Sony MDR 1000x headphones
This year's holiday gift guide runs the gamut -- from speakers, headphones, music, digital converters, and turntables -- all priced in the affordable range.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Sony MDR-1000X noise-canceling/Bluetooth headphones ($349, £330, AU$518), and it certainly banished subway din to a remarkable degree -- far better than what I get from my everyday in-ear, noise-isolating headphones that don't use batteries or electronics.
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers
Pioneer's SP-BS22-LR speaker has consistently earned raves for its sound, and at $129 a pair it's a screaming bargain for anyone craving the best bang-for-the-buck speakers
FiiO F3 in-ear headphones
FiiO's terrific $25/£30 F3 in-ear headphone packs a punch, sounds clear, and it's comfy to wear for extended periods.
The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band rmix
The Beatles iconic "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album is now celebrating its 50th anniversary with a brand new stereo mix. The spiffed up version sounds very different from the original 1967 mix, the new version is massively clearer.
Vizio SB3621 sound bar
The Vizio SB3621 offers excellent performance for an ultra-budget sound bar with great movie sound and toe-tapping music playback. The sound bar offers a decent selection of inputs including Bluetooth and will decode both Dolby and DTS flicks. The sound bar and wireless sub feature excellent build quality and seamless setup. Priced normally at a mere $149, it sometimes goes for a lot less.
David Scheinbaum: Hip Hop, Portraits of an Urban Hymn
David Scheinbaum's brilliant portraits of Erykah Badu, Chuck D., George Clinton, Common, Mos Def, Del-Tha Funkee Homosapien, Sage Francis, Professor Griff, KRS One, Mike Relm, Tajai, Wu-Tang Clan and Yelawolf (among others) approach hip hop as a positive cultural influence akin to the youth movement of the 1960s.
Audeze LCD 2 Classic headphones
They're a lot lighter and more comfortable than previous generation of full-size Audeze headphones, with an introductory price of $599, the regular price will be $799.
Bruce Springsteen, The Album Collection, Vol.1
The Boss' first eight albums, his best work, remastered to a very high standard, they never, ever sounded better!
Schiit Modi 2 digital converter
At $99 this wee desktop digital converter's sound is a big upgrade over the converter that lives inside your computer.
1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones
1More is quickly established itself as the budget audiophile headphone maker of choice. The Triple Driver receives consistent praise for its clarity and sweet tone for $100, £99, AU$139.
Audioengine A2+ powered speakers
These little desktop or small room speakers have won over many a budding audiophile's heart. The sound is rich and inviting, so you want to keep coming back for more! Currently on sale on the Audioengine Web site for $199 per pair.
Pro-Ject Elemental turntable
The Pro-Ject Elemental has a fully manual belt-drive design that's all about maximizing sound quality. It's available in three finishes -- red-black, white-black, or silver-black -- for $229 on Amazon, with free shipping for Prime customers.
The AudioQuest Perch headphone stand
Looks simple, but the Perch's wide saddle provides ample support for over- and on-ear headphones. $80, £79.
Wax Rax 45 RPM Vinyl Record Adapter
This beautifully machined hunk of aluminum lets you play 45 singles on any turntable. The $20 Wax Rax adaptor comes in seven anodized colors: Lime, Cherry, Grape, Blueberry, 24K, Black and Metallic.
NAD C 338 stereo amplifier
The NAD C 338 stereo amplifier recalls the brand's iconic 1970s look. Of course this new one comes loaded with gotta-have features like Chromecast and Bluetooth, along with two optical and two coaxial inputs, two analog line inputs, one turntable input, a 6.3mm headphone jack, and a subwoofer output jack. Power is rated at 50 watts per channel for 4- and 8-ohm rated speakers. The C 338 sells for $650, £599, AU$999.
The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request
The Rolling Stones' "Their Satanic Majesties Request" album is an outlier in the band's canon. The music was a clean break from the Stones' trademark blues-based hard rock, so it wasn't well received by fans and critics when "Satanic" was released in early December, 1967. It followed the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by five months. The 50th Anniversary "Satanic" offers spiffed up sonics and lavish packaging.
Etymotic ER4 SR and XR in-ear headphones
The Etymotic ER4 SR and XR in-ear headphones will appeal to audiophiles or anyone with a hankering for clarity that's just not available from other similarly priced in-ear headphones. Etymotics are built to last, I know folks still using ER4s they bought 10+ years ago! Etymotic ER4 SR and XR headphones sell for $349, £360, AU#599.
Spin Clean LP washer
If your loved ones are buying used records, or cherry picking their older relatives LP collections, gifting this $80, £89, AU$149 record cleaning machine might be a swell idea.
Pro-Ject Wall Mount iT 1 turntable shelf
If you have a springy floor that makes your turntable skip, this wall mount shelf will steady your tunes. $179, £130.
Schiit Magni 3
Schiit Magni 3 headphone amp/stereo preamplifier is a cute little critter, a mere 5x3.5x1.25 inches (127x89x32mm), so it's tiny enough to fit on a crowded desktop. This bad boy goes for $99, and while the UK and Australia prices haven't yet been set I expect them to be around £110 and AU$179.
Q Acoustics 3020 speakers
It's a sweet little, high-resolution speaker, and right now Q Acoustics is selling 3020s for $250, £149, AU399 a pair.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Live Anthology
Four CDs of Petty's best live performances, fans shouldn't miss this one.