Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 40 Perfect Presents for Music Fans - Rolling Stone
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Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 40 Perfect Presents for Music Fans

Killer audio gear, rock books and more

Gift Guide 2015

With a dizzying number of weird gadgets, deluxe edition LPs and fancy headphones on the market, it can be hard to nail down a killer gift for the music fan in your life. So we did the heavy lifting, narrowing down the 40 best items you'll want to surprise a loved one – or add to a wish list of your own.

Bob Dylan; The Cutting Edge

Bob Dylan, ‘The Cutting Edge’

Over 110 tracks on six CDs, the box set chronicles the 14 months that produced Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. (A two-CD best-of and an 18-CD collectors edition are also available.) Six CDs may be too much for many but every shift, every stop and start, also provides a chance to hear familiar songs anew, as they come into being. $150

Kurt Cobain; Montage Of Heck

Kurt Cobain, ‘Montage Of Heck’

Culled from hundreds of hours of Kurt Cobain's cassette demos spanning his entire career, this fascinating, often revelatory, box set – a companion to the HBO documentary Montage of Heck – takes us inside Cobain's raw, wide-ranging process. $128

The Grateful Dead; Fare Thee Well

The Grateful Dead, ‘Fare Thee Well’

This box set of 12 CDs and seven Blu-Ray discs chronicles the Dead's goodbye concerts from this past summer and includes great backstage footage. $175

Bob Marley

Jason Ware

Bob Marley, ‘The Complete Island Recordings’

These vinyl reissues of all 11 of Marley's albums for Island Records come in a silver box shaped like a lighter, in homage to the packaging of his 1973 debut. $236

Beats Studio

Apple Inc

Beats Studio Wireless

Wireless headphones allow for dancing, singing and playing the air-guitar without getting caught up in cords and wires. The new Beats Studio Wireless headphones sync with your devices in seconds, allow hands-free calls with a built-in mic, and have the same noise-cancelling, impressive, full and thick sound. $380

Jabra Sport Coach


Jabra Sport Coach

Finally, comfortable workout headphones that actually stay in your ears. Seamlessly sync these ultra-light, wireless headphones with the Jabra app on your mobile device for a personal fitness profile that includes training management and customized workout results. They're also sweat and weather resistant, and the audio quality is damn good. $150

Dharma D1000 Electrostatic;Dynamic Hybrid Stereo


Dharma D1000 headphones, ENIGMAcoustics

The most exciting developments in hi-fi are happening in the headphone space, where new models and technologies seem to pop up each week. Some of the most interesting are from small companies, like the innovative Dharma D1000, from ENIGMAcoustics. Most headphones have one driver in each ear; the D1000s have two:  On top of typical dynamic drivers, these add less common electrostatic to handle the extreme high end, including frequencies that extend beyond the limits of human hearing. The result is the most crazily crisp and realistic cymbals and hi-hats you've ever heard (try Neil Young's "Danger Bird"), paired with powerful bass and an overall sound that is strikingly three-dimensional.  The D1000s are cheaper than other world-class headphones (though certainly not cheap), and unlike their competitors, can be driven nicely, if not ideally, by an iPhone. $1,190

MrSpeakers; ETHER-C


ETHER-C headphones

In the growing world of ultra-hi-fi, top-of-the-line headphones – or "summit-fi" as the denizens of the influential message-board call it – most of the favorites are "open" models, which means they blast out sound to everyone around you. The gorgeous-looking, relatively lightweight, American-made ETHER-C model, from the tiny boutique company MrSpeakers, are an exception  – they're "closed," sufficiently sound-isolated to use on an airplane or train. They're also among the most astonishing headphones you'll ever hear, projecting an almost palpable soundstage and a near-miraculous, goose-bump-inducing ability to unearth tiny hidden details of your favorite recordings. (As with all summit-fi headphones, you'll want to use a headphone amp for best results.) $1499

Master and Dynamic ME05

Master & Dynamic

Master and Dynamic ME05 Earbuds

These premium-sounding ear buds are machined from solid brass, which makes them look cool and also adds noise-isolating, improved sonic qualities like vibration absorption. The ear tips are 23 grams of solid metal (they're pleasantly heavy) and are angled for a comfortable fit. Also comes with a leather storage box – that’s luxury. $199



RHA T20 High-end Earbuds

For audiophiles who don't want to look like an airplane mechanic, these stainless-steel earbuds are a revelation. Swappable filters on the tips optimize sound for bass or treble-heavy tunes, and a DualCoil driver makes any music crystal clear. $240

