Mixdown’s 2020 Christmas Gift Guide: Pro Audio
10.12.2020

Mixdown’s 2020 Christmas Gift Guide: Pro Audio

Words by Mixdown Staff

Our picks for the top headphones, interfaces, microphones and more this silly season.

Ho ho ho – where did the year go? All of a sudden, the festive season has snuck up onto us once again, and if you’re anything like us here at Mixdown, there’s a good chance that you’re probably incredibly disorganised.

To prevent you from having to endure the agony of Michael Bublé churning out another frostbitten rendition of a Christmas carol down the aisles of your local department store, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of all the hottest musical gifts to keep your eyes peeled for this festive season.

This year, there’s nothing more in vogue than studio gear. Whether it’s a condenser microphone, audio interface, pair of headphones or even a set of multimedia monitors or DJ controller, we’ve picked through the bunch to bring you our favourite pro audio gift ideas to consider this Christmas.

M-Audio BX 3 and BX 4

Distributed by: Electric Factory Expect to Pay: $209(BX3), $309(BX4)

Recommended for: Home Recording, Apartment living, Summing to Mono (with a spare for backup!)

Features: 2020 is the year of small scale studio monitors and if you are looking for something with a lot of guts and little in the way of physical footprint, than look no further than the M-Audio BX3 and BX4.

Featuring a 3.5” and 4.5” drivers respectively both monitors feature a computer-optimised 1-inch natural silk dome tweeters to go along with their heavy duty Kevlar LF drivers, giving you a full frequency range of 69Hz–22kHz. 

Being a rear port monitor, these kick up a surprising amount of extended low end considering their size, while their lightweight nature translates to speedy recoil time and whip-fast transient response, perfect for crosschecking material or giving your mixes a final pass before sending them off to master.

Overall: Now more than ever, there is a need for small footprint monitor solutions for the home studio (and even the home office in certain scenarios). The BX3 and BX4 feature awesome identical lightweight Kevlar LF drivers meaning a great stereo image straight out of the box, and really making them useful beyond just your standard mix applications. 

Even if you are in a larger mixing environment, a single BX3 serves as a perfect centre mono speaker for down mixing and crosschecking in a single channel. Handy as a millipede.

Phil Jones Bass H-850 Headphones

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to Pay: $159

Recommended for: Bass players, low end lovers, EDM producers.

Features: Not all headphones are created equal. Some deliver gorgeously glistening highs, detailed, up front midrange, but at times are sometimes missing a little oomph in the low end. Anybody that has plugged a standard set of headphones into the headphone jack of a bass amp will have likely felt these limitations, with the bottom end being a little lack lustre.

Thankfully, the H-850 Phil Jones Bass Headphones have sorted out this conundrum once and for all. Meticulous research and analysis was undertaken for the production of these cans, with a clearer understanding of bass reproduction uncovered. The high power 40mm neodymium magnets and closed back design allow for whopping amount of accurate and punchy low end, a must have for bass players. 

With a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, the H-850’s are full and clear across the frequency spectrum, and with a low impedance of 32-ohms allow them to be powered on a wide range of playback devices, with their sensitivity of 96dB SPL packing plenty of punch. Their ergonomic design allows for long listening sessions with maximised comfort and the lockage 3.5mm cable connector keeps things nice and secure. 

Overall: A great set of headphones for those requiring more bass, that is accurate punchy and not fatiguing that’ll keep the rest of the household (and the neighbours) happy to boot. 

Shure AONIC 50 Wireless Headphones

Distributed by: Jands | Expect to pay: $599

Recommended for: Music lovers, wireless enthusiasts, tech devotees.

Features:Shure need no introduction as a professional microphone and headphone manufacturer for both live and studio environments. So it’s fair to say one would expect the same level of high end performance in their wireless AONIC 50 wireless headphones, and Shure enough, they do deliver.

Anyone familiar with Shure’s studio headphones will know of their high quality, durability, deep, detailed sound and supreme comfort, so it’s no surprise that AONIC 50 share all of the same studio-like qualities. Several useful tech features jump right out of the gate with these cans, being the superb studio quality wireless sound, adjustable noise cancellation for an enthralling listening experience without outside distractions, and the environment mode – for those who wish to hear their surroundings at the flick of a switch.

