Top Stocking Stuffers: Galaxy CM-130 SPL Meter
Courtesy Galaxy Audio
This year, most everybody is on a budget. Unfortunately, if you're buying a gift for a musician (or, for that matter, anyone who's interested in recording or sound), you're well aware that us audio geeks haven't exactly picked the cheapest hobby.
This year, don't let your budget keep from giving something useful and fun!
In this guide, you'll learn my top picks for stocking stuffers this year. These are some great new products -- and some old must-haves -- that anyone interested in music technology would love. All of these items are affordable, too -- nothing's over $100.
1. Etymotic ER-20 High Fidelity Earplugs ($20, www.etymotic.com): There's one common trait among musicians and sound engineers who've been in the business and/or hobby: they have irreparable hearing damage, and many say they wish they'd used hearing protection earlier. Etymotic's $20 ER-20 earplugs are a comfortable earplug with one very special feature: for those who work or play with music, they reduce the volume without taking out any significant range of frequencies. They hear the music almost the same as without earplugs, just at a safer, 20 decibels quieter sound level.
2. Heil Sound PR-20UT Vocal Microphone ($99, www.heilsound.com): Whether you're a recording vocalist or a sound engineer who's recording or mixing live sound, a good utility microphone is a great thing to have. The Heil PR-20 is value-priced at $99, but don't let the pricetag fool you: the PR-20 is a top choice by many touring professionals (myself included); it's built like a tank and sounds unbelievably good. Many recording studios rely on the PR-20 alongside much more expensive offerings for everything from snare, overheads, guitar amps, and the area where the PR-20 shines, vocals. For $99, you get the microphone, mic clip, and a carrying case, everything you need and more.
3. The Ebtech Swizz Army 6 in 1 cable tester (www.ebtech.com, $99) is an unbelievably good deal. It's something any musician or recording studio needs: a multi-connector cable tester, including XLR, 1/4", RCA, mini, toslink, and MIDI. These will quickly diagnose any cable issues -- something that plagues everybody. It's built like a tank, and works great.
4. Galaxy CM-130 SPL Meter (www.galaxyaudio.com, $59). The Galaxy CM-130 is something anyone working with sound needs. It's a convenient, well-built meter with a range between 40dB and 130dB. Keep in mind, when your favorite musician is jamming in their practice or recording space, decibel levels above 85dB can cause permanent hearing damage, the number one regret of most musicians after years of playing. This will help anyone keep a good handle on SPL levels nearby.
5. Microphome Microphone Sanitizer (www.microphome.com, $9). Microphome is one of my favorite items I've reviewed this past year. Anyone who uses microphones -- on stage, or in the studio -- usually shares their microphones. Especially in the cold, flu, and H1N1 season we're having, it's important to sanitize microphones between uses. Microphome comes with many applications per bottle, and works quickly leaving a pleasant scent. At only $9, it's a perfect complement to any microphone you buy.