With Thanksgiving behind us, and today’s “Cyber Monday” boom, we have assembled a small holiday guide for audiophiles. From turntable accessories and LPs, to headphones and bluetooth speakers–these days there is no end to the wonderful musical accoutrements to enjoy.
Ortofon’s 2M Blue Phono Cartridge
Upon a first glance, the unique design of Ortofon’s 2M Blue Cartridge is striking. The company has a series of phono cartridges for your record player, which like Johnny Walker, range in price and quality based on color. Red starts at $99, Blue is $225 and upwards to Bronze and Black. The 2M Blue is a lot more than just looks: the dynamics, sharpness and tone are noticeable even to the untrained ear. Immediately after replacing my old cartridge, it was clear my phono system was boosted. Listening to a live version of The Supremes at the Copa the levels of the crowd’s hoots and hollers became more noticeable in light of their distance from the stage, providing for a more live-concert experience.
For those of you that want to know more of the specifics about the cartridge, take a look here.
The XX Limited Edition Box Set
Oh, The XX. The UK indie-emo band have released two limited pressing (1,000 each) box sets of their first albums. Pressed onto 7″ vinyl and bundled into two box sets with unique artwork, each set costs just over $90. For record collectors and indie fans alike, this isn’t the cheapest addition–but it sure is awesome.
Thinksound ms01 (in-ear) Headphones
When shopping for headphones the first thing you have to consider is: do I want in-ear, on-ear or over-ear headphones? For many, the portability of in-ear headphones is a key selling point, not to mention–the price-point. Unfortunately, with in-ear headphones, the quality of the sound is often sacrificed. Not so with the ms01 by Thinksound. These tiny and elegantly designed headphones pack a surprising low-range punch. Additionally, with noise-isolation, it’s easy to notice the clear highs and mids that prove a treat when listening to vocalists or jazz. From house to hip hop–the ms01 deliver the umph you need for head-bobbing trances. The sound is so good it’s easy to forget to mention the makers’ eco-friendly design, with sustainable wood housing, PVC-free cables and plastic free packaging. At just over $100, these headphones are affordable for any music lover eager to improve upon their free cellphone earbuds.
Sol Republic Deck Wireless Speaker
Sol Republic’s first venture into wireless speakers comes with mix reactions. The slim, easy to carry, speaker is packed with features like “Heist Mode” that allow up to five people to pair real-time to the device and alternate playing music. Perfect for a picnic affair. However, the sound doesn’t match the price at just under $200. Compared to its competitor Mini Jambox by Jawbone, Deck, provides plenty of umph but lacks the lower frequencies to provide the fullest sound.
Onkyo ES-HF300 (on ear headphones)
These headphones define auditory pleasure. As one of the oldest audio companies out there, Onkyo’s first dabble into the headphone business is certainly not lacking. At $180 the ES-HF300 pretty much has it all: 1) style, 2) lush sound, 3) durability, 4) features. The matte black is accentuated with a brushed and burnished aluminum cup and a smooth finish that is sleek and elegant. Each cup is padded with soft leather, and the adjustable band provides for a relaxed fit, all without feeling feeling the least bit flimsy. Adding further value is the audiophile-grade copper cable, which easily clips or unclips from the headphones and provides excellent sound quality. Speaking of which, these headphones love bass, but are not overly weighted like Monster’s Beats. They provide a full, clean sound. Actually, the Onkyo ES-HF300 are comparable to the Grado SR80i providing a range and richness that typically is limited to more expensive options or the aforementioned open-back headphones.