Providing up to 20 hours of battery life, a more than ample amount whatever the listening situation, fingertip control for answering calls, muting music and adjusting volume and long wearing durability and comfort, the AONIC 50 headphones are packed full of all the right features of a professional, studio quality wireless headphone. Accessories include a USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm audio cable and a protective carry case.

Overall: A supreme set of high quality wireless headphones, bursting with studio grade sound, features and build quality to keep even the most discerned listeners and tech savvy folks satisfied.

Electro-Voice EV 30M

Distributed by: Jands | Expect to pay: $1,829

Recommended for: Masters of Ceremonies, Buskers or anyone looking for the highest quality in portable audio solutions.

Features: Boasting an eight-channel digital mixer, studio-quality onboard effects and with some incredible remote capabilities via Electro-Voice’s cutting edge QuickSmart Mobile application, the Evolve 30m is a convenient and full voiced column setup, for those who like to take the party with them.

Featuring a powerful 10” woofer and a column array composed of six 2.8” neodymium drivers, all adjoined via a lightweight aluminium sub pole, the 1000w Evolve 30m stands as one of the most portable units in its class, being nearly seven kilograms lighter than its predecessor, the Evolve 50. But don’t think for a second that this means any less in the way of firepower.

With its eight-channel mixer, 30 in-built effects and DSP based adjustable EQ, the Evolve 30m is an awesome candidate for small scale PA applications like acoustic ensembles or public speaking. The Evolve 30ms ability to provide phantom power brings a host of mic’ing and sound reinforcement options to the makeshift stage, and its Bluetooth streamability and the flexible control (via the QuickSmart mobile app) means a seamless transition between live performance and house music, adding production values where you least expect it.

Overall: The perfect gift for those keen on intimate, performance, busking or other applications where portability/stowability are key. The Evolve 30m is an awesome sounding, endlessly mobile solution that never ceases to come in handy on stage or around the home. Especially great at barbecues, where it also doubles as the loudest Bluetooth speaker around.

KRK Classic 5″

Distributed by: Jands | Expect to pay: $249

Recommended for: Bedroom Producers, Beatmakers, Small scale studio types.

Features: If you’ve been in a home studio any time in the last ten years, then you are sure to be familiar with KRK. The iconic yellow woofers (and their bombastic, singular voicing) are at this point, a symbol of the culture.

The front ported, KRK Classic 5” might be a much flatter affair than their rockin’ contemporaries, but what they lack in hype, they more than make up for in refined features like a detailed mid-range and a flat, translatable frequency profile (with adjustable EQ settings for different genres), perfect for whipping a mix into shape in record time. Featuring a layered 5” glass aramid driver down low and a 1” soft dome tweeter up top (all powered by an innovative, class A/B amplifier circuit), the Classic 5’s provide critical, low distortion monitoring, at a price that is all kinds of accessible.

Overall: The High and low frequency controls let you contour your sound to your environment and preference, allowing for a whole host of tweakability at the listening position. There is even a switchable +2db boost in the bass frequencies, designed to replicate the classic KRK throb in the low end. The factory installed under-monitor foam pad is also a nice touch, operating almost like a decoupler for your decoupling foam, in turn providing that next level of isolation between speaker and surface.

It’s this emphasis on truthfulness at the monitoring position (with the option to hype later) that is really at the heart of the KRK Classic 5”, making them a perfect gateway monitor for the budding mix engineer and a great gift for the maturing producer, beatmaker or content creator.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-200

Distributed by: Jands | Expect to pay: $249

Recommended for: Budding DJs, social butterflies, music lovers

Features: If you’re totally new (or looking to dip a semi-serious toe) into the world of DJing, than look no further than the DDJ-200 from industry kingpins, Pioneer DJ.

