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!
beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X USB-C Pack
Distributed By: Syntec | RRP: $499
Recommended For: Studio maestros, audiophiles, content creators, DJs
Features: If ever there was a time to have a pro, studio-quality headphone to come with all the essential accessories, it would be right here and right now, in 2022. Thankfully, beyerdynamic are all over it, covering all the possible angles of how their famed DT 700 PRO X headphones might be getting used. This USB-C Pack edition includes (you guessed it) a more than useful USB-C cable with integrated ESS DAC and an inline remote and mic. “You mean I can enjoy high fidelity phone calls and be able to make on-the-fly voice memos directly to my connected smart phone or other such device?” Yep! This nifty addition to these already crazy popular headphones expands the format of use, all the while enjoying the whopping 5Hz-40kHz frequency response, user-friendly 48 ohms impedance and other great features, perfectly pitched for both the on-the-go user and studio hermit. The STELLAR.45 transducer driver pumps out massive sound producing extended, defined low end and crystal clear highs, with all the midrange detail in between. The infamous beyerdynamic velour pads are as luxurious as one would expect, with a robust spring steel adjustable headband making for outrageously comfortable extended listening sessions. All parts are indeed replaceable for a sustainable design, clearly reaching the demands of modern users.
Overall: A gift worthy of those working professionally in the studio, creating a variety of content at home or on the road or for those simply looking for some accurate, high quality professional headphones capable of connecting to USB-C devices.
ESI U22 XT Recording cosMik Set
Distributed By: Sound and Music | Price: $489.99
Recommended For: Home studio hermits, bedroom producers, podcasting protégés.
Features: Often when on the hunt for a suitable beginner level home recording or podcasting setup, it’s best to not over complicate things – and for times like these, the U22 XT Recording cosMik Set is just that, a no nonsense professional recording bundle with everything one could possibly need to get started. The U22 XT USB bus powered audio interface sports two inputs (XLR/1/4″ combo jack and 1/4″ Hi-Z), balanced 1/4″ outputs, 48V phantom power and supports 24-bit 96kHz recording. The cosMik 10 condenser microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, 1” diaphrapgm, 30Hz-18kHz frequency response, 132dB dynamic range, and 135dB max SPL. It also comes with a handy desktop tripod stand and windshield.
Lastly, the eXtra 10 headphones are a cosy on-ear monitor headphone with a user friendly 32-Ohm impedance, 92dB SPL (1mW) sensitivity, and frequency response of 15Hz-29kHz. The attached cable is 2.5m long and includes the expected gold plated 3.5mm – 1/4” screw on adaptor, how we can never have enough of them lying around! Bundled with Bitwig 8-track, the U22 XT cosMik Set is ready to get recording started, equipped for recording, and mixing straight out of the box.
Overall: With its funky, retro-esque orange colouring and accessories to boot, this is a solid option for those looking to get into home studio recording on a budget.
Distributed By: CMI Music & Audio | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Mobile DJs, live venues, bands, corporate A/V, and dry hire.
Features: The new PRX900 series from JBL brings a new level of advanced features, technology, and solid sonic fingerprint to the diverse range of professional power loudspeakers. The PRX908 sits comfortably in the family with its compact footprint, sporting all of the features and characterful design that the whole range enjoys. A powerful DSP engine lies at the heart of the PRX908, providing a genuinely useful on-board 12-band parametric EQ for system tuning and tonal shaping, as well as exclusive dbx Driverack technology – including live and fixed automatic feedback suppression, soft system limiter, and speaker delay for time alignment when required. A powerful 8” ferrite magnet woofer and 1.5” poly-annular diaphragm compression driver loads the PRX908’s whopping 2,000 watts of peak power, providing a frequency response of 55Hz-20kHz @4pi (-10dB) and 126dB SPL of output. The updated waveguide disperses 105° x 60° for a wide and even coverage and the two balanced XLR combo jacks, 3.5mm aux, two XLR (M) loop thru’s, and XLR (M) mix output connectors provides a wealth of input and output options.
