Audio followers are tough clients in terms of looking for presents. The additional they’re down the audiophile rabbit gap, the extra seemingly they’re to show their noses up at sure manufacturers and presents. The ungrateful sods. 

To steer you away from the duds and in the direction of the sure-fire hits, we’ve 9 audio reward concepts from the tons of of merchandise we’ve tried during the last yr. And some from earlier than 2017 which might be nonetheless laborious to beat. 

Sennheiser headphones

Sennheiser HD 660 S

How do you enhance on a basic? Like this

Acoustic design: dynamic, open | Weight: 260 g | Frequency response: 10 – 41,000 Hz (-10 dB) | THD + N: Sound strain stage: 104dB at 1V 1kHz | Impedance: 150 ohms

Full wealthy tone

Very snug

Design will not be for everybody

It took longer than a decade, however Sennheiser has lastly made a follow-up to its all-time-classic HD 650 headphones. New for 2017, we now have the HD 660 S. 

In typical Sennheiser type, the entire good bits are nonetheless in-place. You get comfortable velour earpads, open-back cups and a glance extra “studio” than “avenue”. 

Their sound is considerably just like the basic HD 650 tone, with a full and wealthy tone, however Sennheiser appears to have given the treble a bit extra vitality. Like Sennheiser’s finest, the soundstage is huge and involving: good for music, movies, video games… every little thing, actually. 

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The Sonos One speaker

Sonos One

Are Sonos and Alexa a match made in heaven?

Dimensions: 16.2 cm (H): 11.9 cm (W): 11.9 cm (D) | Weight: 1.85 kg | Energy supply: AC energy wire | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet | Amplifiers: two Class-D amplifiers | Audio system: one tweeter, one mid-woofer | Microphone array: Six far-field microphone array

Full-bodied, wealthy sound

Combines better of Alexa and Sonos

Performs music whereas Alexa is muted

Google Assistant is MIA till 2018

Most individuals we all know who went looking for a multi-room speaker ended up with both a Sonos Play:1 or Play:5. It’s time for the Play:1 house owners to really feel short-changed, as a result of Sonos just lately up to date this basic small speaker to let it join with Amazon Alexa (and ultimately Google Residence). The brand new model is known as the Sonos One. 

You may merely ask for a tune from Spotify and the Play One will play it, no telephone app faucets required. 

Sonos has stored the sound more-or-less the identical, although. It’s far larger, and extra highly effective, than the pure measurement of this little speaker column would possibly counsel.

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The Google Chromecast Audio and a yellow cable

Google Chromecast Audio

Inject some wi-fi know-how into your ‘dumb’ wired audio system

Output: Stereo analogue, optical digital, Excessive-Decision Audio (96 KHx/24bit) | Weight: 30.7 g | Dimensions: 51.9 x 51.9 x 13.49 mm | Connectors: three.5 mm jack, Micro USB | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.Four GHz/5 Ghz) | Energy: 5 V, 1 An influence provide

Straightforward to arrange


Common app help

Lacking some main streaming service gamers

Lacks multi-room help

This decide isn’t new, however right here’s a reminder in case you’ve forgotten it exists. Chromecast Audio can be utilized to show your previous hi-fi or energetic audio system into an up-to-date wi-fi, sensible system. 

In addition to with the ability to stream from any app that permits “casting”, which incorporates nearly each main Android audio app on the market, utilizing Google Residence you possibly can ask for tracks utilizing a telephone or Residence sensible speaker. 

Chromecast Audio will not be essentially the most thrilling gadget round, however when it may save a cherished one spend tons of on new audio system, it’s price fascinated about.

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The Q Acoustics M2 soundbase

Q Acoustics M2

A TV soundbase that would exchange your sound system

Dimensions: 550mm x 93mm x 338mm | Weight: 5.eight kg | Energy output: 80W (2 x 20W + 40W) | Frequency response: +/-Zero.5dB 20Hz to 20kHz | S/N ratio (A-Wtd): -85dB | Inputs: Two RCA Phono, two three.5 mm jacks) | Acoustics: L&R drivers, subwoofer | Crossover: 340Hz

In-built subwoofer

Nice sound

Lacks bonus options

For the final decade Q Acoustics has been one of many easiest-to-recommend names for anybody after house cinema audio system. Its newest is a soundbase, a deep, ultra-convenient speaker designed to sit down beneath your TV. 

In typical Q Acoustics type, it’s not loaded with bonus options. Nevertheless, it does sound nice. In addition to full-range BMR drivers that give this comparatively small unit nice sound dispersal, there’s a subwoofer inbuilt. No want to suit one other huge field within the nook of the room. 

The Q Acoustics M2 additionally has Bluetooth with aptX, letting you stream any audio out of your telephone. If you need it to be your principal hi-fi (or a backup), it’s as much as the job. 

