Music is in our lives every day. But for some of us, music goes beyond that. Music is a passion, and only the best sounding music will do. The audiophiles in our lives need some love during the holidays, so we have compiled a list of the best gifts for the music lover in your life.
In this list we explore headphones, earbuds, Bluetooth speakers, and even dive into the world of vinyl. Let’s get started.
To truly enjoy the best music around, you need to have the best headphones around. While Bluetooth and other wireless headphones have come a long way, many audiophiles still swear by good ole’ wired headphones.
Despite what is going on in the mobile world, the headphone jack is not quite dead yet. Putting aside phones, there are still a ton of devices out there that have a headphone jack, so a good set of wired cans is crucial to enjoying premium sound. There are a ton of different options out there but we highly recommend the Sony MDR-1A headphones. These cans offer great audio in a comfortable and lightweight package. Our reviewers found that the isolation wasn’t the best, so keep that in mind, but these headphones offer the best all around value for the price. Of course, at $300, they might be a bit too pricey for some gift buyers.
Looking for something a bit more affordable? Or hell, a lot more affordable? Another great option is the Monoprice 8323 headphones. At just $26, you’re not spending a lot here but your gift recipient won’t realize it as these sound much more impressive than you’d expect for the low price tag. Though the build quality isn’t the greatest, they have an amazing sound quality and 50mm drivers that produce a full range (20Hz to 20kHz). In other words, they do a phenomenal job of pushing out quality sound without breaking bank.
Not quite convinced that the Sony MDR-1A or Monoprice 8323 are best gift choices? For even more options, be sure to check out the following guides:
If the friend or family member on your shopping list isn’t a wired fan, there are plenty of great Bluetooth options worth considering as well. Once again, our top recommendation comes from Sony.
Sony’s MDR-1000x come with effective active noise cancellation, great battery life, and superior sound quality. What more could you ask for in a great set of headphones? Plus the fact that they’re Bluetooth means that you’re future-proofing your choice for when phones completely drop the headphone jack. And of course they’ll also play nice with your PC or whatever audio device have you. At $348, they aren’t exactly cheap, however.
The good news is you can actually spend under $100 and still get a pretty epic pair of Bluetooth headphones. CB3 might be far from a household name, but the CB3 Hush is a topseller on Amazon for a reason – they are really good for the money. For just $90 you not only get a wonderful pair of Bluetooth headphones, but they also come with active noise cancelling technology that makes them great on the train, plane, or wherever life takes you. Most sub-$100 ANC headphones have poor sound and less than great ANC, but CB3 actually hits both of these marks really well.
Looking for even more gift options? Be sure to head our to our best Bluetooth headphones guide at SoundGuys.
As for ear buds, 1MORE offers really great quality at an attractive price with its triple-driver earbuds. 1MORE aims for quality from the time you unbox them. They have great range from the lowest bass to the highest frequencies. They also offer an inline three button remote for volume and a control button. At just $100, they also aren’t terribly expensive.
Of course if you don’t have even $100 to spare this holiday season, you can get a great gift for less. The Kz ATE Copper Driver Earphones are only $13, yes really. For under $15 you can get great sound quality and attractive design that’s worthy of double the asking price at least. On the downside the lack depth and the build quality isn’t going to compete with more expensive buds, but at this price it’s really hard to go wrong.
In the realm of Bluetooth speaker, it’s hard to recommend anything but the JBL Charge 3. The Charge 3 offers good sound along with great battery life, and an IPX7 waterproof rating. The speaker also offers a good amount of sound considering its size for up to 20 hours. It’s hard to argue with an offering like that, especially when it costs just a tad above $100.
If you want to get a solid Bluetooth speaker for well under $100, the CB3 Armor XL may be for you. It has an IPX6 water resistance rating so it can go on the beach and take getting hit by water just fine. The sound comes from two passive subwoofers and two 50 mm drivers, and the 5200 mAh battery offers over 10 hours of playing songs. That’s not bad at all for its $49.99 price.
In the world of audiophiles, there is one last thing to consider in order to get the highest quality sound – a solid DAC, or digital-to-analog converter. Assuming you have read this comprehensive look at DACs by Christian Thomas and decided that a DAC is for you, we’re going to echo his recommendation of the FiiO E10K USB DAC. It has a very portable design that offers a number of different connections, including ⅛” headphone jack and USB. For just $75, this DAC offers really high quality sound output.
Right off the bat, we have to recommend gift cards to the multitude of music services out there. Music streaming is becoming as popular as movie streaming with services like Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Tidal and more all fighting for your monthly dollar. We’ve compiled links where you can pick up gift cards for these services online.
Going old school with vinyl
Vinyl is in the midst of a comeback in a major way. Music lovers turn to vinyl, embracing the warm tones coming from the turntable that simply aren’t reproducible in any kind of digital format. That may be an argument for another time, but if you know someone who is into vinyl, we have some suggestions for you.
One of the best names in turntables is Audio-Technica, having gotten its start over 50 years ago developing audio cartridges for phonographs. Times have changed, and so has Audio-Technica, building itself into one of the best names in turntables. Our list tops out at the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB. At $300 it isn’t cheap, but it does a wonderful job.
This turntable provides excellent value for the money, offering three playing speeds along with pitch adjustment. Plus, as the name suggests, it allows you to plug your turntable into your computer, and convert your records to FLAC – lossless audio. Now, you may be thinking, “what’s the point of getting vinyl, just to transfer it to digital?” You are correct. But this option allows you to have your vinyl cake, and eat it too when you’re out and about. It’s a small, but important detail. Go ahead and enjoy the rich warm tones at home, but have your music on the road as well.
If the $300 price tag is too much for you, Audio Technica also sells a much cheaper vinyl player at just $99. The Audio Technica AT-LP60BK is a classic two-speed turntable (33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds) in a die-cast aluminum platter. It also has a built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier with RCA output cables to connect to your speakers. The $99 version does not include Bluetooth, but you can get an upgraded model with Bluetooth for $179.
Picking up new vinyl
But let’s cut to the chase. What about the records themselves? Where can you get some of the best vinyl out there? One of the best sites to visit is called Discogs. This is an online database and marketplace for record collectors. Imagine if Swappa and Wikipedia had a baby that was devoted entirely to record albums, and you’ll start to get the idea. Discogs has a vast online database of discographies from millions of albums. Plus, users can buy and sell their own albums there. Millions of albums are available – certainly more than we could sum up here. So give it a look.
Or, for a different kind of vinyl treat, check out Vinyl Me, Please. This is a sort of record of the month club. If you want to gift that keeps on giving, Vinyl Me, Please will send over on exclusive LP per month, with unlimited swaps, plus access to a member’s only store with other titles you can pick up. Also included in the package is an original art print inspired by the album, and a custom cocktail recipe, because yay, alcohol!
Perhaps you need a gift for a turntable owner. After all, most audiophiles will already have a way to play their favorite vinyl. In that case, there are a lot of accessories you could check out to complete a vinyl lover’s collection. Record brushes, stylus cleaners, bubble levels, record sleeves – all of these make great gifts for the record keeper.
Here’s a few recommendations for you to check out:
- Audioquest LP record clean brush – $15
- Audio Technica AT607 Stylus Cleaner – $17
- Record sleeves 100 pack – $25
- Spin-Clean Record Washer MKII Deluxe Kit – $122
- Record Player Turntable level – $15
So that’s going to do it for our music lover gift selections. Can you think of anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below!