MIXDOWN'S ULTIMATE GIFT GUIDE FOR MUSICIANS

Part Two - Gifts Between $100-$250

It's that time of year again! Every Christmas Mixdown brings you our ultimate gift guide for musicians. This year we're packed to the brim with gift ideas to suit any musician. In this instalment we look at gifts between $100 and $250. Handy presents that would find their way into the arsenal of any musician worth their salt. Take a look, we're sure you'll find something you love.

M-AUDIO M-TRACK MK2

RRP: $199.99

PRODUCT TYPE: USB INTERFACE

DISTRIBUTOR: PRO AUDIO GROUP

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Perfect for someone looking for a first audio interface. It meets the needs of someone simply wanting to improve their input and output quality for a beginners recording setup.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: The preamps on the M-Track MK2 more than do the trick. They don’t offer any fancy promises of vintage tone or extended headroom, but they do ensure your microphone has enough volume without noise.

USABILITY:  The simple redesign of this unit takes it away from the desktop style layout and back to the original front panel design seen on similar interfaces. The big volume knob does make it easier to control you DAW volume for playback.

CONSTRUCTION: For the price point, these are a well-built little box. The pots don’t feel too crash hot, but they aren’t going to suffer like those on a live mixing console will. For a home recording setup, this should meet your needs for toughness.

OVERALL: When you are looking for a great value interface, there are very few units on the market that can compete with this one on price for what it offers; a great starting point for home recording.

 

 

SHURE SE215-CL IN EAR MONITOR BUDS

RRP:  $195

PRODUCT TYPE: IN EAR MONITORS

DISTRIBUTOR: JANDS

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: This is the ideal upgrade to any in-ear monitoring system where a specialised set of ear buds is needed. For musicians performing live with in-ear systems, these are an obvious choice.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: The single driver design still delivers high volume and clarity when it’s needed on loud stages. As they sit snuggly within your ears after finding the correct end piece, they block out most environmental noise and allow you to hear the fold back send clearly.

USABILITY:  The clear cable design and mounting from behind the ears makes these ideal for stage use. They easily run down your back to the belt pack and don’t stand out visually at all.

CONSTRUCTION: The thick, sturdy cable is designed for stage use, with the included zippered bag that hangs off a carabiner you can be sure not to lose them or get them damaged in between gigs.

OVERALL: Although the entry level in the range from Shure, this is an excellent product that leaves a lot of competitors behind on price, sound quality and build. These are the first upgrade you should consider with any in-ear wireless monitoring system.

 

 

MOOER PURE BOOST

RRP: $109.95

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: JADE AUSTRALIA

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Players who need an extra kick for a solo volume, or who want to sculpt their lead tone with more gain and a different tone profile, especially through an already overdriven amp.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: Although there’s no midrange control, the ability to boost or cut bass and treble - in addition to gain and volume controls - means you can smooth your tone out or rough it up. Great for brightening up dark pickups or cooling down overly trebly ones.

USABILITY: The gain control is the biggest, and the remaining knobs could be a bit of a squeeze. But once you’ve found your sound you’re likely to keep it dialled in so it’s not really much of an issue. This pedal can work comfortably within simple and complex rigs, clean amps or screaming ones.

CONSTRUCTION: Small in footprint and (mostly) in control size, it’s hard to mess anything up with a pedal like this. Mooer has made a tough little stomper with tonnes of tones hidden within its diminutive frame.

OVERALL: A great all-rounder for those who sometimes want overdrive, sometimes want clean boost, sometimes want a little EQ, and occasionally want all of those things at once.

 

 

MOOER TENDER OCTAVER

RRP: $129

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: JADE AUSTRALIA

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists and bass players who want to broaden the depth of their sound in either direction with some weirdness thrown in.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: This pedal gives you sub and upper octave signals to blend in with your dry signal, or you can turn the dry sound down altogether and end up with some very weird, circus-organ-type sounds. Add some gain or fuzz and you may never come back down.

USABILITY: This pedal is simple to control but it’s all in the way you interact with it. You can use it as a subtle effect to add a little extra depth and dimension to your sound, or you can take it way, way out.

CONSTRUCTION: The two octave controls are small but they’re not especially cramped, so it’s easy to get at them when you need them. The unit itself feels very tough, and the dry control is easily accessed.

OVERALL: A great ‘feature’ effect for guitarists and bass players looking for something to set their sound apart during big dramatic moments of sonic mayhem.

 

 

TYCOON PROFESSIONAL TP8970 CARRY BAG

RRP: $119.95

PRODUCT TYPE: PERCUSSION ACCESSORY

DISTRIBUTOR: DYNAMIC MUSIC

 

RECOMENDED FOR: Any touring percussionists that need to keep their Tycoon Cajon safe and sound.