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The Wonderboom speaker

UE Wonderboom

The little waterproof marvel

Dimensions: 102mm x 93.5mm | Wi-fi vary: 33m | Energy: Lithium-ion battery (10 hours) | Frequency vary: 80 Hz – 20 kHz | Drivers: Two 40 mm energetic drivers and two 46.1 mm x 65.2 mm passive radiators | Waterproofing: IP67

360-degree sound

Sound punches above its measurement


Barely confined sounding

No speakerphone

Small, unhelpful elastic hoop

Should you’re coping with a gift for an actual audio nut, you most likely don’t even wish to attempt to exchange their principal sound system. Not until you wish to spend huge bucks. 

So what about sound for the bathe, holidays or after they’re making scrambled eggs within the kitchen? The UE Wonderboom is ideal for this function. It’s a Bluetooth wi-fi speaker that doesn’t thoughts being bashed a couple of bit, and might even deal with being dropped (or submerged) in water. 

Attractiveness and sound high off the bundle properly. 

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A pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Sensible noise-cancelling headphones for voice assistant diehards

Type issue: Over-ear | Weight: 10.9 oz | Bluetooth model: Bluetooth Four.1 | Battery life: As much as 20 hours

Balanced, however mushy sound high quality

Class-leading noise cancellation

Extremely snug

No immediate mute

No auto play/pause

Plastic construct, plain design

Should you’re shopping for for somebody who hates their commute – or travels overseas for work on a regular basis – the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are top-of-the-line presents you possibly can probably get them. 

They’re wi-fi energetic noise cancelling headphones that obliterate about 95% of ambient noise, silencing site visitors, aircraft engines and aircon unit hums. The primary time you employ them, the expertise is eerie, as if the skin world has merely been “switched off”. 

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are additionally extraordinarily snug and sound nice. This second-gen model additionally has a button-based gesture that allows you to activate Siri or the Google Assistant by the headphones’ microphone. 

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The Audio Technica AT LP3 turntable

Audio Technica AT-LP3

An incredible turntable that will not break the financial institution

Dimensions: 43.5×35.3×12.eight cm | Weight: 5.20 kg | Report velocity: 33.33, 45 | Drive kind: Belt drive | Tone arm form: Straight | Cartridge kind: VM Twin Magnet

Achingly easy to setup

Automated settings are unbelievable

Priming the needle is a bit of fiddly

It is a contact chunkier than we might like

One good piece of recommendation for vinyl lovers searching for a greater participant: don’t purchase fashions offered in garments retailers. There’s higher than a Crossley Cruiser on supply.

The Audio Technica AT-LP3 is likely one of the finest sensibly-priced vinyl decks on the market. It appears good, feels strong, sounds good and is totally computerized so there’s no have to learn to use it. It additionally has a phono stage so that you don’t have to fret about it not with the ability to hook as much as your present amplifier. 

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The iFi Audio Nano DAC

Ifi Audio Nano

Get good high quality audio on the go together with this respectable DAC

Dimensions: 106 x 67 x 28 mm | Weight: 162 g | Enter: USB 2.Zero | Energy: Battery (10 hours) | Output: SPDIF RCA (solely PCM as much as 192KHz), Audio RCA, three.5mm Headphone | Codecs: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.Four/192/384KHz PCM, 2.eight/three.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD, 353/384KHz DXD, Bit-Excellent DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown (1-DAC Chip; 2-Channel; Four-Alerts) | Dynamic vary: >104dB

Hello-fi audio on-the-go

Suitable with iOS and Android units

Could possibly be cumbersome to hold round

It may be laborious to get actually high-quality audio on the go. Your telephone most likely doesn’t have the best-quality DAC, most streamed audio gained’t get previous the purists and high-end headphones don’t all the time like being powered by telephone headphone jacks. 

Ifi Audio has provide you with a useful answer. It’s a battery-powered DAC and headphone amp, one not that a lot larger than a telephone. 

It takes a digital enter, going proper to the supply, bypassing the audio processing of your laptop computer or telephone. 

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A pair of KEF LS50 Wireless speakers

KEF LS50 Wi-fi

Excellent sound, with out the cables

Dimensions: 300 x 200 x 308 mm | Weight: 10.2 kg | Inputs: 2.4GHz/5GHz Twin-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Four.Zero, USB Kind B, TOSLINK Optical, RCA Analog Line Degree Enter, 10/100 Mbps RJ45 Ethernet | Most output: 106dB | Drivers: One Excessive-Frequency 25 mm, one Low/Mid-Frequency130 mm

Fantastic readability and tone

Not completely wi-fi – audio system have to be related to one another

Requires deep pockets

Let’s blow the funds. The LS 50 wi-fi are a few of the finest cable-free audio system cash should purchase, they usually gained’t take over your lounge utterly both. 

These are mid-size bookshelf audio system, and the cupboards additionally characteristic high-end amplification. And that’s why they’re nearly thrice the worth of the non-amped, non-wireless LS50. 

Their strongest space is element. Readability is thru the roof, and the tone the stuff of true hi-fi. The way in which the LS50 Wi-fi work is a bit totally different from a Sonos setup, although. The 2 audio system nonetheless have to be related to one another utilizing an Ethernet cable, and there’s nonetheless as a lot give attention to wired connections, with optical, phono and USB sockets on-hand. For wi-fi there’s each Bluetooth and WiFi. 

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