In honor of this great day in American retail, I’ll share with you my Christmas picks for the year. These are all under $500, and any of them would be an awesome addition to your home studio.
- Tech 21 Sans Amp Character Series Blonde Pedal – If it were possible to have a crush on a pedal, then I would have a crush on this little guy. If you’re looking for great amp tone, but you need to record direct, this is the ticket. Seriously. It sounds just like several different Fender amps. Also, they make versions for Vox, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, and even Ampeg (for you bass players). At $150 each, it’s a no-brainer.
- Zoom H4N – There are a ton of good handheld recorders out there, but the H4N is my favorite. With four inputs, it’s the ultimate live gig recorder. You can record the main outs from your mixer via the TRS inputs. At the same time, you can use the on-board stereo mics as your ambient microphones.
- Vox AC4 – This cute little amp is all-tube, and it ranges from 4 Watts all the way down to 1/4 Watt without losing tone. I AB’d this amp against the $1,000 Fender alternative, and the AC4 won hands-down. It’s perfect for any home recording studio.
- Line 6 JM4 Looper– If you think you want a looper pedal, get this one. I’ll be doing a full review soon, but this is a great piece of gear.
- Shure SM7B – The SM7B is a staple for any studio. It’s a great-sounding large-diaphragm dynamic microphone. Having a good condenser is great, but a good dynamic mic is also a great tool to have in your arsenal. Check out my shoot-out between the SM7B and the SM58.
- Rode NT1A– Speaking of good condensers, I love the little NT1A from Rode. It’s a very quiet, simple microphone. A great first mic for the beginning home studio owner.
- GrooveTubes Brick – Want some tube in your studio? Most quality tube pre-amps are going to cost you quite a bit of money. The Brick is an awesome exception. Most folks think it’s designed mainly to be a DI, but it’s a great mic preamp, too.
- Focusrite TrakMaster Pro– This little preamp is a workhorse. There’s nothing to fancy to it, but it sounds good, and the on-board compressor is rather nice.
- PreSonus Digimax D8– Need 8 more inputs into your 003? This is probably the best deal you’ll find on quality Class-A preamps.
- JBL LSR 2325 studio monitors (Sweetwater is throwing in a free set of AKG headphones right now!) – My brother-in-law got these studio monitors. They’re great. For the money, I don’t know if you can do any better.
[Photo Credit – greengymdog]