Finding the perfect audio gift for your loved one can be daunting if you foster no prior knowledge about anything audio related. Therefore, we created this list to assuage your holiday shopping woes and hope you find at least one solid audio gift option.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on December 18, 2018, to include new notable mentions.
The best stocking stuffer for true wireless fans is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air
If the person in question owns a smartphone that lacks a headphone jack or just likes to be on the cutting edge of audio technology, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air is a great pair of affordable true wireless earbuds. For just ~$80, listeners benefit from features like IPX5 water-resistance, reliable Bluetooth connectivity, and great battery life.
Anker Soundcore Liberty AirFull Review
These AirPods lookalikes are constructed from plastic and feature a stout matte black charging case adorned with three LEDs to notify listeners of remaining battery life. Our objective testing resulted in 4.82 hours of standalone playback, which is great considering the category average falls around 3.5 hours.
Additionally, sound quality is surprisingly pleasant with just the right amount of bass and midrange emphasis. What seems lacking is the treble response, but for such a value-packed pair of earbuds, it’s forgivable.
What you should know before picking the perfect audio gift
- Bluetooth codecs make a difference depending on what device is being used. Those using iPhones should look for AAC support, while Android users should stick to aptX. If a product lacks both codecs, that’s fine since most of our ears are bn sdvfsdfreresresdfgsdftoo old and damaged to discern a difference anyway.
- Dust- and water-resistance is denoted by an Ingress Protection, IP, rating.
- If your loved one struggles with the fit of their earbuds, they may just need properly fitted third-party ear tips.
Get an Amazon Echo Dot for the smart home enthusiast in your life
Maybe you’re familiar with the “Internet of Things” (IoT), maybe you’re not. Regardless, if your loved one drones on and on about how much he loves his Philips Hue bulbs and Amazon Echo, then the Amazon Echo Dot is a great stocking stuffer to complement his smart home.
Amazon Echo Dot
The second-generation Echo Dot houses a 2.5” woofer and 0.6” tweeter in addition to a seven-microphone array. Like the JBL Link 300, the far-field mics are adept at registering voice commands from afar and in noisy environments. Listeners can stream music from their >favorite services, relay a plethora of commands, and make use of 50,000+ of Amazon Alexa’s skills.
Athletes will enjoy the Jaybird Tarah
If the intended recipient considers himself an athlete, the Jaybird Tarah is a great option especially considering the recent price drop. It includes the same selling feature as the Jaybird X4: an IPX7 waterproof rating. Plus, the Tarah is “Made for Google,” meaning it’s intended to work seamlessly with Google devices.
Jaybird TarahFull Review
While the Tarah sports a larger control module than the company’s flagship, the buttons are tactile and easy to blindly identify. What’s more, the included wing tips help listeners maintain a stable fit while running or working out. Anyone who considers themselves an athlete will appreciate these earbuds.
A beloved audiophile deserves the beloved Grado SR80e
Shopping for a self-proclaimed audiophile can prove difficult. After all, what do you get someone who’s particular about her hobby? Well, the Grado SR80e is a reasonably priced, sub-$100 pair of open-back headphones.
The open back design of these headphones is conducive to a more realistic reproduction of spatial sound, and the included cable seems nearly indestructible. Since the ear cup chambers aren’t sealed, sound leaks from the headphones; though, this shouldn’t be an issue since they’re not intended for travel. If these sound enticing, and you think your loved one would like the option to go wireless, check out the Grado GW100.
A great waterproof audio gift is the Bose SoundLink Micro
Bose’s SoundLink Micro is a portable, squared-off speaker that can withstand complete submersion and has an IPX7 rating to prove it. On the rear of it rests a silicone strap that can be used to hook the Micro around bike handlebars.
Bose SoundLink MicroFull Review
Although it’s half the size of the Bose SoundLink Color II, the Micro can easily fill a 600 square-foot living space with sound, assuming the room is holding fewer than five or so people. What’s more, the integrated omnidirectional microphone grants listeners access their virtual assistants and take calls. It can also connect to two devices simultaneously.
If you really want to go all out for this holiday season, you can get the SoundLink Micro and Amazon Echo Dot for your loved one as the former can connect to the latter.
- BeatsX: These earbuds serve as a great audio gift and are hugely popular among iPhone users because of the AAC support and sleek, minimalist design.
- Google Dongle: All right, this one is kind of a joke, but if your loved one loves wired headphones and hates the thought of USB-C audio, then this is a good compromise.
- Sony WH-1000XM3: These headphones are on the more expensive side of things, but they feature top-quality noise cancelling, a comfortable fit, and comprehensive EQ adjustments.
- Plantronics BackBeat Go 410: These noise cancelling wireless earbuds are not only affordable, but they provide surprisingly effect noise cancellation for the ~$120 price tag.
- Apple AirPods: These are the closest thing to perfect for iPhone users, thanks to the integrated W1 chip, making them a great audio gift.
- SoundPeats Engine: These earbuds are an insane bang for your buck as they support aptX and aptX LL high-quality Bluetooth codecs, are IPX6-certified, and allow for over 12 hours of playback all for less than $30.
Why you should trust us
We here at SoundGuys recognize that audio is a subjective experience whereby part of it can be measured objectively. This philosophy guides our review technique and allows us to approach each product with an open mind and open ears.
Individually, each of us has years of experience under our belts when it comes to keeping up with the fast-moving world of audio. We do our best to break down the technical side of things while taking the perspective of the general consumer per our reviews. And while this site does operate on referral links, none of our writers may benefit from steering readers toward one set of headphones or another. Our main goal is for you to be happy with your purchase and to exit the screen knowing a bit more about the inner workings of audio.
Next: Best wireless earbuds