VERSATILITY: Available in size 29 and 35, these bags are perfect for all Tycoon 29 and 35 series Cajons.

USABILITY: With reinforced handles and a shoulder strap, this Cajon bag is lightweight and easy to carry around, offering maximum comfort whilst travelling.

CONSTRUCTION: Made from highly durable nylon, the Tycoon Pro Carry Bag will ensures superior protection with a heavily padded interior. 

OVERALL: Lets face it, as a percussionist you are going to be lugging around a lot of equipment, so your going to want the best possible travel gear around. The Tycoon Professional TP8970 Carry Bag will keep you Cajon safe and well protected, without adding too much extra weight to your luggage. Oh, and did we mention you can pick up one for FREE with the purchase of either a Tycoon TP4129 Wood Mixture Cajon, Tycoon TP4150 Master Series Hand-Crafted Cajon or Tycoon TP4255 Practice Cajon. Contact Dynamic Music for more details. 

 

 

ZOOM G1XON MULTI-EFFECTS PROCESSOR

RRP: $129.95

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: DYNAMIC MUSIC

 

RECCOMENDED FOR: Intermediate guitarist looking for a versatile multi-effect processing power with impressive performance and practice capabilities, without the hefty overhead costs.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: Offering 100 guitar effects, including a variety of distortion, compression, modulation, delay and reverb, the G1Xon allows you to adapt you playing style to a number of different genres. You can also use 5 on-board effects simultaneously, allowing you to create your own unique sound.

USABILITY: Programming is simple and straightforward, thanks to a streamlined user interface and the large backlit LCD screen. The cursor keys navigate through your five-strong effects chain, while settings are adjusted with the control knob. The two footswitches navigate up and down the 100 patches, and you can assign the expression pedal to any parameter you like.

CONSTRUCTION: It has a cost-effective plastic shell, however what you lose in durability, you gain in convenience with the G1Xon being lightweight and small enough to fit in your gig bag.

OVERALL: An upgrade to the Zoom G1on, the Zoom G1Xon is a great bargain costing less than most single-effect stomp boxes, and normally retailed at $179.95, it is an absolute steal. 

 

 

PEDAL TRAIN METRO 20

RRP: $199.99

PRODUCT TYPE: PEDALBOARD

DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Pro players looking for a lightweight pedalboard for a reasonable number of small to medium-sized pedals.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: No sound at all unless you bang on it.

USABILITY: With three rails you have plenty of space to attach pedals and to discreetly run cables in between and underneath them. Also includes 60” of Pedaltrain’s professional grade hook-and-loop pedal fastener and plenty of zip ties for securing cables. Available for purchase with either Pedaltrain’s redesigned fitted soft case or Pedaltrain’s new light duty hard case.

CONSTRUCTION: Made of featherweight aircraft-grade aluminium and weighing less than 1 kilogram, it’s light and durable and one of the best things you can do for your pedals aside from make great music through them.

OVERALL: Pedaltrain is pretty much industry standard at this point and their reputation for roadworthiness is legendary. If you have pedals you need a pedalboard and this is a great one.

 

 

MXL TEMPO USB CONDENSER MICROPHONE

RRP: $199

PRODUCT TYPE: MICROPHONE

DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Ideal for song writing, podcasts and recording vocals in the home studio.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: A clear and concise delivery of the sound source is produced with this microphone. It isn’t really suited to high SPLs, but works well for vocals and acoustic instruments. Great for spoken voice recording too, like podcasts and presentations.

USABILITY:  It couldn’t get any simpler. The device works with systems going back as far as Windows XP and Mac OSX 10.1, so there are very few computers that won’t work right away with this microphone. The headphone out offers playback too, for overdubs and monitoring.

CONSTRUCTION: Although extremely lightweight, this is actually a pretty tough microphone. All the important parts are housed in a sealed metal casing that can’t easily be accessed and nothing comes apart when I put it to the test.

OVERALL: With a handy desktop tripod stand, this is about all you need to get recording in a flash. Great for when you want to get some song writing ideas onto your hard drive without having to worry about lengthy setup times. It’s a plug and play device that allows you to get on with the playing.

 

 

GEORGE L’S .155 EFFECTS KIT                                                           

PRODUCT TYPE: INSTRUMENT CABLE

RRP: $194.95

DISTRIBUTOR: EGM DISTRIBUTION

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who needs to customise their cables to fit the specific parameters of their pedal board or rack. In essence, this cable kit is one long lead designed to be to cut to specific size and fixed with plugs.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: George L’s ensure optimal sound clarity with the use high-end cable and solderless plugs eliminating unwanted noise and hum. 

USABILITY: Solderless plugs make using it as fast and easy as cutting the cable to your desired length, slipping the cable into the plug, and screwing down the end of the cap.

