Behind every great song is an audio engineer. Yes, the musicians may perform the music, and producers may guide them along the way; but without an audio engineer to record these performances and ideas, they would remain just that. Using a treasure trove of knowledge, audio engineers capture these magical moments and work diligently behind the scenes so we can enjoy these songs for years to come.
If you are close to one of these remarkable individuals, whether professional or working from a home studio, you already know how intimidating it can be thinking of gifts that will help them with their day to day grind. With so many brands and types of different gear, it’s hard to know where to start. From musical gear to apparel, we’ve got you covered with this list of the top gifts that are sure to help the audio engineer in your life capture the next generation of music.
Best Gifts for Audio Engineers
- Ultimate Audio Frequency Spectrum PosterNo matter how experienced a person might be, it never hurts to have a cheat sheet. With each instrument having a unique range of frequencies, it can be hard to remember which frequencies to adjust to get the perfect sound. Luckily, the Ultimate Audio Frequency Spectrum Poster has it covered, showing the frequency ranges for 16 instruments on a chart ranging from 20-20,000 kHz. This 24”x36” poster also has specific frequencies listed for creating different sounds from these instruments, making it a go-to during the microphone selection and equalization process.
- AKG Pro Audio K240 Studio Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio HeadphonesAudio engineers can never have too many pairs of quality headphones. The AKG Pro Audio K240 Headphones use 30mm XXL transducers to provide impressive clarity, high volume outputs, and a wide frequency range. The semi-open design helps improve bass response, making these a solid choice to use while mixing, tracking drums, guitars, and vocals, The Pro Audio K240’s are built for long-term studio use and come with a detachable cable that makes for easy replacement and safer storage. Included is a screw-on ⅛” to ¼” adapter for switching between headphone jack sizes without putting strain on the male portion of the plug.
- Shure SE215 Pro Wired In-Ear MonitorsIf in-ear style monitors and earbuds are more your style, it is hard to beat the Shure SE215s. Using a high-definition drive to provide a great range of dynamics and clarity, the SE215’s also are sound isolating (or noise-canceling), capable of blocking out up to 37 dB of noise from outside sources. This makes them extremely handy when tracking louder instruments like drums, since they can eliminate a lot of sound that would normally overpower the mix provided by most in-ear monitoring systems.The SE215 model was also designed with a detachable cable, making replacement of the cable easy and affordable if ever required.
- Shure SM57Just like headphones, it is not possible to have too many microphones. The Shure SM57 has been a staple on stages and in studios around the world since 1965, quite simply for its incredible durability and versatility. It’s unique cardioid pattern eliminates nearly all noise that is not directly in front of the mic, and allows it to capture mid-range frequency sounds like snare drums, guitars, woodwind instruments, and even vocals with incredible quality. It’s rugged design makes them long lasting and when mixed with the unique cardioid pattern cuts down tremendously on handling noise. The SM57 is truly an industry standard, and every audio engineer should have at least a few on hand.
- Shure SM58LC Cardioid Dynamic MicrophoneThe SM58 is the most iconic microphone of all time, admired by live and studio sound engineers alike. Known for its extreme durability, this cardioid microphone earned the nickname “The Stagehammer”, due to stories of it being used to drive nails when assembling stages. SM-58s have an enhanced midrange and low-end rolloff, making them ideal for vocals. Despite this, it has a frequency response of 50 - 15,000 Hz and can be used in a large variety of situations.. Although they are typically used more in a live music setting, many audio engineers keep at least a few SM-58s around. No audio engineer would ever be upset to unwrap one of these.
- Audio Engineer Coffee MugBeing an audio engineer often means early mornings and late nights spent recording artists and mixing songs. Caffeine becomes a part of everyday life in the studio to be able to brave through long hours. This Audio Engineer Coffee Mug is a great gift to help the audio engineer in your life enjoy those early morning or late night cups of coffee, all while relating to the witty text printed on the side of the mug.
- WD Elements Portable Hard DriveSongs, plug-ins, and software take up a ton of space on the computer of an audio engineer. Most like to keep every file they possibly can, because you never know when you might need to revisit them. Portable Hard Drives are a gift that give audio engineers the ability to hoard everything and still be able to have plenty of space free on their system for updates and new software. WD Elements offers hard drives ranging from 1-5 terabytes and are compatible with both Windows and Mac.
- AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard ControllerMidi controllers sit on the desk of almost every recording studio today. Used to make drum beats, perform synth parts in studio, trigger single notes to perfect a passage, and much more, they are something no audio engineer should go without. The AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 has 25 keys, making it space efficient for even cluttered desk tops. Audio Engineers can use this with MIDI instruments in their recording software or plug-ins, or use one of the 1500 different sounds it has on board.
