2014 InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide Tyll Hertsens


Beats Solo2 ($199) and Sennheiser Urbanite ($199)
The kids are screaming for a pair of Beats by Dre headphones. What do you do? Don't bother with the story of how Beats suck—they're getting way better than they used to be—just go ahead and get them the new Beats Solo2, a very good headphone for consumers. The Sennheiser Urbanite is an excellent alternative; a bit more sturdy and possibly better looking for some, but no need to push too hard, it's not much, if any, better than the Solo2. So, go ahead and make them happy and get the Beats Solo2, or offer the Sennheiser Urbanite as a competitive alternative, either way they'll be getting very good headphones.

InnerFidelity reviews for Solo2 and Urbanite.


MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 ($89, $80! on Amazon)
Oh man! You won't believe how great these sound...especially for $80! Check it out here. Wired or Bluetooth, doesn't matter, don't know how they can make a headphone this cheap that sounds so good. Looks are just okay—the carbon fiber look pressed into vinyl is a but cheesy—but the comfort of this over-ear headset is very good. Maybe my best gift recommendation on this list; a real bargain!

InnerFidelity review soon.


Infinity One Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($299)
I reported favorably on the Infinity One earlier this year on my summer motorcycle trip. Just a tad larger than a football, the Infinity One's solid metal body makes it just a bit too large and heavy to haul around when needs true portability....but, O.M.G. is it worth it! This is one of the few, if any, portable boom-boxes that can really push out some bass punch outdoors. And in the many months now since I first mentioned the Infinity One it's never failed to impress.


Koss SP330 On-ear Sealed Headphones ($130)
Koss has just come out with a small line-up of pretty good sounding low-cost headphones, the nicest of which, it seems to me, is the SP330 on-ear, sealed headphone. Though they fold flat and come with a storage case, they're not particularly compact—they will, however, easily store in a desk drawer. On the other hand, they do sound terrific with surprisingly well extended bass and fairly neutral response. Their look is simple and elegant in matte black and silver accents; the SP300 is very nicely finished for a headphone of this price.

InnerFidelity review soon.


Parrot Zik 2.0 Noise Canceling, Bluetooth Headset ($399)
When I reviewed the original Zik, I was mightily impressed—the Zik had a lot of very cool features and the sound was passably good for a noise canceling headphone. Well, with the Zik 2.0 significant improvements have been made, not the least of which is better sound quality and noise canceling performance. This is a fairly expensive headphone, but given it's terrific look and feel; bevy of features that are actually useful and work well; and, maybe not audiophile but, good mid-fi level audio performance, this is a headphone that many a technophile would love to posses. See the Zik 2.0 webpage here.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

forkboy1965's picture

Thanks for the recommendation. I've recently begun to explore classical music and it's not always easy to figure out where to go, what to start with, etc.

A recommendation this strong should not be overlooked.

pbarach's picture

For about $30, you can get the later Tokyo Quartet set of all of the Beethoven Quartets on multichannel SACD (Harmonia Mundi). They also sound great in 2-channel SACD. Both sets of performances are wonderful but different.

tony's picture

Anna Von Hausswolff's Rock Album "Cermony" !!
***** five Stars .
Steve G. recommended it .
I already have it ,
Superb Organ *****+
Eerie Vocals *****+
maybe the best recording of 2013 . *****+
Don't have to be a Rock fan or Pipe Organ fan to love this album ,
it will blow-up into a smoke cloud any less than super capable system , Organ goes deep , way deep and way up in Level ! :)
My Schiit Asgard 2/Sennheisers are the only thing I own that can handle it . :)
Retailers won't want you trying to Play this CD on their Top System , lookout Woofer Voice Coil probable melt down and expected Warrantee repair . :(
We never had any Vinyl LP with this kind of Bass Power , Vinyl Bass is mixed down to Mono below 100Hz or thereabouts and compressed to boot , no Vinyl System other than a Tape Master will have this kind of Power , the Vinyl Twiddlers ( a Mike Moffet description ) will pull their hair out trying to get this Album to play properly ( a good test for Art Dudley and all those Vinyl True Believers !!

This is my gift to all you Tyll followers ( other than my insights and great Modesty of which I'm justly proud ) !

Bon Vivant !

Tony in Michigan

brotherlea's picture

Thank you Tony for this 'gift'--I also am a Michigan resident. -Gary.

Akmax57's picture

Tyll, before you complete your review of the Meelectronics AirFi Matrix 2, would you give them a comparison listen to the Sony SCH80's that ljoker highly recommends? Hopefully the Bose Soundlink BT phones will be reviewed soon also. all I know is, I'm asking for wireless headphones for Christmas, and Santa says I been mostly good. hoot! Happy Holidays!

Grave's picture

Pono, really?


