10 Best Gifts for Electronic Musicians + Music Producers

Affordable Synthesizers, Sound Design Tools, Recording Gear, & More!

Perfect Circuit · 11/10/23

We get it—shopping for an electronic musician can be, well, complicated. That's why we've put together this easy, go-to guide of affordable gear and gifts sure to suit any musician. So no matter their interests and no matter your budget, we're sure that there's something here that they'll love.

This guide include our ten top gift recommendations, ranging from affordable synthesizers and recording gear to drum machines, rad books, some especially awesome apparel, and more. Check it out!

Affordable Production Powerhouses: Roland Aira Compact Series

The Aira Compact Series portable, battery powered instruments from Roland offer something for everyone—whether you're looking for vocal effects, programming beats, or composing satisfying synth melodies. Best of all, they each offer a host of connectivity options, making them easy to integrate into any studio or performance setup, big or small.

The T-8 Beat Machine is a virtual analog emulation of the classic 808 drum machine + bass synth, and is perfect for someone who is trying to program rhythms and bass lines. The J-6 Chord Synthesizer, on the other hand, is a synthesizer counterpart that lets you program chord changes and arpeggios or simply play it like a regular synth. The E-4 Voice Tweaker is unique and takes vocal input from a mic—or any sound source—and adds harmonies, gives you auto-tune, offers an on board looper, delay, and reverb, while also giving you a nice knob for an amazing stereo scatter effect.

The most recent addition to the Aira Compact family is the S-1 Tweak Synth—a conceptual mashup of the classic Roland SH-101 and some of their newer digital synth technology. A polyphonic synthesizer with keyboard and integrated 64-step sequencer, D-motion gestural performance control, and a highly tweakable sound engine, this is the ultimate choice for those who want a pocket-sized way to get deep with their sound design. It's a recent favorite among us here at Perfect Circuit, and is very possibly the best synthesizer available at its price point.

If you're looking for some of the best value in electronic instruments, the AIRA series are hard to beat. Each one is surprisingly deep and can integrate into any sort of setup—big, small, hobbyist, or professional. So no matter where you are on your electronic music production journey, they have a ton to offer. And remember—they're super rad when used together.

Accessible, Fun, Handheld Groovebox: Artiphon Orba 2

When it comes to fun portable musical instruments, Artiphon's Orba 2 is one of the most flexible and unique platforms available to write and perform music. It's small enough to be totally handheld, and its circular touch-sensitive surface provides a number of different gestures and play styles to bring your musical ideas to life. Use the internal synth or sample outside sounds, then engage the looper to riff and expand on your jams.

Best of all, Orba 2 supports connections with USB-C or Bluetooth, so it is also compatible with all kinds of music applications for computers, tablets, phones, and more.

If you're excited about getting started making electronic music and need a fun, accessible way of creating that doens't necessarily require any music theory knowledge, Orba is a slam dunk. Or, if you're already an electronic performer looking for a new way to control/interact with your computer or musical instruments, Orba provides an awesome way of taking control of your sounds.

Sound Design Exploration: Landscape Soundwich

Landscape—purveyors of exploratory sound devices—make one of our favorite small sound design tools: the Soundwich. It's not edible, but it is positively delectable...transforming even the simplest interactions into intricate, gestural soundscapes.

Soundwich is a completely passive device that requires no power to operate. At its core is a contact microphone, a simple passive circuit, and some mechanical oddities. The two circuit boards on Soundwich are screwed together, with a number of loose washers and simple tactile switches onboard. The passive circuit includes filter-like functions whose characteristics change based on the currently-activated tactile switch(es).

The end result? Soundwich can be used similarly to a simple contact mic, but it's much more than that: it's an instrument whose sound is comprised of gated filtered clicks, rattling noises, scrapes, and more. If you're interested in experimental sound design and gestural performance, it's a must-have. Plug it into your interface or effects processor of choice and you're ready to make all manner of peculiar noises.

Experimental Synthesizer: Soma Laboratory Rumble of Ancient Times

For those of us with nostalgia for the 8-bit era, Soma's Rumble of Ancient Times contains the familiar sounds of the 80s, but with a noisy twist.

ROAT is a small four-voice synthesizer, with each oscillator able to be assigned different waveforms and randomization settings—the resulting sounds range from bubbly chiptune to chaotic noise. There's also an internal sequencer that can sync other devices like Pocket Operators and Volcas for fun bleepy jams. But Rumble of Ancient Times shines both as a solo performer and member of an ensemble, and by tossing some batteries in the back you can enjoy its sounds anywhere and everywhere.

Rumble of Ancient Times is noisy, wild, unruly, and capable of some truly out-there sounds. For anyone interested in experimental electronic music, or anyone who likes finding new ways of making sound, it'll prove a fun and exciting addition to their musical lives.

Exploring Modular Synthesis: Bastl Kastle, Kastle Drum, + Kastle ARP

For those who crave tiny, tiny instruments with gigantic sounds, the Kastle v1.5 synth, Kastle ARP, and Kastle Drum will make a splash.

Bastl is known for strangely satisfying unique musical devices and these are certainly that. Kastle v1.5 is a micro modular synth that comes with patch cables for generating complex sounds and is open source with the option to change out parts. The Kastle Drum is a giant-sounding drum synth that is great for generating unique patterns and also comes with micro patch cables for experimentation.

The newest addition to this family is the Kastle ARP. It shares the same form factor as its siblings, but a different sonic focus: this one is all about creating generative melodies, arpeggiated tones, and chiptune-esque sweeps of sound. It brings the Kastle family into new sonic territory, and is capable of everything from outrageous random arps to gentle, cascading, melodic passages. It's perhaps the most conventionally "musical" Kastle, but it also has the potential to get into deep new territory for those more interested in sonic exploration and sound design.

