Mixdown’s 2023 Gift Guide Part 2: Pro audio

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Mixdown’s 2023 Gift Guide Part 2: Pro audio

Gift Guide Part 2
Words by Mixdown staff

It can be really tough to find the right gift - especially for someone with a hobby or career as niche and music and audio!

Gift Guide

It’s that time again; either you’re someone looking to buy that special something for that special someone, or you’re the special someone looking to snag yourself a deal! For those not in the know, a Christmas list of things like “Little Labs IBP”, “Radial J48” or simply “pair NS10” might seem like another language, so we’re here to help. Here’s the second part of our gift guide complete with links to purchase, prices and an overview!

Read our past gift guides here.

Earthworks SR117 handheld condenser microphone

Distributed by: Earthworks | RRP: enquire for pricing

Recommended for: Singer/songwriters, sound engineers, producers, literally any vocalist or familt of singers who are browsing this gift guide!

Features: Rugged stage ready design, natural frequency response, maximum gain before feedback, protection from plosives, minimal handling noise and excellent SPL handling all sound like the qualities we’d all love to have in one handheld microphone right? Well, thanks to Earthworks all of these traits are indeed a reality. The  SR117 handheld mic redefines what a live vocal mic can be, with some of the most impressive real world specs we’ve seen, and sure to impress even the most discerning engineers and vocalists. A near perfectly flat frequency response (with a slight bump around 10kHz and roll off from 12kHz), the SR117 is pristinely clear and natural sounding. This provides a blank canvas for you to use EQ more creatively, liberally and artistically to get great results fast.

The incredibly uniform supercardioid polar pattern keeps feedback to a minimum for enhanced clarity both in stage monitors and front-of-house. With a 140dB SPL sound pressure handling, even the loudest of sound sources can be handled with ease. 

Overall: Providing such a natural reproduction and so geared towards stage use, the SR117 is a refreshing take on the trusted handheld microphone, packing all of the benefits and nuance of a condenser paired with the ruggedness of a dynamic, it’s hard to find a reason why you wouldn’t have one on hand.  

Earthworks DM20 snare and tom microphone

Distributed by: Earthworks | RRP: enquire for pricing

Recommended for: Live soundies, studio dwellers big and small, drummers who are chasing the pristine sound they hear on Drumeo and every major tour!

Features: Where elegance meets robustness and a detailed sonic footprint, it is here that  you’ll find the Earthworks DM20. By far one of the most subtle mics you’ll find spotted around on a drumkit, these unobtrusive mics capture clarity and detail like no other, and being also invisible, are a perfect match for drums under camera. Handling a whopping 150dB max SPL the DM20 can be comfortably clipped on to any sound source and this paired with its superb rear rejection make for easy mixing being live or studio, with incredible sound source isolation. Frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, cardioid polar pattern and 3 mV/Pa sensitivity rating all make for an incredibly easy to use and versatile mic worthy to be placed on any drumset, on any sized stage or studio floor. 

Overall: Earthworks have redefined the drumkit mic with the DM20 finding a harmonious relationship of impeccable sonic detail with subtle, near invisible physical presence – allowing for drummers to not think about the mics around them but instead focus on their performance. A go to for some of the biggest drummers in the business and one of the most popular online drum channels  for good reason – a must have for any miclocker.

Keep reading about Earthworks microphones here.

Scarlett (Gen4) Solo Studio Bundle

Distributed by: Focusrite | RRP: $389

Recommended for: Singer/songwriters, producer / engineer novices, content creators, home studio dwellers, educators

Features: Compact audio interface, condenser mic, headphone and an XLR cable, sounds like a portable studio to me! Focusrite’s Solo Studio Bundle has literally everything a budding songwriter could need to get recording. The clear, pristine and quiet (-127dBu) preamp provides plenty of gain (57dB to be precise) and handles a dynamic range of 113dB, comfortably capturing every nuance of a performance whether it be from the included CM25 MKIII condenser mic or any other mic plugged into the Focusrite solo. For some additional zing, engaging the AIR buttons adds some harmonics for a more excited and professional sounding recording, much like that of a professional recording console. Record up to 24-bit/192kHz for the most detailed resolution. Monitoring performances and mixes in detail is made easy with the SH-450 closed-back headphones and can be pushed more than loud enough with the headphone amp. For those looking for some additional inspiration and processing for recording and mixing, the Hitmaker Expansion pack includes the vital tools needed to make recordings sound professional and larger than life. 