Overall: JBL’s commanding PRX range provides a benchmark for professional loudspeakers, with the PRX908 model providing a sound solution for numerous audio tasks and users alike. Comfortably fitting the mould for a mobile DJ, on stage monitor, or FOH speaker, or a perfect corporate AV and dry hire option, the PRX908 ticks a lot of boxes.
RC-R2RT Rock-N-Roller Multicart
Distributed By: Amber Technology | RRP: $239
Recommended For: Musicians without a roadie on retainer.
Features: Gear is great and all, but it’s often heavy. Even for musicians who’ve made their rigs more light and flight proof, the road cases required for air travel aren’t always convenient to carry or lug up and down venue stairs. For studios and rehearsal spaces, there’s a constant stream of equipment being lugged in and out, and conventional trolleys aren’t always convenient for the dimensions of our cabinets, road cases, and combo amps.
This is where the RC-R2RT Rock-N-Roller Multicart comes in, a cart specifically designed for loading awkward equipment. While not specifically designed for music, the design of the RC-R2RT Rock-N-Roller Multicart makes it ideal for loading bulky items like road cases or multiple guitar cases, but can also double as a welcome addition for camping, film crews, or heck, even house moving!
With a max load of 160kg, the RC-R2RT will handle most equipment with ease, albeit sometimes with a few trips for those gigs where both guitarists need a full stack behind them.
Overall: The RC-R2RT Rock-N-Roller Multicart is a great design and packs away while travelling or when it’s not being used, making it an easy purchase for anyone with equipment. Two or three handfuls of heavy gear can be compressed into one trip, and without doing your arms and back any damage loading into a venue before you’ve even set foot on stage.
Distributed By: Jands | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Podcasting pros, content creators, streamers, budding engineers.
Features: Taking a very healthy influence from the SM7B, the Shure MV7 brings new meaning to the affordable broadcast quality microphone. With its classic looking broadcast aesthetic, the MV7 certainly looks the part and gives its tip of the proverbial hat to its (much) older sibling, but that is where most of the similarities end, as the MV7 boasts a wealth of modern features the SM7B can only dream of. Dual XLR and USB connectivity first of all allows for both traditional preamp/audio interface connectivity or more modern direct to computer connectivity. Slick touch sensitive controls are nicely located along the body of the mic, which control gain and monitor levels. The MV7 is certainly geared towards vocalists and voiceover work, with a presence bump around 3kHz and a gentle roll off at the low end, helping control the expected issues that can occur in the low frequency range, particularly in nosier environments. The included ShurePlus MOTIV software allows for some nifty fine tuning for voices and makes capturing a quality recording a breeze.
Overall: Based upon and inspired by a studio and broadcast classic, the MV7 takes many of the best parts of what makes the SM7B so wildly popular and brings with it a wealth of modern features creators of today will thoroughly enjoy. A go to for those wanting to step up their production and overall quality of microphone without blowing out the budget.
Universal Audio SD-1
Distributed By: CMI Music & Audio | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Podcasting pioneers, content creators, singer/songwriters, producers.
Features: It’s always a treat when looking for a new microphone, whether it’s your first or fiftieth addition to the collection. When looking for something that can capture vocals or an instrument or two with accuracy can be tricky, and sometimes a condenser just isn’t the right tool for the job. A relatively new kid on the block, Universal Audio’s SD-1 is one of those once in a blue moon type of microphones that is both incredibly versatile and looks the part – particularly appealing for those using their microphone on camera. This broadcast-styled dynamic boasts a consistent cardioid polar pattern for great off-axis rejection, a flat frequency response of 50Hz-16kHz, and a switchable low cut filter and articulation boost for convenient tonal shaping. The built-in shock mount helps reduce low-end rumble and mechanical noises, whilst the built-in windscreens alleviates plosives and breaths – so no need for additional pop filters here, phew! The rear-mounted XLR connector completes this elegant design – the SD-1 really does look the part. In typical UA style, the SD-1 is built to last and comes with some handy Apollo Channel Strip Presets to help get vocal and instrument sounds straight off the bat.
