The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Audiophile

11/28/2017 08:41 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2017

Listen Up! Headphones are the big gift this holiday season. How do you know I know? My teenager tells me. The free ear buds that come with your new iPhone just aren’t going to cut it this year. Whether it’s the hip over-the-ear headphones, the super lightweight in-ears for the gym or the noise cancelling cans for the long flight, there are some great bargains this Christmas and Hanukkah shopping season.

If you’re looking to share your music at home or at the office, check out some of the dynamic Bluetooth speakers on the market. Many of these speakers are waterproof to let you rock out at the pool or beach. The best part about these new music gadgets is that sound will make every audiophile smile from ear to ear.

Whether you’re shopping for the music lovers among your friends or relatives… or if you’re treating yourself this year, you’ll love the many options and the discounted prices.

Shinola Canfield Over-Ear Headphones – Shinola is a Detroit company emblematic of Motown’s comeback. I had an opportunity to take a private tour of the factory in Downtown Detroit where these impressive headphones are made. The amount of time it took to build just one of these told me everything I needed to know about the attention to detail Shinola requires of their premium products. These “cans” are acoustically tuned by sound engineers and feature stainless steel components that ensure the durability of your investment. As a Detroiter I couldn’t be more proud to walk around town with the Shinola lightning bolt logo on my headphones, signalling the dawn of a new age in the Motor City. https://www.shinola.com/audio/all/headphones.html

SoundMoovz Motion Activated Musical Bandz – This unique gift will get the young music lover on your list moving, as the band syncs audio to movement. Download the mobile app and move around while wearing the bands to create your own beats and music. http://soundmoovz.us/

Hifiman RE800 – These high end In-Ear monitors may sound best at your second home in the Cayman Islands. Just don’t drop them in your Dom Perignon. These bad boys retail for $699, as their 24-karat gold plating makes for superior sound conductivity and delivery. They are great for a real audiophile, but not if you’re on a budget. https://store.hifiman.com

Nuheara IQbuds – These “smart earbuds” just got smarter. Their new Custom Tap Touch feature lets you set up tap commands via its mobile app. For example, tap left ear once to pause music or tap right ear twice to activate Siri. This is incredibly useful for people on the go or out for a run. https://www.nuheara.com/

Spire Mobile Recording Studio –This is perfect for a musician who is prone to inspiration striking anywhere. The portable studio boasts multiple inputs for microphones and instruments, all recorded on separate tracks, beamed wirelessly to a free mobile app. http://www.spire.live/

Libratone - The Danish manufacturer of the ever-stylish, award-winning wireless ZIPP speakers – six of which can be “paired” for a multi-room experience – allows music lovers to create the perfect Soundspace and play their favorite Spotify playlists directly from the speaker. The Q Adapt headphones and earphones, with four levels of adjustable noise cancellation, lets you cut the noise of co-workers at the office or the roar of a plane engine during your holiday travels. https://www.libratone.com

Klipsch The One Wireless Stereo System – I love the classic look of this speaker, with its real wood veneer and copper switches and knobs. Combine that with quality sound Klipsch is known for, Bluetooth technology and an 8-hour battery life, and The One is more than just a pretty face.. http://www.klipsch.com

Audio-Technica ATH-SR6BT – Audio Technica has long been an industry leader in professional quality headphones and the ATH-SR6BT features high resolution audio and available wireless capability. These comfortable over-ear headphones are top of the line for the audiophile on your list. http://www.audio-technica.com

Benwis H600 – These corded headphones are inexpensive and great for listening to music on the go. They fold nicely into a travel case and make a solid gift for the traveler on your list. http://www.benwis.com

Rowkin Surge Wireless Headphones – These ear buds are perfect for runners, thanks to their secure fit. The built-in microphone also makes it easy to take calls on the run, literally. I was also very impressed with the sound quality and know that anyone who gets these as a gift this year will be the envy of everyone else at the Christmas party. https://www.rowkin.com

Tribit XSound Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker – It may be winter, but this is my choice for a beach trip. The Tribit is waterproof, has a built-in microphone for wireless calls, and has a 66-foot wireless range. http://www.tribitaudio.com/

