New Music Technology Gadgets Fill Us All With Excitement
Whether you’re just starting out or you’d like to add something new to your set-up, you’re in the right place to find the best music tech gadgets on a budget.
We’re showcasing everything from studio headphones, MIDI controllers, and even cable protectors! Without further ado here are our 10 music gadgets under $50.
READ MORE: How to Choose an Affordable Audio Interface
Gimme Music Tech Gadgets!
OneOdio Pro-50 Headphones – $38.87
This one is for the Disc Jockeys. A fun-sounding pair of headphones with powerful bass and clear highs, this is a performance must have! Highly durable, comfortable and better than other budget headphones at noise isolation, these vinyl styled headphones have two inputs (which can also be outputs) – a 1/4″ and 1/8″ – that you can use simultaneously, allowing you to listen to two sources at the same time or even plug a second pair of headphones into one or the other slot to share your listening experience with somebody else.
The Pro-50’s have decent detail in the highs, and the mids are more accurate than other headphones at this price. The low-end is deep, but there is a mid-bass elevation. The response curve isn’t exactly flat, so we wouldn’t recommend these for performing studio based mixing and mastering tasks – but they are perfect for DJ performances.
Nektar SE25 25 Key MIDI Keyboard – $49.99
It weighs .88 pounds. It’s portable. It’s less than $50. Have you bought it yet?
Nektar controllers work seamlessly with ANY major DAW, and this is no exception. This music recording gadget has 25 velocity-sensitive keys and is one of the lightest keyboards on the market. The layout of the keyboard is simplistic, which is perfect for newcomers. It’s easy to get stuck in and not get lost.
The SE25 is powered by a micro USB type B cable and one also comes included in the box. It’s packed full of controls: pitch bend, modulation, sustain & pan! Everything you need to create an engaging composition… that’s not even mentioning the 3 velocity curves.
The durability of the keyboard will also surprise you; most mini keyboards are fragile, but the SE25 is built to be durable. Unlike other budget keyboards, the feel of the keys may surprise you, especially, if you’re familiar with mini keyboards.
The bonus feature that we couldn’t not mention is the free version of Bitwig! One of the newest DAW’s on the market, the modulation possibilities in this software are off the charts.
Akai bring eight drum finger‑pads with eight rotary 270‑degree control knobs in this versatile, simplistic, unit. The LPD8 offers an interesting compromise with its limited physical space when compared to the likes of the Korg Nano Pad, that offer more pads, knobs, sliders and buttons. The eight controller knobs are as straightforward as they come, with minimum/maximum operational range values and controller number assignable for each knob in the included LPD8 editing software.
Using the four smaller buttons to the left, you can switch between the four modes of the backlit, velocity-sensitive pads. Pad mode is the ‘default’ performance mode, where pads send note on/off messages. However, when in Program mode, the lower four pads become preset buttons (selecting any of the LPD8’s four user‑definable presets), whereas CC mode makes all eight pads transmit control change messages to external programs, each control change message also being user-definable in the editing software.
As the pads are velocity-sensitive, variable control message values are sent based on how hard you hit them. This allows you to add spontaneous, improvisational, rhythmical variation to synth or sampler parameters such as resonance, oscillator frequency, or volume for example..
When in Program Change mode, the pads transmit program change messages, assignable per pad from within the editor. Any pad’s behaviour can be momentary (on as long as pressed, off upon release) or togglable (hit once for note on, and again for note-off).
Although, in CC mode, the ‘on’ hit transmits a control value dependent on velocity, while the ‘off’ hit sends a value of zero.
This tool is focused towards mixer control, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all it can be used for.
Nearly every single control on the new nanoKontrol2 is configurable in the Korg Editor software, which allows it to be a flexible general-purpose controller with knobs, faders and buttons. It’s lightweight and can now be used as a Mackie Control device. This gives you direct control of your DAW’s transport and mixer channels, with very quick & easy setup. There’s get eight channels’ worth of level, pan and solo/mute/record switching, with a dedicated recording buttons for ease of use.
Marker buttons allow you to set markers in your arrangement and move between them, which will save you a lot of time when working on your projects, as well as ‘Track Select’ buttons which make it easy to page through the channels in banks of eight in Mackie Control mode.
Hosa HSS-005 5ft REAN 1/4 inch TRS – $12.44
A durable cable that promises clean signal reproduction, you can have faith in Hosa’s HSS-005 to connect your outboard equipment to your monitors. Hosa are trusted by the professionals, so you can be sure that you’re getting quality.
Now that you’re going crazy over cables, it’s time to tidy up. We’re in the business of cables, so we need to manage our workstation and keep our unused cables in one, neat, place, so that we can manoeuvre in the most efficient way possible. This cable holder will not move when you lay it down – and it comes in seven colours!
The above image doesn’t tell the full story – you can also fit your XLR’s & 1/4″ TRS cables in this stylish, tidy, holder.
Time to get even tidier! You can bundle multiple cables inside an Alex Tech Cord Protector so that your cables that are in use can be kept tidy too! If you’re new to the music game, you will gradually learn to hate cables – and desire a solution to your messy set up… so, it’s good that you’re here already and can save yourself a mental breakdown in a few months or years.
Acoustic Foam Panels – $43.05
If you’re critically listening to your music through monitors rather than headphones, it’s important to have acoustic treatment set up so the sound doesn’t bounce around and reverberate – giving you an altered version of your song rather than what’s actually coming out of the speakers.
For a budget of less than £50, we recommend the Donner 12-Pack Acoustic Foam Panels for an effective way to tame those pesky sound reflections. We’d advise grouping 4 together at a time with larger rooms and 2 at a time with smaller rooms. However, it may be better to group 4 behind your monitors, 4 on the opposite wall and a couple each for those important early reflection points on your side walls.
An essential tool for playing, whether live or in your studio, a foldable stand will allow you to perch your launch pad or laptop at the perfect position for your height to make performing as fluent as possible. It can be uncomfortable to play on a flat desk and you will struggle to get the best results for yourself, so it could be worth considering this easy solution.
ORICO 7 Port Powered USB 3.0 Hub – $27.71
The last item on our Top 10 Music Gadget list is the ORICO 7 Port Powered USB 3.0 Hub. If you’re using a laptop, especially, you may be getting frustrated of unplugging one MIDI controller to use another – no more! It’s time to make your setup more smooth and user-friendly, right?