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16 Great Gifts for Live Sound Engineers

Live sound engineers are kind of the Grinches of the audio world. Seriously — here’s the Wikipedia description:

“The Grinch is depicted as a hairy, pot-bellied, pear-shaped, snub-nosed humanoid who has spent the past 53 years living in seclusion on a cliff.”

That describes a lot of us.

If you need a gift for your favorite live sound engineer, give them the gifts they really want and watch their heart grow three sizes!

Hearing Protection

As a live sound engineer, your ears are the most valuable tools you have — so make sure you use protection! Cheap foam earplugs are the worst — they quickly become uncomfortable and provide unbalanced high-frequency attenuation.

The Westone TRU Universal WM25 Full Frequency Earplugs feature Westone’s strongest 25 dB attenuating filters — finely tuned to accommodate the natural dips and peaks in your own hearing. Thanks to the special universal fit mold, you can wear the WM25s for hours without any discomfort — you might even make it home from the gig before you realize they’re still in your ears!

Gaffer Tape

For the uninitiated, Gaffer Tape is like duct tape, but magic. It’s made from a fine cloth weave and leaves no sticky adhesive residue behind — making it a go-to tool for taping down cables.

Gaffer tape is an essential tool of the job, and no live sound engineer can ever have too much of it. You could buy an entire pallet and we’d still be excited.

But, if you really want to take it to the next level, get your favorite fader jockey the GaffTech GaffGun. The Gaff Gun is to the live sound world what the mop was to housemaids. No longer do we have to get down on our hands and knees to accomplish this simple, everyday task. Finally, there’s an easier way to tape down the stage every night!

Hand Cart

Live sound engineers live by the mantra “work smart, not hard.” The Rock N Roller R6RT Mini Multi-Cart is the perfect solution to loading in (and out). Featuring eight flexible modes, this handy hand cart changes shape to meet your gear-hauling needs!

Capable of hauling up to 500 lbs, this revolutionary frame weighs in at just 24 lbs, Featuring a telescoping frame, the Rock N Roller can be extended to over 42” long — perfect for loading in drums, keyboards, DJ racks or even the PA system.

Direct Boxes

This is definitely more of a luxury than a necessity, but if you want to treat the live sound engineer in your life to less stress and better sounding line level signals, pick them up a nice DI box!

The Radial J48 Active 48v Direct Box is widely regarded as one of the best-sounding DIs on the market, but if you’re looking for something more affordable the Radial ProDI Passive Instrument Direct Box is an excellent substitute.

Similarly, the Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter is an excellent tool to have in your bag when dealing with a quiet mic (or singer). Capable of adding up to 25 dB of crisp, clear gain, the CL-1 is perfect for boosting levels on dynamic vocal mics.

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More Power!

It takes a lot of power to pull off a proper live performance. Nothing brings the show to a halt like a fully occupied outlet. Pick up an extra Furman PST-8 Power Station for the stage and a Furman M-8×2 for the FoH rack and make sure there’s enough power at the show to run the blender for margaritas!

If you’re buying for an engineer who also happens to be a guitarist (that describes a lot of us too…), go the extra mile and hook them up with pedal power! A simple Truetone 1 SPOT can come in clutch when a forgetful guitarist loses their power cable.

Mic Stands & Cables

Mic stands and cables get treated worse than public bathrooms during most performances. It doesn’t take long before XLR cables start to short out and go bad, or mic stands become stripped and start to droop over the course of the night. Without a spare set of cables or stands, the night can come to a screeching halt.

It’s always best to have a few extras tucked away in the back for just such an occasion. Pick up a set of stands and cables in the On-Stage Stands MS7701B bundle.

Accessories

Some engineers carry so many tools and accessories they look like superheroes who went overboard on their utility belts. Come to think of it, a superhero utility belt would be a great gift too …

After all, live sound engineers need somewhere to store tools like the Galaxy Audio Check Mate CM-130 SPL Meter — a battery-powered SPL meter for checking the volume of the venue. Some venues are equipped with PA systems large enough to cause hearing damage, so it’s important to keep an eye on your levels throughout the night.

Another common tool to bring to gigs is the Behringer Cable Tester CT100. The show must go on, as they say, and in order to keep things moving smoothly, you have to solve problems as quickly as possible. The CT100 allows you to quickly identify bad cables that could cause problems during a performance.   Similarly, the Klein Tools RT110 Receptacle Tester is great for testing wall socket power sources.

Remember how terrible it was to get a gift as a kid and not have any batteries for it? Don’t put your loved ones through that. Pick up a portable battery tester like the Ansmann HyCell LCD Display Battery Tester.

Part of the challenge of solving these problems is doing it all in the dark. In order to set the mood, venues are often dimly lit with soft colors — not exactly ideal lighting for conducting detail-oriented work. A mobile LED light like the Ansmann Inspection Lamp X7 LED is perfect for shedding light in hard-to-see areas or cutting a line through the crowd.

You can also pick up all five of these items and a stylish carrying case in the Sweetwater Live Sound Essentials Tool Kit for a discounted price!

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Brad Pack

Brad Pack

Brad Pack is an award-winning audio engineer and writer based in Chicago, IL. He currently owns and operates Punchy Kick, a professional mixing and mastering studio that specializes in pop punk, emo, punk, grunge, and alternative music. He has been helping artists connect with fans through emotionally resonant mixes, cohesive masters, and insightful guidance for over 10 years. Check out his website PunchyKick.com or say hi on Instagram @PunchyKick

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