The Ultimate Audiophile Gift Guide

From speakers and soundbars to high-end headphones.

(Left: Polk Audio, Middle: Definitive Technology, Right: Bowers & Wilkins)

There are near infinite ways to consume music these days—from featherweight earbuds with smart technology to towering monolithic speakers delivering thunderous bass waves through your living room. Sometimes you want to plug a speaker into your home theater and forget it. But when you want to play master of ceremonies (and potential obnoxious playlist hog) at the neighborhood block party, mobility is key. Here are the best models we’ve found to gift the dedicated audiophile in your life, across prices and capabilities. 

Definitive Technology Dymension DM80

(Definitive Technology)

This summer our longstanding subwoofer blew its cap. It performed admirably through the years, surviving a decade-plus of Mad Max marathon explosions, drum & bass drops and enough trap to rattle our windows from their frames. It was time to upgrade. So we turned to a friend who installs industrial level sound systems in the mansions of millionaires and asked what subwoofer we should get. Without a second thought he replied, “Forget a subwoofer—you need to check out Def Tech’s powered Dymension DM80 speakers.”

“A combo speaker?!,” we retorted incredulously. Knowing audiophiles were all about finding the exact perfect independent element to fulfill each need, the doubt for an item that combined two critical utilities—normal hi-fi mids and highs, plus deep subs—was considerable. “Trust me,” he replied, “they’re the best until you get deep into five figures.” 

So we tested out a pair of Definitive Technology’s Dymension DM80 speakers and let us confirm his advice hit bullseye. Performance made a little more sense when we discovered Def Tech was launched by Sandy Gross, the sound maestro behind the famed Polk Audio brand. The Vista, California company has long made among the best speakers in the business, and their flagship tower offering is no exception.

The bipolar floor-standing speaker provides remarkably crisp sound thanks to its high-performance front and rear drivers, and its 12-inch powered subwoofers offer such deep, clean bass you’ll never be left wanting for more. Plus they weigh like 100 pounds each, which is always a sign of high-tech quality. Def Tech is now sold in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who are notoriously discriminating with sound. $2,499



Designed for mobility and outdoor usage, the SOUNDBOKS 4 speaker packs a big wallop in a relatively light and easy-to-carry package—especially with the optional backpack. We’ve seen people on the slopes blasting music while snowboarding, but in our experience the backpack is more useful in moving the speaker from point A to point B, less so for entertaining the masses while wearing.

Regardless, overall sound for the SOUNDBOKS 4 is excellent, specifically volume clarity and field of listening; Bluetooth 5.0 offers an extremely large range with zero syncing issues; the intuitive iOS app makes it easy to configure detailed sound profiles; battery life is insane—they claim 40 hours, but hard to confirm because we never got anywhere close to the limit. Ever. Perfect for backyards, BBQs, beach, camping, etc, providing PA-style volumes (126 dB output) and EQ in a streamlined, Danish-designed package. Perhaps best of all, the customizable grille, oversized volume dial and overall styling is super sharp, somehow both retro and modern at the same time. $999

Master & Dynamic MH40 Wireless Headphones

(Master & Dynamic)

Let the debate rage on over which headphones are best, and which headphones deliver crystal-clear and rich quality. For our money’s worth, putting on the MH40 Wireless Headphones almost feels like being in a studio during a recording session—the sound is that well-executed. These are luxurious headphones ideal for at-home listening, rather than on-the-go transport around Master & Dynamic’s home of New York City (but if you’re especially dedicated, go for it). The combo of a noise isolation design and 40mm titanium drivers delivers beautiful sound, and it’s hard not to love the lambskin leather accents throughout. $399

SONOS Era 300


The SONOS Era 300 speaker is a testament to the brand’s steady commitment to delivering exceptional audio experiences without compromising on style. Boasting a sleek and modern design, this speaker blends into any living space while packing a punch in terms of performance.

With its six drivers optimally positioned all around the front, sides, and top of the unit, powered by 150 watts, the Era 300 offers shockingly good surround sound for its tiny package. It supports Dolby Atmos Music, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, and as expected from the Santa Barbara audio manufacturer, the unit integrates seamlessly into all SONOS smart home ecosystems. $449

Adidas FWD-02 Sport True Wireless Earbuds


We’ve tried our fair share of ear buds, and while the spectrum of quality and prices are varied they all share one common flaw: popping out of your ear while exercising, always at the most inappropriate moment (and usually under some unsuspecting passerby’s feet). Adidas’ FWD-02 Sport True Wireless Earbuds feature comfortable, ergonomic silicon loops that firmly tuck into your ear without causing fatigue so you can get your heavy bag work on without fear of losing your tunes.

