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Christmas Gift Guide 2016: Audio Addicts

Listen up – There are some amazing gifts for lovers of music

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Yamaha WXA-50 Wireless Amplifier

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Although vinyl has made a comeback, music streaming is now king and having an audio component that optimises what’s coming in through the air makes a big difference. The WXA 50 forms part of Yamaha’s MusicCast multi-room audio system, integrating into a speaker system and working with Spotify, Pandora and Napster. It’s also very easy to set up and it benefits from one-push play.Using the MusicCast app, it’s possible to operate both the wireless streaming amplifier and the entire range of compatible components. The amp can be mixed and matched with any of the other devices in the MusicCast range and that produces a system that works well in the setup that you have, whether its orientated around television or around your tunes. Indeed, the WXA-50 works with CD and Blu-ray players, USB sticks and vinyl (which is good news, given its recent resurgence) as well as smartphones, computers and internet radio. It also supports lots of hi-res formats including WAV, AIFF 192 kHz/24-bit, FLAC and DSD 5.6 MHz and it surprisingly only consumes 15 watts of power when it is turned on. As it streams, it provides high-quality sound with minimal digital jittering. There is precise 48-bit digital volume control too. It’s a sound investment for music lovers.
£430 | $500 | yamaha.com

 

Chord Mojo

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While Apple made noise about the iPhone 7 having stereo speakers, smartphones still lack a powerful sound output. You can boost your smartphone with this DAC/amp, though, which sends boosted sounds to your headphones, and it can deal with virtually any audio file thrown at it. It runs for eight hours on a single charge and suits any music lover.
£400 | $515 | chordelectronics.co.uk

 

Samsung Gear IconX

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You may have seen the mocking online chatter after Apple announced its wireless AirPods (and when it revealed it had axed the headphone jack) but the lack of wires does make sense. Samsung seems to think so too, since it has released these wireless buds that not only come unshackled by cords and fit snugly in the ears, but they store music and double-up as a fitness tracker, monitoring your heart-rate during your workouts. They’ll last for up to three hours on a full charge and sync with Samsung S Health as well other fitness apps. They’re for Android-only, though.
£200 | $260 | samsung.com

 

NAIM MU-SO QB

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Although the name doesn’t suggest it, this compact wireless speaker has been designed and manufactured in the UK. It also looks and sounds amazing with a cube styling that will fit well in any achingly cool, minimalist living room. Offering impressive big audio that will boom out wireless services such as Spotify and Apple Music, the maker says it has made great use of the available space to deliver 300 watts of power. It certainly does justice to HD music files which fill the immediate environment with great sound although it’s worth pointing out that these files can only be played via a wired connection.
£595 | $1,000 | naimaudio.com

 

UE Roll 2

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Although the UE Roll 2 is able to survive being plunged into water for roughly half an hour, it comes with a UE Floatie that allows it to settle nicely on top of the water, making for a perfect pool sound blaster. Of course, Summer has left us for another year and it won’t be around for a while, so the good news is that this portable Bluetooth speaker will work equally as well in the snow.
£80 | $80 | ultimateears.com

 

Bose Quiet Comfort 35

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Bose has a reputation for producing quality cans, but only now has it come up with wireless noise- cancelling headphones. Allowing for up to 20 hours of listening on a single charge, it will deliver balanced audio thanks to it constantly measuring, comparing and reacting to outside noises. It also comes with a 2.5mm jack if you want a wired connection.
£290 | $350 | bose.co.uk

 

Audio-Technica AT-LP60-BT

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Old tech meets new innovations with this Audio-Technica turntable. It connects wirelessly to any Bluetooth speakers, which means you can leave your turntable in-situ while enjoying its sound in another room. Output is warm and comforting and it has comes with auto-start and auto-return buttons. The good news is that it includes the stylus and the cartridge too.
£170 | $180 | audio-technica.com

 

Eclipse TD508MK3

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There are a lot of little details that musicians put into their work which are lost when heard through most speakers. It’s these details that add a lot of the experience of hearing a song, and when you listen a song you love but with high-quality speakers, it can be like hearing it again for the first time. Eclipse’s goal is to capture these nuances and make the user feel like they are experiencing the music being played live in front of them. Its speakers are easily recognisable for their egg-shaped design. This design choice was not just to look different, the shape offers sound benefits as it helps reduce unwanted noise. The TD508MK3 has an 8cm full-range fibreglass driver unit, it’s lightweight, yet versatile, and powerful. Apart from the driver there is no other standout features, it’s a elegant device that does what it was designed to do and does it well. Every aspect of the speaker, from the design to its components was chosen to reduce unwanted noise and produce only the purest audio sounds possible.
£960 | $1,500 | eclipse-td.com

This article first appeared in Gadget issue 14. For the latest tech news and reviews, buy the latest issue of Gadget here or download the digital edition.

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