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Top Christmas gifts for music lovers: from turntables to great headphones

Christmas gifts for music lovers
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Christmas gift guides

We're bringing you a tech-focused Christmas gift guide every day up to the big day itself, to help fuel your present buying inspiration.

Day 1: Apple fans | 2: Photographers | 3: Switch gamers | 4: Xbox gamers | 5: PS4 games | 6: Retro gamers | 7: PC gamers |  8: Lego fans | 9: Music lovers | 10: Mobile gamers | 11: Home cinema dreamers | 12: Home cooks | 13: Smart home starter kit | 14: Tech for kids |  15: Fitness fans | 16: Creatives | 17: Runners | 18: Commuters |  19: Pet owners | 20: Those who have everything

It's been a tough year for the music industry, but artists are still producing great quarantine albums in their respective silos while audiophiles wait patiently for gigs across the world to resume. Still, there's loads to choose from when it comes to the best Christmas gifts for music fans.

As ever, there are plenty of ways to listen to music, new and old. Whether Spotify or Apple Music is your loved one's streaming choice, or they prefer joining in with the vinyl revival, there are loads of ways to help the audio lovers in your life indulge in some aural splendor this Holiday.

Whether that's the best headphones to help them create a their own little musical haven, or blast out their favorite tunes with some quality new speakers, the following audio-oriented Christmas gift list is where to go. Just make sure they're reserving some slots in their playlists for some Christmas classics.

sony wh-1000xm4

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony WH-1000XM4

The best headphones of 2020. Perhaps ever

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 0.56 pounds
Cable length: N/A
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: 40mm
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: 47 ohms
Battery life: 30 hours
Wireless range: 10m
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Improved sound quality+Best-in-class noise cancelation+Multipoint pairing
Reasons to avoid
-Not water resistant-Call quality could be better

For too long music lovers have had to choose between noise cancelling on a flight or in a noisy home, and sound quality that's up to their high standards. Until now. Not only are the Sony WH-1000XM4's the best noise-cancelling headphones around, they could well be the best ever made.

Not that you'd be able to tell just by looking at them: the arguably plain design hasn't changed much, but under the hood Sony has added a whole host of improvements users asked for from the XM3s, and then some. Now DSEE Extreme Audio Upscaling is included, along with multipoint pairing, and, let us emphasize this again, superb sound audiophiles will be plenty happy with. Just make sure they don't take them swimming or on a sweaty workout.

Read our full review: Sony WH-1000XM4

turntable

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB

The best starter turntable with all the features you’ll ever need

Specifications
Dimensions: 452.0 mm (17.80") W x 352.0 mm (13.86") D x 141.6 mm (5.57") H
Motor: Direct drive
Platter: Die-cast aluminum
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: Yes
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 rpm
Stylus: AT-VM95E
Reasons to buy
+aptX Bluetooth streaming and integrated phono stage+Makes digital copies via USB output+Detailed, easy-going sound
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most dynamic-sounding turntable around

Getting into vinyl can seem like a daunting experience, but there is something special about having that physical relationship to your music. If the music fan on your Christmas shopping list is looking to get into vinyl, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB is the way to go. 

This is an amazing turntable for the price you're paying, and it also happens to be very easy to setup, making it perfect for beginners. All you need to do when it first comes out of the box is put the aluminum platter on, fix the cartridge to the tonearm and the hinges to the dust-cover, and you’re good to go. (If you're a total turntable novice, check out our guide on how to setup a record player for more information).

Plus, it comes with Bluetooth connectivity, so you can hook it up to your wireless speakers, cable-free.

cheap headphones

(Image credit: Jabra)

Jabra Elite 85H

Cheap noise-cancelling headphones that don't suck

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: .65 pounds
Cable length: N/A
Frequency response: 10Hz to 20kHz
Drivers: 40mm
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life: 36 hours
Wireless range: 10 meters (33ft)
NFC: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Class-leading battery life+Excellent ANC performance
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks support for high-end codecs-Bass could be punchier

Offering class-leading battery life, terrific style and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, the Jabra Elite 85h are easy to recommend – and they're easy on the bank balance if you're on a budget this Christmas.

With stylish looks, you wouldn't guess these cans are so much cheaper than Sony's XM4s - though that's based on current discounts, so make sure you shop around for the lowest price.

(Image credit: Audioengine)

Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC

Making digital music sound amazing

Specifications
Inputs: Analog, USB **Features** Front panel volume control, 192khz audio playback
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound playback+Small enough to fit in your pocket
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Digital music gets kind of a bad rap – especially after the resurgence of vinyl. However, through services like Tidal, there's a market for high-resolution listening, and the AudioEngine D1 is a tool that can bring that to another level. 

This device basically pulls audio processing away from your computers motherboard, and into this little USB device, so there's absolutely no interference. It might not make a difference to someone listening to Spotify on earbuds, but if you're looking to get the best sound quality possible, this DAC is absolutely essential.

(Image credit: Audioengine)

Audioengine A5+ powered speakers

The best bookshelf speakers we've used

Specifications
Dimensions: 10.75 x 7 x 9" (Left) 10.75 x 7 x 7.75" (Right) (W x H x D)
Weight: 31 lbs
Dolby Atmos / DTS:X enabled: No
Active or Passive: Active
Subwoofer: 5" Aramid Fiber
Frequency response: 50Hz - 22kHz
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound +Stylish looks
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Audioengine A5+ are probably the best bookshelf speakers you'll get without springing for an extremely high-end setup. The 5-inch woofers are powerful enough to provide some meaty bass, and the tweeters balance it out with excellent mids and highs. 

Pair this with a good record player like the U-Turn Orbit we mentioned earlier, or a nice DAC like the Audioengine D1, and you're going to get some frankly amazing sound, without spending thousands on an audiophile-grade setup. 

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.