Our picks for the top headphones, interfaces, microphones, and more this silly season
It’s that time of year already, where did the year go? We say that every year don’t we, but it’s suddenly the festive season 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 gifts to keep your eyes peeled for.
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 recording pack, we’ve picked through the bunch to bring you our favourite audio gift ideas to consider these holidays.
If you’re interested in any of these products, enquire to the respective distributor for more information!
Yamaha AG03 MK2 Live Streaming Pack
Distributed By: Yamaha Music Australia | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Streamers, gaming, live online event hosts
Features: Yamaha has a small range of AG mixers that has recently grown with the Yamaha AG03 MK2. Designed as a streaming mixer, the AG03 MK2 has multiple inputs designs for voice, instrument, and other sources, all routed with their own gain and volume controls before monitor and headphone outputs allow to hear back what you’re streaming. The AG03 has USB connectivity, limiting so you won’t send distorted and unclear sound to your audience and multiple input types like 1/4”, RCA and USB so you’ll be sorted no matter what other gear you’re working with.
Better yet, the mixer is teamed up with a YCM01 cardioid condenser microphone and a pair of YH-MT1 headphones.
Overall: The AG03 is a really simple solution to a possibly technical nightmare of sources, latency, and signal flow. The AG03 MK2’s small footprint means you can take it anywhere, an increasingly important addition in the modern world where content creators can be making video, streaming or recording multiple sources from anywhere in the world.
Your gain and output controls are all within reach, as well as handy mute buttons for different sources, phantom power onboard and a footswitch input to control different parameters if need be. Onboard DSP processing allows you to adjust and effect signals before it’s played back for yourself and your audience.
Zoom PodTrak P4
Distributed By: Dynamic Music | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Podcasters, mobile broadcasters, travelling musicians.
Features: Featuring four XLR inputs and four individual headphone outputs with individual volume control, gain control knobs, and mute buttons for each input, all in an extremely compact footprint. The P4 is also a two-in and two-out audio interface, allowing you to record directly to your computer, Android, or iOS device. Additionally you can stream your podcast.
Accounting for mics of all denominations, there is phantom power for all XLR inputs, with all input sources having the ability to be recorded on separate tracks to give you that bit of freedom in post-production. If you can’t use your Zoom P4 in person and need to rely on the online Zoom call, you can connect your phone to the P4 with a TRRS cable (adapter may be required), or connect to your computer via USB. The P4’s built-in mix-minus feature means distracting echo and feedback will automatically be eliminated.
Additionally, you can trigger sound effects using four assignable sound pads with 11 preset sounds. You can export in 16-bit /44.1kHz audio WAV, as you record directly to SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 512 GB. It boasts up to four hours of use with just two AA batteries or a USB power supply.
Overall: The PodTrak P4 is your one-stop-shop to record your podcast whether your setup is stable or mobile, boasting all the features you need to tidy up your recording and editing process.
Distributed By: Technical Audio Group | Price: $269
Recommended For: Podcasters, streamers, gamers, musicians, on the go recordists.
Features: Having always been a company to embrace technological advancements, consistently packing innovation into their products, the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-X is no exception. Taking everything users have come to know and love about their superb AT2020 condenser mic and making it an even more powerful entry-level condenser just makes sense – allowing direct connectivity to a computer, albeit not sacrificing quality. An absolutely no-brainer plug and play experience, the AT2020USB-X puts users immediately at ease with its USB-A or USB-C connectivity options, with connectors located at the bottom of the mic. Being able to record at 24-bit and at a sample rate of up to 96kHz means incredibly detailed capture of a mic in this class – directly in a DAW. The included mount is solid and looks the part, and the included cable gives plenty of length for those wanting to operate the mic further away from their computer. Direct monitoring via the headphone output on the side of the mic is all too easy, as is volume, mix adjustment and muting of the mic (which even glows red when muted). The 20Hz-20kHz frequency response means every detail is captured at studio quality resolution.
Overall: It’s Audio-Technica and a modern update on their now iconic 2020 condenser mic, say no more! For those wanting to get into podcasting, streaming or just looking for an easy, hassle-free recording solution, the AT2020USB-X provides a top quality solution that doesn’t break the bank!
Yamaha ZG01 Game Streaming Pack
Distributed By: Yamaha Music Australia | RRP: $699
Recommended For: Gamers, streamers, Twitch types.
Features: Getting into the world of gaming is one thing, but figuring out how to stream video as well as audio from a few sources can be a whole other world of tech. Introducing the Yamaha ZG01, the first audio mixer designed specifically for streaming.
