Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Pickr 2022 Holiday Gift Guide: Musicians

Buying for someone who loves a good strum or fancies themselves a bit of a muso? Consider these gift ideas for the music lover you’re buying for.

If the focus of your holiday buying happens to be a musician or someone who likes to create some music, here are some options to get you thinking. There’s obviously a lot of versatility in the music world, from instruments and hardware galore, but these are some ideas that could easily work well for the curious muso in all of us.

Mahalo Ukulele and Fender Play subscription

Fender Play for the ukulele
Fender Play for the ukulele

Price: $30 for the ukulele, $15.49 per month for Fender Play

Buying an instrument for someone can be a deeply personal thing, except, of course, if they have no idea how to play any instrument. Then it may as well be a crap shoot, but it doesn’t have to be. If you get them an instrument AND a bunch of lessons, it can be an educational purchase with a real purpose, and that’s what this combination is all about.

In Australia, ukuleles are common enough that you can find them for around $30 if you look, and while the quality isn’t amazing, it’s a starting point. To keep the interest going, grab a subscription for Fender Play, the Fender online teaching service that covers guitar, bass, and yes, ukulele, too.

It’s a gift that’ll give the gift of strumming, and then hopefully eventually maybe even music, too.

Korg NanoKey2

Price: $99

About as compact a piano as it gets, Korg’s “nano” range of instruments is more or less what’s implied from the name: properly tiny instruments you can plug into an iPad or a computer.

Korg does the slightly bigger “micro” keyboards, but the NanoKey is a compact keyboard made for folks who want to play anywhere, but don’t always have the room. And this is made for that, with a short 25 key piano complete with octave and pitch control, all made on what is basically a computer keyboard size and shape, and for much less than a big digital MIDI keyboard will typically cost.

PreSonus AudioBox Go

Price: $150

If you’re buying for someone who wants to record music wherever, you may need to think a little out of the box… and possibly into another box. Specifically, an audio capture box, allowing more devices to be plugged in.

Whether you’re using a laptop or a tablet, you probably can only plug so much in, and the computer or tablet mightn’t be powerful enough for the gadget you’re recording off. That’s where an external capture box comes in, acting as a sound card for a microphone and line-in.

The PreSonus AudioBox Go is an example of one of these, providing a compact box that works on the USB Type C standard, but allows a standard XLR microphone and a 1/4 jack from a guitar or bass to be plugged right in. That might be all the studio an eager muso needs.

Rode NTH-100 Headphones

Price: $199

Rode has long been a player in the microphone game in Australia, and great microphones at that, but its pair of headphones launched this year came out of nowhere. And they are good.

Musicians, podcasters, engineers, and general lovers of sound will appreciate the range and versatility on offer from the NTH-USB, as well as the comfort. Granted, they’re wired, but if you’re buying for someone who normally sits tethered behind a desk working on some audio, that won’t bother them, and they’ll love the sound on offer from these excellent headphones. We practically live in ours at our desk.

Rode NT-USB+

Price: $269

Aside for headphones, there’s also a microphone, which is clearly an important addition to a musician’s setup. You can always plug an instrument straight in, but what do you do about vocals? The on-board mic on your laptop just won’t cut it.

Rode’s latest is worth checking out, and it’s another of the Type C accessories that can plug right into most tablets and laptops, today. The Rode NT-USB+ is an update on the older and classic NT-USB, and works for talking and singing into, but also using with an instrument nearby, thanks in part to an onboard pre-amp.

Positive Grid Spark Mini

Price: $329

One part amp, one part speaker, this gadget kind of treads the line you’d want in a modern concept, killing two musical birds with the one stone.

The Positive Grid Spark Mini is a dual-purpose amp, marrying a wireless speaker for music playback with a battery-powered guitar amp, and essentially offering the best of both worlds in one neat gadget. Because it’s a digital take on an amp, it comes with different sounds, and comes with an app to help you learn chords as you play. Handy.

Sennheiser HD25

Price: $349

Rode’s headphones may well be good, but there’s another pair that has long been a solid entry for musos and mixers alike, and that’s the Sennheiser HD 25.

Considered an industry standard for DJs, they’re built for studio monitoring, and more or less suited to any type of music, particularly making and mixing the stuff.

Arturia KeyStep Pro

Price: $699

A big keyboard with some big features, this isn’t just your basic digital piano. Arturia’s KeyStep Pro packs in four independent synths able to program multiple patterns per track, complete with a drum sequencer, and a three octave keyboard.

Folks who live to create electronic music at home are sure to see how versatile this thing is, with lots of ports to do lots of things.

Apple iPad Air

Price: $999

About as versatile as the iPad Pro but not quite as costly, the iPad Air wins credit for being just like its big brother, but without some of the stuff musicians may not need.

There’s a lot in this gadget, though, from the high-end M1 chip, the solid design, and the support for Type C USB, which means a musician can plug in just about any external accessory they can find today, ranging from the native Type C devices to something older that can be plugged in with a Type C to Type A USB converter.

Oh, and GarageBand comes free on the iPad, helping to make it a complete studio on the go.

Fender Acoustasonic Player Jazzmaster

Price: $1899

Fender’s digitally-minded acoustic guitars aren’t typically cheap, but there’s a recent “Player” series that manages to get the price down a little. It’s a drop from the $3K mark closer to just under $2K, and sees Fender’s acoustic engine able to create sounds and voices for the guitar in a sweet style, no less.

In short, it’s a combination between electric and acoustic guitar that could just make someone’s holiday season a little more musical, and a lot more fun.

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