Trouble deciding what to get your favorite audio pro? Or more likely, your family has trouble figuring out what to get you for the holidays? In the old days, I’d say, “Leave a copy of this on your coffee table so your partner can see it,” but now you can simply send them a link. I can’t guarantee that you’ll never get another ugly sweater, but these ideas will point them in the right direction.
Granelli Audio Labs 5790: You might think that the last thing any audio engineer needs is another SM57, but the G5790 from Granelli Audio Labs might change your mind. The G5790 is a genuine SM57 with a modified L -shaped housing that enables the mic to be placed easily into tight spaces. It’s especially useful for miking a snare that’s placed close to the hi-hat and toms.
Radial Engineering IceCube IC-1: This is one of those things that you don’t think you need until you need it. The IceCube is a single-channel, balanced line-level isolation device that can eliminate hum and buzz from an audio line. The IC-1 is built into a steel enclosure and patches between any two devices at levels ranging from -30 to +15 dB. Features include locking XLR I/O with a pin 1 lift, a built-in RF filter, and frequency response ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (0.001% THD).
tc electronic June-60V2 Chorus Pedal: Not just for guitar players, the June-60V2 pedal from tc electronic produces a killer chorus that you’ll love—especially if you’re a fan of ‘80s guitar and synth sounds. Presets I and II each have two speed options set via internal DIP switches, and Preset III was created to match the secondary MODE 3 LFO. Another internal DIP switch sets input level for guitar or keys, and the Bucket Brigade Device (BBD) circuit is analog all the way. Pair it with a reamp box for studio use (see below).
DIY RE L2A Passive Re-Amplifier Kit: Packaged as a complete, easy-to-build kit, the L2A from DIY RE is a great way to properly reamp guitar or bass tracks (or anything else, for that matter). It features an XLR line-level input with switched HPF and LPF, ground lift switch, and a TS output with adjustable level. The L2A matches impedance and levels between your DAW’s audio output and the input to a guitar or bass amplifier, ensuring that a DI’d track can be reamped with proper tone. You can also use it to drive signals from your DAW into effects pedals. First-time DIYers can easily build this kit in a few hours, using…
Hakko FX-888D Soldering Station: My last soldering station saw me through 25 years of service, and I was heartbroken when it went belly-up. I was fully mended once I started using the Hakko FD-888D. It features a digital temperature display, heats to operating temperature in less than 30 seconds and allows you to create presets for frequent temp requirements. Don’t forget the extra tips.
A Subscription to Disney+: If for no other reason than to watch Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones: Every audio pro needs a good pair of headphones, and the ATH-M50x from Audio-Technica ticks all the boxes: accurate sound, sealed ‘cans for live use, comfortable ear pads and a detachable cable.
Pelican 1500 Protector Case: Pelican cases are available in a huge variety of sizes, but the Pelican 1500 is one of my favorites because it can be customized with inserts to hold anything from photo gear to microphones. Rugged construction, waterproof and a warranty that will outlast you—what more do you want?
Insignia Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter: Now that Apple has robbed us of headphone jacks, we need those silly dongles hanging off our iPhones just to connect a pair of headphones, or run show cues into a mixing console. I’m having good luck with the Insignia Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Adapter. Shop carefully because these can be purchased in multi-packs at prices far lower than displayed on the company’s website. Get a bunch, because they disappear like those socks that get taken out of your dryer by aliens.
Socks: Speaking of socks, yes, seriously. People who work on the road can never have enough socks. Or underwear.