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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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 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" 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.
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.
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.