AudioStream 2019 Holiday Gift List

The lights on the tree, the holiday decorations, the rum and eggnog… what the? How is it two weeks until Christmas? I’ve done no holiday shopping and the side-eye I’m getting from family suggests that I need to get my gift-giving organized ASAP.

I sigh, not because I’m hopelessly behind schedule, but because I’m thankful – I don’t have to buy for any audiophiles in my family. And if I did – and I wasn’t one myself – I’d be dreading trying to figure out what exactly would make that very particular-minded music lover’s heartbeat rise on Christmas morning.

So, with that at the forefront of my mind, I put together this little list of fun and not-insanely priced gifts and stocking stuffers (from $10 USD to $325 USD) for the digital-first audiophile so you don’t need to sweat the details. Enjoy.

Life in the world of being an audiophile means you need accessories all the time. What kind of accessories you may ask, all kinds would be the answer. I’ve got boxes and boxes of stuff I ended up using once or twice, but I’ll never get rid of any of it because, well, you never know if you might need it again (don’t ask about tubes). Take for example the first gift idea on the list this year; the AudioQuest Dragon Tail. It’s an audiophile-grade USB-A to USB-C adapter with solid (five per cent) silver conductors with RF noise directionality, hard cell foam insulation and carbon-based noise-dissipation to minimize RF interference so it beats the standard Apple model all to hell, and at just $22 USD online, it’s something every audiophile would be pleased to find under the tree. Buy it HERE.

Slow music joints have been a thing for awhile now, with places like In Sheep’s Clothing in LA taking a page from the one of the original digs – London England’s Spiritland where their six-figure sound system keeps conversations at bay while everyone peaces out to ultra-deluxe tunes playing through custom Living Voice loudspeakers. I don’t get out much these days with a 10-month-old baby, but when I do again, it’ll be to a place like Spiritland, or with luck, an original Jazz Kissaten in Tokyo, Japan. And when I do, I’d certainly be chuffed to be sporting this killer, limited-edition Spiritland x Bedwin & The Heartbreakers sweatshirt ($190 USD). Not only perfect for those concept-album nights out, but perfect for cozying up next to the fire while you queue up a playlist off Qobuz from your phone and favorite DAC/streamer. Get yours HERE.

Speaking of streaming music and Qobuz in particular (I shouted out TIDAL last year), the high-res music streaming site recently started offering unlimited streaming for $14.99 USD a month with no strings attached. If the audiophile in your life is into curating the ultimate Christmas playlists for your holiday hosting social schedule, then a subscription to this French online music tour-de-force will definitely light up their eyes as they scroll through more music than even a diehard Instagrammer’s fingers can handle. Sign-up your music lover HERE.

Like murder mysteries? Like fallible characters you can identify with? Like collecting vinyl? Like tube-based high-fidelity systems, horn speakers and beautiful women who get the music? Then look no further than my favourite audiophile murder mystery writer – Andrew Cartmel and his unnamed literary protagonist who spearheads the Vinyl Detective book series. This time he’s back for the fourth instalment: Flip Back. I’ve been a huge fan of these fabulously-written, fun, irreverent and gripping audiophile-tinged murder mysteries since I was turned on to them a few years ago. About Flip Back“At the height of their success, the electric folk band Black Dog invited journalists to a desolate island for an infamous publicity stunt: the burning of a million dollars. But the stunt backfired and the band split up, increasing the value of their final album vastly. It's this album that Tinkler's got his eye on, and he hires none other than the Vinyl Detective and Nevada to hunt a copy down.” Get in on this series, grab the latest copy HERE.

Cable elevators… no, not what anyone in their right mind would think those are, but rather, stands to hold up and help organize your speaker cables (or AC cables, long interconnects, etc.) from picking up ground-borne static charge and to help isolate them from vibration. Ridiculous? I used to think so, then several years ago I swapped out the toilet-paper rolls holding up various speaker and power cables off my hardwood floor for a set of older Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators. Damn if they didn’t make a difference. The newest models are even more advanced, with an energy-field neutralization material to suspend your cables from built-in to them. They now go by the name Dark Field Suspension System and a set of three will set you back $325 USD. I recommend at least six to start. Grab them HERE.

Everclear's picture

JBL Boombox, portable Bluetooth speaker $380 :-) ........

Everclear's picture

Como Audio Musica table-top radio $600 :-) .........

Everclear's picture

Naim Mu-so 2nd generation $1,600 :-) .........
Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd generation $900 :-) ........

Everclear's picture

iBasso DC01 DAC $79 :-) .........

hltf's picture

Hi Rafe:
Wondering what you decided about the Western Digital SS drive you were trying out for your Roon Nucleus some time ago? Did that work out well? Would you recommend it? Do you have any reason to think the Samsung EVO 2.5"SSD drives might be any better or worse? I'd go for the 4 TB size I think - trying to decide whether to go with WD or Samsung. The Samsung seems to be somewhat higher priced, so I am wondering. Also Roon seems to recommend the Samsung EVO for the Nucleus, and the Nucleus is what I have too. Thanks for any ideas.

Rafe Arnott's picture
I ordered the WD 2.5-inch 500GB SSD for $80 CAN. I'll be installing it shortly as we just finished moving and I'm behind a bit, what with re-organizing everything! I'd go with whatever you feel most comfortable with, I'm not a huge Samsung fan personally because of issues with TVs in my family, but like all things – YMMV. If Roon recommends the EVO, then get it. It's like $20 more on Amazon here in Canada, so comparable price-wise.
hltf's picture

I am looking at the 4TB version so it makes more difference cost-wise between the Samsung and WD. I see that Samsung also has a new lower price QVO SS drive, so I might see if that is just as good for my purpose.

Topher's picture

Hi Rafe - Season's Greetings!

Do you know if AudioQuest make a similar connector for Lightning to USB that I could use with my iPod? I'm currently using the Apple camera connector to do the job and worrying that my quite expensive USB cable is being wasted with it in the signal path.


Rafe Arnott's picture
Topher's picture


Topher's picture

Oh rats! To clarify, just like the Dragon Tail is a USB-C (Male) to USB-A (Female) adaptor, I was hoping for a Lightning (Male) to USB-A (Female) adaptor. Sadly, the one in the link you posted is a Lightning (Male) to USB-A (Male) adaptor. I guess they make these for car stereos or DACs with USB-A inputs.

After some hunting, it looks like they don't do one, so no worries.