Mixdown's 2018 Christmas Gift Guide: Studio Gear

Seasonal Savings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The nights are getting warmer, Michael Buble is hitting the charts, and musicians are bracing themselves for a month of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ covers. With Christmas almost upon us, it’s time to start searching stores for the ultimate present to give, which isn’t always an easy task. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with our Christmas Gift Guide to help you find the perfect gift for the musicians in your life.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Pack


 

Distributed by: Innovative Music
Expect to Pay: $469

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is an ideal starting point for anyone looking to begin home recording. All you need is a laptop and you’re ready to record with this bundle.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:  

Although a budget model, Focusrite have still ensured you get high quality audio conversion with the Scarlett 2i2, so your first recording can sound as professional as you make it.

 

USABILITY:  

A smart option for recording vocals, guitar and other instruments, with headphone monitoring for easy overdubs. All the cables you need are included too, so you just need to let your creativity go to work and you’re on your way.

 

CONSTRUCTION:  

This package offers the same sturdily built Scarlett 2i2 interface as the one sold separately. The condenser microphone and headphones are certainly solid enough for home recording use too.

OVERALL:

This is the perfect starting point for any musician who wants to record at home. There’s also a software bundle, including Pro Tools First, so you have everything you need to create quality recordings right away.

 

Aston Halo


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $399

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Anyone looking to record quality vocals in a home studio environment will benefit greatly from the use of this device. If you want your vocal recordings to sound better, this will do the trick.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

By isolating the microphone from the rest of the room noise and nasty reflections found in poorly treated rooms, the Halo focuses the microphone’s audio capture to just what is being delivered to its capsule and not the unwanted effects from around the room.

 

USABILITY:

It’s easy enough to set up on the microphone stand and simply leave it there. Your microphone then mounts on the same stand and sits centrally within the Halo for optimum isolation.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

It’s a pretty simple design, and being made from a PET felt, it is super lightweight, yet acoustically absorbent at the same time. The mounting hardware is simple to operate and very sturdy when in place.

 

OVERALL:

You only need to place your head within the confines of the Halo and listen to the difference it makes to the room’s noise to understand how it will improve your vocal. This is a great addition to any recording setup.

 

PreSonus Studio 24


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $199

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This interface from PreSonus delivers quality on a budget. This makes it ideal for beginners looking for a first interface for recording, or anyone after a second portable option for music on the road.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

PreSonus don’t skimp on the quality of their audio converters and preamps. Both inputs offer great quality audio capture and conversion, so no matter what you want to do with your music, you’re starting with a quality recording.

 

USABILITY:

It’s simple enough to operate. There are two microphone inputs and two balanced outputs. Plus, you get MIDI in and out, which is a real bonus for an interface of this size and price.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Like other compact interfaces from PreSonus, the Studio 24 is a tough little brick. It’s ideal for musicians who want to record on the go, as it will stand up to most punishment and continue to deliver.

 

OVERALL:

It’s a great quality audio interface at a great price. With more I/O than most units in this class, it should certainly make you reconsider your budget audio interface options.

 

Aston Shield GN Pop Filter


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $69

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

The perfect gift for any vocalist. This is the ideal add-on to any vocal recording setup. If you’re recording vocals at home and don’t have a quality pop filter, you should invest in one of these units.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The metal grille on the Shield enables plenty of high frequency response without dulling the sound, yet it certainly reduces both plosive sounds and sibilance in talking and singing.

 

USABILITY:  

Simply clip it onto the microphone stand beneath the cradle and position the gooseneck so the filter is in front of the microphone capsule. It can also be used as a position marker for excited vocalists who tend to move around too much in front of the microphone.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The grille is lightweight, so it won’t throw the balance of your stand off, but it is still tough enough for all the screaming and yelling it will endure over time.

 

OVERALL:

It’s a no-brainer, really. If you don’t have one of these on your vocal recording microphone, you are simply missing out on better quality recordings. Treat your favourite singer, or yourself, with the Shield.

 

PreSonus ATOM Controller


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $249

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is a great addition to an existing electronic music setup, for DJ’s looking to bring more life to their performance and for those looking for a compact controller to get more in-depth with their music software.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

As far as sound goes, it really comes down to what you’re running with the ATOM. On its own, it’s just a controller with no audio engine, but with the right software, it’s capable of controlling even the biggest sounds.

 

USABILITY:

This is a plug-and-play device that takes very little time to get a feel for. If you’ve used a grid controller before, you’ll be right at home with this. If you’re not familiar with the concept, you’ll be in charge of your sounds in no time.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

It’s small, lightweight and perfect for travelling or live shows. The casing is solid and the pots and pads all have a good feel to their operation. I really like the big control knobs for dramatic filter sweeps and wild pan effects.

 

OVERALL:

This is a tidy little device that delivers what it promises. Plenty of control, an intuitive layout and a funky colour-coded LED backlighting that lets you know what’s going on.

 

PreSonus FaderPort


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $299

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is the ideal addition to any home or professional audio recording setup. I have had one of these sitting atop of my large format analogue console for over a decade and it still gets used every session.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

This handy little device will totally change the way you interface with your computer recording software. You will use the mouse considerably less and it will speed up your workflow. The transport controls are well thought out and the real time control of faders and knobs on screen is brilliant.

 

USABILITY:

This is still one of the best designed controllers on the market. It integrates perfectly with just about any DAW and is easy to set up with auto mapping features ensuring you don’t spend too much time getting the product installed to suit your system.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

This unit is built like a tank. I have been using one for about four years now and the motorised fader still responds like it did when I first fired it up. The casing is solid and it doesn’t mind taking a few bumps when used in live setups either.

