Holiday Gift Guide For DJs and Producers: 2012 Edition
We’ve seen it all over the web this year: DJs, their friends, and their families asking the same question: What’s the perfect present for a DJ this year? We’ve put together a list of some of the top items recommended by our staff and by our Twitter followers in an attempt to create an epic list for you to put together a wishlist or maybe even to inspire you to buy yourself a present. Either way, read on to see some of the smartest buys for DJs and to share your own suggestions!
GET THE GOODS
Welcome to our holiday gift guide! We’ve put together our favorite DJ stuff from around the web and combined it with suggestions for great ideas from you, our readers to make a handy list to use for the DJs in your life, or for you DJs and producers to send to your friends and family. You can scroll through or use this navigation to browse:
- Low Cost (<$50) Stocking Stuffers
- Medium Cost ($50-$100) Stocking Stuffers
- DJ Gear Protection + Transport
- Budget (<$200) Controllers
- Living The Dream – Higher Cost DJ Gear
- Gifts For Producers
- Stylish DJ Swag
LOW COST STOCKING STUFFERS (<$50)
Headphone Adapter (1/8″ to 1/4″)
Price: $1.15 (on Amazon)
Ideal for: DJs who are always losing things.
Why it’s a good gift: Headphone adapters have almost become a bit of a DJ inside joke – it’s like the sock the goes missing in the dryer. Even in the TechTools HQ, we’re prone to losing all of ours and wandering around searching for more.
No DJ will ever be sad to have an extra one of these around.
Keyboard Covers (Ableton, Serato, Traktor)
Price: $29.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: DJs without controllers
Why it’s a good gift: Sometimes it’s really, really easy to forget that the three major softwares in the DJ and producer worlds have a massive amount of built-in key mappings to make the performers significantly more efficient in everything that they do. These rubber overlays make it ultra-explicit exactly what each key is capable of in Ableton Live, Serato Scratch Live, and Traktor Pro 2.
USB Key Drive (at least 16GB)
Price: $10-50 (on Amazon and on Juno)
Ideal for: Digital DJs, especially CDJ affecionados
Why it’s a good gift: Holding data is critical for DJs of all kinds. While CDJ-style DJs can always use a larger USB drive to build a set inside, any DJ can benefit from building out a great digital emergency kit on their keyring. Flash memory has also dropped exponentially in cost in the last year, so a significant upgrade is still a reasonable stocking stuffer even for the very price conscious.
V-Moda Faders (earplugs)
Price: $19.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: All DJs, everyone.
Why it’s a good gift: Almost every DJ is exposed to constant loud noise and we’re all risking our ears to a potential future case of tinnitus. There’s really only two ways to prevent this – avoid loud noises, or get some good earplugs that are comfortable enough to wear all the time. These V-Modas actually do the trick and come with multiple tips to match diverse ear shapes.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Price: $11 (on Amazon)
Ideal for: S4/S2/Z2 owners, RGAS Victims
Why it’s a good gift: One of the constant issues with a lot of newer DJ gear (especially the plastic faces on the Kontrol S2/S4/Z2 units) is that it gets dirty or smudged very easily. At DJTT HQ, these are the microfiber cloths we use to make sure that all the gear we send out of our office is looking super-fresh, so they’re the ones we would recommend for keeping your kit clean.
Price: $2-$3 depending on volume (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Any DJ with a controller
Why it’s a good gift: This was by far the most common response from our readers – and we’re glad everyone digs the Chroma Caps. Getting to customize gear and make it more comfortable to use is a win for any DJ – and yes there will be brand new colors next week! Make sure that you stay in the know by following us on Twitter – @djtechtools and we’ll share the goods immediately as soon as they’re public.
MORE SIGNIFICANT STOCKING SWAG ($50 – $100)
Want to get something a bit more significant for your DJ friend/lover/son/wife/pet kitten as a gift? Music and cables are great choices in this $50 – $100 range, check out the suggestions below!
