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Rock & Roll Gift Guide

The best audio tech, gadgets, box sets and books for the ultimate music fan

Mark & Bjerre/Libratone

The convenience and versatility of wireless speakers used to mean sacrificing audio quality. No longer. Apple's AirPlay technology allows streaming of Apple Lossless and other sound files from your desktop, laptop, iPod, iPhone or iPad via your home Wi-Fi network. Denmark's Libratone takes that innovation a step further with its stand-alone single-unit AirPlay-enabled speakers – encased in cashmere in an array of colors to match any décor – that look as sharp as they sound. (Lounge, from $1,299; Live, from $699; libratone.com)

Mega Box Sets

U2, Achtung Baby (Über Deluxe Edition)
For the 20th anniversary of what Bono once called their "heaviest record," U2 offer a rare glimpse into their creative process, with B sides, unheard session takes and an early version of the final LP. The limited-edition Über Deluxe box has six CDs, including Achtung Baby, Zooropa and "reworkings of previously unheard material recorded during the Achtung Baby sessions"; four DVDs, including concert film Zoo TV: Live From Sydney and the new Davis Guggenheim documentary From the Sky Down; a 180-gram vinyl double LP of Achtung Baby; five clear seven-inch vinyl singles in the original sleeves; plus a replica pair of Bono's "Fly" sunglasses. (Über Deluxe Edition, $470; 6-CD, 4-DVD Super Deluxe Edition, $168; 2-CD Deluxe Edition, $30; u2.com)

Pink Floyd, Discovery Box Set
This has been a banner year for Floyd fans, what with two of their classic albums – The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here – getting the "Immersion" and "Experience" box-set treatment (with The Wall following suit in February 2012). But for those looking to update their collection or newbies-turned-wanna-be-completists, this box remasters all 14 albums in the band's catalog, as well as new packaging and booklets designed by the band's longtime artist Storm Thorgerson. ($180, pinkfloyd.com)

The Who, Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut (Super Deluxe Edition)
The Who's 1973 rock opera just got supersized – two full discs of the newly remastered album, two discs of Pete Townshend's 25 archived demos (including five songs completely cut from the original release), a DVD of surround-sound splendor and a 100-page book featuring a 13,000-word essay by Townshend on making the album. ($148, thewho.com)

The Beach Boys, The Smile Sessions Box Set
The most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history has finally been compiled. This box set includes five CDs (the first disc presents the album as it might have been, while four more are packed with session highlights and alternate takes, including a full disc of "Good Vibrations" sequences), a double LP, two seven-inch singles ("Heroes and Villains" and "Vega-Tables”), plus a 60-page book featuring liner notes by the surviving Beach Boys. (Box Set, $140; 2-CD Lift-Top Box, $24; brianwilson.com)

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch

Barnes & Noble's Nook Color forced Amazon's hand. The online giant responded by introducing the Kindle Fire. Earlier this year, B&N beat Amazon at its own game again with the introduction of the Nook Simple Touch, a basic E-ink reader with simple, easy-to-use controls. It's so small and thin it can fit in your back or jacket pocket with room to spare. ($99, barnesandnoble.com)

Courtesy of Ion

Ion Vertical Vinyl Wall-Mounted Turntable

Vinyl dilettantes quickly discover the drawback of those retro-suitcase turntables: They take up precious cabinet space, space that used to belong to the family stereo but may now be devoted to a 65-inch flatscreen hooked up to a home-theater system. Ion's battery-powered, wall-mounted turntable removes limited cabinet tops from the equation. ($70, ionaudio.com)

Courtesy of Denon

Denon RCD-N7 With AirPlay Music Streaming and SC-N7 Speaker System

The first mini hi-fi system from Denon designed specifically for connecting to home networks and the Internet supports AirPlay as well as services like Pandora and Rhapsody. (RCD-N7, $599; SC-N7, $199; usa.denon.com)

Courtesy of Apple/HTC/Samsung


Apple iPhone 4S
Once the letdown over the much-anticipated "iPhone 5" died down, folks started realizing just how awesome the 4S actually is: The latest generation iPhone with its updated iOS 5 software features an impressive array of industry leading innovations. The most exciting is Siri, the voice-activated – and vocal (Siri talks back) – personal assistant, which does everything from send text messages and place phone calls to check the weather, find a restaurant or schedule a reminder. (From $199, apple.com)

