Buying for an audiophile can be a head-first dive into the thorny brambles of advanced gift-giving. Imagine as you watch your beloved audio enthusiast unwrap a set of headphones that cost as much as your first car. They’re perfect. You’re sure of it. “Thank you,” they say with a tight smile. That June, they re-gift them to their worst enemy. Where did you go wrong?
Audiophiles can be extremely tricky to buy for. You may already be cringing at the thought of trying to find them a present that isn’t a gift card. But don’t lose hope yet! With a little ingenuity, you can find the perfect gift for an audiophile.
1. Define “Audiophile”
First, know your enemy (and by enemy I mean your lovely audiophile friend with their perfectly valid hobby). Not all audiophiles are created equal. Though all cultivate a love for high-end audio equipment, their approaches can differ wildly. Many swear by vinyl and disdain digital compression of any kind. Some accept digital playback (but only if it’s FLAC or WMA… are you lost yet?) and prefer expensive headphones. Others express their love of music through massive speakers, vacuum-tube amplifiers and acoustic room treatments.
Start your gift search by finding out what kind of audiophile you’re dealing with. That way, you don’t buy them a ton of acoustic foam tile when what they really want is an RCA vinyl record care system. (By the way: no true audiophile wants anything to do with iPod, Apple headphones, or MP3 compression, so cross that right off. You and I might appreciate an apple gadget or two, so feel free to check them out to give yourself a little holiday cheer. Just don’t give them to an audiophile. Just no.)
2. Do Your Homework
Audiophiles are fussy and have highly specific tastes — just ask them. No, really! One glance at the online wars waged over Sennheiser earphones vs. Bose will tell you how strongly audiophiles identify with their gear. Find out about their brand loyalties. Ask if they’ve been longing for a particular piece of equipment. Take notes, because it likely has a long name with lots of numbers in it, like “Denon AVR-S710W”. It pays to be specific. Picking up whatever is on sale at Best Buy is not merely courting disaster, it’s inviting disaster home to meet your parents.
3. Think Beyond Audio Gear
Not every gift needs to be expensive audio gear. In fact, unless their beloved Rega RP1 turntable just broke and is in dire need of replacement, they may well have all the audio gear they need! This is your opportunity to get them something they wouldn’t think of — maybe a set of wireless bluetooth speakers (if they’re into digital playback), a Spin-Clean record washer system for their beloved vinyl collection, or a set of Woo Audio display stands to hang their expensive headphones on.
4. Give the Gift of Sound
All the audio gear in the world means nothing without music. Look into the popular lists of albums for audiophiles and see if any are missing from your favorite enthusiast’s collection. Better yet, track down a signed or rare copy for a truly unforgettable gift!
5. (Don’t) Abandon All Hope
Technical specifications too overwhelming? Audio gadgets too far out of your price range? Don’t panic yet! You can still find a thoughtful gift that acknowledges your loved one’s enthusiasm for music without breaking the bank — like a handmade guitar serving board, audiophile-themed clothing, or a hand-cranked music box. A set of drumstick spoons could remind them of their love of music every time they serve a meal.
Shopping for your favorite audiophile can be a challenge, but with a little thoughtfulness and care, you’re sure to find something they’ll treasure. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our holiday gift guide — or, if you have a story or tip to share with us, please leave it in the comments below!