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From Loudspeakers to Turntables, the 21 Best Gifts for Audiophiles and Music Lovers

Ideas sure to win over even the snobbiest music lover in your life.

Dan Clark Audio ÆON 2, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable, Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T Photo: Courtesy of Dan Clark Audio; Courtesy of Pro-Ject Audio; Courtesy of Astell & Kern

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It’s easier to listen to music today than any other time in human history. With just a few clicks, you can pull up any song, album or artist on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube. The way we listen has changed, too—through the headphones connected to our smartphone, the speakers attached to our stereo or a soundbar linked to our TV. This is due, in part, to advances in audio technology over the last decade. There are now excellent options across the pricing spectrum. But there is still a discernible difference between good enough and great. With that in mind, here are the best headphones, speakers, turntables and other assorted audio goodies that have caught our eye over the last year. Each will give the audiophile in your life something to smile about this holiday season.

Dan Clark Audio ÆON 2 Over-Ear Headphones

Dan Clark Audio ÆON 2 headphones

Dan Clark Audio ÆON 2 headphones  Dan Clark

Are you skeptical about whether or not pricey headphones actually sound better? Spend some time with this pair of cans from Dan Clark Audio. They may lack some of the features you’ll find on more accessible mainstream headphones—like a remote, mic and noise cancellation—but they pump out superlative audio that sounds so clear and natural: You may just notice details in songs that you never heard before. Lightweight and comfortable, you can wear them for a whole afternoon without getting a headache.

BUY NOW: $899

BUY NOW: $899

Sennheiser IE900 In-Ear Headphones

Sennheiser IE900 in-ear headphones

Sennheiser IE900 in-ear headphones  Sennheiser

Most audiophiles like to do the majority of their music listening at home so they can control their environment. But if you’re looking for a premier sound option for the road, Sennheiser’s latest in-ear models should do the trick. Thanks to the brand’s new X3R transducer and XWB driver, these tiny headphones sound as powerful as much bigger over-ear models. You’ll have to plug them in—they come with three connectors so they’ll work on practically any device—but you’ll also never have to worry about your music cutting out.

BUY NOW: $1295.95

 

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX  Bang & Olufsen

Serious audioheads tend not to trust wireless headphones because even the strong digital connection can cut out or cause distortion. This pair from Bang & Olufsen will win over more than a few skeptics, though. As with all of the Danish brand’s products, they sound fantastic, producing audio that is clear and well balanced. You’ll never have to worry about an over-powering bassline drowning out lyrics again. They’re also incredibly stylish and easy to wear, two things you can rarely say about over-ear ‘phones. And if that’s not enough, call quality is the best we’ve encountered on over-ear headphones, too.

BUY NOW: $499

BUY NOW: $499

 

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds  Sony

If you’re concerned about bluetooth earbuds lacking bite, try Sony’s range-topping wireless in-ear model. These ‘buds sound just as robust as their over-ear siblings, the WH-1000XM4. Their memory foam ear tips also make it easy to get a really tight seal to passively block out sound, an especially nice feature if you’re worried about active noise cancellation causing distortion.

BUY NOW: $279.99

BUY NOW: $279.99

Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless Earbuds

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 2 earbuds

Sennheiser Momentum 2 earbuds  Photo: Courtesy of Sennheiser

The family owned German audio specialists Sennheiser continues its leadership in true wireless earbuds with its latest Momentum 2 offerings—the ergonomically shaped speakers feature five ear-tip options for a perfectly snug fit and comfy all-day use. The 7-mm dynamic drivers supply superior sound with active noise canceling—perfect for music or calls in a noisy environment—IPX4 water-resistance and up to 28 hours of playtime on a single charge via its charging case. The smartphone app also lets you further customize your listening experience by adjusting the built-in equalizers to emphasize deeper bass, natural mids and/or detailed treble. Best of all, they’re currently 33 percent—$100—below their normal price.

BUY NOW: $300 $200

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand  Satechi

If you have a good pair of headphones, you’re going to want a place to put them, such as this elegant solution from Satechi. Made of aluminum, the stand looks chic and ensures that your headphones are always at hand. Plus it includes a back hook to help organize your cords while multiple USB outlets are available to charge your devices.

