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Happy Mag’s audio gift guide for musicians and hobbyists

Got a musician in the family but no idea what to get them these holidays? Or maybe you’re just poking around for self-gifts. Either way, you’ll find something you love in our audio gift guide.

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Buy a friend an instrument and they’ll be hungry forever – just kidding.

A gift for a musician is a tricky proposition, but when done right, it’s the best gift there is. Great gear never goes out of fashion, and when it’s a piece of kit with a depth and a charm that keeps you coming back, it can become a part of the studio for life.

Without further ado, here are 12 gifts that’ll send any muso to the moon and back with glee.

Sennheiser HD 400 Headphones

Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

With the HD 400 PRO, Sennheiser have taken the DNA of every headphone model that has come before it then added a few enhancements. It also differs from the rugged HD 300 PRO in its open-backed design, making it perfect for long mixing and editing sessions.

The HD 400 PRO can reproduce frequencies outside the scope of human hearing. This is important because it offers detailed translation of the most subtle of harmonic nuances in the sub-bass range, as well as those sparkly tops.

Therefore, it’s a brilliant tool for judging mixes with precision. Definitely the headphones for the audiophile in your life.

SENNHEISER HD 400 PRO

Fender Player Plus Series Guitars and Basses

Fender Player Plus Telecaster

Fender is one of the most historically significant brands in music, but that doesn’t mean they rest on their laurels. With the Player Plus series, new life has been breathed into classic models like the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass.

Shipping with smooth modern necks and fingerboards, push-pull electronics to add extra tonal dimensions, and a selection of fresh new finishes, it’s the ultimate new toy for all the guitarists and bassists out there.

FENDER PLAYER PLUS SERIES

 

Sennheiser IE 100 PRO BT Headset

IE 100 PRO BT

The audio evolution for musicians on stage has been fascinating. Back in the day, bulky foldback rigs consisting of “wedges” were standard. Thankfully, the advent of reliable in-ear monitors has made monitoring easier and more precise for musos and engineers alike.

The Sennheiser IE 100 PRO BT is a great case in point. Affordable, reliable, and gifted with the Sennheiser tone, it’s a great option for players who want to take control of their monitoring. Also, they make a very comfortable and portable Bluetooth solution for casual listeners on the go.

SENNHEISER IE 100 PRO BT

Dreadbox Effects Pedals

Dreadbox

Dreadbox has made waves in recent years for its innovative, high-quality synthesizers and effects. In 2021, however, they got into effects pedals in a big way and we weren’t disappointed.

Knowing this particular boutique company, they weren’t about to copy the tried and tested formula. Instead, they released a range of stompboxes that tested the limits of tone. So if you know a musician who craves sounds that are to the left of centre, one of these pedals would make a great gift.

DREADBOX EFFECTS

Sennheiser e 835/e 835-S Microphones

Sennheiser e 835

If you need to lock down a rugged, onstage dynamic mic, this is the one for you. The e 835 from Sennheiser is a mic that can take all the punishment you dish out in a live situation and still offer up a classic sound.

No-nonsense, clear representation of your tonal character, with a good degree of off-axis intelligibility is on display here. Handling noise is isolated with a hum compensating coil, and you’ll have no problems cutting through high on-stage levels with the e 835 in tow.

And if you need all this, plus a convenient on-off switch on the mic itself, the e 835-S is your best bet.

SENNHEISER E 835

BABY Audio Plugins

BABY Audio TAIP

BABY Audio is relatively new to the plugin scene, but they’ve already made one heck of an impression. They offer up something relatively new in this market: distinct takes on vintage tones that are dead easy to jump into and very affordable.

The ever-growing BABY Audio stable includes compression, different flavours of delay, VHS and reel-to-reel tape emulations among others. Definitely one to consider if you’ve got a mate who loves to make beats in the box.

BABY AUDIO PLUGINS

Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital

EW-D Handheld Set

When you invest in Evolution Wireless Digital (EW-D for short) gear from Sennheiser, you get a whole raft of options in return. If you think of the receiver as the “base”, then you can use it for wireless microphone, lavalier microphone, headset mic, or guitar operation.

Plus, if you’re an engineer, you can have a whole stage worth of receivers and never worry about intermodulation, owing to the clever way the system utilises evenly spaced out ultra-high digital frequencies. Plus, you can operate the whole thing (not to mention multiple iterations of EW-D) from a single mobile app. If you or the musician you love is keen to cut the cord, this is the best way to do it.

SENNHEISER EW-D

Warm Audio Cables

Warm Audio Cables
Photos: Kaitlin Hughes

Cables? Seriously? Aren’t they all the same? Well, to the untrained eye (and ear), they probably are. But to the busy musician or engineer that cares about tone and cares little for the hassle of replacing cables, the differences are obvious.

Warm Audio has teamed up with Swiss cable kings Gotham AG to craft a new range of instrument and microphone cables that come with a lifetime warranty across the range. The reason for that guarantee: you won’t need to replace these cables. Ever.

WARM AUDIO CABLES

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit

There’s no mistaking it: user-generated content is on the rise. But that doesn’t mean it has to be “amateur”. Sennheiser’s MKE 200 Mobile Kit gives you all the tools you need to create professional vlogs on-the-go, by harnessing the power of your smartphone.

It ships with the MKE 200 microphone — a compact and directional model that’s designed to be discreet and detailed. There’s also a clamp that’s designed to fit almost any phone and can be oriented for portrait or landscape shooting. Finally, there’s a Manfrotto tripod that you can easily position on almost any surface and is collapsible for handheld vlogging. A perfect starter pack for the budding creator.

SENNHEISER MKE 200 MOBILE KIT

AKAI MPC One Retro

Akai MPC One Retro

When the MPC first arrived way back in the ’80s, it was hailed as a revolution in electronic music production — and rightly so. Harnessing the power of digital technology, it rose to become an incredibly important tool in the evolution of hip-hop, spawning a swaggering style of its own.

Released earlier this year, the AKAI MPC One Retro taps into that legendary lineage, but in a smaller and more affordable package. You can opt for a completely standalone workflow, or connect it to all your favourite MIDI-compliant hardware, or use it to control MPC plugins on your computer.

AKAI MPC ONE RETRO

Sennheiser MK 4 Microphone

Sennheiser MK 4

If you need a workhorse large-diaphragm condenser for your home studio, the Sennheiser MK 4 is hard to go past. Perfect for almost any musical application (though it shines on vocals and acoustic instruments in particular), it’s also a solid performer when it comes to recording spoken word for podcasts.

Perhaps the biggest of the headline features of the MK 4 is its value for money. It punches well above its weight and is comparable in quality to other large-diaphragm condensers that are many times more expensive.

SENNHEISER MK 4

Zeppelin Labs Cortado MkII Contact Microphone

Cortado MKIII

If you know a musician or producer who doesn’t mind getting a little adventurous when they record, this could be the ultimate pocket-sized gift. The Cortado MkII is a contact microphone — this means that it’s designed to stick to just about anything.

You can use it to get around common recording headaches, for example, improving the tone of unwieldy acoustic instruments like a double bass, saxophone, or even piano. But it really comes into its own when you apply it to more unconventional tasks, like sound design.

ZEPPELIN DESIGN LABS CORTADO MKII