Audioquest Nighthawk Audiophile

Lee Shelly

Audioquest Nighthawk Audiophile

If Friday night plans involve a dark room and Kid A on the turntable, these studio-grade cans are the perfect mate: Powerful 50mm drivers deliver deep bass and and warm, natural sounds, and the ear-shaped cups are particularly comfy. $599

Rega RP10

Adam Goodwin/Rega Research Limited

Rega RP10 Turntable

This skeletal turntable looks cool, but there's a method to the madness: Stripping away unnecessary mass means less vibration for sweet-sounding vinyl. $6,495 (with cartridge)

Apple TV

Apple Inc

Apple TV

It's no longer just a way to stream TV (although it does that pretty well) – with Siri control and a touch pad remote, it turns any flat-screen into an addictive portal for games and apps. $149

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast Audio

Any music fans on your list stuck in the Dark Ages? This bare-bones device turns any analog stereo or speaker into a full-fledged Wi-Fi-streaming system. $35



Mjolnir 2/Gungnir Combo

Just like speakers, many of the world's best headphones need serious power to come to life. Schitt's gleaming, high-octane Mjolnir 2 headphone amp is a no-compromise solution to desktop hi-fi, with a crazy-simple interface – two switches, one knob – and the ability to switch behind tube and solid-state operation. Pair it with Schitt's Gungnir DAC (and summit-fi headphones like Audeze's LCD-3, Sennheiser's HD800 or Mrspeakers' ETHER-C), and you've got a headphone rig that can rival the best stereos. $849 each

Oppo Amplifier


Oppo HA-1 Headphone Amplifier

Top-of-the-line headphones don't sound their best without a dedicated headphone amp – and assuming you're using a computer or smartphone as your music source (and who isn't in the post-CD era?) a dedicated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is also a must. The great-sounding, ultra-versatile, easy-to-use HA-1 from Oppo, also the maker of well-regarded CD and Blu-ray players, is both pre-amp and DAC, and much more – it's also a great way to get high-quality sound to a home stereo or powered speakers. $1,200

Peachtree 220SE

Peachtree Audio

Peachtree 220 SE Digital Amp

Audio nerds will lose it for this jack-of-all-trades amp that provides up to 350 watts per channel of power to any system and has a built in digital-to-analog convertor for optimizing lossless audio from streaming services like TIDAL. $1,599

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick


Soundfreaq Pocket Kick

This compact speaker can fit in your back pocket but the sound is anything but small. The Pocket Kick – with a 10-hour battery life – is an easy way to take solid, crisp sounding music anywhere you go. $100

UE Boom

Ultimate Ears

UE Boom 2

The waterproof, stain-proof, shockproof cylinder-shaped speaker is an updated version of the Boom, and it bumps. Deep bass and clear, surprisingly loud sound combined with a 15-hour batter life, the ability to connect a device from up to 100 feet away, and six different color options makes this speaker worth the money. $200

Thiel TM3

Thiel Audio

Thiel TM3 Bookshelf Speakers

Maximize any high-end home-audio system with these bookshelf-friendly speakers that create impressively clear sounds, even at maximum volume. The secret sauce is titanium-domed tweeters and a custom fiberglass woofer that reproduce music with lifelike clarity. Bonus: a slick look and a cabinet that comes in four different finishes to match any decor. $3,498

Yamaha YAS 105 Soundbar


Yamaha YAS 105 Soundbar

You haven't truly experienced a Walking Dead zombie groan until it's channeled through this soundbar's dual built-in subwoofers. The enhanced sound bounces around the room, creating a surround sound-like effect. $250

Sonos Play- 5 Wireless Speakers


Sonos Play: 5 Wireless Speakers

The genius of Sonos is creating a multiroom home-audio system, but one new Play:5 uses six custom drivers to pump up the jams just fine on its own. $499

Sengled Pulse Lightbulb


Sengled Pulse Lightbulb

This is energy-efficient LED bulb has a secret – it's also a Bluetooth speaker. Pipe tunes to literally any corner of the house. Bathroom blues, anyone? $150

Beoplay A6

Jeppe Sørensen

Beoplay A6 Wireless Speaker

Don’t hide it on a shelf: The stylish A6 deserves prominent placement in any living room, but the Wi-Fi enabled speaker is designed to produce optimum room-filling sound no matter where you put it. $999

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