It’s not easy being an audiophile. You spend months crafting a Christmas megamix, sourcing lossless versions of the classics and mastering them into a high-fidelity playlist with added sleigh bell, only for some joker to skip the queue and stream a low-res bootleg of Dominick The Donkey – ‘for the banter’.
Detest their mule music? Don’t lower your standards for the sake of undeserving ears: stick this tuneful tech at the top of your wish list and escape to a world of sonic satisfaction this Christmas.
From noise-cancelling cans to remastered records to speakers you can speak to, these melodious gifts will be a bigger hit with music lovers than a FLAC back-catalogue of their festive favourites.
Urbanears Rålis (£170)
Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling is a criminally underrated Christmas classic. Give the ’70s sci-fi nativity the airtime it deserves with this stylish sonic cube. A lesson in Swedish understatement, the Rålis packs room-filling Bluetooth sound in a case you can carry around. Two tweeters and a 10W woofer give the wailing refrain room to breathe, while dual-host support lets you share DJ duties with a fellow de Burgh fan.
Alas, after exhausting the battery by streaming Spaceman for more than 20 hours straight, the whole world won’t be waiting to hear the song again.
T-Lab C90 poster (£26)
Ah, tapes. If you weren’t rewinding their plastic spools with a spare pencil, you were bootlegging live sets off the radio to give to your boo. Recall the analogue format’s glory days with this bold print from T-lab.
Inspired by the classic C90 cassette – good for a generous 45 minutes per side – the stylised design makes for a far classier homage to the Eighties than that dusty boombox you insist on keeping in the bedroom. Sadly, there’s no B-side printed on the back.
RHA T20 Wireless (£200)
As any flexitarian will tell you, variety is a liberating thing. It’s the same with these adaptable earphones: shelled in stainless steel and equipped with DualCoil drivers, the do-it-all buds ship with a trio of tuning filters to suit every song. Screw in the bass bit to get more punch from your festive dubstep, pick treble for detailed acoustic crooning or go for reference to hear Last Christmas exactly as Wham intended.
As if that’s not choice enough, the harmonious 'phones also come with some 10 pairs of tips to guarantee a comfy fit, while the option to swap out the 3.5mm cable for an aptX-compatible Bluetooth neckband means you can follow meat-free Mondays with wire-free Wednesdays. Talk about a balanced diet.
Origin of Muse (€140)
Muse might sell out stadiums today with their wacky brand of alien alt rock, but before all the black holes and conspiracy theories, they were just another nerdy three-piece. That changed with Origin of Symmetry: all new-millennium experimentation and rock-hard riffs, augmented by Matt Bellamy’s trademark wail, the band’s second album was equal parts abrasive, angsty and ostentatious, and it remains one rock’s greatest records.
Celebrate the release – and all that came before it – with Origins of Muse, a box set of nine CDs, four vinyls and a casebound book, all featuring swathes of previously unreleased material.
Audio Technica LP60-XBT (£140)
The vinyl revival might be alive and well, but records weren’t made to stay unplayed. Don’t reduce them to decoration status: remove your re-releases from their special-edition sleeves and drop them on this Bluetooth turntable for a proper analogue experience.
Sure, it won’t preserve them as pristine collectibles but, with support for wired and wireless speakers, the fully automatic spinner will help you to enjoy your long plays in other ways.
Dorothy Twelve-Inch Vinyl Record Ruler (£18)
What could be more alternative than an alternative ruler? Stash this vinyl-inspired twelve-inch measure in your pencil case and, when you’re not checking the dimensions of your Primal Scream collection, you can use its screen-printed surface to chart the history of the genre between 1979 and 1991 – from Soft Cell to The Stone Roses. Designed with grooves and a spindle hole to ape your favourite format, the only thing it won’t do is work on your turntable.
Ikea Symonfisk Table Lamp (£150)
Light is alright but nothing gets a room glowing like a good song. Except, perhaps, this two-in-one sensory sensation from the flat-pack aficionados at IKEA. No two-dimensional experience, the fabric-wrapped base of this Symonfisk lamp is home to a Wi-Fi speaker that plays nice with your Sonos system and all sorts of streaming services. It can pair with a second glower, too, for true home stereo.
As for the bulb up top? That’s just a bulb, but wrapped in a glass shade that’s blown and bespoke, it’s a pretty nice one.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless (£349)
There’s no better momentum than that of a snowball rolling down a powdered hill. With enough impetus on the right incline, you’ve got half a snowman before you know it. A close second, though, come Sennheiser’s third-gen Momentum Wireless cans.
Noise-cancelling, luxurious and comfortable to boot, the folding ’phones might not fare too well on your local slope, but they will keep your lobes warm with vibrations tuned to suit you in the partner app. And if you happen to lose them in the boot room, in-built Tile tech will help track down the matte steel muffs.