The ZG01 is a mixer with connectivity for your mic and headset, voice chat, and game audio all in one, with a big master volume to control your overall volume. This way you can stream your own voice as well control your headphone output, speak to others, and mix the audio of the game and other streamers so you can focus on the content and not the creating.
Overall: Yamaha are clearly listening to the market with their ear to the ground. The ZG01 features everything you need to start streaming, and without clunky tech to interface multiple mics and sources together, to be summed at a final output. The ZG01 handles the routing and interfacing, allowing you plug and play, with good quality audio and ease of access to controls if you need to adjust them in the middle of a stream.
Diving deeper into the layout of the ZG01 only allows you to customise your listening and recording environment further, for clarity of source material and routing. The ZG01 is an all in one solution without the latency, interfacing and compatibility issues of running multiple inputs and outputs.
Focusrite Vocaster One
Distributed By: Focusrite Australia | RRP: $299
Recommended For: Podcasters, conjurers of content creation, streamers.
Features: There’s never been a better time to explore the world of dedicated audio interfaces designed to meet the needs of podcasting and content creation. Focusrite has earned a solid reputation for their audio interfaces over the years – matching simplicity and quality in their products, and the Vocaster One is no exception. Layout, connectivity, and overall functionality of the Vocaster One couldn’t be easier to understand and operate. One XLR input for connecting a microphone (48V being available for condensers of course), one 1/4” TRS output for headphones, 1/4″ outputs for connecting to monitors, and two 3.5mm inputs for connecting a phone and camera complete this delightfully simple interface. A whopping 70dB of gain is available on the microphone input, with auto gain functionality taking the guesswork out of the equation for setting optimal record levels, as well as a handy mute button and four on-board voice presets to get things started. The two large knobs on the top face of the Vocaster One couldn’t be easier to adjust and operate making professional quality recording a breeze. The two built-in stereo loopback paths make for easy streaming and seamless transitions for any session and round out this professional package.
Overall: A charming little interface for a simple, hassle free setup and operation for any setup. A perfect companion for the budding podcaster, content creator, or otherwise. It’s Focusrite – you can’t really go wrong.
beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X Lightning Pack
Distributed By: SYNTEC | RRP: $499
Recommended For: Studio maestros, audiophiles, content creators, DJs, Apple enthusiasts
Features: How too often we get caught out wanting to listen to some tunes on a walk, public transport or alike but sure enough, the damn Apple Lightning adaptor is nowhere to be found! But fear no more friends, beyerdynamic have us covered. Included in the DT 900 Pro X Lightning Pack is a Lightning cable with integrated Apple A2M DAC and an inline remote and mic. No need for holding onto all the adaptors or having multiple different headphones crammed into ones’ backpack, just a pair of DT 900 PRO Xs, please and thank you. This handy little addition to these already ubiquitous headphones takes them out of the studio and onto the heads of users from all walks of life. With a monstrous 5Hz-40kHz frequency response, all-too-suitable 48 ohms impedance, and insane comfort to match, the DT 900 PRO X Lightning Pack is perfectly pitched for both the studio recluse and on-the-go user. The STELLAR.45 transducer driver throws out a huge sound with an extended, punchy low end, crystal clear highs, and delectable midrange detail. A vigorous spring steel adjustable headband makes for extended listening sessions a breeze, with all parts replaceable – making an overall sustainable design, matching the expectations of headphone users in 2022.
Overall: A superb pro studio quality headphone now with a dedicated Apple Lightning cable with integrated DAC, remote, and microphone. The perfect gift for any discerning studio boffin, gamer, or avid music listener. Enough said.
Distributed By: Technical Audio Group | Price: $169
Recommended For: Podcasters, content creators.
Features: If you are at all interested in the above applications, it’s hard to look past the AT2040 podcast microphone from Audio-Technica. It’s a dynamic, large diaphragm, end address microphone with a hypercardioid polar pattern, that comes housed in a sleek, all metal enclosure. It uses a professional-grade XLR output and requires no phantom power to run on account of it being dynamic. There’s an integrated shock mount present here which reduces noise travelling through the mic stand, as well as a multi stage wind screen consisting of a nonwoven filter and foam mesh to tame plosives (think boomy p’s and b’s) from reaching your recording.
A doff of the hat to broadcast mics past, the Audio-Technica AT2040 comes with a mount attached to the mic for easy manoeuvrability. This will also screw onto basically all microphone stands courtesy of the 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter. For transporting this microphone, there’s an included soft protective pouch to ensure your AT2040 stays in good nick while on the move, and at 615g, it won’t weigh down your microphone stand, while still being solid enough to take a knock due to its all metal enclosure.