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
Compatible with AT&T's all new LTE network – with speeds up to 10 times 3G – which will be launching in more areas around the country in the coming weeks and months. The Skyrocket has a 4.5-inch display and an eight-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture. ($250 with two-year AT&T contract, att.com)

HTC Rezound
The Rezound is the first smartphone to integrate Beats Audio, which you can enjoy on the pair of customized Beats earbuds included with each phone, and its 4.3-inch HD 720p screen is great for watching video. ($300 with two-year Verizon Wireless contract, htc.com)

Courtesy of Element/id America

iPhone Cases

Element Case Vapor Comp for All iPhone 4 Models
Element Cases are to iPhones what Iron Man's armor is to Tony Stark: cutting-edge, colorful, all-protective and not cheap. ($100, elementcase.com)

BUDGET ALTERNATIVE: id America Ice Crystal Clear Case/Dryice Soft Grip Case
Simple, affordable and stylish case for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Completely clear design comes with front and back film protectors. ($20, id-case.com)

Courtesy of PSB/Topping

Topping TP30 Amp and PSB Imagine Mini Speakers

The TP30 is an inexpensive amp with a surprising amount of punch. ($129, parts-express.com) At just 5.75 inches wide and 9.25 inches high, the Imagine Minis create an impressive sound experience for their small size. The perfect choices for an audiophile-worthy office sound system. (From $760 per pair, psbspeakers.com)

Courtesy of FoxLv2, Jawbone and Spar

Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Soundmatters FoxL V2 Platinum Edition Bluetooth Speaker
The FoxL portable speaker's sound seems to defy physics. When paired with the AptX Bluetooth Adapter, the new Platinum Edition features CD-quality sound. The bike mount allows you to ditch the distracting headphones and still listen to tunes or field calls while riding, an infinitely safer option. (FoxL V2 Platinum, $229; Bike Kit Bundle, $50; AptX Bluetooth Adapter, $50; soundmatters.com)

Jawbone Jambox Wireless Speaker
The Jambox's superior sound and design rank it above most portable speakers. Its Live Audio technology, supported by music services like Spotify, Pandora and Mog, enables listeners to experience binaural audio – without headphones – and pseudo surround sound. ($200, jawbone.com)

Spar Zephyr Wireless Speakers
The latest contender in the portable-speaker category offers a range of options that marry the cool metal exterior of the FoxL with the color choices of the Jambox. They promise a significant upgrade on battery power, with the Zephyr 550 reaching 28 hours per charge and the 500 12 hours, allowing both models to charge your iPhone while playing. At 4.7 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.8 inches and 4.8 ounces, the 300 is actually pocket-size. Available in mid-December. (Zephyr 300, $100; Zephyr 500, $130; Zephyr 550, $160; spar.com)

Photo Books

All Access: The Rock 'N' Roll Photography of Ken Regan
Ken Regan made a name for himself as not only a top-rate concert photographer (tours with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, Woodstock), but also as one who could get behind-the-scenes access (Keith Richards cooking eggs for breakfast at Andy Warhol's estate). This coffee-table book is broken down by decade and anecdotes such as how he got into the Beatles' 1964 American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show (a friend's father worked for Sullivan) or how he met future superstars before they were famous (before shooting Madonna's iconic People cover in 1985, he mistook her for a hooker in the elevator, and ended up in her hotel room among her vast collection of bangles and rosaries). Featuring essays from Richards, Mick Jagger and James Taylor. ($75)

Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen, Frank Stefanko
In the late Seventies and early Eighties, photographer Frank Stefanko shot the working-class gothic covers of fellow Jersey native Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River. The book mostly features outtakes from various photo sessions with Bruce's two favorite things – guitars and cars. Stefanko tells stories of a legend just in his thirties, and finally hitting his stride. ($35)

Patti Smith 1969-1976, Judy Linn
Patti Smith's mesmerizing memoir Just Kids was one of last year's best reads, detailing the boho ideals of like-minded artists in the gritty New York of the late Sixties. This photo collection is the perfect complement to Smith's bio. Linn met Smith through their boyfriends (Patti's being the late Robert Mapplethorpe), and they commenced their own artistic journey, with Linn honing her craft on an affable Smith. Intimate and spare, the photos show just some kids discovering themselves and each other in front of a camera. ($25)