Your Gear's New Best Friend: Bastl Bestie Mixer

It's hard to imagine an electronic music setup that wouldn't benefit from a Bastl Bestie. Bestie is a five-channel stereo mixer designed to tie together your music workflow. Use it with desktop synths, you computer, your phone, your drum machines, whatever! It's a quick, simple, and reliable way to mix together your stereo signals to go to a single set of outputs.

But, Bestie is more than just a utility: it's a powerful source of color and glue for your mixes. One of the highlights is that Bestie adds a truly pleasant coloration/saturation when it's pushed—and the third channel is normalled to the outputs, making for a built-in feedback control that takes your sound from clean, predictable mixes to absolutely crushed sonic devastation (and we mean that in a good way!). If you have a setup with a lot of instruments or distinct devices, Bestie is an ideal way to tie them all together.

Classic, Fun, + Playable: Dubreq Stylophone

With its stylus-based interface, the aptly named Stylophone is a quirky but beloved portable synthesizer that has been around since the late 1960s. The base model S-1 Stylophone could not be simpler to use—pop in some AA batteries, flip on the power switch and desired vibrato settings, and drag the stylus on the playing surface to hear synthesized tones out of the built-in speaker or headphone output. It's that simple to make all sorts of crazy, quirky, nostalgia-inducing sounds.

For some extra features and playability, the Stylophone Gen X-1 provides some additional controls to shape the sound further and apply filtering or delay effects. If the Stylophone was good enough for David Bowie, then it will certainly be plenty of fun for the musician in your life.

Start Your Home Studio: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite's Scarlett line of USB audio interfaces have become a go-to choice for anyone looking to start recording their music, and the Scarlett 2i2 packs in all of the essential features to hit the ground running.

The front two inputs support microphones as well as line or instrument-level sources, meaning that synths, drum machines, guitars, and vocals are all fair game. Best of all, this is a USB-C class-compliant audio interface, so it will work perfectly with Mac, Windows, and iOS platforms, and Focusrite has gone the extra mile to include an abundance of free software with the purchase of any Scarlett interface. Whether it's for recording a first demo or tracking instruments on the go, it's hard to go wrong with a Scarlett.

Find New Modular Synth Inspiration: Patch the Card Game

Created by modular synth guru and all-around good guy James Cigler, Patch The Card Game is a card deck designed to help you have fun making music with modular synthesizers. Perfect for the modular synthesist who wants a unique way to compose and generate ideas, both volumes work together to give you tons of fun options. With cards representing everything from patching prompts to deeper compositional ideas, it's a solid way to break out of your comfort zone, stir up your creative instincts, and discover something you might never have found otherwise. In other words, it's the perfect recipe to help a modular synthesist have fun and grow as a musician.

Sometimes it's hard to know what to patch and break out of your normal routine, well this aims to shake things up and gives you directions on how to augment, disrupt and think outside the patch. Your modular synth loving friend, relative, or co-worker will adore this—reveling in all the weird new directions it sends their creative lives.

Check out Patch TCG Volume 1, and then add Volume 2 to further broaden your sonic horizons!

Learn Electronic Music History + Technique: BJOOKS

Of course, gear isn't the only way to give an electronic musician a rad gift—instead, you could give them knowledge. An excellent choice for the musical gearhead in your life, the BJOOKS series of coffee table books exploring the history of popular brands and choice tools for the discerning electronic musician. Gorgeously bound and with high quality images and paper, any of the books will delight the recipient. Aside from the astounding imagery, the books also contain interviews and tips for exploring modular synths, using pedals, and getting the most out of your gear.

Our favorite BJOOKS titles include Push Turn Move, an exploration into the beauty and practicality of interface design in electronic musical instruments, as well as Patch & Tweak, an extensive guide to the art of modular synthesis. Alternatively, they might enjoy Synth Gems, an up-close look at tons of amazing vintage synthesizers, or Pedal Crush, an exploration of the history and current state of guitar effect pedals. No matter what type of musician they are, there's something here to enjoy.

Show Off: Perfect Circuit Editions Merch

Sometimes, you need an even lighter gift—and sometimes, a rad T-shirt or mug makes a better, more personal impression than a book or synth. Check out our custom Perfect Circuit merch, which has a little bit of something for anyone...and a little bit of something for any budget.

Our recent line of Perfect Circuit Editions T-shirts, for instance, are a great place to look: humorous, clever designs that any synth enthusiast will love, printed locally on some of the most seriously highest-quality T-shirts you've ever seen. If you want to put a smile on their face while keeping them cozy and warm, they're a great place to look...including crowd favorites PCTV, Bubble Babble (great for the synthesizer scholar), Performance, and more.

The Perfect Gift: Perfect Circuit Gift Card

Of course, there's only one sure way to give an electronic musician the gift they actually want—get 'em a Perfect Circuit virtual gift card! Our virtual gift cards can be used on our entire catalog—which means that, once delivered, they'll grant the lucky recipient access to thousands of synthesizers, drum machines, guitar effect pedals, modular synths, MIDI controllers, studio recording gear, DJ gear, and more.

Virtual gift cards are delivered instantaneously to the email address of your choosing...so if you want to make it easy for the musician in your life to get exactly what they want, this is just the thing.

But That's Not All...

Need more gift ideas? Feel free to reach out to talk about finding the perfect gift—or head over to our Gift Guide for a curated collection of items we love!