Holigay Gift Guide: Audiophiles and Music Nerds Rejoice

By Stef and Crystal

Audio-related gear makes for really great gifts for really great reasons. First and foremost, most people enjoy music. Even the ‘I’m not really a music person’ people won’t be disappointed in finding unicorn-shaped earbuds in their stockings. But also, audio devices aren’t known for having the longest of lifespans. Right now 1-in-4 of your friends and/or lovers can’t hear any sound out of their left earbud. We’re here to help you help them be happy these holidays.

Headphones and Earbuds


V-MODA Crossfade LP Headphones ($118)
This is probably the third or fourth time that these headphones have made it into an Autostraddle gift guide, they’re that good. In addition to sounding and feeling great, you can switch up the style by ordering different colored plates for the cups.

Unicorn Earbuds ($6)
I cannot attest to the sound quality, comfort or durability of these earbuds. I can attest to the fact that most, if not every, queer in your life will want them regardless.

SoundMagic E10 Earbuds ($35)
The first thing I noticed about these earbuds is that they have remarkably high Amazon reviews for the under-$40 price point. “Just wow. Pure magic,” a self-proclaimed ‘picky’ headphone consumer wrote. The other things I noticed were that they’re 100 per cent metal (\m/) and look pretty neat. I might buy them.

Sennheiser HD 203 ($35)
I keep buying these dudes for home recording, and if having a hilariously long cord doesn’t bother you (they’re actually mostly for DJing), I think they’re fantastic quality and pretty affordable. Mine just broke (my fault, not theirs), so if you wanted to buy me a new pair I’d really appreciate it.

Bose Quietcomfort 20 Earbuds ($299)
The Internet agrees that if you’re willing to drop a few hundred bucks on some noise-canceling earbuds, this is the pair that you want. Guaranteed to block out traffic and airplane noise, unsolicited conversation and mansplaining.



JBL ‘On Tour’ Micro Portable Speaker ($24)
I impulse-bought this cheap speaker on my way to A-Camp with some fairly low expectations, as with most gadgets at this price point. I was stoked by its amplification, portability, and durability. It fits in a pocket and recharges easily. It won’t melt anyone’s face off but it will fill a hotel room or cabin in the woods with some nice sounds.

JBL Flip Portable Stereo Speaker with Wireless Bluetooth Connection ($89)
A friend of mine owns this little guy, and the sound quality is surprisingly excellent for its size and its price. Also it can connect to your phone or computer using bluetooth, which I still believe is magic.

Koala Huggable Portable Speaker ($40)
This is a koala that hugs your phone while playing music. I’m not sure what else I can tell you.

Ultimate Ears Boom Speaker ($180)
This is the perfect party speaker. Your music can be controlled wirelessly to 50ft and be amplified at 360 degrees around the room. You can pair up to 8 mobile devices via bluetooth for co-DJ’ing with your mates and even program an alarm to wake up to your favorite tunes. It’s water and stain resistant, comes in about a dozen colors and can probably blend cocktails, too.

Inventive Bluetooth Shower Speaker ($28)
You know those days where all you can really do to sooth your soul is sink to the bottom of the shower, cradle your head in your arms and wail softly along to “Mad World” until the hot water runs out? This shower speaker will enrich your next shower-cry tenfold.

Light Show Fountain Speakers ($50)
Are you really, really high? Probably you’ll enjoy watching multicolored splashes of water dancing along to your music. You’ll be the coolest dude in the freshman dorms (no, seriously, I’d really like a pair of these).

Everything Else


USB Mix Tape ($38)
A thoughtful mix will never stop being one of the greatest presents ever. This USB Mix Tape might be a cuter alternative to sharing a Spotify playlist or throwing mp3s into Dropbox. (NB: only ships to Australia and the UK)

Etymotic Ear Plugs ($14)
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like saving someone from tinnitus. These reusable ear plugs are a thoughtful gift and miles better than those cheap squishy foam bullets that fall on beer-soaked floors halfway through the first song.