House of Marley Chant Sport BT Portable Audio System - This speaker is loud enough for outdoor listening. As a bonus, it comes with a carabiner clip to bring your beverage with you. Like every audio product House of Marley releases, this has a stylish look and feel to it. I was very impressed. https://www.thehouseofmarley.com

Logitech MX Sound – This guide showcases many headphones and portable speakers, but the Logitech MX Sound is a great product for your PC or Mac. These speakers work via corded connection or Bluetooth and put your computer’s sound quality on par with your other devices. https://www.logitech.com

Kuai Fit Headphones – What sets these headphones apart is their ability to monitor your body and offer real-time coaching. Download training programs, and get real-time feedback as you run or bike. You can also listen to music, all while leaving your phone at home. https://www.kuai.fit

Coby Premium Bluetooth Speaker – I really like this speaker’s ease of access. It has a carrying handle, durable metal frame, and media buttons on the unit to make for easy controls if your phone is not within reach. This speaker won’t just be a great gift at the Hanukkah party this year, it will make the party more fun. https://cobyusa.com

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 – These noise-cancelling headphones are great to get lost in your music, but switches easily to “open listening” mode so that you don’t miss what’s going on around you. Additionally, smart sensors will automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off. Available at https://plantronics.com/us or from T-Mobile at https://www.t-mobile.com/accessory/plantronics-backbeat-pro-2

iHome Dual Charging Wireless Music Streaming System – iHome has brought the alarm clock to the 21st century, allowing you to wake up to the FM radio or Bluetooth audio, all while charging your devices. Bonus: a removal charger. https://www.ihomeaudio.com/iDL44GC/

Kanto YU4 – These speakers will fill your home with beautiful, rich sound with a simple interface and remote control. It boasts Bluetooth capability but also a built in jack for a vintage or modern turntable. https://kantoaudio.com/product/yu4/

Sudio Headphones – Sweden’s Sudio company marries high quality sound with a fashionable look. Bonus: buy different colored caps for the ears to match the occasion. https://www.sudiosweden.com/us

Bragi Dash Pro – These wireless ear buds offer activity tracking, Bluetooth and music storage (if you want to leave the phone behind). For the international traveler on your list, the Dash Pro boasts iTranslate integration. This is the first product I’ve seen with that feature, and a big selling point. https://www.bragi.com/thedashpro/

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM (T-Mobile) – This Bluetooth speaker offers 360 degrees of coverage, meaning you can set it down anywhere in the room. The T-Mobile twilight magenta color means you won’t lose it, either. https://www.t-mobile.com/accessory/ultimate-ears-megaboom-wireless-bluetooth-speaker-twilight-magenta

EDIFIER MP200 Portable Speaker –Loud things come in small packages with this device. The speaker is only 2 inches wide, but packs great sound via Bluetooth or SD card. It’s also available in a variety of colors. http://www.edifier.com/us/en/speakers/mp200

Polk Signa S1 Sound Bar – Sound bars really bring theater audio quality to your living room, but they can sometimes take up valuable real estate. At only 2 inches tall and easy to set up, this sound bar eliminates many typical home audio headaches. https://www.polkaudio.com/products/signa-s1

Sound Caddy Golf Speaker – You won’t make any friends bringing a large speaker to the golf course, but the Sound Caddy looks like a club, fits in your bag, and doubles as phone charger. This is for the enthusiast on your list that likes to have a little fun on the links, while the more traditional golfers can just play through. https://www.soundcaddygolf.com/

Soundstream Malibu True Wireless Earbuds– These sweat resistant ear buds come with their own portable case for wireless charging. After 4 hours of use, I was impressed by the short charge time of 90 minutes. http://www.soundstream.com/malibu/

Como Audio Solo Radio – Another beautifully designed radio, the Solo uses Spotify Connect to play music independent of your phone. You can even sync music to multiple solos around the house, or have each one play independently. https://www.comoaudio.com/products/solo

66 Audio BTS Pro – These Bluetooth headphones boast an impressive 100 foot range, but my favorite feature is “find my headphones” on the partner mobile app. This will be one less item I waste valuable time looking for. https://www.66audio.com/