Marcello's picture


Have you heard the Pono? It sounds fantastic and punches way above its price, IMO.

Grave's picture

There is in fact no relationship between price and performance when it comes to DAP's, they are trivial to get right.

brotherlea's picture

Thanks, Marcello. I pledged for two Pono players & gave one to my brother. He wrote an email thanking me, adding "This Pono has amazing sound." We both played the violin from grade school through high school; being submerged in well-played orchestral instruments gave us a foundation by which to judge musical audio reproduction.

donunus's picture

Is this a new remaster? Is this the same one as the 90s box?

John Grandberg's picture
... as the RCA Victor Red Seal releases from the 90s. I have an older 3 CD box called "The Late String Quartets" which is identical to the last 3 discs on this collection. I don't hear any difference so a remaster is unlikely, which is fine as this is already very well done. I don't recall there being a larger box set from that time frame but I may have just missed it.
Bobs Your Uncle's picture

Tyll, |joker| Nate, John, Skylab .... Can we look forward to a review of Pono in the weeks or months ahead? Pono's clearly earned Skylab's favor, save OS issues. But otherwise, it's still all a ????

What can be said with any certainty about the enigma that is Pono. Or rather, what can be said with confidence born of broad consensus? Not much, it seems to me.

One thing that I think many might agree on is this: Pono's extended triangular prismatic profile somehow seems capable of driving persons (those of both good conscience & good will) practically to blows over this thing!

It's almost as if Pono projects a decidedly polarizing spell over people, despite the fact that almost NO ONE has ever heard this thing perform its Pono mojo. (And half of those debating the polarity profess NO intention of EVER listening to it either, thank you very much!)

While much of the fundamental design doesn't exactly "thrill" me, I admit to being quite intrigued by this DAC/AMP/Player (DAP). I must also admit to being somewhat conflicted over this beast, however, & I attribute this (partially, at least) to reservations over some "not-so-incredibly-keen" product marketing to date.

Thus, I beseech you; you the Highly Revered; you The Noble Innerfidelians: Ameliorate this, my wrenching existential angst, that I might again come to know the transcendence of order restored; of The Universe returned to balance.

So ... are we getting a review, or not?

DiRo's picture

Hi Tyll did you guys happen to check out the Sony Pulse Elite headset? Recently purchased a set. Thought it was good value and fun set of cans for multiple uses...

Magick Man's picture

The Meelectronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 (that's a mouthful) look an awful lot like the Nakamichi BT304, and the latter (which also sound pretty amazing for BT headphones) are $35 or less all over ebay.

SevenPlus's picture

How does the Matrix2 compares to the CAL! ? I love the convenience of BT, but I don't want to compromise too much in terms of sound quality.

Guitarist9273's picture

No bird call?

gmf001's picture

I don't believe there was a 9 CD set originally. I certainly bought it as three - 3 CD boxes. I'd concur that this is an excellent recording at an great price (less than what each of the 3 CD boxes cost originally).

gmf001's picture

I don't believe there was a 9 CD set originally. I certainly bought it as three - 3 CD boxes. I'd concur that this is an excellent recording at an great price (less than what each of the 3 CD boxes cost originally).

John Grandberg's picture
For some reason this type of thing is far more difficult to track, compared to other genres. But this is how I remember it, and if you recall the same thing, that helps confirm it.
pbarach's picture

But their later SACD set of the Beethoven quartets is currently available as a box set for ~$30. Now that's quite a bargain, too.

guerillaw's picture


Might I suggest you consider including an amazon vendor link next time? Meaning that a bit of the purchase from amazon comes back to infer fidelity. It would be a nice way for some folks who enjoy this wonderful site to give a small amount back.

maiken zhang's picture

Hi,Tyll Hertsens,
this is maiken zhang, the marketing manager of Noontec.

I found you on youtube, ( i am love your reviews, lol !) now we have come up with a new headphone which named ZORO II HD, we are very pleased to send you a free sample of that from our American's warehouse since you are interested in .

Due to i haven't get reply from your contact mailbox within this site. so i am writting to you here .
Kindly informed us the additional requirements through maiken.zhang@noontec.com , if you are planning to.
looking for your reply!

Stillhart's picture

Hi! I just found out about these SW remasters the other day and I can't find them for anywhere close to $20. Can you tell me where you're seeing them that cheaply? I need these!

Musicfirst's picture

Hi John

I really enjoy your articles and reviews. I am looking to buy the Aurender X100L, largely based on your review and I was curious what your current reference USB cable is?



John Grandberg's picture
I didn't notice this until now. I'm not huge into aftermarket USB cables, but I do use a Cabledyne Reference as it matches all my other Cabledyne stuff. It's a great cable and the price is relatively down to earth.