2017 InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide John Grandberg

171124_2017HolidayGiftGuide_Photo_Meze99 Meze 99 Neo ($199 for the Holidays, regular $249)
I thoroughly enjoy the Meze 99 Neo headphone. The bass it produces is punchy and clean. Treble is well balanced. Imaging is precise. Most importantly, it's got a beautifully-rendered midrange that does just about everything right. I think every headphone enthusiast, from beginners just starting out to veterans with big headphone collections, would enjoy these cans. Did I mention they are easy on the eyes, and quite comfortable too? It's just a very impressive headphone all around.

While a good value at their usual $249 asking price, I'm told the 99 Neo will be dropping to $199 for the Holiday season (beginning on Black Friday and likely running through the end of the year). That makes them even more compelling. An easy recommendation for sure.

InnerFidelity review here.

171124_2017HolidayGiftGuide_Photo_RNHP Rupert Neve Headphone Amp ($499)
The RNHP is a real workhorse of a headphone amp. It gives a neutral, accurate presentation to just about any headphone you ask it to drive, without veering into the bright, analytical signature that studio gear is sometimes accused of having. I see it being a great gift for any headphone enthusiast.

In addition, I see it as a way to spread headphone goodness to the more traditional audiophile with an existing speaker-based setup. With proper amplification at hand, those folks might be more willing to get on board with headphones—the RNHP likely being superior to whatever headphone jack they might have on their existing gear. Plus, it's a Neve... and what sort of music lover wouldn't want to own a piece of that rich heritage?

171124_2017HolidayGiftGuide_Photo_JaybirdRun Jaybird Run ($179)
There are plenty of "wireless" in-ear monitors with a cable tethering the two earpieces. Some, like the Jaybird Freedom 2, perform surprisingly well. But for me, that wire on my neck just isn't comfortable unless I'm basically sitting still—in which case I might as well use a traditional wired IEM. If we're talking about truly wireless in-ear monitors, the category is still pretty immature. After trying the latest models on the market, the Jaybird Run is the set which earns my strongest recommendation.

To my ears, the Jaybird Run just works. The fit is exceptional, build quality robust, and battery life quite respectable for their size. I also find the charger/storage case easily superior to most competitors. On sound quality, these things are among the better sounding options you'll find, which still isn't saying all that much—nothing in this category sounds truly great just yet. Taken as a total package though, Jaybird's Run is about as good as it gets right now. An excellent gift for the active person in your life.

171124_2017HolidayGiftGuide_Photo_FiioX5 Fiio X5 3rd Gen ($399)
The last Fiio product I covered at InnerFidelity was their original X5 player. I found it competent in many ways, but also lacking in some key areas. Still, it was a good value considering the much higher cost of most competitors.

Just a few years later, Fiio is up to the third generation of the X5, and it's substantially better in almost every conceivable metric. The external appearance and build quality are up there with the likes of Astell&Kern, making the original X5 seem almost primitive by comparison. The D/A converter and output stages are more advanced on this model. Headphone amplification is more powerful and, to my ears, significantly improved. At $399, the 3rd Gen is just $50 more than the original was—and the improvements are definitely worth it. I intend to give it a full review ASAP as I think this thing might be Wall of Fame worthy. For now I can say this is a gift any headphone enthusiast-on-the-go should be very happy to receive.

171124_2017HolidayGiftGuide_Photo_1More 1MORE IEMs ($69-$199)
This isn't the first time 1MORE has appeared on our Holiday Gift Guide, and it probably won't be the last. Starting with their Dual Driver model at $69, the company delivers big sound in a package that really surprises for the price. From build quality to unboxing experience, these feel like a premium product through and through. Stepping up to the Triple Driver model ($99) brings a substantial performance boost—this is the sweet spot in the line in terms of value per dollar. It's got a crowd pleasing signature that is very easy to enjoy, whether your tastes lean toward Mozart or Meshuggah. At $199, the Quad Driver model builds off the platform started by the Triple. It's better, yes, but definitely not twice as good—the law of diminishing returns at play. Regardless, all three models are quite compelling at their respective prices, and any one of them would make an excellent gift.

Vinhcomputer's picture

But I've just bought NAD VISO headphone for $159. Is it a good deal?

John Grandberg's picture

... the NAD VISO HP50? If so, that's a good deal on a nice headphone. Original price was $299 and I have seen it as low as $180, but never under $160.


Vinhcomputer's picture

Great! Thank you John :).

gibtg's picture

I'm really thrilled about the home measuring unit, please do a follow up on this gentleman! I'm ordering one right now!

100VoltTube's picture

That thing looks amazing. I want.

Martin.'s picture

What a great introduction. Looking forward to more content. However, it pisses me off that I just found out that I shouldn't have bought the Magni 2 Uber 2 months ago for 150 USD! I waited so long to save up for it; too long apparently.

castleofargh's picture

some cheap measurement rig as a holiday gift and a Monty Python reference, I already like Grover. ^_^
as I'm the only "hardcore headphone enthusiast" in my life, I made that gift to myself. how generous of me.

John Grandberg's picture
Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
ixtayul's picture

I noticed at HDtracks that the DSD 2.8 and 5.6 don't say Binaural. Will they have the same "you are there" effect?

DigMe's picture

The binaural albums from Chesky are recorded binaurally so all versions will be binaural.