Engadget's Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Audio

Welcome to Engadget's holiday gift guide! Head back to our hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month.

Like cameras, audio gadgets are the kind of gifts you want to start using fresh out of the box at this year's holiday parties. Okay, it's probably not a good idea to ditch the festivities to test out that new pair of over-ears, but the speakers and services listed below should guarantee that your party playlists are taken care of.


Google Play Music All Access

Google Play Music All Access would be an easy recommendation even if it was simply a music locker service, but the search giant takes it a step further. Mountain View appropriates your own song collection and mixes it with listening habit-based music recommendations to create a mélange that consistently surprises us. On top of that, there's integration with Chromecast, which makes streaming your digital music collection to your home stereo ultra-simple. -- Timothy J. Seppala, Contributing Editor

Key specs: Smart recommendations, massive song library, unlimited radio skips, digital locker service.

Price: $10/month from Google Play

HMDX Jam Plus Bluetooth Speaker

While the HMDX Jam Plus isn't the most powerful wireless speaker around, it does have a few things going for it. The rounded design and variety of color options make this budget-priced pick an appealing choice. If you're looking for stereo sound, you can pair up two Jam Pluses to work in harmony. -- Melissa Grey, former Associate editor

Key specs: Nifty design, Bluetooth compatibility, can be paired with second speaker for stereo sound.

Price: $60 from HMDX and other retailers

Klipsch Image One

Ready to toss out your tinny earbuds? Take a look at Klipsch's Image One headphones -- they're lightweight, easy to wear for extended periods and pump out rich, enveloping sound. The product's second-generation revision features heavier bass, too, along with earcups that fold into the headband for extra portability. -- Sean Buckley, Associate Editor

Key specs: Moving coil 40mm speaker, three-button remote, mic, adjustable leather headband.

Price: $69 and up from Amazon and other retailers


Logitech UE Boom

If your on-the-go party lifestyle requires a soundtrack that's heavy on the bass, Ultimate Ears has you covered. Its UE Boom speaker has plenty of kick, delivering crisp highs and a surprising amount of bottom end for such a small form factor. The 360-degree design delivers sound at all angles, and it can even pair up with a second Boom to reach more ears. It can also connect with multiple Bluetooth sources, so everyone can queue up favorites from their own devices. -- Jon Turi, Associate Editor

Key specs: Bluetooth/NFC wireless connectivity, rechargeable via micro-USB, up to 15 hours of battery life, two 1.5-inch drivers, dual 2-inch passive radiators, iOS and Android apps, daisy-chain two devices for stereo.

Price: $200 from Amazon and other retailers

Sony BTX500

This portable Bluetooth speaker from Sony goes where your Sonos can't, and it can pair with any NFC-compatible smartphone with just a touch. Sound quality is on par with leading Bluetooth models from the likes of Jawbone and Bose, and its six-hour battery life makes it a great choice for that impromptu patio party. -- Marc Perton, Executive Editor

Key specs: 40-watt output, USB (to charge devices), 3.5mm input, Bluetooth, NFC pairing.

Price: From $250 on Amazon

Jawbone Big Jambox

You're probably not going to impress any home theater nerds or hardcore audiophiles with a Jambox, but it's an attractive, portable party in a box and it delivers on big sound. I've used it as a car stereo substitute, fireside boombox and a replacement for my TV's lackluster speakers, and it's yet to disappoint. I imagine it would serve as a formidable backing track for your one-man caroling outfit, too, if that's the sort of thing you're into. -- Christopher Trout, Managing Editor

Key specs: 15 hours playback, Bluetooth 2.1, micro-USB and 3.5mm input, doubles as speakerphone

Price: $260 on Amazon


Sennheiser Momentum

These high-end headphones look as great as they sound -- what else would you expect from the company that practically invented beautifully engineered cans? At a list price of $350, the Momentum isn't exactly cheap, but you're getting a timeless, rugged pair of on-ears, complete with closed transducers that bring songs to life. -- Brian Heater, Director of Media

Key specs: Metal earcups, leather earpads and headband, 18-ohm operating impedance, hard carry case, standard and Apple device cables, 1/4-inch stereo adapter.

Price: $300 on Amazon

Bowers & Wilkins P7

Bowers & Wilkins has a knack for headphones that not only sound good, but also feel and look good -- and its P7 over-ears deliver those qualities in spades. While expensive, they offer detailed audio. I love the comfortable fit and a leather-and-metal design that exudes style. They're my pick for anyone who listens to music all day, whether it's on a home stereo or a smartphone. -- Jon Fingas, Associate Editor

Key specs: Over-ear leather cushions, 40mm drivers, 50mW max input, 111db/V sensitivity, detachable iPod/iPhone remote with microphone.

Price: $400 from Bowers & Wilkins

Sonos Playbar

Want to fill a room with sound, but not speakers? At $699, Sonos' latest soundbar isn't cheap, but it'll sure make those movies sound great. Setup is simple, and as with previous Sonos products, you can control the soundbar via a mobile app. It'll also look great in just about any living room. -- Brian Heater

Key specs: Nine speakers, wireless streaming, single-cable setup, Android and iOS apps.

Price: $699 on Amazon


Sony Digital Noise-Canceling Headphones

The holidays are a perfect time to jump on the noise-canceling headphone bandwagon, wouldn't you say? Sony's over-ears will blur out the real world with your choice of airplane, bus and office modes. Enter the raffle below for a chance to win a pair, and make sure to check out our giveaway rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The rules:

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.

  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 18 or older! Sorry, we don't make this rule (we hate excluding anyone).

  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive one (1) pair of Sony Digital Noise Canceling Headphones.

  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes a contact email. Social media contact details are not carried over into our system.

  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Sony and Engadget/AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.

  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.

  • Entries can be submitted until December 31st, 2013 at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!