If you’re buying for someone who wants to strum a song or mix something nice, here are some ideas to help those along.
Guitarists, singers, DJs, and music creators aren’t always the easiest to buy for, but there’s a good chance if you know one, technology has an answer. Provided you have an idea roughly of what they play — or even what they’re interested in making — you can expect to find something in a gadget that can help out, dependent on how much you want to spend.
So here are some ideas that match what a musician might be interested in over the holidays, ideal for if they’re a guitarist, bassist, electronic musician, or just someone who wants to dabble in the space with something fun.
Vox Amplug 2 Headphone Guitar Amplifiers
Guitarists keen to hear their instrument may normally turn to a large amplifier, but if they’re playing for one — themselves — they also may not need to.
Vox’s approach is to bundle the technology that gets out a style of sound into a compact jack their headphones can plug into.
You can find a blues sound, a clean sound, a classic rock or metal sound, and even one made for bass, meaning anyone learning to play or just keen to play by themselves doesn’t necessarily need a large amp, and can plug in easily by themselves.
Inspiration can hit anywhere, but you don’t always have the gear available to record that inspiration anywhere. Fortunately, the technology has gotten so much smaller, and so the taking high-end gear-to-go doesn’t have to mean a big bulky backpack anymore.
Rode’s AI-Micro is an example of that, connecting a 24-bit 48kHz source to a phone, tablet, or computer in something that isn’t much bigger than a postage stamp.
You’ll still want a microphone to plug in, and Rode has those, too, but if you already know someone keen on recording, it’s a good step in the right direction to recording great quality sound from anywhere on nearly anything.
Korg NanoKey Studio Mobile
These days, you can take music making to go if you just have an iPhone or an iPad, but as capable as those are, the touchscreen controls are sometimes not enough. Korg’s approach is to provide a small keyboard and pad controller in the one device, available in a size that can be packed into a bag rather easily.
The Korg NanoKey Studio Mobile builds on the NanoKey synth keyboards Korg has made in the past, and doesn’t just work with an iPhone or an iPad, but also a Windows PC and Mac, making it play nicely with more than just the mobile devices we have in our lives, and thanks to some backlighting, will even work when that creator wants to experiment in the dark.
Yamaha THR-10IIWL Wireless Desktop Amp
If the compact headphone amp doesn’t quite cut it, and you know someone keen to play their sound in the room a little louder, a modern take on the guitar amp might have to do.
Yamaha’s approach is a wireless amp that includes a battery and Bluetooth playback, but more importantly effects and amp modelling to let the musician define the sound.
It also comes with a look that few amps sport, complete with a metal bar up top that should make it easy to move around, handy if a musician plans to take their sound to go.
Numark Mixstream Pro
If mixing music is the cup of tea for the person you plan to buy for, you might want to check out something from Numark, able to grab music from USB and SD, but also from the cloud.
Numark’s Mixstream Pro DJ system doesn’t actually need a computer, and can talk to Tidal’s music library as well as what on’s Soundcloud and even a Dropbox account, plus will play nicely with Philips Hue systems for wireless lighting linked up to the sounds coming out of the mixing device.
It even manages to pack in some speakers, so impromptu parties can actually be a thing with this DJ mixing gadget, providing turntable-inspired mixing controls with the ability to scratch, plus a touchscreen to let you dive into the music collections easily.
Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster
A guitar made for folks keen to have the best of both worlds — acoustic and electric — Fender’s 2021 edition of its Acoustasonic guitars offers a technology that lets you dial in a style of sound you like, meaning one guitar that plays like several.
That may mean less reasons to switch guitars on stage for some, but it could also translate to a guitar that is somewhat adaptive, with a musician able to make it adapt to the style they’re keen on getting out.
Apple MacBook Pro 16
Price: from $3749
About the priciest studio computer you can find, if you’re buying for someone who has a love for making music and typically relies on Apple’s Logic Pro music making and editing software, why not upgrade their hardware considerably and in turn upgrade their capability.
Apple’s latest high-end hardware comes in its 2021 16 inch computer, which can be souped up to be very, very expensive, but even at its entry-level price offers a meaty computer made to handle Logic beautifully.
A massive 16 inch screen means plenty of screen real estate for multiple tracks and such, while the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips catered by the 2021 MacBook Pro effectively means creators will be able to spend so much time in the digital studio before the system is maxed out.