CONSTRUCTION: 10 ft. of low capacitance co-ax cable, and 10 solderless, right angle 1/4  plugs deliver superior signal strength.

OVERALL: A clear-sounding cable that offers both exceptional sound quality and pedal board versatility. Its ease of use means the cable can be altered at a gig, or during rehearsal, to obtain the shortest and clearest signal possible.

 

 

TC ELECTRONIC POLYTUNE 2 CLIP                          

RRP: $109

PRODUCT TYPE: GUITAR ACCESSORY

DISTRIBUTOR: AMBER TECHNOLOGY

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: For any serious guitarist. It’s perfect for the onstage tune up, and for musicians looking to utilise a diverse range of tunings, or playing with a multi-dimensional setup while looking for accuracy. Perfect for acoustic guitarists.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: Being out half a step, or hearing that undesirable winding bellow of the low E-string will no longer be a problem. The Polytune 2 Clip is designed to be in tune with you and your needs, switching easily between polyphonic and chromatic tuning modes.

USABILITY: Adjust the clip tuner however you like, with it sitting horizontally, vertically, on left hand and right hand guitars with ease, whether it be acoustic, electric or bass. Flipping between chromatic tuning, strobe tuner mode, flat tuning and capo tuning modes is done with click of a button.

CONSTRUCTION: The tuner is built with a stainless steel clip, both light weight and durable, with the ability to sit on your headstock without becoming a burden. When you need to tune, the super-bright display is easy to read, and will automatically flip to accommodate your viewing needs.

OVERALL: Polytune is as good as it gets when it comes to tuning your instrument. This clip-on tuner is no exception, taking versatility, durability and usability to another level, all compressed into a compact, stylish package.

 

 

CARL MARTIN PLEXITONE

RRP: $249

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Blues, rock and alternative players looking for the classic Plexi tone in a single, easily controllable, easily portable unit.

SOUND AND TONE: Crunch, chunk, growl and warmth: the PlexiTone gives you a straightforward way of accessing those classic tones, but with extra gain, giving you an almost Friedman-like sound at the highest settings.

USABILITY: If you’ve ever plugged into a Marshall Plexi - as opposed to a digital recreation of one - you’d know there’s a certain response and interactivity that drives the sound. You have to learn to play a certain way to get it but once you do it’s worth it. The PlexiTone has that interactivity but with more gain available.

CONSTRUCTION: A very tough little pedal with chunky controls, stompable true bypass footswitch and durable casing.

OVERALL: A great boutique-feeling take on the classic Plexi tone, equally at home with single coils and humbuckers, clean-ish or super-dirty.

 

 

CARL MARTIN ‘SINGLE CHANNEL’ AC-TONE

RRP: $249

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: INNOVATIVE MUSIC

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Those looking for classic British tone in a small, portable, analog package, and especially the overdriven textures that an AC-30 is so great at.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: This pedal is oriented towards overdriven tones rather than the chimey cleans that are equally part of the AC-30 ethos. You can get it down to a brash jangle, which sounds great but it’s best when kicking out smooth, harmonically rich leads and fat chords with a boutique-meets-British feel.

USABILITY: Very straightforward - controls for level, drive and cut, the latter letting you go from smooth and silky to bright and bold. There’s also enough output power to drive a tube amp over the edge.

CONSTRUCTION: The knobs feel quite sturdy and the casing is very tough. The footswitch is nice and hardy and is true bypass. In terms of pedalboard footprint it’s about average size.

OVERALL: If you want AC-30 tones, especially overdriven, crunchy, bold, brash, loud ones, this pedal will give it to you without the back sprain. If you need AC cleans as well, there’s a two-channel version which can get you there.

 

 

AUDIOFLY AF240 HEADPHONES

RRP: $249

PRODUCT TYPE: HEADPHONES

DISTRIBUTOR: AUDIOFLY

 

RECCOMENDED FOR: The avid music listener who demands the highest audio quality.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: These are built with the music lover in mind, as opposed to Audiofly’s range of in-ear monitors. Rather than isolation and accuracy, these are designed to issue rich, full and brilliant tones, presenting your favourite music in unparalleled splendour.

USABILITY: These are rather lightweight, and aren’t uncomfortable to wear, even for long periods. I would probably use these when listening in comfortable surroundings, but they’re definitely durable and attractive enough to take out with you. Memory foam earcups mould comfortably to the user and isolates the outside noise well.

CONSTRUCTION: The AF240s are built with a polycarbonate body and alloy arms, to ensure they’re as light as they can be. They feature the same fabric outer sheath that’s a constant throughout all the Audiofly products we’ve highlighted here. It also features a microphone and Apple and Android compatible button, a designed feature amongst most, if not all headphone users.