Boasting connectivity with iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Beatport Link and SoundCloud Go through apps such as Djay, WeDJ, Edjing and Rekordbox, the DDJ-200 offers vast media options, while the classic Pioneer 3-band EQ and two channel mixer layout (w/ crossfader and performance pads) is a crash course in Pioneer tactile functionality-something that will more than pay dividends as you move from booth to booth, onwards and upwards.

Should you fall off the grid (and as a beginner, this is inevitable) the beat and phrase sync functions are always there to help keep things musical, while the eight performance pads allow you to trigger samples and FX, giving you a whole host of transition and mix options from track to track.

Overall: With both Bluetooth and USB operability, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 is the perfect entry into the exciting world of DJ’ing and mixing for the floor.

Featuring the ubiquitous Pioneer layout, vast streaming capabilities and with built in FX and sample pads (all housed in a unit small enough to fit in your backpack), it’s the ideal entry point-perfect for honing your craft, whether at house parties, social gatherings or locked away in your bedroom while your family celebrate Christmas without you (don’t worry, we’ve been there too).

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x BT

Distributed by: Technical Audio Group | Expect to pay: $289

Recommended for: Professional musicians, producers and engineers who want a solid pair of cans to use in the studio, with the added perks of wireless functionality for day-to-day use.

Features: With their sleek looks, comfortable fit and incredible sound quality, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are renowned around the world as being the most cost-effective cans for studio applications. The ATH-M50xBTs take the reputation of their wired forebearers up yet another notch, offering wireless Bluetooth functionality with up to 40 hours of continuous use to appeal to musicians and fans alike.

Audio is provided by a pair of 45mm large-aperture drivers, outputting a sound that’s incredibly nuanced and crisp, yet smooth and accurate for most mixing and monitoring applications. The wide frequency range of the headphones ensures that your ears will be treated to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, while the soft cushioning that adorns the headband and ear-pads of the headphones makes sure that you won’t be left sore after extended periods of use.

When used wirelessly, a smattering of touch controls on the ATH-M50xBT’s left earcup allow let you adjust volume and skip tracks without reaching for your smart device, with the addition of an inbuilt microphone providing a nifty option for handsfree phone calls – what more could you want?

Overall: A modern classic. The sound quality of the ATH-M50xBT headphones is legendary, and their wireless functionality makes them all the more tantalising for users on the go.

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB

Distributed by: Technical Audio Group | Expect to pay: $149

Recommended for: Budding content creators, wannabe podcasters, karaoke superstars, home studio beginners. 

Features: if you’re just getting into the world of recording – whether it be for streaming, podcasting, YouTube video creation or to start your very own bedroom pop project – there’s a fair chance you’ll be in the market for a USB microphone. Audio-Technica’s ATR2100x dynamic USB microphone provides both USB and traditional XLR connectivity, with its ease of operation and 24 Bit /192kHz audio quality making it a great, affordable entry into the world of audio.

Although its XLR output allows it to play friendly with analogue gear for performing musicians, it’s clear that Audio-Technica have got their sights on the content creator space with the ATR2100x-USB. An inbuilt headphone input and volume control dial allows for intuitive direct monitoring – a perfect drawcard for podcasters who need to quickly adjust levels on the fly – while a smooth sound, extended frequency response and cardioid polar pattern makes the ATR2100x-USB a killer fit for spoken word vocals straight from the source.

The microphone is also bundled with a convenient, sturdy and compact tripod stand for your desktop, with a threaded clamp letting you easily attach and detach it to other stands should you please. It’s also functional with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and comes packaged with a range of USB and XLR cables to get you started straight out the box.

Overall: The perfect bit of entry level kit for any passionate content creator. 

Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP

Distributed by: Technical Audio Group | Expect to pay: $679

Recommended for: Audiophiles will get a kick out of it, but this one’s tailor-made for DJs looking to spend their summer jogging the steel wheels and spinning wax to the masses.

Features: If you’re looking to transition from being a software DJ into a fully-fledged hipster who lugs a crate full of obscure records to play at family functions, the AT-LP140XP is the turntable you’ve been looking for. It’s a fully manual player with a direct-drive servo motor, with forward/reverse operation, variable pitch control and selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds making it perfect for DJing and recreational listening alike. 

