We’re often exhorted to give the gift of music for Christmas. Not all of us are talented that way. But we can always give the gift of music gear! We’ve done a lot of listening through headphones this year, plus through quite a few sound bars. Here are a bunch of suggestions. They cover the price range from stocking filler to seriously challenging.
Brainwavz Audio BLU-300 Bluetooth earphones – $54.65
Better get in soon for these ones. About the only major criticism we had of these earphones was delivery time. Because they are supplied from Hong Kong, they can take up to 25 days. But, by golly, what great stocking fillers these are. We scored them highly for decent sound quality and a good fit. And for the very, very low price.
Almost as good as the price was the physical design. The neck band takes the weight off the earbuds, and doesn’t pull to either side. That makes them an easy wear.
Read our review here. We rated them at 4.4/5.
Blue Ella headphones – $1,299
And so we move from the lowest cost earwear amongst our recommendations to the second most expensive. The Blue Ella headphones are wired. That is, no Bluetooth. Although they do have built in audiophile amplifiers to make sure the sound is up to par.
They use planar magnetic drivers instead of the more common dynamic drivers and produce a simply glorious sound. Almost regardless of the source, thanks to that amplifier.
The Blue Ella headphones are an ideal gift for those who both love their music and want to hear it to the highest standards.
Read our review here. We rated them at 4.7/5.
Blue Lola headphones – $449.95
Can’t stretch to $1,300 for the Blue Ella headphones? The Blue Lola headphones come from the same company and share the same Formula One racer-inspired mechanical structure. But they use more conventional drivers inside the headphones and skip the built-in amplifier.
Despite being “passive” (that is, having no built-in amplifier) they had no trouble producing high levels of good quality sound, even from an iPad Mini or the mini headphone adaptor for a Google Pixel 2 XL phone.
Read our review here. We rated them at 4.6/5.
Sony HT-X9000F Dolby Atmos/DTS:X soundbar – $698
What if your loved one has a nice – or not so nice – TV, but no audio system for it? How about a little something to make it sound much, much better? That’s where this Sony soundbar comes in. It will absolutely kill the sound of any TV. We found that it delivers “surprisingly good movie and music performance”, especially given the sensible price. The wireless subwoofer even went all the way down to 41 hertz.
And it’s easy to use. They can just plug it into their TV, and it’s right to go.
Read our review here. We rated it at 4.2/5.
Plantronics BackBeat GO 810 Noise Reducing Headphones – $239.99
Is he or she a traveller? In particular, an air traveller? A vital bit of kit is a decent pair of noise-reducing headphones. Problem is, many of the big brand names sell them for five hundred bucks. Enter Plantronics with a surprisingly good pair for less than half that price.