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Holiday Gift Guide 2014: 45 Perfect Presents for Music Lovers

The hottest box sets, speakers, shirts and books for the coldest months of the year

Gift Guide

Meghan Benson

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 45 best items you'll want to surprise a loved one – or add to a wish list of your own.

the basement tapes complete

Meghan Benson

Bob Dylan and the Band, ‘The Basement Tapes Complete’

Rambling, overlong, disjointed, essential: These six discs (plus essays and rare photos) are a must for any serious Dylan fan. $120

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable

Meghan Benson

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable

No, you don't need to buy your turntable at Urban Outfitters. The sleek Orbit delivers warm, rich sound at a budget price – and just looks awesome. $179

jerry lee lewis and aretha franklin biographies

Meghan Benson

Rock Biographies

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg
Jerry Lee Lewis' story has been told endlessly in books and on film. But this new biography is the Killer in his own words: Author Rick Bragg wrote it after two years of interviews with Jerry Lee. $17

Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz
Ritz wasn't satisfied with his ghostwritten autobiography of Aretha, so he wrote this new bio, a remarkably complex portrait of her music and her tumultuous life. $30

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer

Meghan Benson

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer

This synthesizer, sampler and sequencer hooks up to your computer, it's ready to play right out of the box, has pro-level features – and is really fun to use. $849

audiophile sound equipment

Meghan Benson

For Audiophiles

Devialet 120 Music System (left)
This gorgeous integrated amp, digital-to-analog converter and wireless music streamer is perfect for the audiophile who's finally ready to kiss those vintage stereo components goodbye. $6,495

Deezer Elite for Sonos Play:1 (right)
Now audiophiles can see what the fuss is with music streaming: Sonos, the best system for playing music in every room of your house, gets even better with HD service Deezer. Deezer: $19.99/month; Sonos: $199 each

Classe Audio Sigma AMP2 (top)
This two-channel, 2×200-watt amp uses a digital processor to reduce distortion and noise, giving its output the lush, warm sound more like a vintage tube model. But it's even better, thanks to digital inputs like USB and Ethernet that can make the most of the new hi-res streaming audio services. $3,500

Gift Guide

Meghan Benson

Eclipse TD-M1 Bookshelf Speakers

At only 24 centimeters tall, the egg-shaped, AirPlay-compatible TD-M1s can fill any space with an open, rich sound that mimics live music. Throw in a built-in digital audio converter and it's official: Size doesn't matter. $1,300/pair

shure, beats and normal headphones

Meghan Benson

In-Ear Headphones

Shure SE846 Sound-Isolating Earphones (left)
Even some high-end in-ears lack great, visceral bass, but not these Shures, which offer perfect clarity, plus what feels like a giant subwoofer inside your head. $999

Powerbeats2 Wireless In-Ear Headphones (middle)
The world's most recognizable headphone brand aims to transform your workout with wireless, sweat-resistant sports earbuds, designed with help from Lebron James. $200

Normal Custom 3D-Printed Earphones (right)
Fear not, all you with imperfect-shaped ears: You're not destined to be stuck with tumbling buds forever. NYC-based Normal uses a 3D printer to produce custom 'phones that precisely fit the shape of your earhole. All they need is photos of your ears (via an app) and 48 hours. $199

over-ear headphones

Meghan Benson

Over-Ear Headphones

Master & Dynamic MH40 (left)
Old-school materials give the MH40s throwback appeal: They're cloaked in heavy-grain leather and have forged aluminum ear cups with hard-wearing stainless steel fittings. But their leak-free sound is modern: 45mm drivers feature thumping bass and deep mids, a sound more akin to the flashy street-style gear worn all across the NBA. $399

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones (right)
Thanks to a built-in amp, these cans have huge, crystal-clear sound to go with a futuristic look. And the plush ear cups and padded head strap make them surprisingly comfortable. $350