Overall: A studio package that literally has all you need to get professional sounding recordings straight out the box. Say. No. More. 

For more info, visit Focusrite.

Audix OM2 Dynamic Microphone 

Distributed by: Link Audio | RRP: Expect to pay price = $199

Recommended for: Live vocalists, live soundies, studio novices, education

Features: Audix’s revered OM2 is a pretty great place to start when looking for an equally affordable and professional sounding dynamic handheld vocal mic. It not only looks the part but is near bulletproof with its zinc alloy enclosure and sleek black finish. Suited for a wide variety of applications ranging from live stage and studio use, the OM2 boasts incredibly accurate sound reproduction, with an incredibly tight and uniform hypercardioid polar pattern that is wonderfully resistant to feedback with up to 25dB of off axis rejection. Isolating itself on a loud soundstage oh-so-beautifully, the OM2 benefits from a singer getting up close and personal with it, benefiting from an appropriate amount of proximity effect and a characterful mid range, the OM2 translates superbly across live PA systems small to full scale. With a suitable 50Hz – 16kHz frequency range, max SPL handling of around 140dB SPL and sensitivity of 1.6mV / Pa @1k, the OM2 can both pack a punch and provide enough output for singers of all dynamic ranges. 

Overall: An absolute go-to when looking for quality vocal mic and excellent bang for buck. And being designed, assembled and tested by Audix in the USA, it’s a bit of a no-brainer! 

For local enquiries, visit Link Audio.

Iso Acoustics Isolation Puck Mini

Distributed by: NAS Solutions | RRP: enquire for pricing

Recommended for: studio-focused makers, mix engineers and producers!

Features: Monitor speakers are used to accurately take stock of where your song, recording, mix or master is at. The louder you go, frequency information begins to vibrate through your desk instead of out of the speaker cones and into your ears. Iso Acoustics make products to help prevent this, de-coupling your speakers from just about any surface and forcing that acoustic energy back through the speakers.

Isolation pucks are sold in packs of eight, meaning you can de-couple four corners or a pair of speakers. There’s no point investing in great speakers without the accessories to make them sound their best!

Overall: De-coupling your speakers can help retain whatever frequency information is lost as it fizzles and vibrates through your desk or meter bridge. Isolation pucks ensure you’re hearing the whole truth!

For local enquiries, visit NAS Solutions.

PreSonus ERIS Studio 4

Distributed by: Link Audio | RRP: Expect to pay price = $499

Recommended for: Home studio novices, podcasters, content creators, music enthusiasts 

Features: Full range, clear and open sound is the name of the game when it comes to a quality set of studio monitors, and PreSonus have hit the nail on the proverbial head with the ERIS STUDIO 4 monitors. Compact and easy to set up, these larger than life sounding monitors produce an impressive 55Hz – 20kHz frequency range and 100dB SPL (peak at 1m) for serious amounts of bottom end from 50-watts of power with a 4.5” woofer and 1” tweeter – is pretty wild for their humble size. The custom designed EBM (Elliptical Boundary Modelled) waveguide produces incredible detail in the top end and a wide horizontal dispersion of 120-degrees makes for an even wider sweet spot. Simple yet versatile EQ include ±6 dB of high frequency, midrange and acoustic space (flat, -2, -4 dB) controls as well as a 80Hz or 100Hz high pass filter if required. Connectivity on the back panel is simple too, being balanced XLR and 1/4 line inputs and unbalanced RCA inputs. 

Overall: Their size and suitability for numerous tasks, the ERIS STUDIO 4 studio monitors are a wonderful choice for those working in smaller spaces which require big bold sound reproduction which is both accurate and pleasing to listen to. A great studio monitor choice for those getting started!

For local enquiries, visit Link Audio.

Audio Technica AT2020USBXP

Distributed by: TAG | RRP: $349

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, streamers, home studio folk

Features: A studio quality microphone just made for creating high quality recordings, Audio Technica’s AT2020 is a superb condenser mic suited to any voice. An optimal choice for those not working in a specially acoustically treated room, the classic AT2020’s cardioid polar pattern keeps the focus on the sound source in front of it and effectively rejecting unwanted external noise. Paired with the three options available for noise reduction and automatic gain control, crystal clear audio capture is achieved every time. The high resolution A/D converter built into the AT2020USB-XP can record up to 24-bit/192kHz for incredibly detailed capture with USB connectivity keeping things hassle free. Direct headphone monitoring keep you connected to what’s being recorded and simply click the capacitive mute button to silently mute and unmute audio as you need, indicated by the clear LED blue and red ring lights.

