The Audiophiliac's under $100 holiday gift guide (pictures)
Koss KTX Pro 1 headphones ($10)
Granted, the Koss KTX Pro 1 headphones' silver plastic on-ear design has an all-too-generic look, but the sound is surprisingly good! Most cheap on-ears sound claustrophobic and pinched, but the KTX Pro 1's sound was big and spacious. Koss backs up the KTX Pro 1 with a lifetime warranty!
Photo by: Koss
Doug MacLeod 'There's a Time' CD ($15)
Blues master MacLeod's all-acoustic sound is laid bare on this CD: just a man and his music, without studio trickery, compression, or other forms of processing.
Photo by: Reference Recordings
The Savages 'Silence Yourself' LP ($20)
This London-based powerhouse female foursome's debut LP will light up your turntable. This is hard rock, executed with equal parts passion and precision, so it sounds best turned up nice and loud. The LP's sound crushes the digital versions of "Silence Yourself."
Photo by: Matador
MA Recordings LP inner sleeves ($33)
MA Recordings LP sleeves are made in Japan from extremely soft synthetic fibers with antistatic properties, so the sleeves will not attract dust or trap moisture. The package includes 50 sleeves to protect your most valuable LPs.
Photo by: MA Recordings
JVC HA-RX700 full-size headphones ($40)
The HA-RX700 doesn't look or feel like a cheap headphone. Better yet, this full-size, over the ear model delivers a clear, highly articulate sound, with a wide stereo image, and it's the most comfortable budget headphone I've tried in years.
Photo by: Steve Guttenberg/CNET
Dayton Audio B652 speakers ($44 per pair)
Unlike most budget speakers, the Dayton B652 has a large woofer -- it's a 6.5-inch polypropylene cone -- and the speaker also has a ferrofluid-cooled 5/8-inch polycarbonate dome tweeter. The medium-density fiberboard cabinet feels sturdy and it's nicely finished in matte black. If you think the $199 Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker is hot stuff, you'll flip over the B652s' sound. Amazon sells the B652 for around $44 a pair with free shipping for Prime members.
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
Sly & the Family Stone 'Higher' CD box set ($47)
A career-spanning four-disc box set from the early masters of funk. Sly Stone's creative powers still astonish; the set includes hits like "I Want To Take You Higher," and there's a large helping of singles' mixes, live tunes, and unreleased tracks. I love the French version of "Dance to the Music." Box sets can sometimes seem like too much of a good thing, but the entertainment value of "Higher" never lets you down.
Photo by: Sony
Patricia Barber 'Companion' two-LP set ($50)
This live concert set by the leading audiophile diva is simply gorgeous; the sound, music, tunes, and LP remastering all come together. If you want to understand why some audiophiles aren't tempted to go digital, listen to this!
Photo by: Premonition Records
Zoom H1 high-resolution pocket recorder ($89)
The Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is exactly what the name claims. Measuring just 8 inches by 2 inches by 5 inches, it's very portable, and this little thing records high-quality WAV files at 44.1kHz to 96kHz sampling rates with 16-bit or 24-bit resolution. Amazon sells it for $89.
Photo by: Zoom
Schiit Magni headphone amplifier ($99)
The Schiit Magni headphone amplifier takes up minimal desktop space; it's just 5 inches by 3.5 inches by 1.25 inches, but it puts out up to 1.2 watts, so it's considerably more powerful than your computer's headphone jack, and sounds way better at any sane volume level. The all-metal design is made in the US.
Photo by: Schiit
Hifiman RE 400 in-ear headphones ($99)
The RE-400's sound is so well balanced and pure, you might not at first realize how good it is. Its unforced clarity is easy to listen to for hours on end, probably because there's no boosted treble or trickery of any kind; the RE-400 just goes about its business sounding accurate and natural.
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
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