OVERALL: The features that Audiofly have included in not only this, but all the products in their recreation line set them apart from the competition. They’re put together with the end user in mind, and designed to be functional from a listening perspective, while remaining study and practical enough to be your go to every day listening headphones. These are the first over-ears that Audiofly have released, and they’ve really hit the ground running.

 

 

AIRTURN PED BLUETOOTH PAGE TURNER

RRP: $129.99

PRODUCT TYPE: HANDS FREE MUSIC DEVICE

DISTRIBUTOR: MUSIC SALES

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: This is the ideal device for performers and presenters who want a hands free device for scrolling between pages on lyric sheets, Teleprompters, music tabs or even effects controls.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: Although it has limited functionality, being just a two button switching system, it can be adapted to do a wide range of tasks wirelessly with most Bluetooth smartphones, tablets and laptops.

USABILITY:  The AirTurn PED is very easy to set up and works as well as your chosen app allows it to. The foot controllers require no pressure to be engaged, so you can make quick taps to get through fast changes in time if necessary.

CONSTRUCTION: This is a tough unit, sitting very low to the floor and not requiring a heavy touch to work, it sits in place too with the non-slip base. Best of all, you get plenty of life from a single watch-style battery and a second battery is supplied in the same cavity for a backup.

OVERALL: This device is something that a lot of people are asking for. There is very little like the AirTurn PED available. Yet, it is so simple and well designed; it is a wonder why we haven’t seen a product like this sooner.

 

 

CORDOBA UP-100 CONCERT UKE PACK

RRP: $199

PRODUCT TYPE: UKELELE STARTER PACK

DISTRIBUTOR: ZENITH MUSIC

 

RECCOMENDED FOR: People who are just getting into Ukelele, guitarists who want to muck about with a smaller instrument or kids who are starting out with stringed instruments.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: Though this Ukelele is a pretty inexpensive instrument, it’s still a serious uke. Cordoba has a solid reputation for producing good products at great price points. For what you’re paying, this kit is not only going to get you started, it’s going to get you sounding good.

USABILITY: The package comes with the Uke itself, a carry bag, a digital clip on chromatic tuner, picks and a lesson book. As far as usability goes, this is about as usable as it gets.

CONSTRUCTION: This is an all mahogany concert Ukelele put together by an esteemed builder. It isn’t the type of thing you’d find in a showbag. It stays in tune, resonates well, and boasts a clarity you’d expect from an instrument well beyond this price point.

OVERALL: If you, or someone you know is thinking about getting into the Ukelele, this is a really great place to start. The kit comes with everything you need to get going. Really, for aspiring Uke players it’s a no brainer.

 

 

AUDIOFLY AF120 IN-EAR MONITORS

RRP: $249.99

PRODUCT TYPE: IN-EAR MONITORS

DISTRIBUTOR: AUDIOFLY

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians that like to be able to hear what they’re playing.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: In-ear monitoring solutions are an entirely different kettle of fish to your rudimentary headphones. They’re built primarily as a reference tool. The AF120s feature a paired dynamic driver and balanced armature driver ensure that they fulfil their primary function, giving you a clear representation of your own performance.

USABILITY: The AF120s are Audiofly’s entry level in-ear monitors, but they don’t perform like an entry level product. They provide a reliable representation of your own playing in a live setting, and clarity in the mix for the studio.

CONSTRUCTION: The AF120s feature a combination of dynamic and balanced armature drivers to give you a warm, full and crisp response. They also comes with a selection of noise isolating silicon tips and mouldable tips so you can find the most comfortable way to keep the stage noise out.

OVERALL: At some point in any performing musician’s life finding an in-ear monitoring solution is going to become a consideration, if not an obligation. At this price point, the AF120’s stack up with the best.

 

 

TC ELECTRONIC DITTO LOOPER

RRP: $229

PRODUCT TYPE: EFFECT PEDAL

DISTRIBUTOR: AMBER TECHNOLOGY

 

RECOMMENDED FOR: The creative musician looking to layer their compositions who are seeking an easy and intuitive way to jam out ideas and songs. Or for the pedal enthusiast looking to add to their board.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY: If you know TC Electronic products, you are used to things sounding great. There are no exceptions for the Ditto Looper - the loops produced are in 24 bit uncompressed high quality audio, and sound great!

USABILITY: The ultra-simple one-foot-one-button interface makes using the Ditto Looper unbelievably simple. With 5-minutes of looping time and the potential for unlimited overdubs, this pedal is versatile to its very core without overcomplicating the process.

CONSTRUCTION: All the features on hand are housed in a rugged metal chassis. While the pedal runs through a 9V battery or a 9V power supply.

OVERALL: The Ditto Looper offers the ability to extend your sound and range, to diversify your musicality and improve your skill. This is all done without compromising your grit, low end and overall depth. It’s quickly becoming an essential pedal for guitarists.   

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