Rock Seen, Bob Gruen
Bob Gruen's 1974 rooftop photo of John Lennon in his New York City T-shirt with cutoff sleeves is iconic, but his archives of concert photos of Ike and Tina Turner, the Clash and Bob Marley help make this trove of photography a walk through rock history. Gruen curated 40 years' worth of images – from photos of Debbie Harry traipsing around Coney Island to Aerosmith posing backstage in Boston – and paired them with extended captions and anecdotes. ($45)

Courtesy of V-Moda, Nixon, HiFiman and Sol Republic


V-Moda Crossfade M-80 Headphones
Beats by Dr. Dre may get all the press, but V-Moda's on-ear and over-ear headphones – with the signature top-grade metal, memory foam and microfiber suede – have been winning raves from company founder Val Kolton's fellow DJs and other stylish children of the night both for their strong audio performance and their standing as fashion accessory. ($230, v-moda.com)

HiFiMan HE-300 Dynamic Headphones
With their Seventies-fabulous mega ear cups, these headphones provide some of the best sound on the market, for a reasonable price. The six-foot-long cable makes these better for home than on-the-go listening. ($249, hifiman.us)

Nixon RPM Headphones
Watchmaker Nixon has lately branched out into audio tech with an aesthetically pleasing line of headphones. The oversize RPMs – with custom 40 mm drivers and gel-filled ear cushions for increased comfort – are designed specifically for DJ use. ($200, nixonnow.com)

BUDGET ALTERNATIVE: SOL Republic Tracks Headphones
Sol Republic's on-ear Track headphones are light and durable yet still deliver top-notch sound via the V8 Sound Engine technology comparable to the performance of Beats headphones, at a third the price. Customers can now even customize the headbands with any artwork they choose through Colorware. (Tracks, $100; Tracks HD, $129; solrepublic.com)

Courtesy of NAD

NAD Wireless USB DAC 1

This digital-to-analog converter is the perfect option for those who want to stream their lossless digital sound files from their computer to their high-end stereo. The DAC 1's wireless transmitter plugs into a USB port on your computer, and its corresponding receiver plugs into any line input on your audio system. No Wi-Fi network needed. ($300, nadelectronics.com)

Courtesy of NuForce

NuForce Icon iDo DAC and Headphone Amp

The Icon iDo connects to any iDevice via USB and converts the digital files to CD-quality audio. It's also small and light enough to carry around and use as an amp to power headphones, increasing the clarity of the sound. ($249, nuforce.com)

Courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins, JH Audio, and Klipsch

In-Ear Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins C5 Headphones
By now, music fans have come to expect two things from a B&W product: superior sound and innovative design. The C5 in-ear headphones deliver on both fronts: Their unique "secure loop" design makes these some of the most comfortable headphones on the market. ($180, bowers-wilkins.com)

JH Audio Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors
JH Audio makes onstage in-ear monitors for artists like Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, Van Halen and Alicia Keys. Their JH16 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors are among the best earphones ever made – if you have the $1,149 to shell out for them. The JH5s are also custom-fit and use the same technology as their much pricier siblings, and can be had for $399. If you want to hear music the way it was recorded, these are your best bet. (From $399, jhaudio.com)

Klipsch S4A for Android Headphones
Klipsch S4s are among the top-performing in-ear phones for smartphones. The S4As are Klipsch’s first Android-specific headphones, and with the Klipsch Control Android app, you can change the functions of the remote buttons to control voice search, auto dial, etc. ($99, klipsch.com)

Box Sets

Jimi Hendrix, Winterland
Compiled from six consecutive 1968 performances at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, this latest Hendrix Catalog Project 4-CD collection features a 25-year-old Hendrix shredding on "Foxey Lady," "Purple Haze" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," as well as a rare live interview in which he discusses the direction he wanted to take his music. ($50, jimihendrix.com)

Nirvana, Nevermind (Super Deluxe Edition)
The most important album of the Nineties turned 20 this year, and its limited-edition Super Deluxe set comes packed with four CDs of live radio spots, alternate mixes and previously unreleased angst, plus a DVD of a legendary live show at Seattle's Paramount Theater. (Super Deluxe Edition, $80; Deluxe Edition, $20; nirvana.com)