The AT-LP140XP’S anti-resonant, die-cast aluminium platter is made to guarantee round-the-clock stability and performance, while the S-shaped tonearm with anti-skate control and a counterweight easily lets you navigate your favourite record. The turntable is also loaded with one of Audio-Technica’s legendary AT-XP3 phono cartridges, helping to read the grooves of your record collection and transmit them into pristine quality audio for you and all your friends to enjoy.

DJs will be stoked to find that the AT-LP140XP features both a stroboscopic platter and a stylus target light, letting you easily pinpoint your cue points and keep track of your rotation speed. There’s also a removable hinged dust cover to keep pesky particles from falling upon your records, and the player can be purchased in both black and silver finishes – classy!

Overall: Looks, sound, performance, price – the AT-LP140XP ticks all the boxes.

QSC CP8

Distributed by: Technical Audio Group | Expect to pay: $799

Recommended for: Filling medium-to-large rooms with crisp, detailed audio, or even for users looking for a premium foldback or front of house speaker to release and perform with.

Features: A lightweight and super portable speaker that doesn’t skimp out on volume or performance, the QSC CP8 is a killer pick for live sound applications. Packing 1000 watts of Class-D power, it’s capable of pushing out plenty of air, but will hold its own just as well at meek volumes, acting as a chameleon product for performance, rehearsal, entertaining or even public speaking. 

The sleek contours of the CP8 lend it to being used as a foldback monitor, with a threaded mounting insert on the bottom also allowing you to hoist the speaker up onto a speaker stand for maximum projection. Internal DSP with Intrinsic Correction provides mind-boggling sound quality without any external processing, and QSC’s decision to implement Directivity Matched Transition into the CP8 allows for a reliable frequency response, even in the most awkward of audio environments. 

On the rear of the unit, the CP8 boasts two mic/line inputs with individual volume controls and a mic boost button, selling it as an ideal speaker for acoustic duos or soloists to cart around to festive functions. Meanwhile, the rugged construction of the grille and speaker enclosure make sure the unit is safe from dents, bumps and scratches, making sure it maintains its professional looks for years to come.

Overall: With its amazing sound, versatile feature set and rugged performance, the QSC CP8 is so much more than a black box.

Evo 4 by Audient

Distributed by: Studio Connections | Expect to pay: $220

Recommended for: Home Studio Types, Musicians, Content Creators 

Features: A fresh approach to the small scale interface, the Evo Series by industry upsetters Audient, was one of the success stories of the year, demonstrating how powerful a little forethought can be in this industry and earning the little interface a legion of fans amongst the audio faithful.

With its intuitive Smartgain feature, whistle clean layout and remarkably small physical footprint, the Evo 4 is a one of a kind portable recording solution for Musicians and creatives alike. 

While its portability and feature set already put it in a class of its own (especially considering the pricepoint), perhaps its the quality of the components housed within its diminutive little chassis, that really separate it from the pack. The two high quality onboard preamps and stellar A/D conversion go a long way to providing some incredible capture-particularly impressive when you think about how little desk space it takes up.

Overall: All in all, Audient have clearly put a whole heap of thought into this thing. Nothing has been left to chance in terms of its ease of use, and it assumes nothing in the expertise of its end users. For a budding songwriter signing up to SoundCloud, or a touring rockstar needing to capture the flashes of genius, you cannot go wrong with the EVO 4. It’s the perfect present for the itinerate creative or pro on the go.

Warm Audio WA-87 R2

Distributed by: Studio Connections | Expect to pay: $999

Recommended for: Anyone hunting for a serious quality microphone without selling off a vital organ to afford it.

Features: Already a serious contender in the world of U87 clones, Warm Audio’s newly revised WA-87 R2 takes a good thing and makes it even better. Boasting a NOS Fairchild transistor, with high-bandwidth polystyrene and film capacitors, the R2 stands on it’s own as an extremely workable, premium large diaphragm condenser for the modern studio.

