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Holiday Gift Guide 2013

65 genius presents for all the music lovers in your life

Gift guide 2013

When it comes to gift giving, it's the thought that counts: Which is why we spent so much time and energy coming up with this list of the perfect holiday gifts! From box sets to books to speakers and headphones, this is your one-stop-shop for gift ideas for the music-lover in your life. 

Over-Ear Headphones

(Clockwise from top left)

Jabra Revo Wireless
Don’t want to deal with cords? These on-ear headphones sync with any Bluetooth-enabled device for wireless streaming. Soft memory foam cups massage the ears, and a free audio-enhancing app lets you fine-tune the sound levels. ($250)

Beats By Dre Studio
The latest headphones from the super-popular Beats line are as smartly designed as you’d expect — stronger and lighter than previous versions, with a glossy headband that comes in black, white, red and orange. They’re both streamlined and cushion-soft, meaning you get luxurious comfort as well as the typically strong, bass-forward Beats sound. Studio not required. ($300)

Sennheiser Momentum
These retro-style headphones feature a leather headband and precision stitching. 40mm drivers provide excellent sound to match. ($349)

Bowers and Wilkins P7
These leather headphones come from Bowers and Wilkins, U.K. craftsmen who specialize in hi-fi speakers for studios and luxury hotels. Classy look, killer sound. ($400)

Harman Kardon Onyx Wireless Speaker

This speaker blends serious streaming capabilities — AirPlay, Bluetooth, and DLNA — with a striking futuristic design, perfect for sprucing up that Expedit shelf in your living room. ($500)

Coffee Table Books

(From left)

Proud Too Be Weirrd by Ralph Steadman
Rolling Stone illustrator Ralph Steadman delivers a weirrd, wonderful coffee-table book full of deliciously grotesque political caricatures. ($200)

Inventing the American Guitar edited by Robert Shaw and Peter Szego
Call it guitar heroes of the 19th century: This obsessively detailed coffee table book focuses on the pre-Civil War guitar-makers (notably C.F. Martin) who transformed a European instrument into an engine of American pop culture. ($50)

Bill Wyman's Scrapbook
Wyman — longtime Rolling Stones bassist and an obsessive archivist — put together this massive tome, which features rare photos from the "You Can't Always Get What You Want" sessions and of the band partying with David Bowie in 1975, among much, much more. ($250)

Coffee Table Books

Legends, Icons & Rebels by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine
Robbie Robertson of The Band coauthored this insightful illustrated kids’ book about 27 disparate and legendary musicians, a group that ranges from Billie Holiday to Bob Dylan. ($29)

Pretty Much Everything by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
This generous, 700-page compendium collects 27 years of work from the Dutch fashion-photo geniuses, including shots of Bono, Lady Gaga, and Jeff Bridges. ($50)

Earbuds

(Left to right)

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i
In theory, noise-cancelling headphones are brilliant: flip a switch and internal circuitry blocks out wailing children, car horns, or, well, anything other than what you want to be listening to. But there are certain times when you need to hear, say, an oncoming bus or conversation with the deli guy. These earbuds not only feature incredibly accurate active noise cancellation but also an “Aware Mode”: turn it on and a built-in microphone feeds you the sounds of the outside world — should you want to hear it. ($300)

Sennheiser IE 800
Sure, they cost as much as a monthly mortgage payment, but these earbuds live up to their price with a polished, vibrant sound that impresses across all frequencies and ranges. Even when the volume is cranked, the bass is never distorted, the highs never muddied. In short, a sonic experience apt for everything from Beethoven to Bad Brains. ($1000)

Soundbars

(Top to bottom)

Sonos Playbar
Place this nine-speaker soundbar under your TV and you’ll get high fidelity audio that perfectly renders every desperate crunch and splatter in a Walking Dead episode, but can also stream content from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and other services. You can control the 23-inch long system from your smart devices, and pair it with other Sonos components for home-spanning audio. ($700)

MartinLogan Motion Vision
If you want home-theater sound that makes everything from sitcom laugh tracks to action movie kabooms feel utterly real, invest in the Motion Vision. Inside the 40-inch device is a set up of woofers, drivers, and signal processors that buff all audio it receives to a deeply impressive and accurate high shine. ($1500)