Elvis Costello and the Imposters, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook (Super Deluxe Edition)
Elvis Costello brought his Spectacular Spinning Songbook prop out in L.A. this spring for the first time in 25 years – and it was such a hit, he took his circus act on the road. This multimedia box set includes a CD of live performances, a DVD of the most enigmatic showstoppers (including a guest appearance by the Bangles), a 10-inch vinyl record with four exclusive songs and a 40-page book of candids and musings by Napoleon Dynamite himself. Available in December. ($340, elviscostello.com)

Various Artists, The Best of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum Live
The annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are notorious for their heartfelt recognition of musical genius, their rare live performances and their rowdy jams. This three-CD set makes for easier casual listening than its prior DVD releases, and the star power is all still there: Bruce Springsteen backing Chuck Berry on "Johnny B. Goode"; Tom Petty, Prince, Steve Winwood and Dhani Harrison on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"; the Allman Brothers with Sheryl Crow on "Midnight Rider." ($45, timelife.com)

Courtesy of Sonos

Sonos Play:3

The Play:5 (formerly the ZonePlayer S5), Sonos' first stand-alone speaker controllable by virtually any device via the company’s app, began the wireless-music-system pioneer's move toward a less cumbersome system: out with the space-eating Zone-Bridge-and-speakers combos, and in with smaller units utilizing superior sound technology. The smaller Play:3 makes it even easier to expand your music network within your home. ($299, sonos.com)

Courtesy of Orb

Orb Music Player

A no-frills way to stream your music collection to your stereo or any stand-alone audio source with a headphone jack and control it on your smartphone. Works with iTunes, SiriusXM Radio and Pandora. ($70, orb.com)

Courtesy of Thodio

Thodio iBox

These quirky, portable iPod speakers, handcrafted in the Netherlands by Thomas Spaans, stand out in an already crowded market. Its two front-mounted speakers and central bass port give the Thodio iBox a "face" and also deliver a clean sound perfect for outdoors or inside. Top-mounted iPod dock is optional, but highly recommended. ($594, thodio.nl)

Courtesy of Yamaha

Yamaha PDX-11 Dock

With its chrome handle, octagonal shape and metal grille, Yamaha's bright, tough new dock is designed for people on the move. The four-inch woofer brings the bass to the party no matter where you end up. Adding to the retro vibe: The PDX-11 is powered by six AA batteries (how Eighties!). ($100, usa.yamaha.com)

Courtesy of JBL and SRS

Mobile Audio-Enhancing Gadgets

JBL MS2 Pocket Digital Processor
This small interface connects your portable music player to your car stereo or any other sound system, and enhances the sound quality using digital signal processing for stereo imaging, and time-correction technology to make sure all the sounds reach you simultaneously, significantly improving the listening experience. ($200, jbl.com)

SRS Labs makes affordable software that upgrades a PC's sound to home-theater quality. The iWow 3D, which attaches to your iPhone, iPod or iPad, expands the audio so that it sounds less compressed. A bargain. ($60, srslabs.com)

Courtesy of Rocksmith


Guitar Hero and Rock Band soared to popularity despite one major handicap: those silly plastic guitars. Ubisoft's Rocksmith – the first serious guitar-instruction game – takes care of that. As you play the games and your skill level improves, you actually learn how to play songs. Rather than clicking in approximate rhythm with the melody or guitar riff of a song, you end up playing the actual notes of that song – even if you don't know the actual names of those notes. (Maybe that's for 2.0.) You can use any electric guitar to play this game, but for an extra $120, you can get a very playable Epiphone Les Paul Jr. For Xbox 360 and PS3. (Game only, $80; Guitar Bundle, $200; rocksmith.com)

Courtesy of HEX/Apple

Apple iPod Nano and Hex Vision Metal Watch Band

The newest iPod Nano is the first to have multitouch screen technology and no click wheel. Larger icons make scrolling and tapping to your favorite music, workout, radio station or clock face even easier. (From $129, apple.com) Hex Vision's metal band turns your Nano into a stylish wristwatch. ($70, shophex.com)

Courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Premium Desktop Speakers

These top-of-the-line desktop speakers have the best-quality highs and midrange on the market. And for tiny towers barely larger than a pint glass, an excellent amount of bass. ($500, bowers-wilkins.com)

Music Books

The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun, Robert Greenfield
Among the musicians whose careers Ahmet Ertegun launched and fostered through his Atlantic Records label are some of the greatest artists of all time: Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Longtime RS contributor Robert Greenfield recounts how an upper-class son of a Turkish ambassador fell in love with the roots and R&B music he heard in the ghettos of Washington, D.C., and how he eventually brought that music to the forefront of the newly rock-crazed culture. ($30)