Record Pool Subscription
Price: Zip DJ: $99/three months / DJCity: $90/three months
Ideal for: Resident Club DJs
Why it’s a good gift: Fresh music never hurt anyone – and that’s exactly what record pools provide on a regular basis. For a DJ who’s gigging every week, having access to new cuts that are sure to be requested and popular is critical. These pools often offer instrumentals and DJ-intro versions of tracks as well to make mixing more fun. Having a dedicated source to pull from without having to digitally dig far is perfect for some
Price: Variable, JunoDownload, or TrackItDown
Ideal for: Every DJ
Why it’s a good gift: As noted above, central to every DJ’s set is the music. While free music can be found very easily all around the web, the only legal way to ensure ownership and file quality is to purchase music.
The big three DJ-focused stores all offer giftcards (Beatport no longer sells them, lame!), which make great gifts for every single DJ out there. This was the second most popular response on Twitter!
Fancier Cables (DJTT USB / D+ RCA)
Price: DJTT USB: $14.99 (on DJTT) D+ RCA: $29.99 (on Amazon and on Juno)
Ideal for: Almost every DJ!
Why it’s a good gift: One of the easy items to overlook in a DJ setup is the basics – and cables are no different. While these two sets of cables both sport an upgraded look, they both also are significantly improved quality from standard USB / RCA cables – with ferrite cores to reduce noise on the DJTT USB cables, and a stiff exterior on the D+ RCA’s that prevent any signal loss from bending the cables over and over.
Musician’s Survival Kit
Price: $49.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Mobile DJs, Underground Party DJs
Why it’s a good gift: I actually used to own my own homemade version of this kit – but I went to Radio Shack and put it together myself. The basic idea is that in any given DJ setup situation, you might need to muck with the cabling a bit to get things working right – but this kit gives you the critical adapters to make it happen with nearly any cords you have around. I carried mine around in a ziplock bag – but a clear top tool box works just as well if not better.
GEAR PROTECTION AND TRANSPORT
Protect ya decks! We’ve discussed at length on DJTT about many ways to keep DJ gear safe, but often times it falls outside of the standard DJ budget. Carrying around expensive and heavy gear sucks, so here’s some suggestions on keeping your gear safe and/or portable:
Price: $30 – $80 (options on Amazon) €27.18 (on Juno)
Ideal for: Mobile DJs
Why it’s a good gift: This might be one of the most under-rated items in a DJs arsenal – a simple way to carry around large amounts of gear. This becomes especially critical for DJs who often port around their own sound systems, so mobile DJs take note! Be sure to pick a cart that is rated to support the amount of weight you need to haul – some DJs need to move around PAs, others just records or controllers.
Crane Stand Pro
Price: $149.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Any DJ with a laptop
Why it’s a good gift: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – elevating your laptop off of the DJ booth is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t have a spilled-drink-catastrophe on the centerpiece of your entire setup.
The Crane Stand continues to be the most solid-feeling stand we’ve felt, and it stays pretty portable as it folds up flat.
Price: $139.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Gear-laden DJs
Why it’s a good gift: After Ean showed off everything that he carries around in this massive bag, it’s no surprise that we’re including this bag in our holiday gift guide. At DJTT HQ we use these bags to carry gear, but we also find ourselves loading it up with photo gear. In Mad Zach’s words, “Everything I own can fit in here. I carry my laundry around in this bag. You could even fit a baby in there.”
BUDGET CONTROLLERS (<$200)
Not everyone has the dough to really get the fanciest new controllers. But just as Ean started with an Oxygen 8 keyboard back in the day, there are plenty of controllers out there that (with a bit of custom mapping work) can make your controllerism dreams come true. Here are two of our favorites:
Price: $55.52 (on Amazon) €28.13 (on Juno)
Ideal for: Budding controllerists, Traktor and Ableton users
Why it’s a good gift: For a pad controller that’s less than $60, this controller does a bang up job of keeping up with routines. We’ve seen this unit used in a number of our contest entries throughout 2012, so it seemed especially right to include it here. With 8 knobs and 8 buttons, it’s a sizable upgrade from just a keyboard and a laptop and adds just the right amount of versatility for those who might be starting out.