Sony HT-CT260H
This is the bargain-hunter’s soundbar. While this hexagon-shaped, 300-watt system costs only $300, it contains a slew of features — wireless subwoofer and Dolby Pro Logic II surround processing among them — normally found in devices that run you twice as much. ($300)

Wren Play-Fi Wireless Speaker

Androids are the most popular phones on the market, but they don’t receive much love in the audio world. This curved block of Rosewood and silver might just change that: With a swipe of its free Android app, the WiFi speaker plays your stored music collection as well as such streaming services as Pandora — crisply and smoothly with good thump in the low end. ($400)

PEBBLE Smartwatch

Geeks with Dick Tracy fantasies aside, most people just don't need a smartwatch. But if you're the type of person who frequently misses texts and important emails — or just doesn't want to be staring at your phone as much — the Pebble might be the thing for you. It forwards texts and notifications from any iO7 or Android app to your wrist, and a healthy community of developers has formed around it, creating cool custom watchfaces and apps that let you control everything from iTunes to your phone's camera. ($150)

Bluetooth Boomboxes

(Clockwise from top left)

Eton Rukus XL
A solid wireless sound system with a novel bonus feature: A solar panel that can help keep it charged while you’re blasting music at the beach. ($200)

Sol Republic x Motorola DECK
This slim portable Bluetooth speaker stands out in a crowded field thanks to its Outdoor Mode, which boosts the high end for more clarity in crowded areas, and its Heist Mode, which lets your friends hack in and change the music. ($200)

Jawbone Jambox Mini
The latest version of a ubiquitous Bluetooth speaker: huge streaming sound in a bright metallic box that fits in your jacket pocket. ($180)

Beacon Blazar
This tiny, steel-bodied speaker has a freakishly big Bluetooth sound. Pair it with a second cube for a stereo effect. ($150)

UE BOOM
The most eye-catching portable boombox there is — a superbright cylinder with a tougher-than-it-looks outer skin that’s both water- and stain-resistant. ($200)

Rock & Roll Reading

Mo Beta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson with Ben Greenman
Questlove’s memoir is the tale of a shy, record-obsessed Philly kid who ends up leading the Roots. It’s full of both great stories and great music criticism. ($26)

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield
From Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield, a hilarious new memoir about "the rituals of love and karaoke" — the story of how belting out shaky versions of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Say My Name" and countless other songs helped a widowed pop-culture addict find true love again. ($26)

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen
In this memoir, Steely Dan singer and first-class grump Donald Fagen disses everything from the Sixties counterculture to Steely Dan fans, providing brilliant insights along the way. The result is a slim, satisfying and hilariously cranky book. ($27)

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1 by Mark Lewisohn
Lewisohn’s planned three-volume biography is the deepest, most detailed version of the Beatles’ story we’re likely to ever get. This first book captures John, Paul, George and Ringo as rude, funny, precocious Liverpool youths — struggling through family tragedies, woodshedding in Hamburg, and reaching the cusp of huge fame. It’s full of great bits — like Ringo almost emigrating to Houston, Texas in the early Sixties, because that’s where his hero Lightnin’ Hopkins lived. ($24)

Vintage Concert Posters

Hatch Show
This long-running Nashville letterpress shop offers distinctive posters featuring Johnny Cash, Duke Ellington, Dolly Parton and many more. (from $10)

Wolfgang’s Vault
This website has a massive stash of rock memorabilia — everything from vintage concert tickets and Stevie Wonder t-shirts to posters for Hendrix gigs at the Fillmore. (from $38)

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 Wireless Speaker

It may not look like much, but the Minx is a covert blaster, capable of playing both Bluetooth and Apple’s Airplay with serious, room filling sound that has a fat low end and wonderfully fleshed out highs and mids. Play it at full volume and wait for the noise complaints to roll in. ($450)

Box Sets

(Clockwise from top left)

The Clash, Sound System
The entire story of the Clash: five classic albums, plus early singles and unreleased treasures, all in a boombox-shaped package. ($250)

