You don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate good sound and music, so I've put together a healthy selection of great gift ideas, all priced under $300. Tuesday's blog has nine more, and they're all less than $100 each!
The Sherwood RX-4503 stereo receiver ($130) would be a great way to start building an awesome-sounding budget hi-fi. I briefly auditioned the Sherwood and came away really impressed with its sound quality. The stereo receiver serves up 100 watts into each of its two channels, and includes a mono preamp output if you decide to add a powered subwoofer. It has Dolby Virtual Surround and Dolby Headphone faux surround processors. A front-panel connection is also included for the Sherwood BT-R7 Bluetooth Audio adapter, allowing wireless streaming from your mobile phone or other devices. The Sherwood could also work wonders in a stereo home theater system.
B & W is one of the more legendary names in British hi-fi, and its speakers are used in many of the world's top studios, including the Beatles' favorite, Abbey Road. B & W is also known for its sleek styling, and its P5 on-ear headphone ($300) is definitely a looker. Its real leather earpads and chunky tubular metal construction put all of the other similarly priced headphones on the market to shame. The P5 sounds best plugged into an iPod or other portable music players.
The Audioengine P4 is a bona fide audiophile mini speaker that sells for $249 per pair. I gave it a very positive review last year, and now I love it so much I retired my self-powered Audioengine A2 ($199 a pair) speakers. While the A2 is still amazing in its own right, the P4 is better in every way, but it has to be used with a receiver, like the Sherwood on this list, so the P4 winds up costing a lot more than an A2. If you have the dough, or a spare amp, the P4 is the way to go. … Read more