Overall: An award winning microphone is just made for those making recordings in their bedroom, podcasting/streaming space, home studio or otherwise. Elegant high quality USB recording, with included pop shield, desktop stand, USB adaptor and cable – it’s just too easy! 

Audio Technica AT4040 large diaphragm condenser microphone

Distributed by: TAG | RRP: $869

Recommended for: Singer/songwriters, audio engineers, producers, studio folk, those who just love a high quality transparent sounding mic

Features: The Audio Technica AT4040 ticks a heap of boxes with its ability to capture incredibly detailed audio, even on the most troublesome of sound sources. Its razor sharp transient response, incredibly low noise and technically-advanced large diaphragm condenser design (48V required of course) is tensioned specifically to provide only the smoothest, natural sonic characteristics. These are just a few of the traits which make this microphone so versatile. With high sound pressure handling of 155dB SPL (with its -10dB pad engaged) the AT4040 can handle being put in front of even the loudest of sound sources, meticulously capturing an open and natural sound with a frequency response ranging from 20Hz – 20kHz and sensitivity of 25.1mV. The switchable 12dB/octave high pass filter is centred at 80Hz, effectively rolling off unwanted low end rumble from recordings when required and its uniform cardioid polar pattern further alleviates extraneous noise from being captured.

Overall: A go-to for many engineers and producers alike, the AT4040 is a no nonsense LDC mic with one of the most transparent and open sound profiles you’ll find for this price.

To buy your own AT4040 or AT2020USBXP, visit Audio Technica.

Bose S1 Pro+ 

Distributed by: Bose Professional Australia | RRP: $1169

Recommended for: Buskers, small venue gigs, educators, celebrants, gym instructors, DJ’s, party people

Features: Portability, ease of use and a long life rechargeable battery with up to 11 hours of playing time are just a few appealing features of the Bose S1 Pro+. As with most things Bose Professional, the S1 Pro+ has a slick aesthetic and simple yet very functional feature set that defines the term plug and play and can be set up in 4 versatile positions with auto EQ to match! Its integrated 3-channel mixer is both well laid out and provides more than enough connectivity for its intended use as well as clear metering and OLED displays for individual channel settings. Inputs include balanced/unbalanced XLR/¼” connectors on channels 1 and 2 and both a ¼” and ⅛” jack aux input on channel 3 as well as Bluetooth connectivity for easy streaming with a range of 9 metres. The S1 Pro+ also integrates with Bose’s range of wireless RF transmitters for mics and instruments, allowing you to wirelessly connect a huge range of sources. An XLR line out is also provided for connecting to another speaker if required. Connecting to the Bose Music app provides deeper control including ToneMatch presets as well as settings and control of EQ, reverb and managing Bluetooth connectivity.

Overall: Having the convenience of professional, high quality sound from a speaker system that is not only battery powered but equal parts powerful and portable is a feature set many will find incredibly appealing and is ideally suited for those looking to step up their portable PA setup. 

Keep reading at Bose Professional.

Bose L1 Pro8  

Distributed by: Bose Professional Australia | RRP: $1969

Recommended for: Buskers, singer/songwriters, educators, celebrants, DJ’s, party people 

Features: Pumping out 124dB SPL of max power, a 180-degrees horizontal coverage pattern, full featured  integrated mixer and Bluetooth connectivity, the Bose L1 Pro8 is one of the finest examples of what a  portable line array can look and sound like. Portability and ease of use are synonymous with Bose Professional and the  L1 Pro8 is no exception, with one of the most intuitive mixers to ever grace a PA system. Inputs include combo  XLR/¼” connectors on channels 1 and 2 (with phantom power) and both a ¼” and ⅛” jack aux input on channel 3 as well as Bluetooth connectivity for streaming – with rotary encoders for adjusting level, EQ  and reverb. An XLR line out is also provided for connecting to another speaker for bigger sound  requirements and an RJ45 port connects straight to ToneMatch heaven. Wireless connection to the Bose Music app provides convenient control of the integrated mixer for adjustments on the fly or from a FOH position.

Overall: Throwing out massive sound from its 8 x 2” neodymium drivers and compact racetrack 7” woofer  (extending down to 45Hz) the L1 Pro8 has both the power and coverage for a wide variety of applications  and users. Being expandable within the Bose Professional range also makes for easy expansion if required. Professional  sound in a compact, portable line array package, sign me up! 

