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The Best Pro Audio Gear and Recording Accessories on a Budget

It’s that time of year again — and I’m taking a quick break from the usual Pro Audio series article to share with you some gifts under $100 that are sure to put a smile on the faces of your friends and family.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X Headphones

Designed first and foremost for comfortable listening, the AD500X from Audio-Technica makes for a great pair of mixing headphones. They are lightweight and feature an open-air design so there’s virtually no pressure on your ears. At just $99, they are an excellent value.

Snark 2 Clip-On Tuner

Snark Super Snark 2 Clip-On Tuner

If you have a guitarist in the family, a clip-on tuner is indispensable. They have a way of disappearing just when you need one! At $29.99, the Snark 2 Clip-On Tuner features a nice sized, color display that makes tuning a piece o’ cake.

Audio Gear: Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal

Dunlop Original Cry Baby Wah Pedal

Perhaps the most popular wah-wah pedal of all time, the Dunlop Cry Baby is a great gift for any electric guitarist you know. The legendary tone and wah effect are unmistakable, and it’s the exact pedal used by some of the world’s most famous lead guitarists.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 Audio Interface

Recording Gear: Presonus AudioBox USB 96

At just $99, the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 packs a ton of functionality into such a small box. Dual mic/instrument inputs, and separate headphone and speaker level controls, combined with USB connectivity make this piece of gear a great way to introduce someone to home recording. It sounds pretty good too.

Audio Gear: Audio-Technica AT2020 Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardiod Medium-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a staple when it comes to budget microphones. It’s reliable, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more natural-sounding microphone for under $100. It’s great for vocals, guitar, piano — you name it.

Computer Accessories for the Ultimate Home Studio

Now that we’ve covered some audio gear, let’s talk computer accessories for the home-recording enthusiast. Here are a couple of my favorite OWC solutions to help you set up the ultimate home studio.

OWC SSDs — The Speed You Need!

Simply put, if you aren’t already using an SSD, you are really missing out. Upgrade to an SSD and your sessions will open exponentially faster (that’s not hyperbole), and virtual instrument libraries will load in a snap.

• Mercury Electra 6G

OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD

If you have an older machine, a Mercury Electra 6G (or 3G, depending on how old) will easily breathe new life into it. A 1TB Mercury Electra 6G is currently just $99!

• OWC Envoy Express

OWC Envoy Express SSD recording accessory on a latop

If you have a newer Mac laptop with Thunderbolt 3, the OWC Envoy Express is perfect for any mobile musician or recording engineer. The Envoy Express is a Thunderbolt enclosure for M.2 NVME drives — just add your own and off you go. It’s the ideal solution if you’re on the go and need to work on your tracks. And it’s just $68!

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

If you or your gift recipient happen to own a recent Mac that only has Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, this little dock could be the best thing that ever happened to your mobile workflow. It supports 4K HDMI connections, Gigabit ethernet, and 2 USB ports, all in a compact, aluminum design. Ah, the wonders of Thunderbolt 3.

At just $98, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 mini Dock will let you plug in legacy USB audio gear, connect a couple of monitors, and still spare a port or two for fast data transfers. Oh, and it’s bus-powered, so no separate power adapter needed.

Treat Yo’ Self — An Incredible Deal on Apple HomePod

White Apple HomePod on a table next to an iPhone and iPad

Although technically more of a consumer device, I just had to point out that OWC has an insane deal on the Apple HomePod right now, starting at just $224.88 as of this posting. That is about $75 less than just about any other advertised price I could find. It looks and sounds great, and has Siri built-in. So if you’ve ever considered picking up an Apple HomePod, now’s the time. There won’t be a better deal this holiday season. If you get two, you can use them in tandem for true stereo sound.

Happy Holidays!

So that’s it! A quick list of items that are under $100 (except for the HomePod) that are sure to be appreciated by anyone who receives them.

I’ll be resuming my usual Pro Audio series in the next article, so be safe and stay tuned! 🙂

Josh Sularski
the authorJosh Sularski
Josh Sularski is a lifelong musician and audio engineer with over 20 years of experience. He is currently a producer and mix engineer based out of the Indie Room at Covert Station in Brooklyn, NY.
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  • Glad to see the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 mentioned. It’s a great piece of gear!

    I would add one other specific inexpensive but necessary gear. The Behringer ULTRA DI-100 for $45. This is an excellent inexpensive active DI Box which works great when connected to an audio interface or mixer that provides 48V of phantom power. For example, the previously recommended PreSonus AudioBox 96 provides 48V phantom power.which With this DI box you can run guitar AND pedalboard through it to an audio interface or mixer, thanks to its pair of -20dB pads. If -20dB isni’t enough to tame your high gain pedals signal, then the another -20dB Pad is sure to do the trick for a combined -40db of padding. The ULTRA Di-100 also has 4×12 cabinet emulation and a pass-through 1/4” jack so you can connect to an amp while recording your direct sound to a DAW in your computer. This is a very popular recording solution for its price and performance. At $45 USD you can afford to keep a spare in your studio and have one to take with you on every gig, in case an amp fails. Then you can hook right up to the PA.

  • Thanks for the recommendations–wish I could afford all of them, but certainly feel better seeing some choices from somebody who knows and gets where we are at when doing home recording. I’m still using a mid 2012 MacBook Pro that I upgraded to 16GB RAM and a 500 GB SSD running OS Catalina. But, I also know that one day I’ll have to upgrade this laptop and it will be a pretty big investment (especially since prices in Canada are still a fair bit higher than in the USA!