Overall: With content creators likely wanting to have an all-in-one solution available and not have to purchase extra accessories, this fits the bill. With its affordable price tag, robust construction, and great sounding, noise rejecting qualities, the AT2040 is sure to be a hit for online content creators – keep your eyes peeled for it in the next YouTube thumbnail!
Tula USB Microphone
Distributed By: Studio Connections | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Podcasters, content creators, mobile recordists, those in vogue.
Features: From podcasters and content creators, through to being able to comfortably capture a full band rehearsal or be used as a mobile recorder (with its rather handy 8GB of internal storage) – the Tula USB Mic is an ideal companion for many users, sporting numerous features many other microphones of this type simply cannot tout. Its high quality build features Burr-brown op amps, a frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz and is capable of recording at 16-bit and 48kHz. Real-time monitoring is conveniently located via the 3.5mm headphone jack on the side of the mic, and this also doubles up as a lav mic connector. The cardioid and omnidirectional capsules offer plenty of flexibility depending on the desired use and response from the mic – ideal for capturing a single voice of a whole ensemble if required. The active noise cancelling from Swedish company Klevgrand is something to marvel at in a little pocket-sized mic like this, helping alleviate extraneous noise from recordings – fantastic for things like noisy air conditioners and alike in less than ideal recording environments. The USB-C port allows for quick connection and data transfer to a computer so editing and mixing of recorded material is a breeze.
Overall: A superb little microphone that not only looks stylish, but packs the features and build quality one might not even realise they needed. What’s more, you can get a free Black Nylon Case in December with any Tula Mic bought.
Distributed By: Technical Audio Group | Price: $169
Recommended For: Budding producers, musicians on the go, students, music lovers.
Features: Already an industry standard and one of Audio-Technica’s most popular products, the ATH-M20x now comes in a Bluetooth enabled pair – the ATH-M20xBT. Mentioning the non Bluetooth version here is for good reason, as these headphones have embedded themselves into the mainstream of studios, classrooms, and audio installations the world over, and this is by no mistake. These affordable, high quality headphones set an astoundingly high quality standard for an entry-level headphone, and offering this model with Bluetooth seems like a no brainer really. Touting a whopping 60 hours of battery life, a frequency range of 15Hz-20kHz and intuitive, conveniently located connectivity makes the ATH-M20xBT for a wide variety of users who demand high quality audio, maximum comfort, and reliability in the one package. One of the niftiest features of all though is the headphones multipoint pairing feature. This allows for the ATH-M20xBT to be paired to multiple devices simultaneously, for lighting fast change over from laptop, to phone, and back again – no disconnecting, reconnecting, and waiting to pair time here. This alone is worth it!
Overall: An already well-established headphone, the ATH-M20xBT works off a solid reputation with a superbly integrated Bluetooth system that goes above and beyond what most would expect. As expected from Audio-Technica, these headphones are made to the highest quality and just work as they should. A superb gift for those who love quality sound and the convenience of Bluetooth.
Steinberg UR22C Recording Pack
Distributed by: Yamaha Music Australia | RRP: $569
Recommended For: Entry-level recorders, home studio types.
Features: Comprising an audio interface, microphone, and pair of headphones, this one is ideal for beginners looking for an affordable entry into the vast world of laptop recording without compromising on sound quality.
Given its super versatile, plug and play operation, the UR22C also doubles as an awesome small scale Content Creation option, perfect for all those budding podcasters and streamers out there, giving you all you need to get your thoughts and feelings out on the information superhighway. Steinberg’s UR22C audio interface offers 32-bit audio quality, letting you enjoy crystal clear recordings of guitars, keyboards, and other audio sources, while the included ST-M01 condenser microphone is quite clear in the midrange and boasts a distinctive character best suited for vocals; if you’re into ASMR, you’ll vibe this one. The ST-H01 headphones aren’t too bad either!
It’s worth reading the manual if you’ve never operated or set up an audio interface or microphone before, but once you’re acquainted with its features, the UR22C recording pack is super straightforward. USB-C connectivity ensures that the interface is swift in operation, while the loopback function is great for pairing high quality audio with a video source for streaming.
Overall: Being a Steinberg product, you just know the build quality and intuitivity of the feature set are going to be high on the priorities list here and the UR22C Recording Pack does not disappoint in this regard. Whether podcasting, streaming, recording, or mixing, the UR22C Recording Pack is one hell of a Christmas gift. Mum, I hope you’re reading this!
Check out print edition #324 for our full gift guide!