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The best gifts to get for music producers in 2019

The best gifts to get for music producers in 2019

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NEW! The best gifts to get for music producers in 2020

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us… or the most annoying time of the year, depending on your holiday spirit. Regardless of how you feel about the holidays, most of us still need to succumb to the gift-giving traditions passed down by our great ancestors. I mean, what better way is there to show someone that you love them than spending money on them?

Finding gifts for your loved ones can be a horribly daunting task. The truth is the best gifts aren’t the most expensive. It’s the thought that counts! The perfect gift is something the recipient needs and can use, with bonus points added if they normally wouldn’t buy it for themselves. The purpose of giving a gift is to show the person that we care about them.

If one of your loved ones is an audio engineer or music producer, the good news is that I’ve put together this comprehensive guide that will take all of the thinking out of it. These are all gifts that every single recording musician would be glad to receive this holiday season! You can’t miss!

I separated this list into different categories based on how they would improve the recipient’s life, and I tried to keep the cost below $100 with some exceptions.

Here is my list of the best gifts to get for music producers in 2019.

Improve their room

Hipster lamps

These cool Edison bulb lamps aren’t just for hip coffee shops. Spice up any studio with a few of these and help give the room a more rustic industrial look that’s sure to impress anyone from Brooklyn.

Color changing LED light strips

These LED lights have become a staple in studios around the world because they are an extremely cheap and easy way to add interesting accent lighting to any room. These come as adhesive strips, making it easy to run along the studio’s edges and corners. They also include a remote, so you have the ability to change colors based on your mood.

Color changing light ball

It’s an 8 inch LED ball. Buy a few and spread them around your room for those futuristic vibes.

Decorative string lights

Wood trim panels for their favorite pieces of gear

What’s sexier than an analog synthesizer with wood trim panels? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

Aromatherapy essential oils diffuser

Spending long amounts of time locked in a studio can make the air smell a little funky. With an essential oil diffuser, they can start recording with the sweet scent of peppermint and eucalyptus wafting in the air.

Improve their health

Air Purifier

Like I said, a recording studio can get funky! Make sure the air their breathing is so fresh and so clean.

Better chair

The desk chair is the heart of the studio. We spend the majority of our time sitting on it! I see many engineers posting pictures using expensive pieces of outboard gear while they sit on a hand me down desk chair that’s falling apart. The MARKUS from Ikea isn’t cheap, but with a 10-year warranty, it should last those long nights and obese clients.


Protect their ears with a pair of these Eargasm earplugs for musicians.

Improve their workflow

Backblaze subscription

$5 a month for unlimited cloud storage! That’s right! $5 for one computer and as many files as they can throw at it. The desktop application automatically backs up their drives and stores them in the cloud. They’ll never lose another session.

Sonarworks Reference 4

I can’t say enough good things about Sonarworks Reference 4. It’s an absolute game-changer, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to work without it. For $300, you can make a drastic improvement to the monitoring situation of any studio. This gift will make you a hero to any music producer.

Shortcut keyboard covers for their DAW of choice

Shortcuts are a pain in the ass to learn, but these keyboard covers from make it a lot easier. They have covers for every DAW and MacBook keyboard style; just make sure you buy the correct one.

Improve their productions

Teenage Engineering PO-33 KO

This little calculator looking device is really a super-powerful sampler that includes a built-in microphone with sound quality that’s good enough to use in your productions. These are really fun to play with but are also legitimate musical instruments to create with.


Invented in 1967, this stylus-based analog synth is a fun time for the whole family! Okay… Maybe not for the whole family, but they definitely are a fun, cheap toy that can actually be used as a real instrument.

Korg Volca FM

Considered to be the portable version of the famous Yamaha DX7, you can really get some tasty synth sounds with this thing. The Volca series has a bunch of exciting synthesizers, but for me, the FM is the standout and something that every studio could benefit from having around.

Subscription to Splice

This subscription service gives you monthly credits that allow you to download samples. The desktop application makes it easy to search for new samples to download and drag and drop on to your sessions.

Take them to school

Subscription to Mix With The Masters

Mix With The Masters is such an incredibly valuable resource for engineers and producers of all skill levels. For the first time, we get to sit in with the industry leaders and see how they think and the techniques they use to create the songs we know and love.

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski

This is the only book on mixing anyone needs and the only one I would recommend gifting. Bobby Owinski nails it.

For more gift ideas, check out 20 unique things for your recording studio on Etsy.