 

OVERALL:

Basically, if you use your computer to record, you need one of these. It streamlines your workflow, allows for easy fader and pot automation and best of all, it has a motorised fader that is just damn cool to watch as it jumps around when you change channels.

 

Audient iD4 Interface


 

Distributed by: Studio Connections
Expect to Pay: $299

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

For discerning home studio setups, this interface offers amazing quality in a compact unit. Ideal for anyone who doesn’t need large track counts and instead prefers to invest in audio quality.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Audient have delivered top quality microphone preamps and audio conversion in a compact interface with fewer connections for those who just don’t need the I/O. It still offers the same brilliant sound you’d expect from a larger Audient interface.

 

USABILITY:

The top panel is pretty self-explanatory and makes it very easy to work with your signals going in and out. Plus, the large volume control makes setting listening levels during mixing a breeze.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

This device is built into a tough little case. The single microphone input is offered with a quality Neutrik combination connector that doubles as a DI for guitars too. Tough, simple and effective.

 

OVERALL:

This is perfect for a guitarist or vocalist who is recording single tracks at a time and doesn’t need to invest in unnecessary microphone preamps. It’s a quality interface for small setups.

 

Drawmer CMC2 Monitor Controller


 

Distributed by: Studio Connections
Expect to Pay: $530

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

The ideal solution to any studio monitoring setup. This is perfect for both the home and professional studio environment, when one or more pairs of monitors are in operation.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The CMC2 offers crystal clear, totally transparent audio transfer between your DAW and studio monitors. The recording signal path is not altered in any way, but the ability to jump between sources and toggle between different monitors allows you to truly hear what is going on in the mix.

 

USABILITY:  

It’s intuitively laid out with easy access to mute, polarity, mono and dimmer switches. A large volume knob takes control of the overall output, and it’s easy to see which source and what monitors you have selected with the LEDs.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

This is a really solid box, perfect for continual use in every mix and edit situation. All connections are on balances, while TRS sockets and the selector buttons have a nice snappy feel to their action.

 

OVERALL:

Even if you’re just using a single pair of monitors, this is a really handy tool for the studio as a master volume and selection box. It makes jumping between mono and stereo to check the stereo spread a breeze too. Plus, it enables your monitors to be fed a separate audio source without the computer needing to be powered up.

 

Genelec 8010A Monitors


 

Distributed by: Studio Connections
Expect to Pay: $1100

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

The perfect accompaniment to any home or professional studio where space is an issue, but quality cannot be compromised. These are professional studio monitors perfect for tiny house studios.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The quality of sound delivered by the 8010A monitors is beyond belief. Don’t let the compact size fool you as they still produce a full range frequency response with plenty of volume when needed.

 

USABILITY:

The compact design takes into account the environment it will be used in, so these monitors have a clever rubber foot isolation system. This allows the monitors to be set at different angles to suit your listening position and reduce unwanted vibrations at the same time.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

They’re made by Genelec, so there's no question of the construction quality. These speakers are an excellent example of just how well a compact speaker can be put together.

 

OVERALL:

I’ve not heard a speaker of this size come close to the quality of the Genelec 8010A monitors before. They sound amazing, are incredibly well-built devices, and outshine anything else in their class. I cannot rate them highly enough.

 

Steinberg UR22MKII Recording Pack


 

Distributed by: Yamaha Music Australia
Expect to Pay: $399

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is a great starting point for anyone wanting to record music onto a computer. It also offers experienced users the ability to get a compact, high-quality interface for a very reasonable price.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The two microphone preamps sound great, and the ability to run a guitar direct into one of the inputs is a bonus. The real key is the fact that this offers 192 kHz sampling rate when recording, a rare find on an interface in this price range.

 

USABILITY:

Possibly the simplest and easiest device ever released by Steinberg. It integrates perfectly with the included Cubase AI software and takes very little effort to get it installed and ready to record. It will work with a range of instruments including keyboards, guitars, and just about any microphone given that it supplies phantom power.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The tough casing that protects the inner workings of the UR22 has been well thought out. You’re not going to have any issues with the unit getting damaged in regular use. While it powers off the USB when used with a computer, it does require a separate PSU when using with an iPad.

 

OVERALL:

With two microphone preamps, MIDI in and out, as well as headphone monitoring, there is pretty much everything you need for home recording on the unit and everything you need to mix and master your music within the software.

 

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

Distributed by: Link Audio

Expect to Pay: $299

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is the perfect gift idea for someone wanting to start out at home recording when they don’t have any of the gear. It has just about everything you need to match up with a computer and get recording right away.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The A/D converters on the AudioBox USB 96 are excellent quality for the price point. Matched with the M7 condenser microphone, you’ll be able to capture rich vocal and instrumental sounds.

 

USABILITY:

Bundled with PreSonus’ HD7 headphones for monitoring, you can record, overdub and mix your music all from the gear included in the box. This package also comes with Studio One 3 Artist software, packed with a host of extra plug-in effects and instruments to provide you with full audio production options.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Like all the models in the AudioBox range, this is a solid hardware interface for your computer. It’s built into a sturdy metal chassis and is fitted with quality A/D converters. The microphone and headphones are well built too, and are certainly tough enough for a home studio setup.

 

OVERALL:

This bundle represents great value for anyone looking to start out recording at home. It comes complete with microphone, cable, headphones, interface and software. You just need to bring along the computer and the talent.

 

Mixdown's Christmas Gift Guide 

Amps

Assorted Gear

Drums 

Guitars 

Headphones

Keys & Synths

Microphones

Pedals

Comments