Are you having a hard time finding gifts for friends and loved ones this year? Are you looking for a gift for someone who is always tapping their foot and singing in the shower?
Music-related gifts can be real crowd pleasers. It could be the gift of music itself, something to improve your listening experience, or a toy that lets you get creative.
Here is our list of gift ideas for the casual and not-so-casual music lovers in your life.
1. Music Streaming Subscription
Just 10 years ago, if you wanted to buy someone music, you’d probably have picked up an iTunes gift card (or even physical media). These days we’re used to subscription-based streaming technology from the likes of Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music.
The most important thing to remember when considering a subscription is which service the recipient is using, and their platform of choice. There’s little point in buying someone a Spotify membership if they’ve built up an Apple Music library and they’re happy with the service—so do some research first.
In terms of cost, this really varies and depends on what you’d like to spend. Apple Music uses iTunes credits, so you can purchase a standard iTunes gift card for this purpose. Apple Music membership costs $9.99/month, so you’re looking at around $60 for a 6-month membership, or $120 for a year.
You can buy a Spotify gift card which provides enough credit for three months’ use in the US store. Pandora also offers a one-year subscription to Pandora Plus.
Important: If you’re buying a gift card, make sure the currency matches the recipient’s store. As an example, US iTunes gift cards can only be used in the US iTunes Store.
2. Vinyl Turntable
It’s no secret that vinyl records are popular once more. It’s the only physical audio medium that’s experiencing rising sales and the number of quality turntables available continues to grow.
There’s something to be said about listening to music on vinyl. Purists argue that sound quality is unparalleled, or that pops and crackles only serve to add character to recorded works. Others prefer the physical aspect of owning music on record, and take pride in supporting artists by buying LPs straight from small labels.
However, there’s no right turntable for everyone. For those starting out, or anyone who appreciates portability and the novelty of battery power, the Crosley Messenger Turntable offers serious flexibility.
For the wannabe DJ who must have it all, the Audio Technica LP1240 provides more starting torque than the Technics 1200 series, with USB output, a pre-amped line stage and all the speeds and functions you’d expect from a $1500 Stanton.
Don’t forget to brush up on the things you need to know when buying a turntable.
3. Framed Vinyl Records
If your chosen recipient already has a record player, why not splash the cash on something else related to vinyl? After all, vinyl enthusiasts can’t get enough of the stuff.
Art Vinyl is a company that specializes in frames for vinyl records. Starting at around $50 for a single frame, or around $130 for a three pack, the convenient design allows you to effortlessly switch out records when you want to listen to them (or simply want to change up the decor).
You could pair a frame with something from your recipient’s Discogs wishlist, or a brand new vinyl pressing for a thoughtful gift that looks and sounds great.
4. Smart Home Speaker
Smart home speakers offer both wireless sound and a smart assistant to help you out around the house or office. You currently have three top choices: Apple HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon speakers that come with Alexa.
If sound quality is your primary concern, the Apple HomePod (our review) won’t let you down. It’s a highly capable smart speaker that works with Apple Music natively, or via AirPlay for use with iOS devices. That means the recipient will need to be using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac (and an Apple Music subscription wouldn’t hurt).
Google produces a few different Home-branded products: the basic Google Home, the smaller Google Home Mini, and the best-sounding option: the Google Home Max. Unlike HomePod, Google Home can use YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and more to play music.
Amazon seems to be building Alexa support into just about anything, but the best sound-focused offerings are the basic Echo, the smaller Echo Dot, and the Amazon Echo Plus. Amazon’s offering is the only third-party smart home speaker that includes Apple Music support.
5. “Dumb” Bluetooth Speaker
You don’t need to buy into the smart home hype to give the gift of wireless sound. Bluetooth technology has come on leaps and bounds since speakers first hit the shelves. It’s now possible to buy some surprisingly punchy, room-filling solutions to suit all budgets.
For a go-everywhere Bluetooth speaker, check out the JBL Flip 4. It’s waterproof, contains a 3000mAh rechargeable battery, and can connect two smartphones at once to share the sound. You can also wirelessly link over 100 JBL speakers together, should you ever want to do that.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial for at home, Bose produces a range of portable speakers like the Bose Soundlink. If you’ve ever listened to one of Bose’s small-yet-mighty speakers, you’ll know the company packs a surprisingly good punch into such a tiny package.
If your budget can stretch a little further then check out the Sonos One. It comes with built-in support for Amazon Alexa. The Sonos One can fill a room despite its modest size, and it’s humidity resistant so you really can belt out some Meatloaf in the shower (Meatloaf not included).
Still not sure which Bluetooth speaker to go for? Check out the best Bluetooth speakers for smartphone users.
6. High-Quality Wired Headphones
Much of the time your choice of headphones depends on your musical preferences, but that’s arguably an industry invention. Bass-heavy cans are great for modern electronic music but turn classical, rock, and metal into a muddy and inaudible mess. The best headphones you can buy are those that don’t try to change the music, but provide a faithful reproduction of the original recording.
That usually means opting for studio-grade headphones or monitors, which don’t try to augment the bass or add unnecessary punch to the treble. One such company that’s made a name for itself with quality, hand-assembled, American-made headphones is Grado Labs, based out of Brooklyn, New York.
Even its most basic of models—like the SR60e and SR80e—provide a much sought-after, balanced response, and exceptional clarity for their price range. What’s more, they ooze style with an iconic, adjustable design and fake leather headband that ensures a comfortable listening experience.
7. Wireless Headphones
Not every music lover is an audiophile, and even those who are can appreciate convenience when they see it. Wireless headphones don’t sound as good as wired ones, and you’re far more limited in terms of which models you can go for when cutting the audio cord.
For iPhone, iPad and Mac users, Apple’s W1 headphones are arguably the best. The Apple AirPods (our review) are a wireless version of the company’s iconic white in-ear freebies. While the sound is pretty good, there’s no noise isolation or tight-fitting silicon for comfort—so they aren’t perfect for everyone.
Also best suited to Apple devices are the BeatsX (our review), Apple’s other small wireless in-ear headphones. Since they carry the Beats name they’re also fairly bass-heavy, but they sound good and are very comfortable. Both the AirPods and BeatsX are super-easy to pair, with fast charging, and a built-in microphone for talking on the phone or chatting to Siri.
For Samsung users, the company’s own Level U Pro wireless earphones really hit the mark, at around half the price of the BeatsX. For everyone else, the Phiaton BT100 offer noise canceling technology in an in-ear headphone style for a decent price.
8. KORG Miniature Synths
For the music lover who’s not content with simply listening to music, KORG’s latest range of Volca mini synths could provide hours of fun. For beginners, look at the KORG analog rhythm machine, KORG looping synth, and KORG mini sampler.
More Last-Minute Gift Ideas!
While this list was intended for people buying music-related gifts for other people, maybe you want to buy some of these goodies for yourself instead. If so, that’s OK, you’re allowed to treat yourself every once in a while.
And if you’re looking for last minute gifts, check out our last minute shopping gift guide!