Must-have Music Gifts
Music is a universal constant; it's like breathing air or eating food-everyone listens to music. So we've complied a list of hot CDs and awesome audio gear to keep you rocking until daddy takes the car keys away.
Can we ask you a question? Would you ever think about riding in a car without putting on your seatbelt? How about riding a bike without a helmet? Skydiving without a parachute? If you had any sense, you would have said no, no and hell no! You have to protect yourself regardless of what activity you're taking part in, right? So why is that when you listen to music, you won't safeguard your ears from crappy audio? Why do you insist on using those cheap-o headphones that sound like they're made out of aluminum foil? Look, you only get one set of ears, so you might as well take care of them, right? And that's why you're going to immediately go and take a look at the Ultrasone HFI-2200. This sleek, high-end audio will protect your ears from tinny highs, anemic mids and life-less lows: in short, it'll make your music sound the way it's supposed to sound and give your ears the peace of mind they deserve. Seriously, if you are a music lover, then you owe it to yourself to step up to a high-end pair of cans and the HFI-2200 definitely fits the bill.
This one's an obvious choice: ever since the iPod was first unleashed upon the world, it's become a go-to holiday/birthday/whatever occasion day gift. Why? Because it's quick, it's simple and whoever you give it to will love it. We're pretty confident that you'll have at least one music lover on your list and we're going to bet our morning doughnut that they'll be delighted to find a new iPod waiting for them underneath the Christmas tree this year. We don't do this lightly because we can't function without our morning doughnut; seriously, until we get that first maple old fashioned of the day, we're walking zombies. Oh, sorry, got distracted there. Where were we? Right: iPods are awesome-and so are doughnuts.
Monster RadioPlay 300
We love listening to music while in the car. Nothing beats cruising down the freeway with the windows down and the stereo up. But you know what ruins the party? Having to change CDs when the music stops; try swapping one out when you're going 65 on the interstate-not fun. That's why the Monster RadioPlay 300 rides shotgun with us whenever we hit the road; you just plug it into your car's cigarette lighter-don't smoke, kids, it's bad for you-and attach it to any MP3 player. The unit then broadcasts an FM signal that you can pick up through your car's radio, meaning you never have to slow down to keep the music going.
Okay, we admit it: paying six hundred bucks for an iPod dock is a little extravagant. But if you want something a bit more finer than the average stereo system, then the Zepplin is worth the investment. You might look at the Zepplin and think that it's artsy design is the real reason for the high price tag but you'd be wrong: the sound quality is what truly sold us on the unit. We've tested a ton of iPod docks and speaker systems and the Zepplin is one of the best we've ever used. We also appreciated the unique design aesthetic: it made some of the standard boombox looking units we have in our Labs seem down right boring. Yes, we recognize that the price tag is pretty nuts but if you just have to have the finer things in life, then the Zepplin is destined to be your iPod dock of choice.
If you're like us, you have a friend or relative who is a certified music nut. They listen to music non-stop and spend half their paychecks on CDs and stereo equipment; they reference bands that you've never even heard of and their entire wardrobe consists of concert tees. Yeah, you know the type, right? Then consider setting them up with an account for Rhapsody. This subscription based music service gives music lovers access to as much music as they can cram into their ears. It's especially great for people who "love all kinds of music" because it boasts an eclectic collection of tunes. Best of all, you can sync up a compatible MP3 player and take all that music to go. It's like setting up a food lover with a gourmet buffet except without the resulting heartburn.
Logitech Pure-Fi Elite
Damn, we remember the good old days when we used to have this huge stereo in our bedroom. It had the double tape deck, the LP player on top and speakers the size of Buicks; it was pretty sweet. But you know what? It was also ugly as hell. And besides which, those speakers were big but they sounded pretty crappy too. In fact, why are we even talking about that terrible stereo when really, we should be talking about the Pure-Fi Elite from Logitech. It's pretty much everything our old stereo wasn't: it's slick, produces awesome audio and works with the iPod or any MP3 player through an adapter cable. Man, if we had one of these back when we were younger, we totally would have never left our bedroom. Not that we ever did leave our bedroom but you get the picture.
Grado SR80/Koss Porta Pros
We've said it once, we're saying it yet again: ditch the earphones that came with your MP3 player and upgrade, upgrade, upgrade right away. Your ears will thank you for it, trust us. Now, not everyone can afford to grab a pair of studio quality cans like the Ultrasone HFI-2200s we mentioned earlier but that doesn't mean you have to go without. The Grado SR80 and Koss Porta Pros are widely considered to be two of the best headphones you can buy for under a hundred dollars; we've road-tested both extensively and you can't go wrong with either. The SR80 have a bit more 'oomph' to them but the Koss definitely holds its own; regardless, they're like a thousand times better than the cheapo earbuds you're using now. So stop monkeying around and step up to the big leagues already.
If you haven't yet tried out Pandora, you definitely need to stop by and take it for a whirl; it's a great website that every music lover has to bookmark. It basically maps out the "DNA" of a particular song, artist or genre of music and finds other artists, songs and genres that exhibit similar qualities. For instance, we just went on there and searched for one of our favorite musical artists, Okkervil River; Pandora's unique engine then played us bands whose music shares similarities. It's a fantastic way to discover new music; okay, so it's not exactly something you can buy for someone but you can tell your friends and family about it, and knowledge is a gift in and of itself, kids.