The Exclaim! Holiday Gift Guide:

Gear & Technology

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Nov 22, 2012

Our third installment in the Exclaim! Holiday Gift Guide series is about gear and technology. Not everybody knows their way around the latest gizmos and gadgets, so we're helping you find the perfect gift for the tech-head music lover on your list with the suggestions below. Batteries may be required.

The Exclaim! Holiday Gift Guide: Gear & Technology:

Pioneer DDJ-WEGO

No doubt some professional-level DJs will sneer at this handy little digital DJ controller unit (pictured above) big on flashing lights and changing colours. But for those folks who like $400 toys that deliver reliability and fun, this is a great one. Who are these folks? Teens and tweens. Cool dads. Novice DJs. Basically anyone who's ready to take the next step up from iPad apps into a standalone device. The WEGO packs Pioneer's decades of DJ gear know-how into a plug-and-play device. Everything you need to rock a party is just one USB slot away (phantom powered to boot) and the unit's controls are accurate with no latency to speak of. The WEGO boasts dramatically effective EQs, four EFX slots, easy looping options, a nifty key change feature to reduce those dissonant train wrecks, and several different ways to visualize whether waveforms are truly in sync. Sure, there's only one RCA output, but a lot of entry-level gear seems to be moving in that direction anyways. The biggest plus of this gear, especially for kids, is that it makes you insanely excited to DJ with all bells and whistles those sourpuss pros use.
Buy one here.

OP-1 Synthesizer

Teenage Engineering's OP-1 (pictured above) looks like Apple and Casio had a baby but it was a bit more smart-assed and clever. Technically not new, it's the latest accessories to this device that revive the surprise of first seeing it. A software synth / sampler / four-track with a micro key pad might sound like a run of the mill digital audio workstation software package, but what makes this device unique is it's oddly fluid controls that allow the user to bend and glitch every part of their performance nearly instantly. The OP-1 seems to blur the line of where performance ends and recording begins. Recently, Teenage Engineering has put out a line of knob modifiers — a crank so you can spin the knob faster, a rubber band-powered bender and an adapter so you connect to LEGO Mindstorm robotics. When the company discovered that they could not affordably ship these tiny plastic modifiers they offered up the CAD files (3D plans) so users could take them to their local 3D printing shop (yes, they exist) and get them made.
Buy one here.

Polaroid Z2300

When Lady Gaga became "curator" of a Polaroid division a few years ago, it looked like the kind of technological shark-jumping that's led Kodak to shed employees by the thousands. Yet somehow, the starched white collars of Polaroid recognized that the emulation of their history was capturing the imaginations of the hipster generation with apps like Hipstematic and Instagram. So they started to look inward. First they got with the pre-Kickstarter, crowd-funded Impossible Project to reproduce their classic products. Now, sporting the retro rainbow branding, the Z2300 tips its hat to the instamatic of old. Inside is a not-so-special digital camera, but it's the intriguing inkless Zink printer that inspires curiosity. The paper actually contains CMYK crystals that activate during the printing process and form a 2x3 smudge-less image on sticky back. Stick 'em, don't shake 'em.
Buy one here.

Monotron Duo & Monotron Delay

The builder of some of the most sought-after analogue synthesizers, Korg, return to their roots. The Monotron was a simple ribbon-controlled, single oscillator analogue synth that you touched or slid your finger across to produce Doctor Who-like sounds that would make Delia Darbyshire proud. The thrill of the device doesn't end there; the engineers at Korg were nice enough to provide a well-marked electronics board inside and downloadable schematics, so a quick google of "Monotron hacks" can produce a series of DIY electronics projects. Now Korg has released the relations to the Frankenstein device: the Monotron Duo, a classic synth-like double oscillator model and the Monotron Delay, a Lee Perry-friendly space delay effected synth. Hacked, chained, or even hooked to another electronic instrument these "toys" offer the closest approximation most of us can get to the monster synths of the '70s without breaking the bank.
Buy one here.

Little Printer

In a world where books become ePubs and music is measured in bit rate, there's a reactionary instinct that leads to dreaming of a steam punk world, dismissing anything less then warm tubes and rotating vinyl. Is it just an attraction to old timey-ness or a symptom of withdrawal from the tactile world that our hunter instincts just can't shake? Perhaps that's what makes the Little Printer such a romantic petit-objet. It's a box with a happy face, threaded with a printer roll (found on any point of sale machine), built to do the job a laser with a George Lucas-esque name could. Or is it more than that? It promises cloud printing through a wireless connection, and a personalized ticker tape of content and messages from the digital world. Is this little guy going to change the world? Probably not, but it is super cute.
Buy one here.


For a punk musician, it might be the first moment of seeing a Sex Pistols video that prompts the "I can do that" feeling. For the techno-minded in the '90s it was probably Propellerheads Software's Rebirth. The emulator put three of the most influential drum machine / synths on your computer. The company followed that up with a thousand keyboards in your computer, the equally electro empowering Reason for the '00s. Now the company has put out a musical sketch pad for iOS devices called Figure. It takes the horsepower of Reason's sample-tastic algorithms and boils it down to a simple, touch-friendly interface that just might be the glitch junkie generation's four-track. (For those wishing to get ahead on the upcoming retro '90s craze, Rebirth is also available for iOS devices.)
Buy one here.

Tomorrow: the most awesome band merch your music fan has ever seen, in Exclaim!'s Holiday Gift Guide series.

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