- Seismic Audio 25’ XLR Snake CableWith so many microphones and instruments being used at a time while recording, any audio engineer will appreciate the gift of snake cables. Snake cables give the ability to run one neat bundle of cords across the floor from the audio interface to wherever the recording is taking place instead of several individual cords. Ready to record? Plug up to 12 microphones into the box at the end of a snake cable. This will eliminate a lot of trip hazards and help keep a cleaner recording space.
- Blue Light Blocking Anti-Fatigue GlassesAudio engineers spend hour upon hour staring at a computer screen. All of that blue light can strain one’s eyes and cause headaches after prolonged periods of use. Blue light blocking glasses. These stylish non-prescription glasses work to block out large amounts of blue light, meaning they can protect the eyes from fatigue after a long day behind the computer. They can even be bought with different levels of magnification and are sure to be a gift that any audio engineer and their eyes will thank you for.
- DrumsticksIn the recording studio, every minute that a project gets delayed is a minute lost. Having a few pairs of drumsticks on hand can be a lifesaver, in the case that a drummer breaks his sticks or forgets to pack them (believe it or not, both happen quite often). Need to add a cymbal crash or drum hit to the mix after the band is gone for the day, or record a sample? Giving the gift of a few pairs of drumsticks can help keep things moving and avoid holdups.
- Analog Audio HoodieEven in the digital age, many people worldwide still love the sound of analog audio. Whether it’s the warm sound and crackle of vinyl records, or the thick sound of recording on reel to reel tape, analog still warms the hearts of many music fans and professionals. This vintage style hoodie will help the audio engineer in your life show off his love for analog audio, while keeping them warm and looking good.
- Wall Mounted Cable HangerGive the gift of clutter-free cable storage with a wall mounted cable hanger! Not only will this help relieve clutter in the recording studio, but keep your cables from needing to be rolled up for storage, which will reduce wear and tear. Built to hold up to 19 cables (¼”, USB, micro USB, MIDI, and XLR style cables), wall mounting a cable hanger provides great organization while keeping them easily accessible.
- Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair with Lumbar SupportWhen recording music, you can expect to spend day after day in front of the computer trying to get things just right. Without a comfortable chair, one can begin using bad posture, develop muscle pains, and even headaches from pinched nerves in the neck. With a comfortable mesh back, lumbar support, and a comfortable pad this is a gift for your audio engineer that keeps on giving. As an added bonus, this chair’s arms fold up and allow the chair to be stored under a desk, giving more space in the most crowded of studios.
- 10” Handheld Synthetic TambourineIf you listen closely enough, many hit songs through the years have the distinct sound of a tambourine shuffling in the background of the choruses, adding an extra layer of depth and energy to a song. Many drummers do not own a tambourine, since the decision to add one is usually suggested by an audio engineer or producer. Giving the gift of a tambourine ensures that at any time that extra layer can be added to the music without having to track down and borrow one.
- The Recording Engineer’s HandbookEven the most experienced writers keep a dictionary and thesaurus around in case they ever need a helping hand. The same goes for audio engineers. The Recording Engineer’s Handbook is an industry standard book that makes a perfect gift for any audio engineer. Written and revised to cover the most modern studio technology on the market, The Recording Engineer’s Handbook also includes sections with specific recording techniques for any situation.
- Powered Studio Monitor PairRecording and mixing is a true artform. After the band has done their part, the engineer is left to edit, mix, and oftentimes master the recording to get the final product. While headphones are great for recording, one needs the full area of sound produced by speakers to properly get all of the volumes of each instrument right. Studio monitors provide a wider range of frequencies and stronger bass, all while giving clarity that even the best headphones can’t achieve. Gifting the audio engineer in your life a set of good studio monitors is sure to put a smile on their face.
- Recording Studio Session JournalAudio engineers often work on multiple projects for multiple groups at the same time. With all of these moving pieces, it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s going on. The Recording Studio Session Journal is the perfect gift for easing this burden. This journal documents recording sessions and remembering details by giving checkboxes and pre-written information headers to fill in such as project name, payment information, session notes, type of session, and many more. Can’t remember what the settings were on that clean guitar you recorded for a client three months ago? Flip back and find out, in detail. Eliminating the need to dig back through old texts for payment information or old files for specific data, this gift will become any audio engineer’s most prized possession in the studio.
- Microphone Boom Stand 6 PackBoom stands are a must have for any audio engineer. Boom stands can get microphones to hard to reach places with an adjustable pivot and arm. This allows one to lower microphones from above, come up below, and even between pieces of drum hardware to get them in the perfect position. If a project calls for recording a full band at one time, an engineer might have six or seven stands in use (or more) at one time. A studio can never have too many boom stands on hand, making this a gift that is sure to garner thanks and appreciation from any audio engineer.