Featuring 3 polar patterns, a 80 Hz high pass filter and a switchable -10db pad, the WA87 R2 has all the functionality you have come to expect from a U87 clone, but with a pristine, broadband capture that edges it into the elite category for microphones of this type, thanks to the aforementioned component upgrades and the presence of a Cinemag USA output transformer (which result in an increased output as well as overall improvements in frequency response.) 

Overall: Everybody needs at least one microphone that comes in a wooden box. Something classy, versatile and above all else, sonically superior to almost everything else in your mic closet. 

The new WA-87 R2 is just that, an awesome and affordable workhorse, with enough broadness in application to see it find favour across a whole host of applications, but particularly for vocalists, where its expensive sheen, and full frequency capture can be heard on full display. 

Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro

Distributed by: Syntec | Expect to pay: $159

Recommended for: Creatives, podcasters, content creators, music lovers seeking a studio quality headphone.

Features: The Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro headphone boasts a wonderfully compact over ear design with detailed professional sound. Anybody seeking a studio quality headphone will be in heaven with the DT 240 Pro’s rich low end, honest and detailed midrange and sparkling tops, all without hype, edge or bite. 

The snug over ear design provides maximum isolation and minimum leakage allowing the listener to focus on what they are listening to, with minor interference from the outside world, a perfect match for recording work or when detailed listening is required. The low impedance allows for maximum output volume, even from mobile and other such playback devices, great for those not in the studio and listening on the go.

As with any Beyer headphone, maximum comfort is assured with the lightweight headband providing supreme comfort and snugness, ideal for longer listening sessions, without become tiresome or uncomfortable, they likely won’t be coming off for long at all!  

Overall: A fine example of what a pro studio quality headphone can be without breaking the bank. A concise, ergonomic and wildly comfortable design coupled with only but the most detailed and precise audio delivery makes the DT 240 Pro a no brainer for those wanting all the goodies a set of professional headphones has to offer. That special someone will be nothing but thankful as they rest their sleepy noggin, headphones still attached. 

Beyerdynamic Limited Edition DT 990 Pro Black

Distributed by: Syntec | Expect to pay: $289

Recommended for: Mix engineers, mastering engineers, musicians, audiophiles and lovers of a natural open back headphone.

Features: If the DT 990 Pro wasn’t already enough of a classic studio headphone, the new limited edition 80-ohm black version certainly paints a clear picture on just how much of a following these headphones have gathered over the years. 

Known for their supreme frequency response of 5Hz – 35kHz (reaching well outside the range on human hearing), the DT 990 Pro’s deliver bass that kicks hard in the lowest of octaves and beyond. The midrange is present but never too forward, and the high end presented in glistening detail, but not over hyped or sheeny. 

The open back design, whilst not ideal for recording with likely leakage into mics, they deliver incredibly realistic and trustworthy playback for mixing and mastering applications, and in this domain they really are hard to beat. The feel and comfort of the DT 990 Pro’s is unmatched, with the springy headband designed to fit cosily on any head, and the soft inner headband and ear cushions can only be compared to a soft, fuzzy blanket around ones’ ears and head.    

Overall: Easily some of the most realistic, deep and pleasing sounding headphones around, the Limited Edition DT990 Pro Black headphones continue with the legacy of the classic model, all be it with a slightly more versatile ohmage rating and slick new look. 

Beyerdynamic M88 TG

Distributed by: Syntec | Expect to Pay: $549

Recommended for: Audio engineers, musicians, home and commercial studios.

Features: If ever there was a classic dynamic microphone that has helped define the sound of countless hit records within the 20th and 21st centuries it would be the Beyerdynamic M88 TG. With an incredibly wide frequency response of 30Hz – 20kHz (quite unusual for a dynamic microphone), the M88 TG delivers defined low end and details highs, making it ideal for a plethora of instruments and voices.

A go-to for many engineers on kick drum and low end focused brass, a tight focused response and capture can be expected, without being tuned or scooped, but delivering just what an instrument sounds like. 

As for vocals and other more midrange centric sound sources, the M88 TG’s linear response (with a gentle upper-mid lift starting at around 1.5kHz) gives presence to a voice without becoming harsh or brittle, suiting all voice types with honest, clear delivery.

The tight hyper-cardioid polar pattern makes it ideal for stage use, coupled with its high SPL handling make it ideal for even the loudest of sound sources. Its rugged design means it can take an absolute beating on the road or in the studio without a worry. A true classic and workhorse.  

Overall: An absolute legend of the stage and studio, the Beyerdynamic M88 TG is worthy and really a must have for any live mic kit of studio locker.

Beyerdynamic Fox USB Microphone

Distributed by: Syntec | Expect to pay: $299

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, musicians, engineers

Features: The Beyerdynamic FOX is a large membrane condenser USB microphone. The beauty of a microphone design such as this is it helpfully removes some audio gear out of the equation, making things easy for those unfamiliar with audio equipment or signal flow, whilst still delivering high quality audio capture. 

Being a condenser microphone, the FOX boasts sensitivity and detail, ideal for voice work and acoustic instruments. The controls are simple, intuitive and easy to use, with a switch for gain (high and low settings – minimising the chance of overloading the input) and a mix knob – great for blending between the microphone source and already recorded material being played back from a computer or compatible mobile device. The mute button cuts incoming signal, ideal for when cueing music between segments or for avoiding live mishaps being recorded. 

Connection to a computer couldn’t be more simple via a single USB cable, which is bright orange, so it won’t be going missing easily! FOX is also compatible with iOS devices through the use of an appropriate adaptor. Converter resolution is up to 24bit and 96kHz for when higher res recording is required, and a notable frequency response of 70 Hz – 20kHz and sensitivity of 94dB SPL means the FOX is right up there with the many other mics in its class.

Overall: A perfect companion for content creators and musicians looking for a no nonsense, simple solution to suit their recording needs. 

Aston Element

Distributor: Link Audio | Expect to Pay: $329

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, gamers, bedroom musicians/producers.

Features: The people spoke and Aston were listened. In a world first, the Aston Element, dubbed “the people’s microphone” endured six months of R&D, with three months of public listening tests to develop the sound of the latest addition to the Aston mic family. The new Ridyon capsule technology boasts superior performance for a microphone in this category, and the accompany shockmount and magnetic pop filter make Element a truly complete package. 

Three rigorous blind listening tests were performed with Element to the public, going head to head against some of the biggest mic brands in the industry, and with many far above the price point where Element sits. These tests and collected data helped inform Aston of the direction to take, delivering a final product voted on by the people, for the people.

The Aston Element is firstly a superb vocal microphone, but also excels on other sound sources, with its rich low end performance, making it great for even kick drum and such other low end sources. Its cardioid polar pattern offers solid rear rejection and its rugged yet stylish design makes the Element a standout in the studio, both aesthetically and in its professional performance.

Overall: With a wealth of nifty, well thought out features, the Element boasts a professional sound and honest capture, and will feel right at home in front of any vocalist and even the most challenging of sound sources.

PreSonus Eris Sub8 Subwoofer

Distributed by: Link Audio | Expect to Pay: $399

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, gamers, home video producers, bedroom producers, casual listeners.

Features: When working with a smaller set 3” – 5” monitors, the most common request from users is “more bass!”. Being limited by their physical construction and not being able to accurately replicate real low end information, these smaller monitors often benefit being paired with a sub, for the times one really needs to feel the thump.

The PreSonus Sub8 is the perfect solution for such a scenario with its power, punch and accuracy, reaching all the way down to 30Hz. Although superbly matched with the Eris series of monitors, the Eris Sub8 of course plays very nicely with other studio monitors, so no need to shy away if the badges don’t match. Some noteworthy features of the Sub8 include variable low pass filter, ranging from 50Hz – 130Hz, ideal for dialling in the perfect crossover point between sub and monitors.

The frequency response of 30Hz – 200Hz takes care of all that subby goodness, with a peak power rating of 100-watts (50-watts RMS) provides more than enough power to push one back in the sofa, and a 113dB SPL (peak) at 1m allows the Sub8 speak for itself. Input gain range varies from -30dB to +6dB, for dialling the sweet spot in any room in which it is placed.

Overall: Intuitive connectivity, variable low pass filter settings and wide gain range allow the Sub8 to be setup with absolute confidence and precision, no matter the room or monitors its paired with. 

PreSonus Eris 3.5 Monitors

Distributed by Link Audio | Expect to Pay: $229

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, gamers, home video producers, bedroom producers, casual listeners.

Features: The PreSonus Eris 3.5 Active Media Reference Monitors bring together accuracy, intuitive controls, connectivity and a concise, compact design, presenting an impressive monitor given their humble footprint. Throwing out 25-watts per monitor with a frequency response of 80Hz – 20kHz, they push some serious air reaching a whopping 100dB SPL (peak) at 1m, a seriously impressive figure given their 3.5” woofer and 1” soft dome tweeter configuration. 

The front panel consists of the power button, along with volume control, 3.5mm aux input and headphone output for quick and easy connection for headphones or playback devices. Balanced and unbalanced connections are found on the rear panel of the main (left) monitor, which consists of left/right 1/4″ TRS balanced and left/right RCA unbalanced connections. Also on the rear are the acoustic tuning knobs for high and low frequencies, allowing a boost or cut of +6dB or -6dB respectively.

 Being rear ported gives tight, accurate bass reproduction, so placing them away from wall boundaries is recommended in order to avoid unnecessary low end build up. Coming in at a feather light 2.9kg for the pair means the Eris 3.5 monitors can be easily transported if required. 

Overall: Equally fitting for up-and-coming producers, gamers, content creators or next to the living room turntable for casual listening, the Eris 3.5 monitors get a big thumbs up, being some of the finest in their category. 

PreSonus PD-70

Distributed by: Link Audio | Expect to Pay: $249

Recommended for: Podcasters, content creators, broadcast, radio hosts, voiceover artists

Features: The demands of a good quality broadcast style microphone include crystal clear capture, a supremely tight and focused unidirectional polar pattern, with superb rear rejection, effectively eliminating any external or extraneous noise that isn’t the voice in front of it. 

The new PreSonus PD-70 broadcast dynamic microphone ticks all of these rather particular boxes, and comes in at a very affordable price point. With an end address configuration and cardioid polar pattern, the rear rejection of the PD-70 is great, and the included pop filter keeps problematic plosives at bay. 

Being a dynamic mic the PD-70 can handle a health dose of sound pressure level without distorting, so loud voices will be handled comfortably. The frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz maximises clarity and definition, with a gentle lift in the presence range starting at around 2kHz and sloping off after 10kHz. 

Its rugged construction safeguards the PD-70 from serious damage in sessions and the attached hard mount makes attachment to mic stands or broadcast arms a breeze. 

Overall: For those in need of a good quality broadcast style dynamic, the PD-70 really does tick all the necessary boxes in this category and comes in at a very attainable price. For that person spruiking their latest podcast ideas, they will now have no excuse not to upload their first episode immediately! 

Avid S1

Distributed by: Innovative Music | Expect to pay: $1,949

Recommended for: The primarily in-the-box DAW user who craves the tactility of multiple faders for mixing and automation tasks with lightning fast workflow. 

Features: The Avid S1 brings a sleek, elegant, ergonomically designed compact control surface, boasting supreme build quality to be easily united into any DAW user’s setup. 

Featuring seamless control with instant physical and visual feedback, the S1 boasts eight hi-res motorised faders and rotary controls (assignable to control multiple parameters), OLED displays for instant visual feedback and matching colour coded button at the bottom of each fader to match track colours in sessions if so required. 

There’s dedicated buttons for EQ, dynamics and more for quick operation, assignment and control. Mute, solo and record enable buttons are above each fader allowing one to zip around any session without the need to jump for the mouse or keyboard. This not only frees users up to be more “hands on” with their mix, but alleviates getting bogged down with arduous click and drag tasks. Those wanting to setup with a tablet can take advantage of Avid’s Control app, taking the tactile nature of the S1 to new heights with even deeper integration and gorgeous visual feedback. 

Overall: A truly versatile compact control surface, the Avid S1 offers unparalleled hands on control over a DAW session (with particular attention to detail in ProTools), allowing users to utilise and customiSe the many physical elements of this professional control surface, enhancing workflow and speeding up hefty mix sessions.  