Price: $169.99 (on Amazon) €144.52 (on Juno)
Ideal for: Serato DJs
Why it’s a good gift: The DNHC-1000 unit is perfect for Serato users who really need that extra control surface to avoid getting a rampant infection of the dreaded Serato Face – instead of just bending into a computer screen and typing away, browsing tracks and activating loops with this unit means that it’s a bit less likely that fans will think that their favorite DJ could very well be checking his/her email.
LIVING THE DREAM – FLAGSHIP UNITS
There’s always hope that someone buying you presents might see this list, so we’re including this high-tier section as well. These are the most popular big ticket DJ gear items we’ve seen in the last year:
Traktor Kontrol S4
Price: $899.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Novice DJs (for the software bundle), VCI-100 Owners, Traktor Affecionados
Why it’s a good gift: Yes, we’re a bit biased in recommending this one- and what’s there to say about the Kontrol S4 that hasn’t been said already. If you’re looking for a controller that will live alongside Traktor as a one-stop-shop for all of its features, this is the unit for you or that starting DJ in your life. Grabbing one of these for DJs just starting out makes sense because it includes a full license for Traktor Pro 2.
Allen + Heath DB:4
Price: $2,608.98 (on Amazon) €1595.51 (on Juno)
Ideal for: The effects-loving DJ
Why it’s a good gift: This, without a doubt, is the DJTT forums’ favorite mixer. There’s an 98-page thread in the forums full of users discussing the unit and how it performs and why they’re into it and how they explained to their family that they spent this much money on a piece of DJ equipment. We’ve got one in the office and the effects are very impressive in their versatility and intense level of adjustment – and those big, chunky knobs are great for controlling effects like they’re isolator knobs.
Traktor Kontrol Z2
Price: $799.99 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Traktor Scratch users
Why it’s a good gift: The Kontrol Z2 is arguably the buzz-item in the DJ world over the last few months following it’s release – and a clear sign that Native Instruments’ hardware line is solid and serious competition when pitted against the Rane/Serato Scratch Live integrated hardwares. You can see Ean’s full walkthrough of the Z2 mixer here – he liked it so much he too it on the CNTRL tour with him
Midi Fighter 3D
Price: $249.99 (on DJTT)
Why it’s a good gift: Come on, you seriously didn’t think we wouldn’t mention our own awesome motion-controlled RGB-arcade buttons controller that we released this year? It’s a great gift for your Ableton and Traktor inclined DJs out there. Again, we’re not afraid to admit that this is a biased pick, but we’ve actually seen the 3D in the hands of some awesome performers recently, including Audrey Napoleon, Figure, and oddly enough, even in the new Limp Bizkit video.
Pioneer RMX-1000 Remix Unit
Price: $799.00 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Almost any DJ
Why it’s a good gift: Pioneer knows how to do effects – and the RMX-1000 has a workflow that’s easy to pick up, yet incredibly versatile. Everyone in the office has really enjoyed having a go on this unit (Mitch loves the isolation based effects, I’m partial to the builds and sample triggers) simply because it adds a diverse set of tools to your arsenal in a simple unit.
FOR THE PRODUCER
Soundcloud Premium (subscription)
Price: starts at €29/year (on Soundcloud)
Ideal for:Almost every producer
Why it’s a good gift: The truth about producing is that if you want to get noticed, you need to keep finishing tracks and promoting them on the internet. Of course, winning at Soundcloud isn’t easy, but one of the keys behind it is making sure that you’re able to leave more than just a few of your best tracks and mixes up so that you can continue to garner views and links to for as long as you’re subscribed.