BUY NOW: $49.99

BUY NOW: $49.99

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable  Pro-Ject

Sometimes it can be a relief to disconnect your device and go analog. What better way to do that than with this refined turntable from the specialists from Pro-Ject. Its precise motor has been fitted with a new suspension that reduces vibration, as does its height-adjustable aluminum feet. A heavy steel platter also helps ensure quiet playback. If you’ve yet to jump on the vinyl revival, maybe now’s the time…

BUY NOW: $599

Buy Now: $599

Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB Turntable

Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB turntable

Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB turntable  Audio Technica

On the other hand, maybe you have loads of rare vinyl that you want to digitize. Enter this direct-drive turntable from Audio Technica. It features a USB output so you can take the tracks from your records and download them to your computer (it comes with Audacity software that’ll help you do just that). Beyond that nifty trick, it’s also very solid turntable with dual RCA outputs and Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to your vinyl on practically any set of speakers.

Buy Now: $349

Buy Now: $349

Pro-Ject VC-S2 ALU Record Cleaner

Pro-Ject VC-S2 ALU record cleaner

Pro-Ject VC-S2 ALU record cleaner  Pro-Ject

Whether you listen to vinyl old or new, keep ’em clean. It won’t matter how good your turntable is if the grooves on your records are filled with dust and other gunk. Give your disc two rotations—one forward, one backward—in this powerful device from Pro-Ject, and they’ll sound good as new, even if you’re listening to something you picked up at a garage sale.

Buy Now: $749

Buy Now: $749

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T  Astell & Kern

If you’re more the type to carry around your entire collection in your pocket, this little number from Astell & Kern is for you. It was designed specifically for hi-res audio and has a built-in vacuum tube amplifier so your music sounds exactly the way it was recorded. It’s got 256 gigabytes of space to store your albums, and it’s also expandable in case you need even more room for your favorite tunes.

Buy Now: $2,499

Buy Now: $2,499

Campfire Audio In-Ear Monitors

Equinox Campfire Audio

Equinox Campfire Audio  Photo: Courtesy of Campfire Audio

Although they may look like earbuds, these Equinox In-Ear Monitors are certainly not. You cannot make a phone call, ask for Google help or dictate a text. All you can do is listen to sweet, sweet music—and Campfire Audio would have it no other way. Handcrafted in the US, the Portland-based firm custom 3-D-print its acoustic chambers for a decidedly high-end listening experience, a process that distinguishes it from a crowded field of cheap overseas competitors. Campfire Audio already enjoy a superb reputation in the hi-fi and pro audio communities, and recently they’ve been making inroads into high-end consumer world. Their top-tier Equinox model features professional engineer-level technology like single full-range 10mm ADLC Diaphragm Dynamic Driver, 5Hz–20 kHz frequency response, 105 dB SPL/mW sensitivity, less than 1 percent total harmonic distortion and 19 Ohms at 1kHz impedance. Or, in layman’s terms, plenty of bass and absurd levels of crisp detail. At their best Equinox require a visit to an audiologist to scan your ear canal for the perfect fit and hours of fatigue-less listening pleasure, but they can also be ordered as-is. Note: Campfire Audio also offers an excellent (still handcrafted and a 3-D-printed chamber) more affordable Holocene model for those with a tighter budget.

BUY NOW (Equinox): $1,499

Buy Now (Holocene) $649 $499

Klipsch R-51PM Bookshelf Speakers

Klipsch R-51PM bookshelf speakers

Klipsch R-51PM bookshelf speakers  Klipsch

If you’re looking for an easy way to upgrade your home audio system, a pair of bookshelf speakers should be near the top of the list. They may not be as powerful as tower speakers but they can still pack a serious punch while taking up a lot less space (as their name suggests, they’ll fit on a shelf). This is especially true of this powered duo from Klipsch. The set produces a warm and natural sound, and more bass than you would expect considering their size. They also have a phono input, so you won’t need a preamp to connect them to your turntable.

Buy Now: $599

Buy Now: $599

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Emerge Bookshelf Speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Emerge

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Emerge  Bang & Olufsen

If you’re looking for a speaker that doesn’t look like a speaker (it’s possible), look no further than Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Emerge. The compact creation (25.5 by 16.5 by 6.7 cm) supports Apple Airplay 2, Google Chromecast, Bluetooth and Spotify. It can also be paired with any of B&O’s connected speakers to deliver music throughout your home, and features a built-in radio and microphone for voice control. The Danish company known for its design doesn’t fail here, offering either a gold version of the Beosound Emerge with oak wood “cover” or Black Anthracite high-grade aluminum with a pearl-blasted grill.