VariGrip Hand Exerciser ($15)
ThinkGeek says this hand exerciser is great for musicians and gamers, with adjustable tension that you can customize for each individual finger. I mean, I can’t think of any reason you wouldn’t want the person in your life to have incredibly nimble and talented fingers.

Emergency Handcrank Radio ($80)
Maybe your loved one is a paranoid weirdo who keeps a bunker full of canned beans and other end-of-the-world supplies beneath your love nest? Or maybe you’d just like to have this neat little radio, which is impervious to inclement weather and ideal for being stranded on a desert island or whatever.

Spotify Gift Card ($10, $30, $60)
There are many music lovers who’d go wild for a few months of ad-free play. Spotify Premium is a no-contract service and so it’s perfect for all gift budgets—a $10 gift card will give someone one month of listening.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. Never mind as a gift, I think I’m gonna buy those ear plugs for myself! Noise-related hearing loss is something I’m super paranoid about.

    Do you guys have an Amazon Affiliate thing going on? Just to know when I’m buying.

    • saaaaame.

      also, they do have an amazon affiliate thingy! I would link you to it but my head hurts I’m too lazy to actually find the link from the mobile site. but, you know, knowledge is power, so you are welcome! (? @ me for being a weirdo, I know)

    • Yes! All the items in the holiday gift guides are affiliate linked where applicable. You can also check out this page for the general Amazon link and to see other places Autostraddle has affiliate accounts.

  2. I am amused and also want a splashy fountain speaker, a koaka to hug my ipod, a usb mixtape and a hilariously long chorded dj whatever that thing was. You would be a sucessful infomercial salesperson. Phone won’t let me fix koala spelling.

  3. The Ultimate Ears also have that thing where if you have two of them, you can tap them together once to pair them up, and twice to make them surround sound. They’re pretty sweet.

  4. I recently helped my sister try to replace her headphones(pair of Beats that came paired with previous my HTC beats phone). It can be really hard, because if they full don’t know what kind of sound they want out of their headphones it can be a bit of a guessing game. Personally my last major headphone, I bought and returned 4 different headphones before settling on one. Some of the reasons for returning included comfort(on ears that were too tight, the v-moda m80, which are more balanced sound signature version of the LP were a bit tight on my ears), which is something to keep in mind.

    • Those JBL On Tours are pretty close to what I am looking for and the price for the red at $20, vs $35 for the other colors is very tempting. Then again amazon is suggesting there is a newer version out now, which can be had for under $30 for a reburb. I prefer wired, because it saves battery on my phone and connection is more consistent. Thank you!

  5. 1. Wait, there’s such a thing as NOISE CANCELING EARBUDS? (Don’t you wish you had some in right then when I was yelling?)

    2. Just a word of caution: I have some earbuds that are part metal, and I live in a very dry winter-y sort of place. Anytime between November and March that I go walking with my earbuds in and my phone in my pocket, the static eletricity created from the cord rubbing against my coat discharges through the metal piece in my ears. It’s kind of a pain. Something to consider if you’re looking a metal earbuds.

    3. I’ll second the comment on the Bose Soundlink 2.

  6. Super pertinent to my interests. Got my lady headphones for xmas this year. Replacing her Sennheisers that she broke. They are amazing and I used to use my over ear ones all the time. The hilariously long spiral dj-ing headphone cable that comes with the 205s (I think that’s what I have) is removable/replacable and since I’m not dj-ing in my room these days I’m currently using it to plug my ipod into my car stereo. Yay sennheiser, the minimal distortion at high volume is excellent in every pair I’ve had over the years. Also if you fancy a change and some sweet quality I bought some Marshall headphones and they have been pretty sweet. Lovely sound quality and good noise cancelling, they’re square which is kinda cool, plus they match my micro amp which is cute…and totally rock and roll of course.

  7. I can attest for the Bose. They earbuds are great and if you get the sport ones they are VERY sweat resistant during the gym. Mine are about 2 years old and are still great!

    And Koala speaker!!!!!! Hand exerciser for lesbians?

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