The Grateful Dead, Sunshine Daydream
This three-CD/one DVD set documents the Dead’s show on August 27, 1972, in Veneta, Oregon, when the band reunited with the Merry Pranksters for a benefit concert for a local creamery co-owned by Ken Kesey’s brother. It was the most sought after Dead concert film to never be released, until now. ($33)

Harry Nilsson, The RCA Albums Collection
Fourteen albums of messy pop brilliance from one of Lennon and McCartney’s favorite songwriters. ($84)

Elvis Presley, Elvis at Stax (Deluxe Edition) 
Elvis’s 1973 sessions at Stax Studios, the southern soul crucible in his Memphis hometown, freed him a bit from the bizzy groupthink that cheesed-out his latter-day work. The results are bundled with illuminating outtakes on this three-CD set — full of swaggering gospel-funk and meaty rock and roll. ($21)

 

Box Sets

(Clockwise from top left)

The Who, Tommy: Deluxe Edition
The first great rock opera gets supersized with a near-complete set of Pete Townshend demos and a '69 live show. ($100)

Bob Dylan, The Complete Album Collection
A giant box of genius: every one of Dylan’s studio albums, plus two CDs of non-album tracks. ($279)

The Rolling Stones, Sweet Summer Sun
Nearly 45 years after the Stones first rocked London’s Hyde Park, they did it again in the summer of 2013. This CD/DVD of is all the proof you need these guys can still bring it live. (from $25)

The Band, Live at the Academy of Music 1971
This set captures the Band’s entire late-’71 New York concert run, parts of which were previously released as Rock of Ages. It’s one of the greatest bands of all time at their live peak — with an excellent Dylan cameo, no less. ($27)

Rock T-Shirts

(Clockwise from top left)

Deer Dana
Smart, witty and distinctive hand-illustrated shirts featuring cool people from Basquiat to Lil Wayne. ($60)

Urban Outfitters
The retail giant’s website is full of great, vintage-inspired tees emblazoned with icons both old (Elvis) and less old (the Wu-Tang Clan). ($28)

Metropolis Vintage NYC
This New York shop’s tees include everything from vintage Clash tees to superfan-only items like a 1990 Kiss Hot in the Shade shirt. (from $20)

Photo Prints from Morrison Hotel Gallery

Hit up www.morrisonhotelgallery.com for super-high-quality prints of killer classic-rock photos, like this shot of a '66 Dylan by Barry Feinstein. (from $600)

McIntosh MT5 Turntable

The turntable of the gods: Audiophile company McIntosh introduces a near-perfect model that’s like a Maybach for your LPs. ($6,500)

 

iPhone 5s

Apple’s best iPhone yet, with a subtle but significant improvements: faster processing, sharper camera, and the supercool, fingerprint-scanning Touch ID home button. (From $199)

Stussy ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ Hoodies

These high-quality hoodies pay homage to the ground-breaking, hugely important MTV show, as well as the golden-age-of-rap artists who made it great — De La Soul, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, and more. ($70)

Prints from Rock Paper Photo

A great source for limited edition rock photo prints, many of them unpublished. Check out the shots of Thin White Duke-era David Bowie, or iconic Hendrix pictures by Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman. (From $200)

Pau Wau Publications

This Brooklyn company does handmade, small-run books of contemporary photographers. Especially cool: The Following is for Reference Only, photos of skaters, outcasts and punks by Andreas Laszlo Konrath that were previously spread across several zines. ($18)

iPad Air

Honestly, Apple could start hocking a coffee mug and the lines at the midnight release would snake around the block. But the iPad Air makes your old tablet feel utterly antiquated. The proof is in the performance: its new A7 processing chip makes it easy to cruise through any task, be it iMovie-making, Temple Running, or Texting, and its Retina display ensures that everything you see on screen appears in crisp, color-saturated ultra-resolution. (from $500)

Box Sets

(Clockwise from top left)

The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat: 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition
The Velvets’ noisy, corrosive, hugely influential 1968 masterpiece. Extras here include a long-bootlegged April 1967 live gig at New York’s Gymnasium, with a version of “Sister Ray” where Lou Reed faces off with John Cale’s organ, Sterling Morrison’s guitar and Mo Tucker’s drums for a 19-minute feedback battle. ($65)

