Are you scrambling to try find last minute Christmas gifts for your musician friends or audio technician friends? Are friends and family asking you what you would like for Christmas? In order to help you choose or to inspire you, we have asked the staff at Musitechnic for ideas of Christmas gifts under $100.
Divided in three categories, here is what they came up with. Previously, we had suggestions for music production and last time I gave you suggestions for the studio tech. This time it will be suggestions for the techs who are into electronics or for those who want to get started in electronics. There are some links so you can see where I obtained my prices but feel free to visit your local stores and compare.
I don’t know if being on the road mixing for a touring band has influenced Rufat Aliev’s choice of a Weller soldering station in the under $100 Christmas gifts but anyone serious about sound has considered getting one at some point. A classic model that anyone can use: there is an on/off switch and one knob that controls the amount of heat. It includes the base (with sponge) and the pencil iron. You will need to get your own electrical solder though (about $15 at Home Depot). The heating element is replaceable.
Technician Francis Trepanier knows something about maintaining studios. That’s why he chose a multimeter. The Pyle PLTM40 Digital LCD Multimeter will answer all your day to day needs. Whether you simply need to test cables or troubleshoot faulty electronics, a multimeter is bound to come in handy, especially if you work live gigs or have a complex studio setup. The PLTM40 measures voltage up to 750V (AC or DC), resistance (Ohms) and current (Amperes). It also offers continuity testing (great for testing cables!).
If you want to get into electronics, this suggestion from technician Francis Trepanier could be on your list. A magnifying glass from Zorvo ($28) that clips to your desk, lights up what you are working on with LEDs and frees your hands so you can hold your iron in one hand and the solder with the other. This christmas gift is easily positioned thanks to a soft metal tube that can bend to adjust the lens height. Magnifies up to 5x and works with 3 AAA batteries so you can really move it around without worrying about the cable length of the power supply.
Gabriel Boucher teaches post-production at Musitechnic and also makes his own gear when he’s not sound designing. He thinks getting a pocket oscilloscope can be a good idea if you want to start building your own circuits. The YETech DSO112A Oscilloscope ($85) is a basic battery-powered with a color touch display interface that can display analog signals from 0Hz to 1MHz with a sensitivity that goes from 5mV per division up to 20V per division. The timebase can be displayed from 10µs per division up to 50s per division. The DSO lets you see the shape, amplitude and period of your signal which is great for learning electronics or spot checks. The maximum input is 50V so we are talking about somewhat low level signals. Included is a BNC-to-banana plugs cable.
An oscillator can be useful to test equipment or to check your gain structure when setting up for recording. If you have a soldering iron, why not build your own? This oscillator kit is a good introduction to electronics. The NightFire Colpitts Crystal Oscillator Kit ($12) can be built in one hour and provides a sine wave at 700Hz or 1000Hz. It is controlled via a ¼ inch female jack. No battery or speaker included.
Gabriel Boucher also makes all sorts of compressors and equalizers. When he put together the bass-management system in many of Musitechnic’s studios, he probably needed to use a SPL meter to calibrate them. One of his gift suggestions is a Sound Pressure Level meter. The Galaxy Audio CM-80 Check Mate ($44) has a frequency range between 30 and 130dB(A), it displays in dBC or dBA and has a min/max option. Almost small enough to fit on your keychain it can be handheld or mounted on a camera tripod. Windscreen and battery provided. It follows the older IEC 651 Type 2 & ANSI S1.4 Type 2 standards so works for many applications but not modern measurement regulations.
I hope these suggestions from the Musitechnic staff help you in choosing the right Christmas gifts for an up and coming electronics geek or for the tech who want to become a better tech. Don’t forget that it is nice to give and receive gifts, but it’s even better when someone actually uses them!
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