Go Pro

Meghan Benson

GoPro Hero4 Black/Music

With GoPro's music mounts, you can now attach the best point-of-view camera around to your guitar, drums or mic stand. And since there's also a waterproof casing (sold separately), beer thrown from the crowd is no problem. $500

Marianne Faithfull: A Life On Record

Meghan Benson

‘Marianne Faithfull: A Life on Record’

Fifty years ago, Faithfull turned the world on with "As Tears Go By" (and soon after, she'd turn Mick Jagger on, too). This gorgeous coffee-table book captures a pop icon from the Swinging Sixties to today. $65

Deer Dana Ricky Rozay Ashtray

Meghan Benson

Deer Dana Ricky Rozay Ashtray

Artist Dana Veraldi – known for T-shirts with portraits of hipster icons – created this ultimate baller accessory. $35

led zeppelin deluxe reissues

Meghan Benson

Led Zeppelin Deluxe Reissues

Jimmy Page put together these overstuffed reissues of the first five Zep albums, which include rarities discs, handsome photo booklets and a whole lotta vinyl. $140 each

csny and grateful dead live albums

Meghan Benson

Deluxe Live Albums

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, CSNY 1974
CSNY's 1974 tour is largely known for the behind-the-scenes drama – cocaine was everywhere, and Neil Young traveled on his own bus, rarely seeing his bandmates offstage. But this three-CD/one-DVD box set proves the run deserves to be remembered for its music, too. The Stills-versus-Young guitar duel on "Revolution Blues" is one highlight among many. $39

Grateful Dead, Spring 1990
Spring 1990 collects six shows from what archive producer David Lemieux calls the Dead's "last tour that was consistently great." Add in ticket stubs, a program and a 60-page book and you've got the perfect gift for Jerry Garcia fans – particularly those with plenty of extra shelf space. Digital: $119; Physical: $199

aether cone

Meghan Benson

Aether Cone

This elegantly designed wireless music player is perfect for people who never know what to listen to: Spin the outer rim, and it skips to the next song, drawing from streaming services and learning your tastes. $399

Gus & Me by Keith Richards

Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Keith Richards, ‘Gus & Me’

With his debut children's book, Gus & Me, Keith Richards tells the story of his jazz musician grandfather in a format that his own grandchildren will be able to enjoy. Richards' daughter, Theodora Dupree, drew the whimsical illustrations. $10

neil young's 'special deluxe'

Meghan Benson

Neil Young, ‘Special Deluxe’

Young's second memoir in as many years uses his love of classic cars as a clever framing device to tell his life story. Perfect if you want the lowdown on the making of After the Gold Rush (or the LincVolt). $32

photo books by danny clinch, glen e friedman and jim marshall

Meghan Benson

Photo Books

The Haight: Love, Rock and Revolution by Jim Marshall and Joel Selvin
Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Grace Slick are just a few of the players in this collection of the late, great Jim Marshall's photographs, which bear witness to San Francisco's psychedelic heyday. $50

My Rules by Glen E. Friedman
Photographer Glen E. Friedman captured a few golden ages: Dogtown and Z-Boys era L.A. skaters, early hardcore punk and 1980s NYC hip-hop.  This Monster coffee-table book collects his greatest hits. $55

Still Moving by Danny Clinch
Clinch's name might not be familiar, but his photographs of artists like Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z are instantly recognizable. Still Moving places 200 of his best shots alongside brief anecdotes and foreword by Bruce Springsteen. $50

Fender Strat Bookend Set

Meghan Benson

Fender Strat Bookend Set

What better way to display your rock biographies than with these sleek bookends, made from the same material as Fender's guitars. $50

moog theramini

Moog Theramini

Perhaps no vintage synth-y instrument is cooler than the theremin, which makes sounds when you wave your hands at it.  This reimagining is much easier to use than the original – thanks to pitch controls, you won't play a bum note. $319

wolfgang's vault and rock paper photos

Meghan Benson

For Your Walls

Wolfgang's Vault Concert Posters
Wolfgang's Vault has become the go-to spot for Sixties and Seventies rock memorabilia. Skip the coffee mugs and go for a reproduction of a psychedelic-era concert poster. From $38