House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father, Johnny Cash, John Carter Cash
Johnny Cash's only son compiled unpublished photographs, stories and replica inserts (a New Year's Eve reflection letter by the senior Cash from 1968 – the year he married June Carter; recipe cards for family favorites like soy grit bread and "Cashburgers") to illustrate the lessons he learned from the Man in Black. ($40)

Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson
Provocative fashion photographer Terry Richardson's lens followed Lady Gaga for 10 months during her global Monster Ball tour and the recording of her album Born This Way. "I have discovered through him that shame is an obsolete notion and apology is an injustice to any performance," Mother Monster writes in the foreword to this 350-picture coffee-table book, but she might be giving him too much credit. We think she was "pushing the boundaries of culture" all on her own. ($50)

Courtesy of C. F. Martin & Co.

Martin OXK and S1 Ukuleles

In 2011, ukuleles were almost as ubiquitous as zombies, with Train winning a Grammy for their uke-centric song "Hey Soul Sister," virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro wowing millions on YouTube with his instrumental takes on rock classics, and Eddie Vedder releasing the album Ukulele Songs. The debate over whether they're serious instruments will probably never end, but one thing is for sure: They're seriously fun. Martin Guitar has gotten back into the uke business in a big way. While its premier line costs more than $5,000, the OXK and S1 soprano ukuleles are affordable but still very high-quality options for anyone wanting to do more than dabble. (OXK, $399; S1, $499; martinguitar.com)

Courtesy of Bose

Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker

The portable SoundLink connects easily to the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, tablets and laptops. The wireless speaker has a rechargeable battery and handles exceptionally loud volumes considering its compact size. (From $300, bose.com)

Courtesy of Max Borges Agency/Supertooth

SuperTooth Disco A2DP Bluetooth Speaker

Looks more like a guitar-amp head than a portable rechargeable-battery-powered speaker with its black metal meshlike grille and oversize volume and control knob. With its 28 watts of sound – 12-watt subwoofer, two eight-watt stereo drivers – it cranks like one too. ($150, supertooth.net)

Box Sets

Elvis Presley, Young Man With the Big Beat
When Elvis broke into the mainstream with "Heartbreak Hotel" in January 1956, the 21-year-old hillbilly truly became the King of Rock & Roll. The five CDs in this box set center on that year, with outtakes from his first RCA recording sessions (12 takes of "Shake, Rattle and Roll"!), remasters of live performances and non-LP singles. ($110, elvis.com)

The Smiths, Complete
While it's not the reunion hopeless Smiths romantics yearn for, fans can exult in the knowledge that their guitar hero Johnny Marr was behind the board remastering all eight of the band's LPs for this complete box set. True fanatics will give their gladioli and NHS glasses for the limited-edition Deluxe Box Set, which includes the band's albums on CD and vinyl, plus all 25 seven-inch singles and The Complete Picture DVD video compilation. (Deluxe Box Set, $500; CD Box Set, $69; rhino.com)

Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection
While producer Phil Spector was creating his Wall of Sound, he was also crafting some of the most powerful and influential girl-group numbers of the early Sixties. This seven-CD set features three full albums from Philles label superstars the Crystals ("He's a Rebel," "He's Sure the Boy I Love"); trio Bob B. Soxx ("Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"); and the Ronettes ("Da Doo Ron Ron," "Chapel of Love"). ($55, philspector.com)

Sting, 25 Years: The Definitive Box Set Collection
Over a comprehensive three-CD set presented in a thick picture book filled with vanity shots and handwritten lyrics, this retrospective of Sting's solo career covers his post-Police exploration into jazz ("Englishman in New York"), remixed club-thumpers ("Send Your Love") and his endless supply of love songs for wife Trudie. The bonus live DVD of a 2005 Irving Plaza concert contains the only hint of Police-era youth ("Message in a Bottle," "Roxanne"), but his voice and songwriting have never lost their luster. ($125, sting.com)

Courtesy of Speaky

Pink Speaky for Breast Cancer Awareness

The Speaky Bluetooth speakerphone may look like a children's toy, but it is designed for increased audio quality while driving. Pressing its bellybutton allows you to receive or reject calls. Bluetrek is donating 10 percent of its revenues from sales of Pink Speaky to the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. ($70, online.bluetrek.com)

