The Christmas Holiday Season is upon us again! This year just flew by!
Well, here we are back again to help you out with Christmas Gifts, and let you know precisely what the Audiophile/Music lover in your life wants under the tree! We will have several posts with gifts at all different price points, including this one covering the Best Christmas Gifts under $500!
Check it out and make sure to visit our other posts as well!
1.) SIMGOT EK3 in-Ear Monitor Headphones with Four Tuning Models, Design HiFi Hybrid Triple Balanced Armature Driver(3 Knowles BA)– I love these earphones! They have three top of the line BA drivers from Knowles built into each earpiece, which gives the sound a depth you won’t get from cheaper IEMs.
The soundstage and air between instruments are comparable to full-size headphones! Not only that, the EK3 has little tiny switches built into them so that you can tweak the sound to your preference. You can add more Bass or more Treble, so it’s like having several different earphones in one. They are also very comfortable to wear. Pick these up for the picky audiophile in your life.
2.) Meze 99 Classics Walnut Gold Headphones (Gold-Black)– These are more like a work of art than a pair of headphones. Pictures don’t do them justice. They have hand-finished wood cups, high-quality PU Leather, and beautiful gold accents. They also come with Silver hardware if the Gold is too much for you. The comfortable headband and earpads add to the luxurious feel. They also come with a nice hard storage case, and two different cables, one for portable use, and a longer one for use at home.
All that wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t sound right, and believe me, they do!! These headphones have received more rewards than you can count for their warm yet refined sound. They make pretty much any music you play sound good!! Get these for the person who thinks they have everything. They also have a less expensive model called the 99 NEO with a very similar tone and look, but they have matte black earcups instead of the wood.
3.) AudioQuest – Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier– The AudioQuest Dragonfly is the gold standard for portable headphone DAC/Amps, and the new Cobalt is the most potent Dragonfly ever made. It will power just about every full-size headphone out there, so you can take this to work along with your favorite pair of audiophile headphones and have your private hi-fi system! Uses a top of the line ESS digital to analog converter chip for clear, dynamic sound!
4.) IFI Zen DAC – HiFi Desktop Digital Analog Converter with USB3.0– This is officially the year of budget Desktop Headphone DAC/Amps! A USB DAC/Amp like the Dragonfly is excellent–especially the Cobalt above since it will sound better than this model here–it also costs more–But full-size desktop models like the iFi ZEN DAC are more flexible with it comes to connections (has balanced and unbalanced connections, 1/4″ headphone jack), plus it has a volume knob and gain controls to match the sound to your headphones.
This one also has MQA decoding and a high-quality bass-enhancement feature that boosts the bass without muddying up the midrange. It is a steal at the current price of $130. The headphone guy in your life will love you for this one!
5.) iFi Zen Blue HiFi Bluetooth Receiver Desktop DAC/Adapter– The Zen Blue is the other half of iFi’s new duo of Zen series devices, and it’s a high-quality wireless DAC based on Bluetooth 5.0. It supports every BT codec under the Sun–AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and HWA– making it possible to send lossless CD-Quality audio to your hi-fi rig.
It has analog RCA outputs, along with digital Coax and Optical outputs, giving you the flexibility to use the integral DAC or use your own Kick-ass DAC if you have one. Great way to send high-quality wireless audio to an old tried and true hi-fi system, or a new pair of powered speakers.
6.) Emotiva BasX TA-100 Stereo Preamp/DAC/Tuner with Integrated Amplifier– For $429, the TA-100 is probably one of the best values in hi-fi. They build it like a tank, with a bunch of nice touches like a vast easy to read display and volume management features that make it a pleasure to use. It also has a pre-out so you can add a separate power amp and grow your system later. However, you may never use it because the TA-100 is powerful enough to run just about any speaker on its own!
If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also one of the few integrated amps in this price range with a built-in USB DAC. That means you can make a straight digital connection to your laptop for optimum sound quality. You can also add Bluetooth with the addition of a cheap dongle. This is an excellent purchase for someone just starting to put together a system or someone who has an old amp and needs to upgrade their tech! Check out my full review!
7.) Paradigm Monitor SE Atom Bookshelf Speaker in Matte Black (Pair)– These speakers may not look like much, but they have a boatload of tech for a little bit of money. There’s the Poly Cones with inverted caps and reverse roll surrounds for surprisingly low bass from a speaker of this size. Add to that the S-PAL (aluminum) tweeters with a Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lens for smooth and extended high-frequency. This gives you incredible detail without the brightness you get from a lot of metal tweeters.
The computer-optimized second-order crossovers provide seamless dynamic integration– which means you get a vast composed presentation– at higher volumes than these little speakers have any business playing at. All this adds up to a $300 speaker that plays like a $500-600 one. I also really love the midrange on these…vocals are amazing. This is a great speaker to start a budget hi-fi system with and goes great with the TA-100 above. 25% off for the holidays!!!
8.) PSB Alpha P5 Bookshelf Speaker – Black Ash- According to the manufacturer, this speaker just won a Stereophile Product Of Year Award, which is a considerable achievement for a $350 speaker. I agree this is definitely a fantastic speaker for the price and shows just how far speaker technology has come. (Read my full review where I said it was one of the best speakers under $500)
Like the Paradigm Monitor SE Atom above, this speaker has smooth highs and a beautiful midrange for lovely vocals. Where it differs is in the bottom end. The P5 has a lot more bass than the Paradigm, to the point you can listen to some bass-heavy music and not crave a sub. The SE Atom is a little cleaner and transparent, but if you like a little warmer sound, these will probably suit you better.
9.) iFi Power Station Active Power Conditioner Mains Bar/Power Strip/Surge Protector– I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this is the third iFi product on this list. There’s a good reason for that. iFi is just really good at making well-designed audiophile gear and selling it at a price that we all can afford. Here’s another example. Once you get your hi-fi system set up the way you want it, that means the right amp, speakers, source, and cables; then you should look into a power conditioner/surge protector.
This heavy-duty device will help keep the expensive audio equipment you picked out safe from power surges and lightning strikes, and it will also make your system sound better by removing electrical noise coming from your outlet. With this noise removed, you can hear what your system is really capable of! A lot of devices with active noise canceling like the Power Station cost a thousand dollars or more, but this one only cost around $500, and it’s well worth the investment. This is an excellent gift for someone serious about their hi-fi hobby.
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