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5 more mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them

5 more mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them

Blindly adding effects

Kick drum? Compress it! Guitar amp? Distort it! Vocals? Reverb it! Ok, the majority of the time, I will compress the kick drum, distort a guitar, or put reverb on a vocal, but I need to be sure I have a good reason for doing so. In the past, I’ve found myself jumping to an EQ or a compressor without first deciding the problem I was trying to solve. If you’re going for a compressor, you should know why! Do you want to control the dynamic range? Add some saturation? Purely for tone? What exactly is that piece of equipment going to be doing for you? If you think about your signal chains more analytically, you’ll become more aware of what you’re doing and ultimately make better decisions.

Not having a mix template

Not only will a mix template save you time, but it will also help streamline your process and allow you to focus on the more critical details. I actually wouldn’t recommend someone who is new to mixing to start with a template. A new engineer doesn’t have enough experience to know what will work most of the time, which means a template would not help much. When you’re a newer engineer, experimentation has a lot of benefits that will help you grow. Eventually, you will gain enough experience to trust your ears, which will allow you to know precisely when something works and when it doesn’t.

If you have some experience under your belt, then having a template with your commonly used effects and routing set-up will save you an enormous amount of time. It’s helpful to look at professional templates and to try and figure out why they have things set up a certain way. You can then start to implement some of the things you see in those templates into your own. If any Audio Hertz readers are interested in seeing my template or would like to see some other professional templates, you can reach out to me via Facebook or Instagram.

Not studying enough

Getting your hands dirty is a vital part of learning the art of recording and mixing music, but you can’t rely solely on experience. If I spent 10 hours every day mixing and mastering, I’d probably be pretty good, but there would still be things that I’d miss that I wasn’t able to figure out on my own. This is why it is crucial to incorporate some formal studying into your practice regimen. Treat recording and mixing like a sport: practice daily, study the greats, watch videos, recreate productions, and cover old songs.

There is nothing that can replace experience and doing something and finishing it (bolded for importance). You have to put in your hours along with studying the things that have worked for others in the past.

Right now, there are a ton of paid and free resources available. YouTube has a lot of material readily available. Still, the problem with YouTube and other similar sites is that you can’t always be sure about the people that are teaching you and if they are a legitimate source of information.

I pay for sites like and Mix With the Masters. These sites are comparatively pricey to free YouTube videos, but the information is well worth the monthly fee. I’ve watched some of these videos multiple times and find myself frequently picking up new things that I didn’t catch the first time around. Both sites are readily updating and adding new content and are very adamant about their goal to further advance engineers with the skills from absolute masters of the craft.

Without the ability to go and sit next to these masters in the studio while they are working, this is the next best thing. It’s arguably a better method for learning because they are talking through their process for you. I highly recommend checking both sites out.

Missing the little things

The small things really start to add up. Recording, audio engineering,  playing an instrument, etc., all require a high attention to detail to do them well. In the past, I’ve fallen into bad habits of ignoring things that seem like they may not make an immediately noticeable impact. The truth is, a great mix isn’t made by making massive changes, it’s fine-tuned, small tweaks that are continually being altered until you have sculpted your tracks into a fully produced mix. When you begin a new mix, you have a lot of leeway to start making big broad changes, but pretty quickly, it gets into a time where you’re not making differences that a layman would notice. It’s like a painting– you don’t start with the fine details, but if you ignore them, then the painting does not seem complete. When you first start recording audio, hearing minor changes is difficult, and it may sound like something that small doesn’t even matter. It all matters, it all adds up, and it all makes a difference.

Not using reference mixes

There’s one thing that keeps me from checking reference mixes while I’m mixing… fear. I’m afraid I’m going to put the highly regarded reference mix on after listening to my current mix, only to realize I’ve spent the last 4 hours wasting my time trying to tweak the bass when it sounds terrible.

Have a playlist of your favorite songs that you think sound the best. Listen to them every half hour to an hour while mixing so you can keep the reference fresh as you mix. This helps your ears calibrate as you mix and they get fatigued. It’s easy to get caught up in minor details and forget about the big picture (having said that, don’t forget about the previous tip). The reference reality playlist keeps your ears in perspective. If your mix can stand up against one of the mixes in your playlist, then it’s pretty clear you’re doing something right. This tip was given to Greg Wells by JJP and passed along to me at the live Pensado’s Place at AES in New York City this year.

Related articles:
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
[Even more] Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering
Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon