Music lovers are easy to shop for, full stop. The breadth and scope of the artform offers room for so many instruments, gadgets, and accessories, that anyone complaining about getting a Christmas or Hanukkah gift for a loved one is usually grumbling about the sheer volume of options, not a lack thereof. So, given how many familiar or predictable gifts there are for a music lover, this list strives to go off the beaten path just a bit, surfacing unusual or over-the-top presents along with some of the simpler, standard fare. Dive in below.
Vinyl Me, Please Subscription
This one is a no-brainer, and I really can’t imagine there’s many music lovers or vinyl obsessives out there who aren’t already aware of the good people at Vinyl Me, Please anyway, but bear with me. With three tiers for their standard plan, you can either commit month-to-month, in quarterly chunks, or for a solid year, and come in under $30 a month or less via any option. In exchange, you get access to an incredible member’s store full of exclusive vinyl releases, a monthly record sent directly to your home, and a whole community of fellow music-lovers. Additionally, this year the service offers two more curated routes as well — the classics subscription or the rap and hip-hop subscription — which helps tailor your monthly record to the genre or era of your choice. Oh, and if you sign up, don’t forget to thank me when gems like the new St. Vincent record show up at your house without you even having to do a thing. Select a subscription here. $25-$29.
Beats By Dre’s Studio3 Wireless
Yes, for the average listener, the Studio3 Wireless headphones are a bit on the fancy side, and yes, potentially even on the pricey side ($350). But, for the obsessive, these are the only headphones that will do, and with good reason — their quality is unsurpassed. Consider a pair of Beats By Dre headphones an investment, if you get someone a pair, they’ll never have to buy a set again. The latest Studio3 update allows for 22 hours of wireless playback with Adaptive Noise Canceling (40 hours with this feature turned off), and class one Bluetooth connectivity that gives you fewer dropouts with a longer range from your device. Plus, there’s a fast fuel option that gives you three hours of playback after just ten minutes of charging. These are headphones for the serious listener who is always on the go, and they will last a lifetime. Get a pair here. $349.95.
In an increasingly visual and multimedia world, the best way to get to an elevated new level with music is to add an interactive element. That’s exactly what the lyric speaker does, displaying the words of the song that’s currently playing simultaneously with the music itself. This speaker is a great addition at parties, great for when you’re obsessing over a song and want to learn it as intimately as possible, and definitely a shoo-in for favorite gift of the year if you grab it for a karaoke lover. That very well might be the case. Be aware, this product is still extremely rare, which means the technology is still gonna cost you a pretty penny. The Japanese device is made by a company called COTODAMA, which translates loosely to “soul of words,” indicating that the words themselves have an impact on your listening experience. Get one here to find out. $4,500.
Ultimate Ears Pro
While this gift might cost a pretty penny, it is unequivocally one of the best-customized listening experiences money can buy: Custom in-ear monitors. For the die-hard fan who wants to hear music how the artist themselves might hear it, a pair of Ultimate Ears Pro is the splurge of a lifetime. First, the company does a scan of your ear itself, in order to create a set of in-ear monitors that are molded directly to the shape and size of your ear via 360-degree digital production with digital ear scanning and printing. After the scan of your ear impressions — which can also be done at any audiologist’s office if you’re not within range of their Hollywood store or Irvine shop — the company lets you select cord range and color, and the color of your monitors. Then they handmake the monitors to suit your needs. When I went in for a fitting, of course, I chose my signature favorite — millennial pink. But the best part is that they even give you a customized case with your name or nickname on it (I went with @harmonicait) and a soft bag for safekeeping. Prices range from $400 up to $1500 for the customization, but the resulting crystal clear listening experience is well-worth the investment. Begin your own customization process, or gift one to someone else, here. $400–$1500
Johnny Cash, Unearthed Vinyl Box Set
When Johnny Cash died back in 2003, a CD version of this set was released. It contained a nine-disc set of The Man In Black’s most critical recordings, along with a coffee table book — housed in cloth-lined slipcase no less. Updated for 2017 and the growing demand for vinyl versions of sets like that posthumous CD collection, here is a tribute to Cash in all his glory. This is a suitable gift for any Cash obsessive, or a country music lover looking to grow their knowledge. And unlike the CD set, this one is guaranteed to age beautifully. Buy it here. $246.99