BUY NOW: £669 ($892.48)

Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 Tower Speaker

Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 Tower Speaker

Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 Tower Speaker  Polk Audio

A powerful tower speaker can help you turn your home stereo system into a professional-grade setup. If this is what you want, this model from Polk audio should do the trick. Sitting atop the company’s Signature Elite line, this speaker generates audio that sounds both loud and natural. Its design helps direct airflow in a way that reduces distortion while producing commanding bass, even when it’s not connected to a subwoofer. Even better, it can also be integrated into your TV’s surround sound system for a more cinematic experience.

Buy Now: $549

Buy Now: $549

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofer

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofer

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofer  MartinLogan

In order to really feel the beat of your favorite club anthem, you’ll want to make sure your audio setup is equipped with its own subwoofer. MartinLogan’s model may not be the biggest—its inverted poly cone woofer measures just 10 inches—but it peaks at 600 watts, meaning it can pump out bass that really booms. It also offers multiple input options, including wireless connectivity so that you can control the whole thing from your smartphone. With this little cube, you’ll be able to transform your audio system into one that would make any nightclub jealous.

Buy Now: $899.99

Buy Now: $899.99

Wrensilva Loft Club Series All-in-One Hi-Fi System

Wrensilva Loft Club Series hi-fi system

Wrensilva Loft Club Series hi-fi system  Wrensilva

Building a home audio system can be intimidating. Luckily, Wrensilva has created a device that features everything you could want in one stylish package. The audio company’s retro-inspired hi-fi system includes a Pro-Ject turntable, a solid-state pre-amp, Bang & Olufsen amplifier and powerful two-way bass-reflex speakers. Best of all, it’s smaller than your parent’s old system, making it perfect for homes and apartments where space is at a premium.

Buy Now: $5,999

Sonos Five Two-Room Speaker Set

Sonos Five two-room set

Sonos Five two-room set  Sonos

We all know Sonos, right? It’s also worth knowing that it offers its Five wireless speaker as a set, so that your favorite tunes or podcasts aren’t limited to the living room. The pair, which can stream music or connect directly to nearly any audio device, lets you and your family listen to the same recording in different rooms. Positioned horizontally by itself, the Five generates two channels of ultra-clear, room-filling sound with plenty of bass. You can also set up both units in the same room as mono speakers if you want to experience even more detailed stereo sound. Each speaker is also equipped with the company’s Trueplay tuning tech, so it adapts to the acoustic of whatever room its located in.

Buy Now: $1,489

Buy Now: $1,489

Marshall Emberton Bluetooth Speaker

Marshall Emberton Bluetooth speaker

Marshall Emberton Bluetooth speaker  Marshall

The Marshall Emberton is compact, as all good Bluetooth speakers should be. That means you can easily move it from room to room or toss it in your bag before a day at the beach (its IPX7 water-resistance rating means it can withstand the elements). Despite its slight frame, it still has room for a pair of 2-inch drivers powerful enough to fill a room or patio with sound. And even if you turn it all the way up to 11, that Drake LP will still sound clear and natural, without any annoying distortion. Its best feature, though, may be the 20 hours of playtime, so you never have to worry about the music cutting out just as the party is getting started.

Buy Now: $149.99

Buy Now: $149.99

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

Bose Smart Soundbar 900  Bose

Picture resolution on modern TVs has improved dramatically in recent years, but audio quality can still be hit and miss. That’s why a top-class soundbar like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is a necessity. The audio brand’s device is easy to set up and even easier to use (and can connect to other devices, like your smartphone). It also includes Bose’s True Space technology and supports Dolby Atmos, allowing it to produce sound so immersive you’ll swear you’re on set the next time you watch Succession. If you want even more oomph, or something closer to an actual movie-theater experience, you can add two of the company’s surround sound speakers to your setup.

Buy Now: $899

Buy Now: $899

Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design by Gideon Schwartz

'Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design' by Gideon Schwartz

‘Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design’ by Gideon Schwartz  Phaidon

Some of history’s greatest hi-fi systems, like the Clairtone’s Project G2 stereo, don’t just sound good, they look good, too. This gorgeous coffee-table book, which was written by Gideon Schwartz, traces the history of high-end audio design all the way back to the middle of the 20th century. Across 272 pages, the former attorney showcases plenty of sets that suggest that audiophiles care just as much about style as they do about sound quality.

Buy Now: $89.95

Buy Now: $89.95

Mr Porter Sonic Editions Prints

Mr Porter Sonic Editions Prints

Mr Porter Sonic Editions Prints  Mr Porter

There are other ways to admire your favorite musicians. Gaze upon them doing what they do best via these gorgeous limited-edition prints from Mr Porter. Each mounted and framed photo—whether it be Ray Charles, David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix—will be a great way to spruce up your audio space.

Buy Now: $300

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