Avid Pro Tools | Carbon

Distributed by: Innovative Music | Expect to Pay: $6,070

Recommended for: Audio engineers, small to commercial studios, post production facilities, small to large tracking sessions 

Features: For the first time in a very long time, Avid’s ProTools has brought a in house designed and manufactured interface to the market, and it’s a serious system with some incredible high end features under the hood.

On the hardware side of the fence, Carbon is a 25 input / 34 output interface, with eight onboard preamps promising pristine high quality audio capture, and digitally there’s 2 ADAT connections, upping the input count significantly. Four separate headphone output on the front of the 1U chassis make Carbon an absolute perfect pairing for big tracking sessions, giving the option of four distinct cue sends, without even delving into the other output configurations, more than four are required, but pretty unlikely. 

Under the hood is where the real magic happens, with 8 HDX DSP chips holding some serious weight and allowing real time, low latency monitoring through compatible AAX DSP plugins for tracking, or one can opt to print through the plugins, replicating a more analogue style workflow. The compatible plugins on offer are impressive, with offerings Avid’s library of course, as well as McDSP, Plugin Alliance and Arturia to name but a few.

Overall: A powerhouse hybrid interface with no corners cut in terms of power, connectivity and integration, perfect for those looking to upgrade an existing system or for those looking to enter the professional interface market with seamless and intelligent integration with a ProTools system.

Reason 11

Distributed by: Innovative Music Expect to pay: $399

Recommended for: In-the-box wizards whose creative workflow is the love of anything and everything virtual. 

Features: Packed to the brim with virtual instruments, effects, utilities, player MIDI FX, sounds and patches, users will find themselves in a dreamscape of sonic possibilities and creative exploration. Full instrument suites include drums from club vibes to retro swagger, an array of world percussion instruments, synth monsters, numerous samplers, drum machines, sequencers and more.

As for effects and processing, the usual EQ, compressor/limiter (including a master bus compressor), maximizer, stereo imager suspects can be found. On top of that there’s an array of interesting modulation effects, pitch shifting, filters and plenty of time based effects fun to be had, and of course eons of more idiosyncratic effects for experimenting with. 

To top the effects library off there’s an amp and bass amp from plug-in titans Softube, tasty stuff indeed! For the nuts and bolts utilities side of things as well as MIDI FX are well taken care of with an arpeggiator, numerous sequencers, mixers, splitters and CV merger and splitter are all part of the arsenal. And to top things off there’s the mammoth sound bank, which is in excess of 29,000 device patches, loops and samples.

Overall: There’s a monstrous amount of professional virtual creative fun to be had here. Offered in slimmed down versions to the fully fledged suite, Reason 11 offers those seeking a comprehensive package of virtual instruments, effects and more.

Samson XPD Table Top System

Distributed by: Electric Factory | Expect to pay: $399

Recommended for: Roadies, FOH people, Cable-phobes.

Features: Investing in a wireless setup, is one of the wisest moves any presenter or vocalist can make and with everyone back accepting bookings, now is the time to get your wireless setup sorted.

The Samson XPD Table top system, is the perfect entry point into the exciting world of wireless, being fully scalable across the XPDm range. 

The XPDm LM8 Lavalier and PXD1 beltpack are easily paired with the portable, desktop RXD1M receiver, in turn providing 20 hours of battery life for trouble free, straightforward syncing.

Operating across the 2.4ghz licence free frequency (and free of the legal restrictions  that plague certain geographical locales), the dual channel Samson XPD Table top system punches well above it’s weight, providing clean, crisp signal up to 30m from the receiver. 

Overall: In the live domain, the list of advantages that come with wireless integration are long and well documented. Even if just for rehearsals or small gigs, there is something inherently liberating about not having to worry about cables. 

This  makes the Samson XPD Table top system a particularly thoughtful gift for anybody in the presentation, live music or even the content creation crowd, where the receiver can be routed to an interface for recording purposes. In terms of practical gifts, they don’t come much better.

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