For more info, visit Bose Professional.

Apogee Jam X 

Distributed by: Link Audio | RRP: Expect to pay price = $399

Recommended for: Musicians on-the-go, studio hermits, novice to pro instrumentalists with a pickup

Features: Apogee sure have a knack for innovation and there’s no truer example of this than the Jam X. Literally an instrument interface and analogue compressor in your pocket (the first of its kind), instruments ranging from guitar, bass, keyboards, synths or basically anything else with a pickup can benefit from Jam X’s convenient size and simple 1/4” input –  it couldn’t be more plug and play. Connect headphones or powered speakers to the 1/8” output for easy monitoring and recording at zero latency, utilising the blend mode. The analogue compressor’s three presets range from subtle to pretty spongy so instruments can get instant vibe, push the input for some additional edge if needed. Record up to 24-bit/96kHz for pristine quality audio with Apogee’s PureDIGITAL connection. With 36dB max gain, +18dBu input level and 8dBu into 32-Ohms on the output, the Jam X has more than enough guts for the most instruments! 

Overall: Its size, connectivity and convenience of being able to go literally anywhere in your pocket, Jam X is a perfect interface for instrumentalists seeking truly professional sound without sacrificing the convenience of being able to plug in and record anywhere at any time. A must have for muso’s on-the-go!

For local enquiries, visit Link Audio.

Zoom R4 Multitrak

Distributed by: Dynamic Music | RRP: $349

Recommended for: Singer/songwriters, bands, content creators, those who love recording to cassette decks

Features: Ahhhh the good old days of cassette recording workflow, how we miss them! The new Zoom R4 Multitrak has been designed with old school recording workflows in mind, with the convenience of digital storage, effects and battery power, recording at 32-bit floating point. With four available tracks (each with dedicated faders), the R4 also features a dedicated bounce track, where ideas can be mixed and bounced to, freeing up other tracks to keep building arrangements. A built-in mic and the two XLR/¼” combo jacks (switchable between mic and line level), are available, with amp sims and preamp model options on channel 1 for additional vibe if required. The built-in EQ, echo and reverb effects are great for adding that final polish to tracks. The included rhythm section is fantastic for building arrangements and getting the feel of a song just right, with multiple genres to choose from. For those who want to record from the R4 into a computer – no problem, as it also doubles as a 2-in/2-out USB audio interface.

Overall: For those who enjoy the tactility of faders and the creative benefits of old school recording workflows, the Zoom R4 Multitrak is an ideal solution for getting down those new song ideas wherever you are. A studio in your pocket! 

For local enquiries, visit Dynamic Music.

3Dio-Free Space XLR Binaural Microphone

Distributed by: 3Dio Sound | RRP: enquire for pricing

Recommended for: foley artists, gaming content creators, music recording engineers, mad sonic scientists.

Features: Recording engineers, whether they’re working in music, film, television or gaming, are constantly striving to capture a sound that’s true to source. Footsteps, drums, lazer guns shooting sound the way they do because of the room sound around them, the transients bouncing off the walls and into our ears. So what better way to capture that than a stereo microphone that mimics our own head and ears?

The 3Dio-Free Space XLR Binaural Microphone is a phantom-powered microphone that connects via XLR. Each side of the ‘head’ connects independently via XLR, making it the perfect pairing for foley, VR recording, as well as a handy, creative tool for music making and producing.

Overall: Hard to beat, and a few different options for connections depending on what equipment you’re interfacing it with!

Keep reading at 3Dio Sound.

ADAM Audio T5V monitors

Distributed by: Focusrite | RRP: enquire for pricing

Recommended for: Budding producers as well as professional mixing engineers looking for another set of monitors.

Features: ADAM has a huge range of monitors, varying in price but remaining consistently well-made and designed to offer a refined listening experience.

The ADAM T5V monitors might be at the more accessible end of their range, but are by no means an entry-level monitor. They have 5” woofers made of polypropylene and features a rear-firing bass-reflex port, coupled with U-ART 1.9” Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter with HPS Waveguide.

For a smaller monitor per se, the T5V’s offer plenty of power for mid sized rooms, and will be sure to blow your clients away as well as serving as a balanced, clear monitor with ADAM’s familiar crisp high end.

Overall: A great option for anyone making music. Their small footprint makes them easy to fit into smaller spaces, while offering enough power to really drive when needed.

For more info, visit ADAM Audio.