2014 InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide Nate Maher


Magnifying desk lamp ($30+)
Whether your eyes are young and sharp or old and going soft, or really anywhere in between, you'll likely be happy to have a magnifying desk lamp in your DIY-tool arsenal. I prefer the models which are able to clamp onto a variety of surfaces rather than the smaller, desktop-mounted versions but buy what you can fit on your workspace. Whether you're making cables or stuffing PCBs the task is made far easier if you don't have to strain to see what you're working on. If you ever dabble is surface mount projects consider this a must-have.


DIY Oscilloscope ($79.95)
Ever fancied playing or learning about how a 'scope works but found the price of entry to be insurmountable? The good folks at sparkfun have got you covered with their DIY Digital Oscilloscope Kit. The kit includes all the parts you need to build a small, but pretty functional, digital scope including panels, switches and the display. While not suitable for serious testing, the scope is adequate for basic trouble shooting and is affordable and educational.


Parts Express DIY Speaker Kits ($119)
High on my wish list this year is a pair of DIY speakers and while hunting around I found what appear to be about the perfect introductory pair. Parts Express "Overnight Sensations MT Speaker" are priced incredibly low for a very complete kit. The kit actually includes a CNC cut, birch plywood cabinet and shipping is free! About the only thing you'll want to buy is a pair of binding posts and they've got a wide range to choose from. Reviews of the kits are numerous and very positive.

Alclair Reference CIEM ($399, more with customizations)
When I finished my budget conscious CIEM review this summer I thought I'd found most of the best CIEMs in the sub $500 category. I was wrong. Shortly after completing that review I was contacted by the good folks at Alclair and asked if I'd like to sample their Reference model. A far more complete review is in the works for first quarter of next year but for now all I can say is that if your budget is feeling stretched just trying to get into custom IEMs the Alclair Reference is just what you're looking for. With performance that rivals more expensive IEMs their bang-for-your-buck ratio is outstanding.

1964 Ears V3 CIEM
If your CIEM budget is feeling a little more flush my recommendation for the best CIEM under $500 remains the same as it was 6 months ago. The V3 is a seriously good headphone and a no-brainer if your budget can support it. If I didn't already own a pair, they'd be at the top of my Christmas list.

forkboy1965's picture

Thanks for the recommendation. I've recently begun to explore classical music and it's not always easy to figure out where to go, what to start with, etc.

A recommendation this strong should not be overlooked.

pbarach's picture

For about $30, you can get the later Tokyo Quartet set of all of the Beethoven Quartets on multichannel SACD (Harmonia Mundi). They also sound great in 2-channel SACD. Both sets of performances are wonderful but different.

tony's picture

Anna Von Hausswolff's Rock Album "Cermony" !!
***** five Stars .
Steve G. recommended it .
I already have it ,
Superb Organ *****+
Eerie Vocals *****+
maybe the best recording of 2013 . *****+
Don't have to be a Rock fan or Pipe Organ fan to love this album ,
it will blow-up into a smoke cloud any less than super capable system , Organ goes deep , way deep and way up in Level ! :)
My Schiit Asgard 2/Sennheisers are the only thing I own that can handle it . :)
Retailers won't want you trying to Play this CD on their Top System , lookout Woofer Voice Coil probable melt down and expected Warrantee repair . :(
We never had any Vinyl LP with this kind of Bass Power , Vinyl Bass is mixed down to Mono below 100Hz or thereabouts and compressed to boot , no Vinyl System other than a Tape Master will have this kind of Power , the Vinyl Twiddlers ( a Mike Moffet description ) will pull their hair out trying to get this Album to play properly ( a good test for Art Dudley and all those Vinyl True Believers !!

This is my gift to all you Tyll followers ( other than my insights and great Modesty of which I'm justly proud ) !

Bon Vivant !

Tony in Michigan

brotherlea's picture

Thank you Tony for this 'gift'--I also am a Michigan resident. -Gary.

Akmax57's picture

Tyll, before you complete your review of the Meelectronics AirFi Matrix 2, would you give them a comparison listen to the Sony SCH80's that ljoker highly recommends? Hopefully the Bose Soundlink BT phones will be reviewed soon also. all I know is, I'm asking for wireless headphones for Christmas, and Santa says I been mostly good. hoot! Happy Holidays!

Grave's picture

Pono, really?


Marcello's picture


Have you heard the Pono? It sounds fantastic and punches way above its price, IMO.

