The gift of music is one that can please young and old. This year, step up your game from a Now That’s What I Call Christmas compilation CD and opt for a high-tech audio gift that will keep on giving.
High-quality audio comes at a high price but, if you’ve got the budget for it, a top-of-the-range soundbar could make an audiophile very happy this Christmas. The most expensive item on our (wish) list is the Sonos PlayBar, which currently retails at about €700.
The PlayBar is a clever piece of technology that’s capable of setting up its own sound profile using built-in sensors to determine its positioning. Soundbars offer more than just great music playback and they’re fast becoming an essential piece of a kit for home entertainment systems.
This one measures almost a metre wide and connects wirelessly and easily. In fact, if you gift it to a Sonos fan, the PlayBar should seamlessly connect with any other Sonos speakers they have to form a multi-room system.
There’s even an app for that, and Android and iOS users can download it for free and control the PlayBar using their mobile device.
A whopping €700 is a big ask at Christmas-time, though, and a cheaper alternative to the Sonos soundbar comes in at a much more reasonable €300. Panasonic’s SC-HTE80 Speakerboard is ideally suited to 42-inch TVs and features two integrated subwoofers and Panasonic’s H.Bass sound processing technology.
The SC-HTE80 is both Bluetooth and NFC-enabled for wireless pairing and you can use the Panasonic Music Streaming app to stream music directly to the device. Available in silver or black, its brushed-metal appearance comes with a scratch-resistant top-coat.
On the go
The Boom speaker from Logitech’s audio brand Ultimate Ears (UE) is undoubtedly intended to steal custom away from last year’s tech gift guide-recommended Jambox from Jawbone. This wireless portable speaker comes in a range of striking colour combinations and packs a 15-hour rechargeable battery.
Protected by a water and stain-resistant skin, the UE Boom pumps out sound in 360 degrees, but users can wirelessly connect to a second Boom speaker using the free-to-download UE Boom app (available for iOS and Android) and play music in stereo-to-stereo mode or traditional left/right stereo mode.
The UE BOOM has a suggested retail price of €199 and is available from Apple retailers nationwide.
We’ve already covered our favourite high-end over-ear headphones in an earlier gift guide, but what if your giftee requires something more outdoorsy? Not to worry, as Sony’s waterproof Walkman NWZ-W274S is your all-in-one solution.
This lightweight wearable Walkman is built for walkers, joggers, gym-goers and swimmers. That’s right: its specially made ear buds will continue operating in watery depths of up to 2m. There’s 8GB of storage on-board, capable of holding up to 2,000 songs, and it retails for about €100.
Cheap and cheerful
For bargains in audio gifts, Carphone Warehouse – renamed ‘Carphone Gifthouse’ for the occasion – is offering 50pc off a wide variety of headphones an personal speakers. There’s also a range of knitted audio earmuffs from KitSound for €20, to keep music-loving ears toasty in the winter months.