It’s the time of year we like to put together some great holiday gift ideas for you. I think this year's list has real breakthrough products that will become audio classics over time. Most of the items here are truly amazing for the money.
The first place choice is a new system from Lenbrook, parent company of PSB Speakers. At our recent Music Matters event, I had the great pleasure of introducing this with Paul Barton, founder of PSB. The VISO 1 is an all in one music player that can not only dock your iPod, but stream (uncompressed!) from any smart phone. It even has video outs for your iPod. I have to tell you, I have been doing audio demos for 35 years. There is a look people get on their faces when they hear something amazing. Over the course of 7 demos for packed rooms at our Music Matters, I have never seen as many people with that amazed look. You just have to hear the VISO 1. There is nothing like it by a mile. Unbelievable sound for an all in one unit! $599
Another winner is the new desktop system from Magnepan. It’s called the Mini Maggie system. Our 2011 Music Matters also introduced this cool new desktop speaker system. I think it is safe to say most of us spend a lot of time in our home office in front of a computer. The Mini-Maggie system can make that time a whole lot more fun. As a matter of fact, one can argue that with this setup you get state of the art sound on a budget. The system consists of two small thin speakers (well, small by Magnepan standards!) and a flat panel subwoofer. You’ll need to play around with subwoofer placement, but it can probably fit under or beside your desk. Magnepans have always been known for their very musical, transparent sound. One thing they have not been known for is knock you out of your seat dynamics. Just imagine a Magnepan system that could do both! Since you sit right on top of this Mini Maggie, it has the power response to give you dynamics you would expect out of a super-efficient speaker. You have to experience it as a desktop system, with your ears about 2 feet from the speakers. Couple this to a good amp and you can get the performance of an ultra-expensive system at your desk for only $1499!
Next on our list is B&W's new C5 headphones. The C5 has been our most popular product purchased by our staff this year, which has to tell you something. To follow up their successful over the ear P5 headphone, B&W came up with a unique design: the in-ear C5. First of all, they sound fantastic, just as you would expect from B&W. They have unique loops you secure around your ears which holds them firmly in place. They have a filtered open back design which makes them sound more like much more like a real speaker while they are in-ear. They do this with a filter made up of hundreds of microscopic steel balls, quite an engineering feat! Pick up a pair for yourself, or for that someone special on your gift list. $179/pr
The Sonos ZP-90 makes the list two years running! Of all the things we sell, the Sonos ZP-90 gets the more letters from customers who are incredibly happy with their purchase than any other product. If you have any kind of stereo system at all, you will love the ZP-90. Just connect it like a CD player with its audio outs and you open up the world of Pandora, Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody, and more, plus thousands of internet radio stations! Plus, you’ll be able to hear and control any music on any computer in your house. If you want to add more for other rooms, it's a piece of cake. You can control it with your smart phone or iPad. I guarantee if you get one of these, you’ll be having fun with music again. $349 will be the best investment you ever made in getting back into the wonder of music!
We round out our list with the Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player. Oppo is a very focused company specializing in great value Blu-ray players. They only have two models, the 93 and 95. Oppo is primarily sold factory direct on their web site. We convinced them to let us become a brick and mortar dealer early in 2011 and since then the Oppo has become the bestselling line of Blu-ray player to ever be on our shelves. In this day of disposable DVD players, Oppo products are a stark contrast. Most flat panel manufacturers have promotions during the year where they will typically “give away” their Blu-ray player with the purchase of a TV. Of course, they want this to cost them as little as possible. You can imagine the low quality level you get from most mainstream Blu-ray players. The Oppo players are just the opposite, getting consistent reviews from all over the world on what an incredible value they are! We’ve also received nothing but positive customer comments on how much people love their Oppo players. At $499, the BPD-93 gets you a player with wonderful picture and sound, a host of streaming features, and a unit that is a pleasure to use. If you are in the market for a Blu-ray player, you cannot go wrong with either Oppo.
Thanks for taking the time to read over our Holiday Gift Guide. Our 60+ employees at Audio Advice thank you for your support over the years. We hope you and your families have a very safe and fulfilling holiday season!