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?
Although we all have different tastes and musical preferences, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a favourite musical genre or artist.
So, without further ado, here is the MakeUseOf list of brilliant gift ideas for the casual and not-so-casual music lovers in your life.
1. A Streaming Subscription
Just 10 years ago, if you wanted to buy someone music for Christmas, 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 the relative newcomer, Apple Music instead.
One of the most important things to determine when looking at purchasing a subscription is which service the recipient is using, or at least has access to. 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.
Important: If you’re buying a gift card, make sure the currency matches the recipient’s store. As an example, U.S. iTunes gift cards can only be used in the U.S. iTunes Store.
2. A Nice Turntable
Vinyl is back with a vengeance — it’s the only physical audio medium that’s experiencing rising sales (probably as a result of it going out of fashion for so long, but still) 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, that record players exude a warmth not found with digital mediums, and that the pops and crackles only serve to add character to recorded works. Others prefer the physicality of owning music on record, and take solace in the ability to support artists by buying LPs straight from small labels.
Of course, 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 offers serious flexibility. If portability isn’t important, the fancier pre-amped Keepsake Deluxe delivers plug-and-play simplicity in a quality package.
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.
If budget is a concern, the Audio Technica LP120 offers similar features, without the ridiculous amount of torque on offer from the LP1240.
3. Framed Vinyl
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).
4. A Fancy Bluetooth Speaker
Why not give the gift of wireless sound this Christmas? Bluetooth technology has come on leaps and bounds since pricey wireless speakers first hit the shelves, and it’s now possible to buy some surprisingly punchy, room-filling solutions to suit all budgets.
At the lower end of the spectrum are cheaper solutions like the best-selling Big MagicBox. This speaker outputs 20W, includes a 4000mAh rechargeable battery and manages up to 12 hours of playtime using the power-efficient Bluetooth 4.0 standard — but don’t expect too much in the sound quality department.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial than a stocking filler, Bose produces a range of portable speakers like the Soundlink (below). 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 Play:1 from Sonos. It works with Amazon’s Alexa to bring high quality wireless sound and a digital assistant to any room in your house. The Play:1 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).
5. A Drool-Worthy Set of 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. I’ve always believed the best headphones you can buy are those that don’t try to change the music, instead providing as “flat” a response as possible.
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.
6. A Convenient Pair of 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 the best. The AirPods ($159) 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 won’t b for everyone.
Also best suited to Apple devices are the BeatsX, 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 are an affordable pair of wireless earphones, complete with active noise-cancelling.
7. 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 looping synth, rhythm box, and mini sampler.
There’s also the Volca digital FM synthesizer, which KORG promises is a “true port” of its original DX7 keyboard, allowing you to have that cheesy 80s sound in the palm of your hand.
Tell Us What You Want for Christmas!
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.
So, with that in mind, why not leave a comment telling us what’s on your wishlist right now? Did your preferred gift make the cut? Or did we somehow miss it off our list? Please let us know below.