If you're the kind of guy whose deep pockets are matched only by his desire to listen to music exactly as the artist intended, then these Bang & Olufsen Beolab 18 Speakers ($6,600) are an obvious necessity. As is typical of products from the Danish speaker company, these towers are a work of modern art, with stunning curves, gorgeous woodwork, and an unbelievable attention to detail evident in every inch. They operate on a 24-bit wireless frequency even an audiophile would approve of, letting you say goodbye to those unsightly speaker wires. Twin four-inch midrange drivers powered by separate 160-watt amplifiers and acoustic lens tweeters complete the package.
You spend enough time at your desk that you care about what everything on it looks like, or you at least should care. That's why you need a set of Timbre Speakers ($125) — they're the ideal combination of attractive design and fantastic sound to please audiophiles and design freaks alike. Machined from a single piece of solid alder wood and stainless steel, they have a long-lasting construction that actually contributes to the sound. The stainless steel sheet along the front acts as the diaphragm and suspension of the speaker, thanks to an attached voice coil. This results in a full sound across the entire range that's perfect for whatever music helps you make you tackle that to-do list.
Fortunately for the masses of music lovers out there who don't know a tweeter from a hole in the wall, it's easier than ever to set up a wireless speaker system in your place without audiophile expertise or dropping a month's pay. Case in point, the Bose SoundTouch ($400-$700) line of wireless speakers. Choose from three available options in the line: the SoundTouch 30, great for large spaces; the SoundTouch 20, perfect for bedrooms or kitchens; and the SoundTouch Portable, with a rechargeable battery for when you're on the move. All three are easy to set up on your existing WiFi, have preset buttons for a range of audio sources, and come with an iOS app that cues up any music source instantly.
By now the market for high-fidelity wireless speaker systems is pretty flooded, but it's still tough to find a solution that looks great in your space, while still filling it with great sound. The Libratone Loop Speaker ($500) has a unique, circular design, and can be fitted with a range of wool covers that match with the look of your room, while a wall-mount and bipod stand let you set it up just about anywhere. Inside, two ribbon tweeters and a passive bass radiator give it all the sound of larger speaker systems, while also projecting sound all around, giving it a more three-dimensional sound. Couple all that with Airplay, DLNA, WiFi, and wired connectivity, and you have one great-sounding, good-looking speaker system that will connect to just about anything.
Get the classic look and sound of a Marshall amplifier and the connectivity of a modern speaker system with the Marshall Stanmore Speaker ($400). These retro jam boxes feature Bluetooth connectivity, a gold coiled 3.5 millimeter cable, an RCA input, and an optical input — so you can play just about any device through them, including your record player, smartphone, or Apple TV. Two 3/4 inch dome tweeters, a five and a quarter inch woofer, controls for bass, treble, and volume give you some of the best sound you've heard from a speaker set of this size.
Your music doesn't live on just one device anymore, so you need an audio solution that takes the portability of your media library seriously — something like the Harman Kardon Onyx Speaker ($500). This wireless speaker system was made with connectivity in mind, including Bluetooth with NFC, Airplay for Mac and iOS, DLNA for Android, Windows, and other Harman Kardon devices, as well as an auxiliary input for less capable devices. With two three-inch woofers and two three-quarter-inch tweeters, wireless audio doesn't mean you end up with sub-par sound.
You have a case for your smartphone, so you should probably have a case for your new Jawbone Mini Jambox — the Killspencer Speaker Case ($180). These American-made hand-crafted cases come in a range of styles: chocolate pebbled leather, natural oil-tanned leather, and black nylon with leather. The interior features an Alcantara lining to keep your Jambox from getting scuffed, while their proprietary sound-screen technology prevents the case from muffling your music. The built-in carrying loop makes it easy to pull out of your bag, while a magnetic snap closure keeps everything contained.
The Jawbone Mini Jambox ($160) is your smartphone's new best friend — here's hoping your headphones don't develop an inferiority complex. Perfectly-sized for your pocket or bag (just 6" by 2 1/4" by 1"), this speaker is built to go wherever you go, but don't let its small size fool you. Packed inside its attractive aluminum exterior are two acoustic stereo drivers and a passive bass radiator that produce the kind of sound you'd expect from something much larger. Bluetooth and stereo connectivity, 10 hours of battery life, a built-in microphone, and a range of color options make it the ideal choice for high-quality sound on the move.
When it comes to high end cartridges for your turntable, the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement ($15,000) is in a league of its own. The flagship cartridge for Clearaudio, already a well respected source in the hi-fi landscape, is nothing short of awe inspiring. Drop the Goldfinger on an album and experience one of the richest, most balanced sounds possible, with minimal surface noise, and without sacrificing any of the depth and resolution that Clearaudio has become famous for. And oh yeah, did we mention it's housed within a 14 karat gold body, featuring twelve magnets allowing for the use of 24 karat gold for the coils? And of course the added touch of a half carat diamond mounted in the front of the body. A perfect gift for the hip-hop mogul on your list that you thought had everything.
Experience rich sound and deep bass when you work with the Symbol Audio Desk ($4,000). Sliding doors on this writing desk open to reveal two four-inch full-range drivers with titanium cones, paired with a down-firing five-and-a-quarter-inch sub-woofer. The cabinet is dampened and ported, helping your music sound great. Cable management keeps unsightly wires tucked away, controls for volume and bass keep you in control, while a stereo input jack lets you connect just about any device. Choose from solid oak, walnut, cherry, or maple finishes.
Whether you're a musician, vocalist, or podcaster, you can take the stress out of home audio recording with the Nessie Microphone ($120). It adapts to whatever audio you're recording, automatically processing sound so you can just focus on your work. Three processing modes — one optimized for rich vocals, another for detailed instrumentation, and a third for raw audio (in case you want to manually edit post production) — let you work the way you want to. A built-in pop filter and an internal shock mount keep your audio sounding clear, without the need for additional gadgets. It features a zero-latency headphone output and USB plug-and-play compatibility with Mac and PC.
If you want your home audio to sit as the centerpiece in your living room, it needs to look beautiful. The Ruark Audio R7 ($TBA) has a stylish 60s contemporary look, wrapped in walnut veneer cabinet and sitting on black lacquer legs. The center — made from aluminum and glass — houses a DAB+/FM/internet radio, a CD/MP3 player, and has the ability to stream music wirelessly over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. A removable RotoDial remote lets you control it from nearly anywhere in your home, while a selection of inputs at rear puts it at the center of your entertainment system. Two drivers, an eight-inch subwoofer, and 160 watts of power keep your music sounding great.