Grave's picture

There is in fact no relationship between price and performance when it comes to DAP's, they are trivial to get right.

brotherlea's picture

Thanks, Marcello. I pledged for two Pono players & gave one to my brother. He wrote an email thanking me, adding "This Pono has amazing sound." We both played the violin from grade school through high school; being submerged in well-played orchestral instruments gave us a foundation by which to judge musical audio reproduction.

donunus's picture

Is this a new remaster? Is this the same one as the 90s box?

John Grandberg's picture
... as the RCA Victor Red Seal releases from the 90s. I have an older 3 CD box called "The Late String Quartets" which is identical to the last 3 discs on this collection. I don't hear any difference so a remaster is unlikely, which is fine as this is already very well done. I don't recall there being a larger box set from that time frame but I may have just missed it.
Bobs Your Uncle's picture

Tyll, |joker| Nate, John, Skylab .... Can we look forward to a review of Pono in the weeks or months ahead? Pono's clearly earned Skylab's favor, save OS issues. But otherwise, it's still all a ????

What can be said with any certainty about the enigma that is Pono. Or rather, what can be said with confidence born of broad consensus? Not much, it seems to me.

One thing that I think many might agree on is this: Pono's extended triangular prismatic profile somehow seems capable of driving persons (those of both good conscience & good will) practically to blows over this thing!

It's almost as if Pono projects a decidedly polarizing spell over people, despite the fact that almost NO ONE has ever heard this thing perform its Pono mojo. (And half of those debating the polarity profess NO intention of EVER listening to it either, thank you very much!)

While much of the fundamental design doesn't exactly "thrill" me, I admit to being quite intrigued by this DAC/AMP/Player (DAP). I must also admit to being somewhat conflicted over this beast, however, & I attribute this (partially, at least) to reservations over some "not-so-incredibly-keen" product marketing to date.

Thus, I beseech you; you the Highly Revered; you The Noble Innerfidelians: Ameliorate this, my wrenching existential angst, that I might again come to know the transcendence of order restored; of The Universe returned to balance.

So ... are we getting a review, or not?

DiRo's picture

Hi Tyll did you guys happen to check out the Sony Pulse Elite headset? Recently purchased a set. Thought it was good value and fun set of cans for multiple uses...

Magick Man's picture

The Meelectronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 (that's a mouthful) look an awful lot like the Nakamichi BT304, and the latter (which also sound pretty amazing for BT headphones) are $35 or less all over ebay.

SevenPlus's picture

How does the Matrix2 compares to the CAL! ? I love the convenience of BT, but I don't want to compromise too much in terms of sound quality.

Guitarist9273's picture

No bird call?

gmf001's picture

I don't believe there was a 9 CD set originally. I certainly bought it as three - 3 CD boxes. I'd concur that this is an excellent recording at an great price (less than what each of the 3 CD boxes cost originally).

gmf001's picture

I don't believe there was a 9 CD set originally. I certainly bought it as three - 3 CD boxes. I'd concur that this is an excellent recording at an great price (less than what each of the 3 CD boxes cost originally).

John Grandberg's picture
For some reason this type of thing is far more difficult to track, compared to other genres. But this is how I remember it, and if you recall the same thing, that helps confirm it.
pbarach's picture

But their later SACD set of the Beethoven quartets is currently available as a box set for ~$30. Now that's quite a bargain, too.

guerillaw's picture


Might I suggest you consider including an amazon vendor link next time? Meaning that a bit of the purchase from amazon comes back to infer fidelity. It would be a nice way for some folks who enjoy this wonderful site to give a small amount back.

maiken zhang's picture

Hi,Tyll Hertsens,
this is maiken zhang, the marketing manager of Noontec.

I found you on youtube, ( i am love your reviews, lol !) now we have come up with a new headphone which named ZORO II HD, we are very pleased to send you a free sample of that from our American's warehouse since you are interested in .

Due to i haven't get reply from your contact mailbox within this site. so i am writting to you here .
Kindly informed us the additional requirements through maiken.zhang@noontec.com , if you are planning to.
looking for your reply!

Stillhart's picture

Hi! I just found out about these SW remasters the other day and I can't find them for anywhere close to $20. Can you tell me where you're seeing them that cheaply? I need these!

Musicfirst's picture

Hi John

I really enjoy your articles and reviews. I am looking to buy the Aurender X100L, largely based on your review and I was curious what your current reference USB cable is?



John Grandberg's picture
I didn't notice this until now. I'm not huge into aftermarket USB cables, but I do use a Cabledyne Reference as it matches all my other Cabledyne stuff. It's a great cable and the price is relatively down to earth.