Last minute Musician and music lovers tech gifts

IrigAcousticFor the Musicians, future artists or music lovers in your life, here are a few last minute gift ideas for the holiday season all of which I had a chance to test-drive. If you find it’s a little too late to get them in, add a little IOU if necessary in his or her stocking. This can give them something to look forward to after Christmas Day.

Lav Mic for Acoustic Guitar 

For the acoustic guitar lover, here’s a gift that chances are, he or she doesn’t have, the new iRig Acoustic by IK Multimedia. Basically, it’s a lav microphone and mobile guitar interface featuring a high quality professional mic capsule uniquely designed to clip right onto the hole in your acoustic guitar. It makes recording and amplifying the sound a whole lot easier.

The mic’s cable has a dual-purpose 1/8″ jack. You can plug your mic into your mobile device and at the same time plug in a set of headphones so you can monitor the mic’s input or enjoy a private music session. 

iRig Acoustic by IK Multimedia for iOS and Android works with any instrument with a sound hole, even a ukulele and retails for $49.99 U.S. It’s available directly from IK Multimedia. In Canada, you can get it for under $60 CDN at Tom Lee Music or Axe Music.   Rating: 5 / 5

Portable SmartGuitar

As a gift for guitarists or wannabe guitar players, forget RockBand. The jamstikSmartGuitar by Zivix is also a MIDI controller. It uses real guitar strings, frets, a hexaphonic magnetic pickup and it never needs tuning.  It’s quiet, lightweight and portable, only 16” tall, weighs 36 oz. and works with your Mac or iOS device and connects via Bluetooth.

For a total newbie, you can get a very quick start with jamstikwith jamTutor 2, its app that offers interactive lessons and fun exercises, with some reminiscent of Guitar Hero, but feels more like the real thing. You likely won’t be touring or playing Carnegie Hall too soon; you’ll need to practicepracticepractice.

For advanced users, jamstik+’s unique shape may take a little getting used to particularly because of its short neck, but it still makes for a cool gift for the player who wants to get in a little practice or take a short trip without hauling a guitar around. For them, the jamMix app makes that happen.

So whether you want to learn, practice or simply take the next step beyond playing air guitar, jamstik+ makes a great gift idea for the whole family. It retails for $299.99 U.S and comes in three colours in left or right-handed models and available through the Jamstik website. In Canada, it sells for $399.99 and can be found on Amazon or through Kelly’s Music.  Rating: 4 / 5

Portable Musician’s Speaker

It’s hard to suggest musical gift ideas without mentioning speakers. For the musician, IK Multimedia’s iLoud Bluetooth portable speaker, we previously reviewed is like a small footprint four-speaker portable personal monitor. It pounds out a total of40W RMS and can run for up to 10 hours on a single battery charge, unless you love to crank it up. For that you can use its AC charger.

More than just a speaker, under the hood is a 24-bit digital signalprocessing (DSP) driven by IK’s own proprietary audio management system. It perfectly matches up the two woofers and two tweeters each with their own individual power amps. To complete the sound, a high precision crossover compliments it.

One unique feature ideal for musicians is iLoud’s 1/4″ input for line level instruments with gain control that allows you to direct connect a guitar, bass or dynamic microphone. You won’t get direct output to the speakers, but not surprising there’s an app (AmpliTube or VocaLive with both free and premium versions), for that.

iLoud retails for $299 US, but I’ve seen them recently for as much as $100 US off on Amazon and under $300 CDN at Best Buy, making it a pretty sweet speaker and interface for the price.  Rating: 4.5 / 5

Creative Bluetooth speaker with subwoofer and extras

If a musician’s speaker is not the gift you’re looking for but want something more than a plain old Bluetooth speaker, then the Sound Blaster Roar 2 by Creative Labs might be your choice and one Katy Perry’s too.

Creative Labs’ latest incarnation, the Roar 2 might look like a transistor radio, but wait until you hear what it sounds like and what else is under and on the hood. Besides sharp crisp sound put out by its five drivers and a built-in subwoofer, the TeraBass processor cleverly boosts the bass at low levels helping you enjoy a little more boom without annoying the neighbours.

ROAR 2 offers a number of features you wouldn’t expect to find on many speakers. First, it has a built-in speakerphone. It also supports NFC (Near Field Communications) and has multipoint capabilities so you can connect it to two devices at the same time.  

It also has a microSD slot, which supports a microSD card that you can play music without connecting to a computer or mobile device. There’s a built-in voice recorder too and the microSDcard is where you can store those recordings. 

Roar 2 runs AC or through a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that also doubles as a charger for your phone or other USB powered devices.

And if you like to listen to tunes before bedtime, Roar 2 has a nifty feature that gradually lowers the sound until it shuts off.

With all these features, Sound Blaster Roar 2 makes for a unique gift. It measures only 20.3 x 5.6 x 11.4 cm but weighs a solid 1.2 kg. It comes in either black or white and retails for US $169.99. You can get it directly through Creative or Amazon. Rating: 4.5 / 5

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