When Christmas time comes around, are you scrambling to try to find gifts for your musician friends or audio technician friends? Are friends and family asking you what you would like to get for Christmas? In order to help you choose or inspire you, we have asked the staff at Musitechnic for their ideas of gifts under $100. Divided in three categories, here is what they came up with. Last time, we had suggestions for music production. Today, I’ll give you the suggestions for the TECHS WHO ARE INTO ELECTRONICS or for THOSE WHO WANT TO START GETTING INTO ELECTRONICS. There are some links so you can see where I obtained my prices but feel free to visit your local stores and compare.
This suggestion from technician Francis Trepanier may not seem an obvious choice for sound engineers but if you work in different studios you know how practical it is to work in a clearly labeled environement. This label printer from Brother should cover most of your labeling needs: The PTM95 Wireless Handy Label Maker ($23 on special, down from $40) prints in different size, fonts, types styles, a QWERTY type keyboard and over 200 symbols. It offers framing options which is great for patchbay labeling: one type of frame for normalized connections, another type of frame for non-normalized connections, or one frame for the inputs, another for the outputs. I also use it at home to label the jars I store my spices in. The tape is sold separately and can cost between $5 and $10 depending on if you buy just one or a whole pack.
A well-organized work environment helps you get the task done more efficiently. Studios can get messy with cables dangling everywhere so Francis suggests Velcro straps ($1) to keep your cables organized. Velcro straps also make long cable runs look cleaner. If your cable management needs require latching heavier cable bundles, you can use carabiner hook option ($9). You can even get a continuous roll of Velcro that you cut up according to your needs, available in lengths of 15 feet ($18) or 75 feet ($84). Not limited to audio cables, Velcro straps have many uses in the home too.
I can understand if getting lubrificant for your faders never makeds it to the top of your priorities but if you have some sort of mixer in your setup, maybe ’tis the season to maintain it. Francis Trepanier came up with the Hosa F5S-H6: It offers the DeoxIT brand it its FaderLube ($30) to lubricate of faders and switches. Dust, dirt and liquid build up and deteriorate the action of the faders. FaderLube can lubricate plastic-to-plastic parts, plastic-to-metal parts, and metal-to-metal parts. Not limited to the studio, FaderLube can be used on sliding and rotating metal parts, locks and bearings, as well as for cleaning your touch keypad (or mouse pointer) where finger oil, grease and acids accumulate from your fingers.
Maybe you do not have a mixer but still have some gear that tends to attract dust. Dan is used to keeping his studio clean and he proposes to use compressed air: Hosa CCS2000 DustALL Compressed Air Dust Cleaner ($18). It removes dust, lint and other particles that tend to get stuck in the cracks of your audio gear. I’m sure you can find plenty of uses for this can at home too: spray it anywhere dust accumulates.
When efficiency if the key, use a trackball. It may feel weird and clumsy at first but there is a reason why many professionals use trackballs. They are present in all the post-production studios I’ve visited, they are even included in many professional mixers/control-surfaces used in studios. Dan suggests Kensington K64325US Expert Mouse ($96). It has everything you need from a mouse and buttons: a large ball (maximum precision control), four buttons (left click, right click and two additional ones), a scroll-ring for scrolling with your fingertips. The Expert Mouse also comes with a detachable wrist-rest that cradles your hand to a comfortable position. Practice with it so you look like a pro at your next interview test.
Freelance studio engineer Christian Saint-Germain suggests an iLok ($50US) as a gift. Many software products require you to store your licenses on an iLok. For example, if you use Pro Tools, you need to store the license that authorizes you to use Pro Tools on an iLok. Over 100 companies use the iLok licenses for their software a=products, so if you buy the products online, chances are you need an iLok. The current iLoks (3rd generation) can hold up to 1500 separate licenses, plenty for most of us. You cannot use an iLok on multiple computers simultaneously but multiple iLoks can be connected to one computer.
In the previous Christmas list, another teacher was suggesting some items that can also be useful for the studio tech. His ideas include cables, a DI, stands, or a hard drive. I hope these suggestions help you in choosing the right gifts for the studio tech. Next, I’ll give you the suggestions the Musitechnic staff put together for the techs who are into electronics or for those who would like to get started in electronics.
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