Courtesy of Joyful Noise Recordings

Of Montreal Cassette Box Set

Kevin Barnes' uncategorizable band, Of Montreal, continues to buck music trends with this custom-built, screen-printed wooden box covered with band artist David Barnes' signature illustrations. The box contains all 10 of the indie band's studio albums – on cassette. If you can't find your old Walkman, the box also offers an instant download of the albums in 320kpbs MP3. ($99, joyfulnoiserecordings.com)

Music Books

Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor, Ozzy Osbourne
Everyone's favorite rock dad and advice columnist for Rolling Stone and the U.K.'s Sunday Times has a new collection of his priceless wisdom, based on a lifetime of surviving bats, blood and near-death at every turn. Have bad skin? Dr. Ozzy recommends "using a three-inch-deep layer of white powder foundation to cover it up." And in a Dear Abby moment, he helps a man who hates bear hugs. "You've got a mouth, so say something.…" Look, I don't like having my head in your armpit while you whack me on the back like Hulk Hogan. Can't we just shake hands or something?’ " Sound advice from the Prince of Fucking Darkness. ($27)

Dead Letters, Paul Grushkin
The Grateful Dead have one of the most legendary fan bases in rock – the tie-dye, the bears, the skulls, the traveling, the drum circles, the drugs. And also, it turns out, they were exceedingly artistic supporters of the USPS. Dead historian Paul Grushkin has compiled a visual archive of fan mail, illustrated envelopes and the elaborately designed mailers that fans used to express their love, "deadication" and dire need for tickets. ($30)

Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions per Minute, Matthew Chojnacki
A collection of more than 250 of the most iconic and colorful sleeves from seven- and 12-inch singles from the 1980s. Interviews with the musicians and the photographers and graphic designers tell the stories behind these memorable images. ($40)

Rolling Stone Rock Trivia: Special Collectors Edition
The music experts of Rolling Stone have put together the trivia quiz to top all trivia quizzes, 120 pages of minutiae guaranteed to challenge the most erudite rock & roll scholar – and start some loud arguments. ($12)

Music Apps

George Harrison: The Guitar Collection iPad App
This app contains 360 photos of Harrison’s guitar collection, with footage of admirers like Josh Homme, Mike Campbell and Ben Harper playing some of the instruments, playlists of the songs Harrison played them on and audio commentary from George himself on the guitars. ($10)

Rolling Stone: The Beatles Ultimate Album-by-Album Guide
Rolling Stone’s editors trace the history of the greatest band ever album by album. Track-by-track listings for each album include notes on each song as well as iTunes samples. ($10)

Songkick Concerts
This app alerts you when artists in your iTunes library are performing nearby. (Free)

Korg iElectribe Gorillaz Edition
The synth maker and Damon Albarn's electronic pop collective have teamed up to create an iPad beatbox featuring 128 Gorillaz sounds and 64 preset grooves built from exclusive samples from their album The Fall. ($20)

Scans your music library to create a personalized media music magazine that conveniently gathers all the information about all the artists you listen to most. Forget searching the Web to find out what your favorite artists are up to, this app provides that and more in one easily browsed location. (Free)

iShred LIVE with Griffin StompBox
Griffin's StompBox and the iShred Live app turn your iPad or iPhone into a guitar effects box. (iShred Live, free; StompBox, $100; griffintechnology.com)

Korg iKaossilator for iPhone
The iKaossilator simulates the original palm-size touch-screen synth and beat and effects box. You don't have to know how to play a note to have hours of fun. ($10)

The trendy, interactive music-sharing service finally makes it to app form. Take turns DJ’ing for friends and other people online. Make sure to keep the party jumping, though, because if you receive too many "lame" votes, you get kicked out of the DJ booth. (Free)

Ion Piano Apprentice
Use this free app along with Ion's mini keyboard and iPad/iPhone dock to learn how to play the piano and read music too. (App, free; keyboard/dock, $100; ionaudio.com)

iRig MIDI and SampleTank
With the latest gadget from the maker of the iRig Guitar interface and the iRig Mic, your iPhone can become a fully functional recording studio and performance device. The iRig MIDI allows you to connect any keyboard, drum machine or other MIDI-equipped musical instrument, and the SampleTank app has
hundreds of pro-quality sounds and patterns. (SampleTank, $20; iRig MIDI, $70; ikmultimedia.com)

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