2013 InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide Page 5


Tyll Hertsens' Gift Recommendations

A Great Inexpensive Headphone: Tascam TH-02 (~$29)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_TascamTH02I couldn't believe it when Jamey at HeadRoom called to tell me these $29 headphones rocked the boat and gave me a chance to measure the identical Teac CT-H02 not long ago. Holy smoke, these are very good...very, very good at this price.

I did have a chat with the folks from Tascam at RMAF this year, and, other than the fact that the white version of these headphones have a bit too much "Hello Kitty" look for me, I again came away impressed with this gem of a bargain headphone.

Tascam TH-02 product page.

Ultimate Ears UE Boom (~$199)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_UEBoomI spent a week this summer riding around the mountains of Montana using a solar charger to juice up my UE Boom and cellphone for playing music off the grid. My riding buddy Paul and I just loved the compact size for packing, and a bigger sound than I would have thought possible from this "tall-boy" beer can sized Bluetooth speaker.

A free app is also available that lets you pair two UE Booms together for a wide, stereo sound, and I did get the chance to pay around with two Booms in this configuration...it was dandy!

UE Boom website here.

Bose QuietComfort 20 ($299)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_BoseQC20Yes, this is a pricy present, but man, oh man, if you have a loved one that does a lot of air or train travel they will simply love these little gems. The noise canceling ability is superb—you might be in an aluminum tube with 200 other people, but your mind will be miles away as you languish in the QC20's musical refuge. Sound quality is also stunningly good for a noise canceler, and on par with the best of $100-$150 in-ear monitors—which means it's way better sounding than any other noise canceler I've ever heard.

Read full InnerFidelity review here.

Soundcast Melody Bluetooth Speaker ($449)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_SoundcastMelodyClean, white, and able to belt out your tunes, the Soundcast Melody is a simple and reasonably affordable way to liven up a room or beach party with music from your smartphone. There aren't any tone shaping controls, but I found the sound from the Melody remarkably neutral and powerful for a unit of this size.

I will note that sometimes you have to push the play button on the Melody to get the music going (pairing it with your phone and hitting play on the phone just won't work much of the time), but once playing, all functions seem fine. I've had my Melody sample unit parked down in my motorcycle garage workbench, and it's had no problems whatsoever cutting through the greasy grime and punching out tunes with abandon. Now I just have to figure out how to clean off the fingerprints before I have to send it back.

Soundcast Melody web page.

NAD VISO HP50 Sealed Headphones ($299)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_NADVISOHP50Yes, they're a bit expensive for a gift, but man, do these headphones satisfy. Paul Barton, the famous speaker designer who's initials are carried on the PSB Speaker brand, has designed these headphones for a broadly pleasing sound...and they deliver.

These are a somewhat warm sounding headphone with great bass extension and punch, but they also do excellently in the mid-range and treble. They're very smooth and open sounding for a sealed headphone. I'd highly recommend these cans for just about anyone looking for a great all-around headphone for both mobile and home/office use.

Read full InnerFidelity review here.

ultrabike's picture

Welp. I got myself an B&K Precission 2709B some time ago thanks to Nate's recommends last year:


I can say it was a great purchase. All the places I've worked we have Fluke's to throw around (I think mostly 87s but several models here and there). Same at school several years ago.

Fluke are pricy though, and for x or y reason, didn't have a multimeter at home. So I said FTS, getting one of those B&Ks.

Not too long ago, a friend and I discussed headphone cable impedance. I told him I measured about 0.9 ohms out of my HD558. I was told his HD518s measured less then 0.1 ohm. So I asked about his multimeter... Yup, he had Harbor Freight. We brought our cables and measured with a Fluke: 0.9 ohms.

Solid Panavice recommendations and heat gun!

mward's picture

Good call on the Sufjan Christmas box set. It's my preferred holiday music. There's a sequel out now, though I'm not quite as crazy about it. 

John Grandberg's picture

The more recent "Silver & Gold" album, which continues where the original left off, is not as good imho. Still maybe worth checking out but ultimately not on the same level. I thought all those guest artists might be interesting, yet in the end I kind of wish he just did it himself. 

deckeda's picture

I'm picking up one of the earlier recommendations here for my nephew, who always busts his headphones: the Philips "O'Neill Bend", for less than $30 at Amazon. I think they were closer to $100 when reviewed. 

Looking forward to using my Panavise 324, just arrived in the mail from Radio Shack, who had a sale last week on it.

macnbone's picture

Thanks for this Gift Guide. Nice to have the variety of ideas listed.

Wondering if any of you (or readers) have listened to both the PSB M4U2 and Bose QC20 noise cancelling headphones/IEMs and can offer a comparison? Seriously considering one of these for a gift this Christmas. Thanks ahead of time.

firebook23's picture

I would say the general concensous around the web is that the NC is a little better in the Bose. But the PSB's sound better. 

Also I like that the PSB's work with regular batteries and in passive mode if you run out of power in the middle of a commute or trip. 

macnbone's picture

Thanks firebook23.

Long time listener's picture

Tyll, I'm discovering that those Tascam phones can be modded so that they have less of a "monitor" sound and more of a "fun" sound--i.e., less of a treble peak and a little more bass. It's a work in progress, but already they're sounding very very good. Makes you wonder why they can put such a fine driver in a $30 headphone but other people can't.

surajsinghbhui2's picture