At $35 the Chromecast Audio is almost a no-brainer. It enables users to stream their phones to any old speakers and because it uses Wi-Fi it doesn't have the same issues as Bluetooth such as battery drain, dropouts and poor sound quality.
While away from home a student can untether his or her speaker system with the UE Megaboom Bluetooth speaker. It's a tiny waterproof unit that gets IPX7 certification for extra toughness from the elements.
The Sonos Play:1 is a big step up from your average wireless speaker. It's offered in both white and blue options, and both support streaming music services including Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player, Google Music, 7Digital, Deezer, Soundcloud and Napster.
The most affordable Pro-Ject turntable, the Elemental, is a step above the "toys" you see in the sub-$200 category. This record player features striking looks and a decent cartridge as well, for just $229.
Jawbone has proven itself a valuable addition to the family. It's not cheap but it proves its worth with excellent sound quality and volume, nine different colour options, and a super-lightweight (9 ounces/255 grams!) build.
The original Audioengine A2 set the standard for affordably priced, audiophile grade desktop speakers. The A2+ ($249/pair) sounds the same, but adds new features such as a built-in USB digital converter and better quality connectors.
Even in this highly competitive market, Audioengine stayed the course and the little A2+, standing a mere 6 inches tall, always sounds sweet. Granted, it probably won't satisfy headbangers' lust for power, but the A2+ will smooth over any grit or nastiness from cruddy-sounding MP3s or YouTube videos.
ELAC Uni-Fi UB5
The $500 ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 is one of our favorite speakers right now, so if your student is a budding audiophile these are the models to get.