Powered by 10mm dynamic drivers, the FWD-02 earbuds deliver impressive, well-balanced audio quality with clear mids, adequate bass, and sharp highs. They also boast commendable battery life, providing up to eight hours of playback on a single charge—with its compact charging case extending an additional 16 hours of battery life. This makes the FWD-02 Sport earbuds an excellent choice for long workout sessions or travel. They also boast Bluetooth 5.0 technology and IPX4 water resistance. $170

Tivoli Audio Revive


The Tivoli Audio Revive is a wonder of craftsmanship that shifts gears seamlessly between three different modes—or rather, it’s three different things all at once. It’s a handsome Bluetooth cube speaker, a finely crafted desk accent thanks to its walnut wood design, and a helpful USB charging outlet. Still with us? The sound is elegant and nuanced, while the lamp delivers warm light that feels cozy in a home office on a cold winter’s night. The speaker can even be rotated to fill any room, and that’s the sort of utility and stylish design we can listen to all night long. $200

Bowers & Wilkins PX8 Headphones In ‘Royal Burgundy’

(Bowers & Wilkins)

Compared to earbuds, headphones are a superior conduit of sound without question, but over-the-year offerings from many brands lack true pizzazz in the style department. Bowers & Wilkins’ recently released PX8 headphones in “Royal Burgundy” are among the most visually striking headphones money can buy, with a luxe gold finish that dresses up the aluminum arms and soft burgundy Nappa leather covering the earcups, memory-foam cushions and headband.

That eye-catching design is paired with a stellar performance delivered from 40mm Carbon Cone drivers, which were derived from the same tech used in full-size Bowers & Wilkins freestanding speakers. Digital Signal Processing offers 24-bit high-resolution from streaming services that support high-res audio (Apple Music among them), while six microphones guarantee your voice comes through clearly on calls or when issuing commands to your voice assistant. In terms of mobile listening, the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 is truly the complete package. $699

Victrola Premier T1 Turntable Soundsystem


Long winter nights and brisk fall days seem like a prime time for ramping up your vinyl set-up. Your collection (whether burgeoning or jam-packed) deserves the best, after all. Victrola might not seem like the flashiest vinyl set-up on the market, but with a relatively quick and easy set-up, it’s a great pick to round out your listening room. Bookshelf speakers accent the two-speed belt-driven wooden turntable, and the transparent top showcases your range of vibrant, limited-edition vinyl. $400

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX Soundbar

(Polk Audio)

TV, TV on the wall, which soundbar is the sleekest of them all? You may very well be looking at it. Measuring just 14.5 inches wide, this ultra-compact Bluetooth-enabled unit from the San Diego-based audio stalwart certainly earns the “mini” in its name. Even so, a five-speaker setup, separate down-firing subwoofer (included with purchase), and certified Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound work together to create a serious home theater experience that’s particularly suited—though not limited—to spatially-challenged apartment dwellers.

Other key features include Polk’s patented VoiceAdjust, a speech-clarifying technology that increases vocal levels in dialogue scenes without affecting the rest of the soundtrack, as well as a Wi-Fi steaming via Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Spotify Connect. Most lucratively of all, you can save over 30 percent by picking up the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX through the rest of 2023. $349 now, $499 regularly

JBL Tour Pro 2

Earbuds seem to be the go-to move, particularly by a certain electronics giant, and while there’s no shame in that game, there are companies challenging the norms of what earbuds can be. JBL’s Tour Pro 2 set-up in particular leans on Adaptive Noise Cancelling technology and also adapts to virtually any environment seamlessly. That goes for taking calls on the go or adjusting the spatial sound between different modes (like options geared for watching movies or listening to music). The helpful design on the case of the Tour Pro 2 also makes it easy to navigate. $250

Fender Indio II Bluetooth Speaker


“Big sound with a warm signature” is how legendary audio and guitar company Fender bills its Indio II Bluetooth Speaker, complete with bass and treble control and a handmade wood cabinet. A whopping 25 hours of battery power will keep your listening sessions long. It even comes complete with a USB power bank and a mic for your speakerphone. Plus, the design mimics that of Fender’s amps, and it doesn’t get much more all-American (or better-sounding) than that. $300