Overall: A wonderfully crafted dynamic microphone worthy of any recording setup, capable of accurately capturing a natural sound and nuanced detail of numerous sound sources with ease. A true studio companion inside and out.
Distributed By: Jands | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: The most vigorous of singers, engineers, those who just love an iconic mic.
Features: The near infallible SM58 is still, after decades of abuse still going strong in the live, studio, and touring spaces, Shure to be found (sorry, I had to) in nearly every corner of the earth where there’s a stage or a mic stand. Built like an absolute tank and not wanting to sound hyperbolic, but the SM58 can cop an absolute beating – so much so that it’s quite rare to find an older one still in service that doesn’t have its grille caved in, but yet, it still works like a charm. Classic! This legendary microphone really needs no introduction, but for those looking for some actual detail, the SM58 has a rather modest frequency response of 50Hz-15kHz, providing a natural roll off of subs and the tippy top, very handy when EQ options are limited. With a healthy midrange, nice amount of body in the lower mids, and a gentle presence boost around 2kHz which rolls off around 10kHz, the 58 just sits beautifully in the mix.
Overall: You need not worry about this one taking a dive out of the Christmas hamper, try dropping it from a helicopter at 200 ft and see what happens. No, but seriously, that’s actually happened and it still worked. All joking aside, the SM58 is a classic for a reason and still one of the most widely used microphones around today.
Distributed By: Technical Audio Group | Price: $319
Recommended For: Professional musicians, producers and engineers who want a reliable, dependable set of monitoring cans for the studio and beyond.
Features: With their sleek looks, comfortable fit, and incredible sound quality, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are already an icon in the studio space, having served as the favoured closed back option for years, renowned around the world as being the most cost-effective cans for studio applications.
Audio is provided by a pair of patented 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 earpads of the headphones makes sure that you won’t be left sore after extended periods of use.
But it’s the build quality and trustworthiness that are the name of the game here, with remarkable consistency in sound from one pair to the next and replaceable ear cups for regular studio upkeep, the M50x headphones are perfect for busy recording environments and live ensemble tracking, as well as being an absolute no brainer for anyone interested in podcasting or streaming.
Overall: A modern classic. The sound quality of the ATH-M50x headphones are already legendary, and the comfort and durability makes them a trusted acquisition for both work and play. One of the perennial controlled variables in the studio space, you literally can’t go wrong with a pair of Audio-Technica M50x cans.
KRK Rokit 5
Distributed By: Jands | Enquire for pricing
Recommended For: Home studio enthusiasts, engineers and mixers on the go
Features: The iconic yellow cones of the KRK Rokit studio monitor are synonymous with the studio, particularly that of the home studio enthusiasts, with countless pairs of this now well-known monitor being the first pair of many an engineer – providing an affordable monitoring solution whilst still retaining solid frequency response and reliability as a whole. The Rokit 5 G4 is no exception and only but continues with the steadfast tradition of KRK’s most recognisable and familiar studio monitor family – with a few nifty updates to the design many will be sure to find appealing. With a full range frequency response of 43Hz-40kHz (huge for a 5” monitor), The Rokit 5 provides plenty of detail from bottom to top and everything in between, and with a max SPL of 104dB, they pack the proverbial punch! Connectivity is simple with balanced TRS/XLR combo jacks and an individual monitor weight of 4.85kg, not backbreaking by any means, Where the Rokit 5 G4 really comes into its own though is in its powerful DSP engine, which plays host to a graphic EQ with 25 settings for helping integrate the monitors into less than ideal acoustic environments – aka the vast majority of home studios. This alone is a game changer in the studio monitor game, particularly at this price point.
Overall: The Rokit 5 G4 is an ideal solution for home studio environments and for those working on the go – this family of monitors have been a main-stayer in the industry and for good reason.
Check out print edition #324 for our full gift guide!