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The minute differences between a MP3 and a WAV file may pass detection from even a trained audio engineer’s ear, but the quality of your speakers will always remain a true constant. Anyone can hear when the music distorts, clips or lacks bass entirely—and if you’re a true audiophile and music lover, anything but the best experience may as well be silence. Put your iPhone in as many bowls as you want, because that little thing is never going to sound as good as true audio quality.
A good pair of headphones or speakers doesn’t always mean that they’re expensive—we’ve found more than our fair share of excellent headphones under $100—but usually, you do have to shell out some dough for the goods. You also must consider the acoustics of the room, where you place your speakers and the health of the record, if you decide to go fully physical. Audio is also filled with terms galore, including lossless, compression, reverb, decibels and hertz. A true music lover understands all this. They care about the quality of an instrument, worship at the altar of rock gods and readily consume any piece of information that relates to good sounds. They are definitely a discerning bunch—and we should know, because we count ourselves as part of that cluster.
Without an expert to guide you through it all, you may feel lost in the music. Sounds complicated, but we’re here to help you out. Below, we’ve put together the top 35 gifts for music lovers.
Best for In-Ear Headphones
Get ready for the long “WF-1000XM4” kind of names for audio products on this list, because these Sony in-ear headphones are just about as good as you can get if you’re in the market for wireless earbuds that also come with noise cancellation. They also feature clear and detailed bass—a marvel for audio technology as tiny as BlueTooth earbuds.
Best for Audiophiles Who Are In-The-Know
Serious audioheads tend not to trust wireless headphones because even a strong digital connection can cut out. This pair from Bang & Olufsen will win over more than a few skeptics, though. As with all the Danish brand’s products, they sound fantastic, producing audio that is clear and well-balanced. They’re also incredibly stylish and easy to wear, two things you can rarely say about over-ear headphones.
Best for Trendy Listeners
A favorite among audiophiles for decades, these on-ear headphones by Koss have remained trendy thanks to a recently remodeled limited edition 2022 release. Everyone is wearing these now, and the affordable price tag certainly helps.
Best for the Neat and Organized
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. 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.
Best for Vinyl Heads
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 at Audio-Technica? If you’ve yet to jump on the vinyl revival, maybe now’s the time.
Best for Those Who Miss MP3 Players
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.
Best for an Easy Audio Upgrade
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.
Best for the 21st Century
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 a very solid turntable with dual RCA outputs and Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to your vinyl on practically any set of speakers.
Best for Crystal-Clear Sound
Most audiophiles like to do most 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.
Best for Honoring Legends
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, Freddy Mercury, or Jimi Hendrix—will be a great way to spruce up your audio space.
Best for Tweaking and Adjusting
Sennheiser continues its leadership in true wireless earbuds with its latest Momentum 2 offerings. The 7-mm dynamic drivers supply superior sound with active noise canceling—perfect for music or calls in a noisy environment. A smartphone app also lets you further customize your listening experience by adjusting the built-in equalizers to emphasize deeper bass, natural mids and detailed treble.
Best for Preservationists
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.
Best For Bookworms
Written by legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, How Music Works is a detailed history exploring how we listen to music and the environment that shapes our experience. Music may be the medium, but so is the space in which we consume it. If you like music, and you like reading, you won’t find a bookshelf without a copy.
Best Speakers on the Go
If you’re looking for a speaker that doesn’t look like a speaker (it’s possible), look no further than Bang and Olufsen’s lunchbox design. It also comes with a carrying strap and 360-degree sound dispersion. So you won’t be missing out no matter where the speaker is facing.
Best for a Bass Boost
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.
Best for the Complete Audio Experience
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). 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.
Best for Portable Rockers
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). 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.
Best for Loud Sound
A powerful tower speaker can help you turn your home stereo system into a professional-grade setup. 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.
Best for Empty Coffee Tables
Some of history’s greatest hi-fi systems, like 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.
Best for Fashion Lovers
Designer Billy Reid is a true music lover, evidenced by his stellar collection of Gibson guitars. The shape and the details, partnered with the brand’s reputation for offering the top-quality instruments, is why Gibson is the gold standard. These qualities could also be said of Reid’s recent collaboration with Gibson, which includes this embroidered denim shirt that just oozes swagger.
Best for Real-Deal Audiophiles
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. At their best, Equinox requires 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.
Best for Nostalgia
The epitome of nostalgia—the portable record player. Throw some vinyl in a bag and carry this suitcase turntable built by Crosley on the go to any party with its built-in speaker. The turntable also comes with three speeds and pitch control, as well as a USB-enabled connection to PC and Mac. There’s a headphone jack, too, for more private listening.
Best for Working Out
A good sports headphone shouldn’t fail you once you get a good jog going. We’ve never had a problem with the Bose SoundSport, arguably the best wireless earbuds that you can get for both sound quality and affordability. You’re going to sweat all over, so there’s no use shelling out a grand just to work out. Plus, they’re sweat-proof!
Best Wall Art for Audiophiles
Acting as both wall art and sound diffusers, this soundwave-shaped piece can be created to match any song or audio file up to the seconds long. The piece is also made of gorgeous brown wood and comes with a card describing what each part represents in the tune of your choice.
Best for Listening Parties
Throwing an album release party? Just inviting some friends over? This cute turntable cheese board pays homage to the age of vinyl. The needle also doubles as a knife for slicing cheese.
Best for Tastings
By now, everyone pretty much knows that wine glasses make a tone if you rub your finger around the rim of the glass. But how does one get the right pitch? This set of musical wine glasses has the exact measurements you need on the side of the bowl, perfect for creating your own symphony at your next dinner party or wine tasting.
Best for Keeping Time
Designed after vintage guitar amps, this analog clock is perfect for home studios or rooms with a vintage feel. The amp clock also has a customizable nameplate to make anyone you want the new sonic inventor.
Best for Mixmasters
Sonos, purveyor of some of the best soundbars, offers an experience unlike any other. The same can be said of its turnable, which includes a premium speaker. It’s simply designed and smartly made, and will appeal to any music lover that likes to scratch.
Best for Discovery
With just a simple survey, Nail City Records in West Virginia will send you a mix of records from new and vintage releases. Interested in just one genre? You can tailor the experience to be a little surprising by selecting just rock, rap, jazz, punk or country.
Best for Radioheads
Aside from tuning in to AM/FM radio, this vintage-designed set can also play with Bluetooth-enabled devices for wireless streaming. The radio is also housed in a wood cabinet, designed by Tom Devesto and Henry Kloss.
Best for Noisy Offices
Need some peace and quiet in your life? These headphones made from 100% recyclable material are best for noisy offices, chatty cafes, or loud roommates.
Best for the Outdoors
This sounds kind of silly, but this half-water bottle, half-Bluetooth speaker actually works. Great for a day hike or camping outside, the chargeable USB speaker not only plays music while the lid is off, but it also stores hot and cold beverages. It can even be cooled in the refrigerator.
Best for Karaoke Night
This microphone is like a whole karaoke room in one. Not only are there colorful LED lights, but there are also volume and echo control, Bluetooth support and a built-in remote. It even works in your car, in case you really want to do carpool karaoke the right way.
Best for Shower Singers
Yup, that’s a showerhead with a speaker in it. No more cranking up the volume on your phone or worrying about getting your speaker wet. Just turn on the water and start belting away. You can also detach the speaker and take it on the go. Just don’t tell anyone that you use it to shower.
Best Vintage-Inspired Design
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.