Photo Prints From Rock Paper Photo
For $1,000, anyone can now buy a print of this iconic Hendrix shot (right); Rock Paper Photo has others for far less. From $89

deer dana and junk food t-shirts

Meghan Benson

Shirts

Deer Dana Graphic Tees (left two)
Deer Dana shirts prominently feature large-scale, hand-printed illustrations of hipster icons like Lil Wayne and Lou Holtz. The Larry David tee is perfect for parties but terrible if you're trying to avoid stop-and-chats. $60

Junk Food T-Shirts (right three)
We like that old Guns N' Roses T-shirt too, but if you're looking for other options, this small company has put new life into the vintage rock shirt game. $36

the beatles, bruce springsteen and sleater kinney box sets

Meghan Benson

Album Collections

The Beatles, In Mono Vinyl Box Set
The Fab Four's music as it was meant to be heard: remastered from the original tapes and pressed onto 180-gram vinyl for the ultimate audiophile experience. $375

Bruce Springsteen, The Album Collection Vol. 1, 1973-1984
This set features newly mastered versions of every Bruce LP up through Born in the U.S.A. – significant because the audio on all but Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town had never been upgraded. CD: $74; Vinyl: $269

Sleater-Kinney, Start Together
A punk-rock hailstorm in a box: all seven Sleater-Kinney LPs on colored vinyl, just in time for the band's reunion. $125

High Times: A 40-Year History of the World's Most Infamous Magazine

Meghan Benson

‘High Times: A 40-Year History of the World’s Most Infamous Magazine’

The original burner bible celebrates four decades with this jumbo-size history. We probably don't need to tell you this, but: Tommy Chong wrote the intro. $45

Gift Guide

Meghan Benson

Elton John, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’

This 40th-anniversary box set includes rare photos, an Elton-curated covers album and the Live at Hammersmith 1973 DVD. $80

bluetooth speakers

Meghan Benson

Bluetooth Speakers

Marshall Stanmore Wireless Speaker (left)
Massive sound from a Bluetooth speaker that looks like a vintage Marshall amp. For those about to rock, the Stanmore salutes you. $400

Bowers & Wilkins T7 Bluetooth Speaker (middle)
Audio leader B&W's first portable Bluetooth speaker features a battery that can last up to 18 hours on a single charge and clean, rich low-end to pump up your next picnic. $350

Fresh eTech All-Terrain Sound (right)
Finally, a compact Bluetooth speaker you don't have to baby. Despite its small size (you'll barely notice it carabiner-clipped to a backpack) the All-Terrain boasts weather, water and dust resistant seals and a rubberized bumper that withstands drops. Its play-time is an impressive twelve hours, too. $85

Nikon D810

Nikon D810 Camera

OK, it's more than $3000. But the Nikon D810 DSLR (an upgrade of the company's D800E) sports image quality that you previously would have needed a $10,000 medium-format camera to achieve. If you are a serious amateur looking to take a pro-level step up, this is the move. Pair it with the killer AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm lens and you won't need another setup for years to come. $3,299

pop charts lab rock connections poster

Prints from Pop Chart Labs

Pop Chart Lab specializes in funny, complex posters you can stare at for hours. They range from "A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels" to "The Charted Connections of Rock!," a remarkably detailed summary of the connections between more than 700 artists and 500 bands. From $10

stuart tolley collectors edition

Meghan Benson

Stuart Tolley, ‘Collector’s Edition’

Collector's Edition showcases nearly 200 strikingly designed records, novels and secret religious documents. The book is as handsome as the objects it celebrates, and Björk, Radiohead and the Vatican Archives all make appearances. $50

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