The Best iPhone Gifts for Musicians

Last Updated: Nov. 9, 2015

The iPhone and iPod touch aren't just about listening to music, they can also be powerful tools for creating it. If you've got any musicians, or aspiring musicians, on your holiday shopping list, they probably already have an Apple device. So why not combine their love of music and technology by giving them one of these gifts for guitarists, pianists, and singers?

Important note: Many of these devices connect to the iPhone's Dock Connector port. The latest models—iPhone 6S series, 5th gen. iPod touch, and iPad Air 2 and Mini 4—all use a new interface, the Lightning port. If the musician you're buying for has one of these devices, check to see if they'll need a $30 Lightning-to-Dock Connector adapter to make these accessories compatible with their devices.

(Looking for gifts for music lovers rather than music fans? Try this list.)

The AmpliTube iRig 2 combines a small accessory and an app to give guitarists and bass players a portable recording studio. Plug the guitar or bass into the iRig 2 and then plug the other end into the microphone jack on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and you unlock a world of virtual amps, effects, and more. You can connect the device to headphones, amps, and stereos for output and record the music. The iRig 2 improves on the original with new features like adjustable input gain. Expect to spend around US$40.

Guitarists and bassist who want to record music directly into their iPhones or iPads will be interested in the various guitar input accessories available this holiday season. Guitar inputs are small devices that plug into the port at the bottom of an iPad or iPhone, or the USB port of a Mac. Connect the other end to a guitar or bass and you're ready to rock. One major benefit of this is that you can bring your recordings into GarageBand for post-recording mixing and effects. Expect to spend around $100 for a device like Apogee's JAM. Other options include Apogee's JAM 96k or Line 6's Sonic Port. 

The pianist in your life looking for practice, or the budding prodigy who wants to learn how to play the piano, will appreciate the ION Piano Apprentice. This mini-keyboard comes with a teaching app that uses the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to impart piano lessons. Even cooler, the keys on the keyboard light up in sync with the lesson, showing you where to play and making learning easier. It offers built-in speakers and optional batteries for portable use and can work with any MIDI-compliant piano app. The Piano Apprentice costs $30-60.

Line 6's Mobile Keys keyboards can help turn an iOS device into a mobile recording studio for pianists. Simply plug the keyboard (there are two versions; one with 25 keys, the other with 49, ranging in price from $100-$150) into an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac and the pianist can play their music directly into audio software like GarageBand. Even better, these keyboards draw power from the device, so there's no need to carry a separate power supply.

Every musician needs a microphone. Whether to record vocals, string instruments, drums, or even podcasts, a microphone is key. The musician on your gift list will be thrilled to get a high-quality mic this year.

Shure's MOTIV MV88 mic plugs directly into the Lightning port on modern iOS devices to let users record high-quality vocals, music, or other kinds of audio (it can be a great accessory for filmmakers, too). And at just 1.43 ounces, it adds barely any weight to a kit bag or in the hand. Expect to spend around $150 for the MOTIV MV88.

For serious musicians whose recording environments include technology like iOS devices and MIDI units, the $650 Apogee Duet can sit at the heart of their work. The Duet includes mic preamps, a USB MIDI connection, support for simultaneous MIDI keyboard and DJ controllers on iPad and when connected to a power source, the ability to charge an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. It’s not an inexpensive gift, but for the professional musician, it could be a great gift.

If the musician in your life prefers a keyboard, chances are they may have MIDI-compatible instruments—and they may want to connect them to their iPhone or iPad. If that's the case, check out the iRig MIDI 2, which lets music played on MIDI instruments be recorded in compatible apps. What's especially nice about is that the MIDI 2 doesn't require adapters to connect to different types of ports. Instead, it has a single port that can accept USB, Lightning, Dock Connector cables, and OTG to Mini-DIN cables (USB and Lightning are included). Expect to spend about $80.

If the musician in your life is more EDM than R&B, they may enjoy this DJ Cable from Griffin. The cable, which plugs into the headphone jack on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, allows DJs to hear both the music pumping through the speakers and the songs they're preparing to mix in. This accessory is designed to work with algoriddim's djay app (Purchase at iTunes) and will set you back around $20.

With music being so digital these days, aren't DJs behind the times using traditional analog records? That's something the Numark iDJ Live II aims to fix. This iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac-compatible DJ station not only lets you mix music on your device, it also offers two turntable-style devices to provide, in Numark's words, a "pro DJ feel." Like the Griffin DJ cable, the iDJ works well with the djay app, but it also adds traditional buttons, faders, and other controls to fine-tune your sound. A split cable allows DJs to listen to their cues or the music they're playing. The iDJ runs around $100.

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