50% until Christmas
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Subscribe to MusicTech magazine here using the code MTEMXM20.
Patch N Tweak
This glorious coffee table book showcases the beautiful and bonkers world of modular synthesis. with the help of VCV Rack, you also get access to many of the setups described but in software form.
Find out more at patchandtweak.com
Synthesizer Evolution: From Analogue to Digital (and Back)
A fascinating book that celebrates the impact of synths on music and wider culture. Oli Freke’s tome is a comprehensive directory of every major synth, drum machine and sampler released between 1963 and 1995.
Learn more at velocitypress.uk
Secrets of Dance Music Production
Co-authored by Chris Barker, host of the MusicTech My Forever Studio podcast, this useful reference is packed with tips for making better electronic music. As we said in our review: “If you have hours of internet research under your belt, you’ll still find this book useful”.
Grab your copy at blackwells.co.uk
This is the best time of the year to spruce up the studio. These decorative and highly practical choices will improve the studio looks and ergonomics.
With a studio full of beautiful gear, keeping it clean and pristine can be a challenge. Thankfully, Decksavers have it covered. Literally. These clear plastic cases protect your gear from dust and spillages when you’re not making music. Their range is huge, too, covering everything from the Moog Sub 37 to the MicroFreak, plus DJ gear and more. Moreover, they’re very affordable.
Save your hardware at decksaver.com
Price From £30
UK-based art studio Dorothy has an awesome collection of music-themed posters. The most fitting for a producer is Inside Information:Minimoog, which illustrates the legendary synth with tiny, amusing rooms filled with musical icons, including deadmau5, The Prodigy and The Beatles. Elsewhere on the site’s music section you’ll find illustrated histories of genres.
Spice up your studio walls at wearedorothy.com
MONO Studio Monitor Stands
If you want to bring your speakers up to ear level, reclaim some desk space and look good doing it, check out the Studio Monitor Stands from rugged travel case makers MONO.
Learn more at monocreators.com
GIK Acoustics VISO Booth
Recording professional-quality vocals at home relies on killing those nasty room reflections. GIK’s VISO Booth is a neat and stylish way to do it. Ideal if you have a penchant for singing or work with vocalists, and it’s incredibly easy to assemble. Learn about its effectiveness in our review here.
Fix up your vocal recordings at gikacoustics.com
There’s plenty of small but mighty tech out there for guitarists, letting them jam out wherever they happen to be. We’ve included our favourite mini amplifiers and an audio interface that makes laying down recordings a breeze.
This mini seven-watt amplifier takes the sound and feel of Boss’ acclaimed Katana amp and scales it down to a compact and portable size. The Boss Katana Mini features a multi-stage analogue gain circuit, a tone stack EQ and a built-in tape-style delay. Plus, there’s also a headphone and recording output, so you can hook it up to an audio interface and record directly off it.
Find out more at boss.info
Marshall Micro Amp MS-2
Judge it not by its size, the Marshall MS-2 is a single-watt amplifier that delivers enough tone for bedroom practice sessions – or if you’d prefer to stroll around the house (or neighbourhood) while rocking out, there’s a belt clip exactly for that. In case you’re wondering, here’s what 50 of them sound like at the same time:
Pump up the jam at marshall.com
Unfortunately, not everyone is appreciative of a good ol’ fashioned djent guitar practice session in the wee hours of the night. For that, there’s the Blackstar Amplug 2. These compact amplifiers can be plugged directly into a guitar for practice sessions with authentic amp tones – straight to headphones. These battery-powered devices also pack three different gain channels, nine built-in effects and a foldable instrument jack.
Find out more at blackstaramps.com
Audient EVO 4
The EVO 4 could be a great first audio interface for guitarists wanting to into recording for the first time. Audient’s straightforward 2×2 interface sports dual-function inputs for microphones, or for plugging in an instrument directly. Another feature that beginners might find helpful is Smartgain; toggling this tells the EVO 4 to automatically set the input gain. Read our full review here.
Buy the EVO 4 at evo.audio
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