Looking for a special gift for the music student or music aficionado in your life? Here are some affordable suggestions sure to delight — all with price tags of less than $500.
The Yamaha Alto Venova™ is an innovative musical instrument that is played like a recorder, yet it sounds like an alto saxophone. Not only is it much more affordable than a “real” alto sax, it’s lightweight and portable enough to take anywhere.
The Alto Venova’s easy, recorder-style fingering makes it the ideal gift for inexperienced musicians looking to experiment with a single reed instrument, while seasoned players will appreciate its expressivity, fully chromatic two octave range and usage of a real alto saxophone mouthpiece and reed. And there are no add-ons: Everything needed to start making music is provided, including an alto sax mouthpiece, ligature, synthetic reed, mouthpiece cap and a durable carrying case with strap.
Budding guitar heroes need a versatile practice amplifier to hone their skills. The Yamaha THR10II utilizes Virtual Circuitry Technology to deliver an authentic vintage tube amp sound as well as realistic effects and quality stereo playback, and it sounds great in all genres, whether played delicately for a clean sound, or with a more edgy, distorted tone.
Thanks to the 15 built-in guitar amp models, three bass amp models and three mic models for acoustic-electric guitars, it’s easy to dial in the perfect guitar tone with the THR10II. Compact and powerful, it provides 20 watts of power and has dual full-range speakers for a wide, spacious audio image, plus there’s a headphone jack for private practice without disturbing parents or neighbors. Bluetooth® support enables wireless audio playback from a smartphone, tablet or computer, and there’s an auxiliary input jack as well as a USB port. Also included is Steinberg’s popular Cubase AI and Cubasis LE Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, making it easy to create a guitar-laden masterpiece anywhere, anytime!
There comes a time when every music student’s talent outgrows their first instrument, and they’re ready to move up to the next level. With its innovative features, simple connectivity, and lightweight and portable design, the Yamaha PSR-EW410 is the perfect partner for the next step in learning to play the piano, and for performing various styles of music, from the latest to vinyl favorites.
The PSR-EW410 offers 76 touch-responsive keys and a comprehensive library of 758 instrument voices (including a high-resolution piano sample) plus dozens of effects, along with powerful onboard speakers. It also provides a wealth of professional features such as Quick Sampling, which allows the user to capture any sound and instantly play it across the keys, and an intuitive “Live Control Knob” for real-time tweaking of sounds. There’s even a built-in USB audio recorder and a Groove Creator for playing like a DJ — lay down a beat, tweak the groove, adjust the mix and get the dance party started!
The YAS-209 sound bar is the perfect gift for the music or movie lover in your life. It provides expansive sound and explosive bass courtesy of the included wireless subwoofer, along with built-in Alexa control for voice control, setting alarms and timers, controlling smart home devices, and more.
The YAS-209 is easy to set up and use, and it offers a ton of features, including DTS Virtual:X virtual 3D surround sound and Clear Voice technology for enhanced dialogue clarity, along with multiple audio presets (customizable and adjustable via a free app) that allow the user to create the ideal immersive experience. Bluetooth connectivity enables direct music or podcast playback of popular streaming services from a smartphone, tablet or computer. There are also numerous built-in streaming services, which include Spotify Connect, Amazon Music and Tidal, all accessible over Wi-Fi®. With Alexa built-in, playing music is as simple as asking for a song, artist or genre — you can even adjust volume levels or watch your favorite movie on a connected Fire TV.
Every home recordist needs a device called an audio interface, which enables audio signals to get in and out of their computer. But not all audio interfaces are created equal. The Steinberg UR22C provides an affordable and flexible solution, with speedy USB 3.0 connectivity, superior sound quality, plenty of input/output (I/O) options and a comprehensive collection of included software.
The UR22C provides everything needed for basic recording: two analog combo mic/line inputs, two main outputs and a dedicated headphone output, along with a MIDI input and output. Its built-in Yamaha D-Pre Mic Preamps ensure clear, accurate recordings with full sonic detail, and 32-bit integer resolution, combined with a sampling rate of up to 192kHz, translates to audio quality that meets or exceeds even that of the high-end gear found in professional recording studios. It even comes with downloadable versions of Steinberg’s feature-laden Cubase AI for Mac®/PC, as well as a copy of Cubasis LE for iPad®, along with effects galore, such as Yamaha Rev-X reverb and Steinberg’s Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip and Guitar Amp Classic plug-ins. This is one gift sure to put a smile on the face of everyone who loves recording and producing their own music!
As every parent of a trumpeter, trombonist, or tuba player knows, brass instruments can be very loud. One way of making these instruments quieter is the use of a mute, but the problem is that mutes dramatically alter tone as well as volume. Yamaha provides the perfect solution with its revolutionary SILENT Brass™ system, which consists of a mute fitted with a pickup microphone that connects to a small electronic “personal studio” unit that clips onto the player’s belt. That little box contains circuitry that simulates a standard acoustic tone, making the instrument sound as though there’s no mute being used.
There are versions for trumpet, trombone and French horn, as well as for tuba and euphonium. All SILENT Brass mutes have an external input for enjoyable, effective practice — simply connect a smartphone or portable music player and your budding brass star can play along with their favorite tunes or “minus-one” backing tracks. Just plug in the included headphones or a set of earbuds and they can practice to their heart’s content … without interrupting the peace and quiet of everyone else in the immediate vicinity.
Drummers are notoriously picky about their bass drum pedals, so if one of your gift recipients is a keeper of the beat, they’ll be delighted with the Yamaha FP-9500C bass drum pedal. Its innovative design employs a double chain drive ideal for heavy-footed players, along with a woven nylon strap that can be installed using a standard drum key.
The FP-9500C has adjustments for beater angle, footboard angle, and spring tension. The pedal frame has a stabilizer bar cast into it below the rocker shaft to eliminate flex. This keeps the bearings in alignment and gives the pedal a smooth, light feel. The hole in the beater hub is teardrop shaped so it securely holds the beater shaft and keeps the two-sided beater (felt on one side, and hard plastic on the other) from spinning. The side-adjustable hoop clamp holds firmly to different thickness hoops, and tightens with a wing bolt. In short, everything the drummer in your life needs to keep their foot happy!
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