Whether you're rocking Serial or the latest Taylor Swift banger we're all listening to more sound than ever these days. Here's a selection of audio kit that will make someone's life sound a little better without necessarily breaking your bank.
Sol Republic Relays
Sol Republic's Relays are the sweat-resistant answer for exercise nuts who want a set of earbuds they can wear after a workout without looking like a dork. The subtle design has a little silicon rib around the bud that keeps it in place, making Relays an easy option for people who are constantly running through big city crowds, as well as on the treadmill. $70 [Amazon]
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
The latest addition to Sennheiser's Momentum headphone line are a great sounding little set of buds with a handsome metallic finish. But more than sounding good, they're intelligently designed with better-than average cables and an angled bud shape that stays put even if one of the cables gets snagged on your coat. $100 [Amazon (Android) | Amazon (iOS)
Ultimate Ears Boom
The UE Boom bluetooth speaker is one of the best you can buy at a reasonable price. Besides its exceptionally powerful sound that'll easily fill a room and hold its own in your backyward, it's also rugged and splash proof. The 15-hour battery will keep the jams pumping all day long, and it's good-looking to boot. $180 [Amazon]
We've spent years praising Sonos' wireless multiroom music system because it remains one of the easiest to use. The setup process is virtually flawless and is ready to go within minutes of plugging in your first component. The Play:1 speaker is loud enough for a good-sized room, and is the perfect starter for somebody who wants to dip their toe into a multiroom system. Don't be surprised if the recipient of a Play:1 runs out and buys a whole house worth of Sonos gear after you give them the gift of hassle free wireless music. $200 [Amazon]
Parrot Zik 2.0
Bluetooth headphones are finally getting good enough to seriously consider as an alternative to wired cans. Parrot's leading the charge with some innovative features no one else can offer. The sound profile of the Zik 2.0 headphones is fully customizable using a slick interface on the companion app. The app also allows you customize the level of noise-cancelation the headphones employ—or the amount of outside noise you hear, in the event that you don't want to be totally isolated from the world around you. $400 [Amazon]
You might not recognize the Grado headphones name, but if you want to send the music nerd in your life down an entirely new path of audio appreciation, hook them up with an eminently affordable set of entry-level Grado cans. The Brooklyn-based manufacturer makes open-back headphones that audiophiles prefer for their more detailed and accurate sound reproduction. $80 [Grado]
Vinyl is making a comeback these days because it's just so darn satisfying. That doesn't make buying records and getting a whole stereo setup easy or cheap, though. The LP60 is not a fancy turntable. It's not even a direct-drive turntable that enthusiasts prefer. But it's inexpensive, and AT has been a reliable name in the game for decades, so you can trust the deck not destroy your records. This diminutive square has a tiny footprint leaving plenty of space for a set of speakers—yes, you'll need to bring your own speakers—and a budding collection if 12-inchers that'll start off a lifetime of vinyl appreciation. $100 [Amazon]
Still haven't found the right present? Don't worry, we're rolling out new gift guides all month—right up until the last minute. To see 'em all, head here.
Top image by Michael Hession