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 some gifts that’ll send any muso to the moon and back with glee.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphones (Open Back)

BeyerDynamic DT990 PRO

Beyerdynamic has a well-earned reputation for making rock-solid studio gear (especially microphones). And if the DT 990 PRO is anything to go by, this reputation has been carried into the headphone realm too.

This open-backed headphone is suitable for a plethora of studio applications and if budget is a concern, you simply won’t find a better pound-for-pound pair of cans out there.

Any musician, audio engineer, or producer will love that you chose an open-back set of headphones, as they are a very useful studio tool. Even tracking vocals with open back headphones is a vibe — as long as the music is all done!

Beyerdynamic DT 990 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.



Sennheiser IE 100 PRO BT Headset


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.


Walrus Audio Mira Optical Compressor and Eons Five-State Fuzz

compressor pedal

When it comes to guitar effects fuzz is an instantly recognisable, classic sound, and a compressor is kinda one for the connoisseur; a piece you maybe didn’t realise you needed ‘til you plug the damn multi-knobbed mystery box in and notice how much more ‘expensive’ everything sounds.

The Eons Five-State Fuzz boasts 5 different fuzz modes with more overall control than any vintage unit ever offered. All modes react distinctly and definitely sound different to one another. Fuzz for years!

The Mira Optical Compressor is a silky, classy optical compression unit offering control over threshold, ratio (1:1 up to 20:1), attack, release, make-up gain, overall level, blend (aka a wet/dry control), with a side-switch high pass filter side chain to stop your low end triggering the compressor too early if you so wish.

The box also features a handy gain reduction LED to show when compression is happening which escalates in luminescence as the gain reduction increases. Whomever receives this gift will have everlasting respect for you as they learn the dark art of compression over time.

Arturia MiniLab 3 MIDI Controller

arturia midi controller

The brand-new Arturia MiniLab 3 MIDI controller. Perfectly sized, the 9 knobs and 4 faders feel solid to use and the touch-sensitive and multi-function pads and it’s packed with free software from Arturia, Ableton, Native Instruments, UVI and subscriptions to Loopcloud and Melodics. 

As well as the MiniLab 3’s screen and controls synchronizing with Analog Lab Intro, it’s also integrated with your DAW. Within Ableton, Logic, Bitwig, FL Studio and Reason, it uses specially-made scripts so you can control your DAW all from the MiniLab 3. You can tweak settings, create custom mappings, and work on your production in real-time.

Even if the person you are buying for is swamped with synths and MIDI controllers, this one is small, portable and ever useful in any sized studio.

KIT Plugins Blackbird Products

kit plugins

KIT Plugins are a reasonably new company on the scene, but it’s all quality over quantity here as they endeavour to set a high standard for analog emulation. Based in Nashville, it’s in their Blackbird products that they’ve created what might be out of reach for many of the world’s musicians.

The newer of their products — the BB Mo-Q — is a recreation of the EQ used in the Motown studio in the 60s while their BB N105 Channel Strip is an emulation from the one-of-a-kind Neve 8078 in the world-renowned studio, Blackbird, where their office is.

These are plugins for the audiophile, so you’ll get serious brownie points for your gifting of these.

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.


Avid MBOX Studio

The Avid MBOX Studio fuses the worlds of home and professional studios, taking that original game-changing idea of the first Mbox — to make home and smaller studios a more professional space in the audio world. With a bunch of useable features for the modern studio.

As well as 4 mic preamps, 4 line inputs, optical I/O for up to 8 channels of ADAT, MIDI in and out, there’s some brilliant features on this, like an onboard reamper, and a built-in tuner — that uses the onboard talkback mic — AND Bluetooth In and Out.

It’s not the cheapest present, but if you feel like splashing out this Christmas you’ll nail it with this gift.

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.


Mojave MA-D Handheld Dynamic Microphone

mojave microphones

For the first time in its history of world-class microphones, Mojave has released a handheld microphone to contend with the usual suspects.

Even though it’s a handheld dynamic microphone that is going to give those expensive handheld condensers a real run for their money as it’s got a silky smooth top.

The Mojave MA-D has a sleek and classic design, comes with a solid clip and soft zip-up soft case, and feels solid to hold.

The vocalist you gift this to will also think you dropped a LOT more money on them, as this microphone sounds a much more expensive then what it costs.

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.


Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field


If you’ve come this far in the gift guide and you still can’t make a decision, here’s the ultimate gift.

If you know what this is, you know. If you don’t — the Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field is a drum machine, synth, 4-track tape machine, sampler and more, all about the size of a family chocolate bar. It’s a playground in the palm of your hand.

This is an update on the iconic OP-1, Teenage Engineering says it’s: “Louder, thinner and 100 times better.”

The OP-1 Field is stereo, has 4 new tape machines, there’s a bunch more effects including a really cool reverb called Mother, the screen and graphics are so much more pleasing with a hardened glass hi-res flush display and the battery lasts for an incredible 24 hours.

This really is the gift of a lifetime, not to mention that this might just become a history piece. Go on, gift this to your loved one. You may even find yourself exploring it too.