Do you know that one person in your life that carries around massive headphones wherever they go, that has all their music downloaded in lossless FLAC format, and that has a vinyl collection growing faster than the hole in the ozone layer? Here are 10 presents that you can buy for any discerning audiophile to make their Christmas a special one.
Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, OPPO Digital designs and markets high quality digital electronics that deliver style, performance, innovation, and value to A/V enthusiasts and savvy consumers alike. From market-leading 4K Blu-ray players, the state of the art Sonica multiroom speakers, and the planar magnetic range of hi-fi headphones, OPPO Digital is the leader in video and audio reproduction.
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Pro-Ject Audio is one of the world's biggest and highest-profile turntable manufacturers, and makes a huge range of other high-end and audiophile-friendly equipment as well. If you're looking to break into the fun of building yourself a new vinyl collection from scratch, you couldn't do much better than to pick up the Debut Carbon. It's incredibly straightforward, which means it's easy to set up, but at the same time you still get high-end features like isolating feet and a damped low-noise motor. It's available at a bunch of different hi-fi stockists around the country, too.
Sony's super-high-end Walkman is for the audio nerds that wants to carry around all their Hi-Res Audio files with them. The NW-WM1A supports frankly ridiculously high-resolution bitrates and audio files — 384kHz / 32-bit — and has twin 4.4mm balanced audio connectors for you to connect Sony's almost-equally-expensive Hi-Res MDR-Z7 headphones. You also get 128GB of storage and a touchscreen interface designed just for music listening.
Beats may have a bit of a murky name in the audio world, but the company has made massive strides in recent years — and that's more true than ever with the Solo3 Wireless. Sound quality is much improved from previous models, but the big leap forward comes from the fact that the Solo3 Wireless is the first set of headphones to use Apple's new W1 Bluetooth chip. That means massive battery life — we're talking 40 hours — as well as huge wireless listening range and instant pairing to any recent Apple family gadget.
Oppo may have a name for Blu-ray players and smartphones, but it also makes wireless speakers. The Sonica is a small speaker but was designed by the same brain behind the company's extremely high-end planar headphones, and packs a good amount of bass into its minimalist enclosure. You get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and support for Apple's AirPlay wireless standard as well as Hi-Res Audio support. If you buy more Oppo speakers, too, you can team them up for multi-room audio throughout your house.
There are a bunch of different music streaming services out there, but at the moment my favourite is Apple Music. 40 million music tracks on offer, Beats 1 radio and dozens of other star-studded weekly shows from music luminaries like Elton John and Pharrell Williams, and regularly updated curated playlists for just about any genre or category or moment of inspiration you could think of. Need a pop workout playlist or music for a house party inspired by the Bee Gees? Covered.
Noise cancelling headphones are an absolute godsend to anyone that has ever worked in a noisy, busy office or had to commute to work every day on a packed train or bus. If you're a frequent traveller, too, you'll know exactly how draining and mind-numbing the monotony of a big jet engine can be. Bose's new noise-cancelling headphones, the QuietComfort 35, are some of the best I've ever heard at blocking ambient noises, and they don't sound half bad for movies and music either.
I've been recommending Ultimate Ears' everything-proof Boom 2 wireless speaker to people since it launched, and with good reason: it's awesome. Barely taller than a can of Coke, the UE Boom 2 sounds great for its small size, and the speakers are really sturdy. You can take them to the beach or drop them in the pool without worrying that they'll die, and if you invest in more than one you can pair two — or more — together for a huge volume boost.
If you've already invested in a bunch of vinyl records, then you might not have put any thought into actually taking care of them. You need to keep your records clean and in good condition, otherwise you'll damage the cartridge in your turntable. That goes doubly so for any dodgy old record you bought from some guy at a stall in the middle of the street. Buy a bottle of record cleaner and use it every now and then to make sure your music sounds good and doesn't cost you money in the long run.
Sonos's wireless multi-room speakers are only getting better with time. Every few months, a new app update adds features. Most recent was the ability to play music to one or more Sonos speakers directly through your Spotify app. If you have a house that you want to set up with a bunch of different speakers, Sonos has been doing this for years. It's a hefty investment, sure, but you can start with a single PLAY:1 wireless speaker and add it to a larger network of gadgets over time.
If you listen to music while you're on the go, but you don't want to sacrifice quality and you don't want to shell out for an expensive standalone audio player like the Walkman above, then a great way to get that sound quality boost is a standalone USB audio amplifier. Oppo's HA-2SE connects straight to your iPhone (if you have one) and uses its own internal digital audio converter to shell out that smooth, sweet, crisp sound to your equally fancy hi-def headphones.