FACT’s essential holiday gift guide for producers
From Moog mugs and DIY drum machines to the latest Eurorack modules, FACT has come up with all the gift ideas you need for musicians and producers this holiday season.
The end of the year is coming, which means you’ll have to buy presents for your partner, friends and relatives. That’s daunting enough, but if the person in question is a producer, you’re probably feeling an extra pang of anxiety.
So, to help you pick the right gift for the musician in your life, we’ve gathered some of the year’s best new gear to suit all budgets alongside stocking fillers and studio essentials for your loved ones (or just for yourself).
These inexpensive gifts are perfect for solving all your Secret Santa dilemmas.
Moog Travel Mug by Moog
Show your love for Moog and help save the planet at the same time with this waveform-themed travel mug.
Stamp Albums: Electronic by Dorothy
This gorgeous screen print reimagines 42 classic electronic albums as postage stamps and is perfect for hanging on the studio wall.
TB-303 T-Shirt by Roland
The ultimate T-shirt for acid fans and synth nerds alike.
Program Your 808 posters by Rob Rickett
These posters don’t just look cool – they feature the exact 808 patterns to recreate classic tracks by Cybotron, Mantronix and Yellow Magic Orchestra at home.
If you’re buying a gift for someone who’s already got all the gear they need, these books will keep them busy.
Patch & Tweak by Kim Bjørn and Chris Meyer
The follow-up to last year’s Push Turn Move is an exhaustive tome on modular synthesis, featuring buyer’s guides, how-tos and patching secrets from the pros.
Making Music: Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers by Dennis DeSantis
Ableton’s book of creative strategies is almost four years old now, but the composer’s block-beating wisdom inside is timeless.
Mars By 1980: The Story of Electronic Music by David Stubbs
David Stubbs’ exhaustive history of electronic music will provide all the inspiration you need for your next studio session (possibly too much, even).
Synthesizers don’t have to cost thousands – there are gift options to suit all budgets and ability levels.
Mute 4.0 synthesizer
Mute’s dinky digital wavetable synth is the perfect gift for both megafans of the long-running UK label and gnarly electronic noises.
IK Multimedia UNO
This two-oscillator real analog monosynth looks small but sounds huge – the sub-$200 price makes it a steal too.
Hefty kick drums, drifting ambient pads and screeching leads – Elektron’s awesome FM synth and four-track sequencer does it all.
Moog’s new entry-level keyboard synthesizer combines a funky, retro design with a patch bay for sonic experimentation.
Drum machines and samplers
A new drum machine will deliver as much joy on Christmas morning as a PlayStation (and it won’t hog the TV).
The latest in Roland’s peerless drum machine line has classic 808 and 909 sounds on board but also the game-changing option to load your own samples.
Modal Electronics CRAFTrhythm
This DIY drum machine can be built without tools in under 10 minutes and has its own companion app. It’s the perfect LEGO substitute for grown-up kids.
Price: £80 ($103)
Teenage Engineering PO-35 Speak
Teenage Engineering’s latest Pocket Operator has a built-in microphone for vocal sampling. It’s not a drum machine exactly, but you can make some very weird loops with the on-board sequencer.
Korg Volca Kick
Probably the most underrated of Korg’s Volca range, the Kick is a far more versatile studio tool than its name suggests.
If your loved one is a modular synth devotee, these Eurorack modules should bring something unusual to any skiff case.
ALM Busy Circuits Pamela’s New Workout
This useful module from ALM is a programmable clocked modulation source – which means you can use it automate all sorts of weird sounds and squelches.
Mutable Instruments Plaits
The successor to Mutable’s ubiquitous Braids module includes a massive 16 different synthesis models.
Tiptop Audio Z-DSP
Tiptop’s Z-DSP is one of the most versatile effects units you can buy, and its new expansion cards offer even more possibilities.
Expert Sleepers Disting MK4
Expert Sleepers’ popular Disting will find a home in even the most stuffed of Eurorack cases – it packs over 80 functions into one tiny module.
Modular synth essentials
If you’re not sure what module to buy the Eurorack fanatic in your life, these modular essentials will not be unappreciated.
Patching your Eurorack is fun. Unscrewing the modules when you want to switch them out, not so much. These specially designed screws can be tightened by hand, so you’ll never have trouble getting your new modules in.
Price: $20/£15 for 50
Rubadub 3U 88HP Eurorack Powered Skiff Bundle
Rubadub’s entry-level powered skiff is the ideal starting point for anyone that wants to start building a modular synth – or expand an existing system.
Price: £179 ($230)
Mutable Instruments Little Bag Of Patch Cables
This handy pack of cables (which comes in its own gift-friendly bag) includes 20 Eurorack patch cables in four different lengths.
Intellijel Hub 4 Channel Passive Eurorack Signal Multiplier
This cute hub allows a signal from, for example, a keyboard or sequencer, to be sent to several modules instead of just one. They also have the option to stack together magnetically.
Software and controllers
A MIDI controller or DAW can be a more cost-effective way into music production than a standalone synth.
Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3
NI’s entry-level Maschine is great value, offering not just a beautiful, compact controller for beat-making but a ton of samples, synths and sounds too.
Novation SLMkIII MIDI keyboard controller
This new MIDI keyboard controller from Novation is the ultimate all-rounder. It works with most DAWs out of the box and has connections for controlling analog gear.
The arrival of Akai’s Fire FL means that FL Studio owners finally have their own dedicated MIDI controller.
Ableton Live 10 Intro
The entry-level version of Ableton’s new Live 10 is a great introduction to music production.
Stands, cases and storage
If you’re buying a gift for a producer who already has all the gear they need, buy them something to display it or keep it safe.
These sleek 3D-printed stands can be bought for a huge range of synths and controllers, including the Push, Waldorf Blofeld and Teenage Engineering OP-1.
UDG hardcase for Maschine MK2, MK3 and Jam
UDG’s versatile bag will fit most of NI’s recent full-size Maschine controllers, and the hardshell outer will keep it safe from damage in transit.
Synths & Wood stands
These custom stands are the ideal place to display a collection of Korg Volcas or Roland Boutiques. Synths & Wood will even design a stand to your own specifications if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Decksavers can be found for pretty much all of the most popular MIDI controllers, all they’ll keep them safe from studio dust and spillages.
Scott Wilson is FACT’s tech editor. Find him on Twitter