2013 InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide Page 3


ljokerl's Gift Recommendations

Stocking stuffers: Philips Music Colors SHE3590 ($7 to $15)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_PhilipsSHE3590The Philips SHE3590 and its near-identical SHE3580 sibling cost next to nothing and perform pretty darn well. With excellent bass depth and impact, good clarity, and a tiny and lightweight form factor, they are both comfortable and great-sounding, holding their own against earphones costing many times more. Available in more than a half-dozen color options, these Philips buds are a cheap and straightforward way to deliver great audio to music fans of all ages.

Budget pick: VSonic VSD1S ($45 to $50)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_VSonicVSD1SThe VSonic VSD1S offers an accurate yet energetic sound with good bass impact, excellent clarity, and a spacious soundstage. It's a versatile sound with most of the performance of VSonic's highly-regarded GR07 Bass Edition model at a fraction of the price. The sound quality alone easily scores it a place among my favorite wallet-friendly sets. For some listeners, especially those new to Hi-Fi, the VSD1S might be all that is necessary for a great listening experience, at least for a year or two.

Read full Innerfidelity review here.

Serious performance: HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_RE400HiFiMan's lovely RE262 model was discontinued shortly after its inclusion in last year's InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide. Thankfully, the new RE-400 offers the same type of accurate dynamic-driver sound in a more compact form factor and at an even lower price. This latest iteration of HiFiMan IEMs delivers a very balanced and smooth sound with a hint of warmth and laid-back, non-fatiguing treble, all in a very comfortable housing with good noise isolation. Many, myself included, have come to love the HiFiMan sound, and for us the $99 RE-400 is a no-brainer.

Read full InnerFidelity review here.

Another option: RHA MA750 ($120 to $130)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_RHA750These stainless steel earphones from Scotland-based RHA offer good sonic performance with enhanced bass, as well as fantastic build quality. There are more accurate earphones out there, but the MA750 pursues a bassy, warm, and fun sound that is well-suited for the casual listener. It also doesn't butcher low-bitrate mp3s or require a high-end source to shine. The earphones are built to last, too, with solid metal housings, thick cables, and a 3-year warranty to back them. A version with a microphone and 3-button Apple remote, the MA750i, is also available.

Read CanJam@RMAF RHA report here.

Top-Of-The-Line: JH13 Pro ($1099)
131125_Blog_2013GiftGuide_JH13ProAn $1100 custom-fit monitor may not fit on many Christmas wishlists, but once in a while you just have to spoil yourself. The JH13 makes this easy, coming unanimously recommended in our shootout of 24 high-end custom earphones earlier this year. The sound is crisp and accurate without missing out on the fun factor, with unbelievable clarity and resolution underpinned by a few decibels of bass boost and topped off with fantastic instrument separation and imaging. The JH13 all but eliminates the urge to "upgrade", which almost makes it a bargain.


ultrabike's picture

Welp. I got myself an B&K Precission 2709B some time ago thanks to Nate's recommends last year:


I can say it was a great purchase. All the places I've worked we have Fluke's to throw around (I think mostly 87s but several models here and there). Same at school several years ago.

Fluke are pricy though, and for x or y reason, didn't have a multimeter at home. So I said FTS, getting one of those B&Ks.

Not too long ago, a friend and I discussed headphone cable impedance. I told him I measured about 0.9 ohms out of my HD558. I was told his HD518s measured less then 0.1 ohm. So I asked about his multimeter... Yup, he had Harbor Freight. We brought our cables and measured with a Fluke: 0.9 ohms.

Solid Panavice recommendations and heat gun!

mward's picture

Good call on the Sufjan Christmas box set. It's my preferred holiday music. There's a sequel out now, though I'm not quite as crazy about it. 

John Grandberg's picture

The more recent "Silver & Gold" album, which continues where the original left off, is not as good imho. Still maybe worth checking out but ultimately not on the same level. I thought all those guest artists might be interesting, yet in the end I kind of wish he just did it himself. 

deckeda's picture

I'm picking up one of the earlier recommendations here for my nephew, who always busts his headphones: the Philips "O'Neill Bend", for less than $30 at Amazon. I think they were closer to $100 when reviewed. 

Looking forward to using my Panavise 324, just arrived in the mail from Radio Shack, who had a sale last week on it.

macnbone's picture

Thanks for this Gift Guide. Nice to have the variety of ideas listed.

Wondering if any of you (or readers) have listened to both the PSB M4U2 and Bose QC20 noise cancelling headphones/IEMs and can offer a comparison? Seriously considering one of these for a gift this Christmas. Thanks ahead of time.

firebook23's picture

I would say the general concensous around the web is that the NC is a little better in the Bose. But the PSB's sound better. 

Also I like that the PSB's work with regular batteries and in passive mode if you run out of power in the middle of a commute or trip. 

macnbone's picture

Thanks firebook23.

Long time listener's picture

Tyll, I'm discovering that those Tascam phones can be modded so that they have less of a "monitor" sound and more of a "fun" sound--i.e., less of a treble peak and a little more bass. It's a work in progress, but already they're sounding very very good. Makes you wonder why they can put such a fine driver in a $30 headphone but other people can't.

surajsinghbhui2's picture