“Better” might be the answer offered by certain members of your family but ignore them. There’s no time like 25 December to waken a loved one’s passion for music, even if hurts your ears.
From alluring accessories for lazy listeners to geeky gizmos for kooky creators, these are the gifts to get everyone rockin’ around the fake plastic Christmas tree.
You know the Nura drill by now: before you listen to the headphones, they listen to you – testing your ears’ response to different frequencies so they can tailor their output to compensate. The full-size Nuraphone is an absolute wonder, but about as gym-friendly as a Victorian diving helmet; luckily, these lightweight buds are hardly any less spectacular.
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom (R15,600)
The perfect gift for a party animal who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘Please, I’m begging you to turn it down a bit’, the Hyperboom is three times louder than UE’s already monstrous Megaboom and will fill just about any room with beefy but detailed sound.
Teenage Engineering PO-32
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator in the Stuff Gift Guide – and this one stays one of our faves. The PO-32 is fun little noise-maker and the added MicroTonic compatibility broadens its sonic scope — that’s what you want when you’re ready to annoy the whole household with some drums and synths.
Korg NTS-1 Digital Kit (R1,700 converted)
Korg’s cutest mini-synth yet is part of its Nu:Tekt range of self-assembly kits, which also includes a surprisingly refined guitar overdrive pedal and an excellent but extremely niche headphone amp. The NTS-1’s tiny ribbon keyboard is limiting but it’s packing some top-class sounds – and don’t worry, your soldering ‘skills’ are not required. You’re gonna have to import this one, but it’s worth it.
Roli Seaboard Block (R4,500)
One way to help find your bearings on the keyboard of a piano or synth is to make it all touch-sensitive. A slightly better way is the Lumi keyboard, with its touchy keys and accompanying app, this little gadget allows you to create astonishingly expressive beats on a portable, super-powered keyboard.
Wooden Headphone Stand (R600)
Headphones are awkward to stash, smartphones are awkward to keep charged. So here’s the most elegant solution since the sandwich-toasting trouser press (patent pending): a wooden headphone stand made from some primo kiaat wood.
Spin Clean Record Washer MKII
So the vinyl revival turned out to be more than just a three-month fad. This is good news for anyone who’s spent their kids’ university fund on a turntable, but how to keep those records clean? The Spin Clean kit includes a fluid bath plus brushes, rollers and lint-free drying cloths.
Senstroke Essential Box (R6,015)
Drumming: the best idea for a new hobby until you realise you need to build an extension to house a kit. Not with Senstroke, the connected drumkit that can make a drum out of a cushion, the surface of a table, or even your better half’s head (permission strongly advised). Simply slide the sensors onto a pair of drumsticks, connect wirelessly to your phone, and you’re off. There are lessons for newbies in the app; and if it turns out that you’re not exactly a natural Grohl, you can plug in some headphones to keep your session private.
VOX SDC-1 MINI (R2,900)
The day will come when, vaccines permitting, all those bedroom guitar heroes are going to want to play outside again. Heck, they might even come round to yours for tea. Ease their transition back to normality with this cutey from Vox: the small body and short playing scale (just under 19 inches) mean they’ll be able to tuck it into a modest-sized bag and not worry about banging into door frames, but the mini-humbucker pickup promises tones big enough to shake a stadium.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen (R3,500)
Sometimes you just need something to boost that audio input and output, even if it’s just for a video conference call. You don’t really get any better than the Scarlett 2i2, we’re especially fond of the newest 3rd gen which comes equipped with USB-C charging, built-in phantom power and two dual-inputs.
Sonos One SL (R3,750)
If your sound-geek is into providing each room with its own sound, the Sonos One SL makes up part of Sonos’ brilliant ecosystem of top-tier speakers. Unfortunately, the One isn’t movable like the… ahem… Move. But it features some of the best sound output on the market and comes in slightly more affordable than the full-fledged soundbars.