AfterShokz Trekz Air – It takes a moment to get used to headphones that don’t go over or in your ears. Aftershokz headphones rest on your cheek bones and deliver high quality music via bone conduction technology. I loved them when going for a walk at night, as I could listen to music but could hear everything around me. The Trekz Air is the latest generation that is lighter and fits better than previous models. https://aftershokz.com/products/trekz-air

Bose Soundlink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones- Any audio enthusiast will tell you that Bose’s sound quality is unmatched. These headphones include a two-microphone system to reduce wind and background noise if you’re taking calls on the go. I also like the voice prompts that tell you when you’re switching between devices and when your battery is getting low. https://www.bose.com

Bowers & Wilkins Headphones – These cans are smart — very smart. They intuitively start and stop your music when you pick them up and put them down. They also boast 3 different noise cancelling modes for the different needs of an airplane, the city or your office. http://www.bowers-wilkins.com

Braven Flye Sport Power Ear Buds – These are great ear buds for the distance runner your list. They are IPX5 waterproof rated, they have hi-glow laser lights to enhance visibility in the dark, and you can extend their battery life with a portable neck cradle. The Flye Sport Power also features ambient noise technology, so you can hear the world around you. https://www.braven.com/braven-flye-sport-glo.html

Jaybird Freedom 2 – Jaybird’s claim to fame is the idea that they work with runners on product development. The big selling point on their Freedom 2 is SpeedFit cord management, which allows you to customize the cord length for a secure fit and seamlessly change from over ear to under ear headphones. Even sprinters will have a difficult time shaking them loose. https://www.jaybirdsport.com

Samson MediaOne M30 Powered Studio Monitors- This is the Hanukkah or Christmas gift for the person who wants to make their home or office sound like a studio. The M30s are small enough to sit on a desk but produce immense sound. They also boast several inputs to be compatible with a wide variety of devices. http://www.samsontech.com

QuietOn Ear Plugs – Many products in this guide are for listening to audio, but these are for tuning it out. QuietOn Ear Plugs cut out 40 decibels of noise, focusing on fatigue-inducing low frequency sounds like computer noise and airplane engine noise. Be sure to put them in your ears correctly for maximum effectiveness. https://quieton.com/

RHA MA750 Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones – British company RHA’s big selling points are its noise-cancelling Aerophonic design, and its long battery life. This will play 12 hours of audio on a single charge, and you can always check the battery life with its LED indicator. https://www.rha-audio.com

Rowkin Mini Plus – The Rowkin Mini Plus bills itself as the world’s smallest wireless Bluetooth ear buds. I like the fact that you can pair two devices simultaneously. You can sync them to your phone, but also a separate music source without having to manually change between them. Just be sure to purchase two if you want to listen in stereo. https://www.rowkin.com

Focal Spark Wireless Headphones – France’s Focal has been known for their Spark headphones series, and now they’ve ventured into wireless territory with their in-ear headphones, compatible with Bluetooth. There is a 3-button remote control on the cable between them to allow for telephone calls and control of your music. https://www.focal.com/headphones/spark-wireless/

V-Moda CrossFade II Wireless Headphones – These are the high-end headphones for person on your list who loves customization. Crossfade II earpieces can be 3D printed on precious metals or steel. The “Best Bluetooth Headphones of 2016” have upped their game by improving sound quality and durability. http://v-moda.com

Decibullz Molded Wireless Earphones – I’ve had earpieces custom made for my ears, and it’s an expensive process. Decibullz lets you do this at home by placing the molds in warm water then shaping them to your exact specs. And if you aren’t happy with the results, do it again. The benefit in customizing these earphones is that they will always fit comfortably without falling out. https://www.decibullz.com

Torque Mercedes Benz In Ear Headphones – For Mercedes to use their branding on headphones, you know they must be high performance. Torque says you can tune these headphones like a car. Translated, that means you can switch out ear buds for clear, deep (bass), or reference (high end) performance. http://lifestylecollection.mbusa.com/

Soundwhiz Turbo Wireless Headphones – These cans offer many of the same benefits as their more expensive competition, including water resistance, HD audio with noise cancellation, and a stable in-ear fit. The difference: price. Get them on the Soundwhiz website or on Amazon for under $50. https://www.soundwhiz.com

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