Van Morrison, Moondance (Deluxe Edition)
A five-disc unpacking of the Belfast bard’s 1970 jazzy pop masterpiece, featuring numerous alternate takes. The set’s grail is the long-lost outtake “I Shall Sing,” a Caribbean-styled confection that became a signature for Miriam Makeba, Judy Mowatt, Art Garfunkel, and more. ($53)

The Beatles, On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 
The second volume of the Beatles’ BBC radio sessions is just as great as the first. The lads read fan letters, answer interview questions, and show off their excellent sense of humor — all of which is as fun to listen to as the 37 previously unreleased performances of songs like Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You” and (yes) “Beautiful Dreamer.” ($19)

Nirvana, In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition
Nirvana’s corrosively beautiful final album was the sound of Kurt Cobain fleeing success for the cocoon of his "Leonard Cohen afterworld." This deluxe version includes obscure treasures (like the B side "Moist Vagina”) plus a DVD with unreleased live footage — including the band eviscerating the Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl.” ($98)

The Ramones, The Sire Years 1976-1981
The band’s first six albums. The sound of scrappy Queens guys inventing American punk-rock. ($32)

Paul Simon, The Complete Albums Collection
Each studio album from the greatest poet of New York alienation — everything from The Paul Simon Songbook to his still-underrated 1970 solo debut to the even-more-underrated So Beautiful or So What from 2011. ($96)

 

Singing Machine Home

Consider this spherical speaker your portable party starter. In addition to streaming tunes via Bluetooth, it jacks into televisions so you can select and sing from a play list of 8,000 songs. Microphone included. Hot sake and Sapporo are sadly not. ($299)

Xbox One

Far more than a mere video game console, the Xbox One jacks into your cable and works as a unified home entertainment hub, allowing you to seamlessly stream and record shows, Skype with friends, and pull up extra content alongside what you're watching. The system’s Kinect camera allows you to control the Xbox One via voice activations, and it can also sense your heart rate during streaming workouts. ($500)

PlayStation 4

The Xbox One’s all-knowing, all-seeing abilities might not be your bag. So if you just want to play some damn video games, invest in Sony’s high-speed heavyweight. It has all the video-capabilities, online-connectivity, and higher-than-high-definition processors. Plus, its forthcoming cloud network will allow you to stream games directly over the Internet as effortlessly as if they were cat videos. ($400)

Hamburger Eyes

Zines are not dead. There’s no better proof of that than San Francisco-based Hamburger Eyes, which specializes in photo zines full of striking, black-and-white, slice-of-life photography. The raw photos — capturing everything from street scenes to the weird beauty of a parking lot — reflect Hamburger Eyes' roots as a small Xeroxed mag. (from $7)

ASUS Transformer Book T100

At just over two pounds with the snap-on keyboard attached, the Windows-based Transformer is perfect for on-the-go. The keyboard is included, and converting the Transformer from tablet or laptop is incredibly easy. ($379)

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Document concerts and parties the old fashioned way with this Polaroid-style camera. Unlike other similar cameras, the Instax offers photo-heightening functions and several landscape-specific-settings to help your instant pictures print with more clarity. Shove the results in your Instagram-loving friend’s selfie-taking face. ($200)

BoWoo Guitar Case

Designed in Brooklyn and handmade in Vermont from scuff-resistant Cordura, this well-padded case is almost too good for your guitar: protective, yet never uncomfortable to carry. Fits most models. ($380)

Blue Microphones Nessie

Want studio-quality sound when recording instruments, vocals or Pirate-radio-esque podcasts? This affordably-priced USB-micro boasts internal processors that wax-and-buff audio to a high shine as they capture it, resulting in ready-to-upload recordings. ($100)

Christian Benner Jackets

The leather jackets of your Seventies punk-rocker dreams. There are non-cow-based offerings as well, like a “Give Peace a Chance” Army-style coat. (from $250)

Vans iPhone Case

Belkin has teamed up with Vans to produce these flexible phone cases, which feature a gum waffle sole inspired by Vans skateboard shoes. The shock-absorbent case protects against anything you might encounter — skating or otherwise. ($40)

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