Whether you’re shopping for yourself or another human who loves music production, these are some of our top picks for useful and inspirational gifts under £100.
This little, rugged MIDI controller keyboard comes bundled with a ‘lite’ version of Arturia’s excellent Analog Lab software, UVI’s Steinway Piano model and a stripped back version of Bitwig. We also love its neat cable-tidying solution so you don’t lose the USB cable when you throw it in a bag.
Korg’s Nu:Tekt DIY synth is ideal for any producer who’s grown out of Lego but still loves building. This little hybrid features a digital oscillator and effects, plus a multi-mode filter. No soldering iron is required, just snap it all together and have yourself a beepy little Christmas.
Price £99. For more info, visit korg.com
Modal Electronics CRAFTrythm & CRAFTsynth
Modal’s first generation of CRAFTsynth is a mean little wavetable synth and that sounds great. We reviewed version 2 recently and were roundly impressed. This is a fantastic introduction to hardware synths, and even comes with a companion app that lets you integrate it into your DAW.
Price £39.99/£63.99. For more info, visit modalelectronics.com.
Whether you want to reference your mix against a track on your phone wirelessly, or just blast seasonal bangers over your big studio speakers, the MV-BT is the just the ticket. This little Bluetooth receiver with level control has balanced outputs for plumbing into any pro studio setup and is a must-have for any collaborating producer. Essentially, it means you no longer need a trailing minijack cable for plugging in phones.
MusicTech Magazine Subscription
Unplug your phone, snooze notifications and enjoy some holiday reading with 50% off our beautiful print magazine. Packed with pro interviews, reviews and techniques, the magazine experience allows you to focus solely on being inspired to make music.
Price £17.99 / €46.99 / A$61.99 / $46.99. For more info, visit the MusicTech shop.
If Brain Eno’s Oblique Strategies was more practical, it would be this book. Packed with ideas for how to start, progress and finish tracks, this tome is sure to inspire. And it’s a thoroughly delightful object, too.
Price $30. For more info, visit ableton.com.
Novation LaunchKey Mini MK3
Novation’s latest little controller packs a huge amount of control into a tiny device. With 25 keys, 16 RGB backlit pads for finger drumming and clip-launching, eight rotaries, transport control and touch-sensitive strips for modulation and pitch bend, it’s a super capable production sidekick. It also comes bundled with some great software including Ableton Live Lite, so it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to dip a toe into production or just have a portable controller for the road.
Price £99. For more info, visit novationmusic.com.
TC Electronic June 60 chorus pedal
There is surely no more festive effect than chorus, and this little pedal is based on one of the most famous chorus circuits ever designed: the one from Roland’s Juno-60. Add it to mono sources such as synths, guitars or choirs of angels for 80s richness and width.
Price £46. For more info, visit tcelectronic.com.
These fantastic little idea machines stole our hearts when they came out and with all the different versions available – and new Rick and Morty-themed device – there’s loads to choose from. If you’re feeling really flush this holiday season, maybe even bag yourself two…
Dubreq Stylophone GEN x-1
The Stylophone Gen X-1 is a far cry from the little buzz box that made the name famous. Under Dubreq, Stylophone has become synonymous with affordable and quirky instruments. The Gen X-1 is a capable little synth that keeps the Stylophone method of note input but with a lot more functionality for sound design. And at under £60, it represents great value, too.
Price £59.99. For more info, visit dubreq.com
If you or someone you know has been talking about improving their keyboard, electronic drumming or finger drumming skills, this is a no-brainer. Melodics boasts a wide range of courses for different genres and skill levels. The interface is a lot of fun, and the teaching methodology is grounded in academic learning theory. Think of it as Duolingo meets Rock Band for keys, drums and finger drummers. Available for Mac, PC and now iPad as well.
Price $150, annually (just over £100). For more info, visit melodics.com.
BandLab Link Digital Duo
This remarkably affordable 2-in, 2-out audio interface feels chunky in a way that few audio interfaces in this price range do. With two XLR/jack combo inputs and phantom power, plus mirrored stereo line outs and minijack headphone out, it’s a simple but attractive device ideal for anyone wanting to take the first plunge into computer-based recording. [Editors’ note: BandLab Technologies is also the parent company of MusicTech].
Price $79.99. For more info, visit bandlab.com.
Protective plastic covers for studio gear may not be the most exciting present but you’ll be glad they exist when someone drunkenly throws eggnog all over the living room/studio desk. Originally designed to protect turntables, Decksavers are now available for all major synths, controllers and grooveboxes.
Prices vary. For more info, visit decksaver.com.
Get the wired version of the CME Xkey 25 for under a ton this Christmas. Its flat design won’t be for everyone but it does support aftertouch and its larger keys will appeal to anyone who is allergic to mini keys. It’s super portable and remarkably sturdy, but don’t expect it to have a fully-weighted hammer action.
Price $99.99. For more info, visit cme-pro.com.
The feel of a creative space can be transformed easily with art. There’s some great work available on various online stores and Etsy shops, but these blueprint artworks are particularly inspiring. The Electronic Music Blueprint is recently updated and plots major figures onto a Theremin circuit diagram.
Price £35. For more info, visit wearedorothy.com.
Want more advice on gear purchases? Check out our other Buyer’s Guides.