InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide

I wandered the downtown Vancouver streets, slightly dazed as it was early, the coffee in my hand only half-finished and thus not fully waking my mind to operating temperature. Commuter traffic and day-job types jostled me like a potted plant to get around in their rush past me to get to jobs, friends, lovers, shops, or the somewhere important place in their lives they needed to be at the moment.

It was, after all, the beginning of December and things like holiday gift shopping for our families and friends was starting to dawn more brightly every morning into the waking brains of the urban populace (who surround my small oasis of a home in the city) as the month creeps forward inexorably to it’s zenith on the 25th and the all the expectations which surround that date.

Holidays can be hard to deal with and I often joke about the insanity of commercialism and the global shopping frenzy it creates around the religious holidays of this last month of the Gregorian calendar in particular, but it’s the cards we’re dealt. So, with the idea that many of us will be doing the whole hit-the-mall or walk the high street, or surf the Internet for gift inspiration and quick deliveries, I put together a little Holiday Gift Guide for those who have an ardent headphone lover in their midst.

My list ranges in price form $10USD to around the $600USD mark, so there’s stocking stuffers and one-off big gifts if you’re feeling the love. I hope these ideas help you nail down a gift or two, or at least spark an idea to surprise and please the headphonic soul in your life.

The Audeze iSINE20 In-Ear Headphone looks like a set of Tie-Fighters sticking out the side of your head, but the sound these miniature planar-magnetic IEMs produce has to be heard to be believed. They put many an in-ear headphone to absolute shame and while their $599 USD price puts them at the upper scale of gift-giving as far as this list goes, if you love someone, set them free (musically) with these little gems. Buy them HERE.

Got a PC or laptop and maybe a Tidal subscription and using the headphone out for a pair of cans or just driving a pair of desktop or bookshelf speakers? A nice simple system to deliver the goods no doubt, but for $199 USD you can easily triple the sound you’re getting out of it with the AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC/Headphone amplifier. Buy it HERE.

If you’ve gotten bitten by the over-ear headphone bug, then you’ve upped your game and dropped some more serious cash on a pair of cans to hear everything the artist intended are you going to leave those new, beautiful headphones lying around on a desk or sofa? No, you’re going to get a proper headphone stand and treat those sonic delivery devices with respect. The Omega Headphone Stand at $28.30 USD or the Just Mobile HeadStand for $39 USD offer to two very different styles, but both do what they were designed to do: keep your headphones looking brand new everyday until you’re ready to use them again.

Buy the Omega HERE and the Just Mobile HERE.

If digital or computer audio is your jam, then you know about Roon’s music playback software and either have it and love it or are wondering if you want to pony up the $119 USD for a yearly subscription. The answer is: Yes you do. So, if you’re putting together your Holiday wish list, or want to surprise the headphone audiophile on your list, then a one-year subscription to Roon will be a rabbit hole of deeply reconnecting with the music that makes up your life. Buy it HERE.

Got earbuds and their knotted cord jammed into your pocket and constantly untangling them before you can get to your music while walking to school or suffering through public transit? Then it’s time for this little beauty of an IEM case to stop the madness of tangles forever. At $9.95 USD, this small, compact case fits in any pocket and not only solves the tangles, but protects your investment as well. Buy them HERE.

On a budget, but still want vibrant, punchy, dynamic and tonally-rich sound from your laptop or PC-based digital-audio rig? Lucky for you iFi Audio out of the UK listens and delivers goods like the $139 USD iFi nano iDSD Portable DAC Amplifier. With support for up to DSD128, DXD and PCM up to 32/384 via its Asynchronous USB 2.0 input, you can run a set of cans off it or jack straight into your integrated amp or preamplifier via RCA. Buy it HERE.

Replacement ear pads for cans can be a real blessing, as some aftermarket models can make a noticeable improvement in both comfort and sound quality by the better fit offered through a more ideal seal. One such company that I’ve tried is Yaxi, their replacement pads for the Sennheiser HD600 made what was a great headphone that much better. They offer upgraded pads for dozens of headphone models and for roughly $50 USD, are a sweet way to say “I care” to the headphone lover in your your orbit. Buy them HERE.

Nothing wrong with representing your favourite thing to drape around your neck with a killer t-shirt for those times when wearing your cans isn’t in the mix. Prices from $10 USD to $30 USD. Buy them HERE.

The Chord Mojo will bring colour, life, impact, dynamics and resolution to your headphone listening experience like few other DAC/headphone amplifiers can. The Mojo can be had online for $518 USD right now and if you want to blow sonically-oriented minds for those on the go, then a Mojo will slide into an Xmas stocking with ease. Buy a pair HERE.

Like to stream via Bluetooth to your favourite set of Bluetooth headphones or powered speakers while at home? Then why not do it in style with a cool, functional and ergonomic stand for your smartphone that’s only $20 USD. Buy it HERE.

Cheap and always something anyone with a newer iPhone wants more than one of, the Apple Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor will get you major props from the listener who’s iPhone 7, 8 or X is their music hub for headphone listening. Buy it HERE.

Listening on the go with your phone can mean strapping on amp/DACs, and while that's sweet, some want their audio source separate from their smartphones and the Astell & Kern A&norma SR15 portable DAP with dual-DACs and native DSD support, plus an SD card slot for huge expansion options coming in at $699 USD tops my list on the high side of gift giving, but value for sound quality with it all in one package is a gift that will keep on giving. Buy it HERE.

Simply Nobody's picture

Santa Claus, won't you bring me AirPods or Mobius :-) ............

Bogester's picture

I've been thinking about trying at set of those pads for my HD600s. Rafe, how do they improve/alter the sound of the HD600?


Rafe Arnott's picture
and helped with an improved seal compared the aging HD600 pads I inherited which were pretty compressed and due for a replacement.