Native Instruments Maschine
Price: $599.00 (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Producers who craft beats all day long
Why it’s a good gift: If you really know a producer who hasn’t given the Maschine a fair run through, it might be time for an intervention. We’re not saying that this workflow is for everyone, or that it’s the ultimate production system out there – but we do know that even die-hard Ableton enthusiasts like our own Mad Zach often quickly take to the software and its hardware.
Zoom H4n Audio Recorder
Price: $250.00 (on Amazon) €227.92 (on Juno)
Ideal for: Sample pioneers + found sound lovers
Why it’s a good gift: Found sounds are nature’s version of a sample library. It’s a tool that should be in almost any cutting-edge producer’s arsenal – a high quality recorder that will allow quick and easy recording of any sound in your environment. We suppose you could also use this to bootleg Paris Hilton’s next live show, but we’re hoping that these recorders have an intelligent self-destruct system in place to avoid that from ever happening.
Rokit 5 KRK Monitors
Price: $150.00/each, $300.00/pair (on DJTT)
Ideal for: Laptop speakers-only producers
Why it’s a good gift: We’ve all heard stories about producers who build incredible albums on the road, with nothing but a simple set of speakers. These should be those speakers – they’re light enough to carry and move without too much of an issue and they pack a pretty solid punch. They’re not going to replace a perfectly balanced studio and set of high-end Genelecs, but considering their affordable price we’re not inclined to hate on them. For DJing out, it’s worth noting that these are not sufficient to use for a massive rave, but will hold their own at a backyard BBQ.
CLASS UP YOUR DJ STYLE
We’re not here to be your personal DJ style advisors, but at the request of one of our DJ staffers we’re including a few items here that rock a fresh, at least vaguely DJ-related style that you might like.
Program Your 808 (posters)
Price: £12 (on the designer’s website)
Style Bonus Points For: Making your wall a reference guide.
Why it’s a good gift: What do the tracks Voodoo Ray, No Way Back, and Clear all have in common? That’s right, they’re all available in poster form – or at least their iconic Roland 808 drum machine beat patterns are. These clever info graphics show off how to very easily program the same beat from the hit tracks onto your own 808 – you know, if you happen to have one lying around your house. Even if you don’t, they look awesome in your studio or practice space!
Price: $80.00 (on Amazon)
Style Bonus Points For: Wrist Bling!
Why it’s a good gift: Checking the time and staying in the middle of a slick DJ routine concurrently isn’t easy. We’re not saying it will be significantly easier if you own this watch, but it’s probably a good first step. It comes in a few different colors, but be careful wearing it around people younger than 20 – they might not know what it’s supposed to be a smaller version of.
Stunner of the Month
Price: $9/month (on their site)
Why it’s a good gift: The Stunner of the Month crew are a fellow San Francisco-based service who send out a crazy pair of stunnaz each month to their subscribers – if the name sounds familiar, it could be because they partnered with Claude VonStroke and his Dirtybird label earlier this year to make some great shades and throw some fun shows. Several DJTT staffers have enjoyed rocking this service, with the shades in the mail ranging anywhere between “ludicrous and hilarious” to “dope”. Cheesy? Maybe, but we like it.
Electronic Drum Machine Shirt
Price: $29.99 (on ThinkGeek)
Why it’s a good gift: Practice your finger drumming skills anywhere you’re allowed to bring a shirt! Sure, you might get kicked out of fancy restaurants trying this and undoubtedly will annoy everyone else on your bus to work, but you can’t expect everyone to understand that you’re well on your way to becoming the next Jeremy Ellis.
ADD YOUR OWN GIFT IDEAS!
What would you put in the TechTools tree this year? There’s tons of awesome gear and smaller DJ items out there that we didn’t get in this article, so let us know in the comments and we’ll put the most popular items into this guide! Here’s some of your suggestions so far: