You don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate good sound and music, so I've put together a healthy selection of great gift ideas, all priced under $100. I'll soon post another blog with under-$300 gift ideas.
The AIX Records "Audio Calibration Disc & HD Music Sampler" Blu-ray ($25) is loaded with exceptional-sounding Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio music tracks. AIX refrains from using dynamic range compression, equalization, or signal processing, so the sound is as close to the original session as can be. And with the release of "Goldberg Variations Acoustica" AIX has ventured into producing original 3D video programming. The Blu-ray was shot with four prototype Panasonic 3D A1 cameras, and the sound was recorded in 96 kHz/24-bit high-resolution audio.
My pick for the best full-size headphone for less than $100 is the Grado Prestige Series SR-60i ($79). It's an improved and updated version of the original SR-60, which was a budget audiophile favorite for more than 10 years. The SR-60i sounds great at home or plugged into an iPod. The sound is nice and full, and since the SR-60i is an open-back design, you can hear the world around you. Highly recommended.
If you'd prefer an in-ear headphone, you should get the NOX Audio Scout ($79). The design features "balanced armature technology," which is rarely seen in headphones in the Scout's price class (I actually don't know of any others). It's very comfortable, the flat ribbon cable is as tangle-free as they come, and the sound quality is extraordinarily good.
Paul McCartney & Wings' "Band On The Run" Special Edition is a two-CD, one-DVD set ($30). Recently remastered by the team responsible for the Beatles 2009 remasters, "Band on the run" has never sounded better. The second CD has nine bonus tracks of rare demos and alternative takes. The original remastered album and bonus audio content are also available on a two LP, 180 gram audiophile vinyl edition that comes with an MP3 download of all 18 tracks. … Read more