Need to buy something for the classical music lover in your life? Here are some tech suggestions from our audio expert Chris Haslam


If you need more inspiration for gifts check out our best gift ideas for classical music lovers and our best music gift ideas for kids

Best audio equipment Christmas gift ideas

Final UX3000 headphones

One of my favourite headphones from the past year, the UX3000 from Final boasts a whopping 35-hour battery life, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and solid sound quality, all for less than £120.

Active Noise Cancellation often clouds the audio performance on lower priced headphones, but the new driver design here has been specifically tuned to cope with the added circuitry. You really can tell the difference, with background noise minimised, leaving just the music to enjoy.

Check out our best noise-cancelling headphones and what to look for when choosing them

Bowers & Wilkins Px8


Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones

Beautiful, luxurious and a treat to wear, these flagship headphones top my Christmas list. I was impressed by the cheaper Px7 (reviewed in November) but having spent time with the upgrade it’s clear where the money has been spent.

The aluminium and fine Nappa leather trim look and feel unquestionably premium, but it’s the high-resolution 24-bit DSP and carbon cone drive units that manage to pull an astonishing amount of detail from everything I play through them.

Qobuz from £15

While Spotify and Tidal tend to dominate the music streaming headlines, hi-res specialist service Qobuz is well worth a look. As well as 80 million tracks in its music library, it also has a digital record shop where you can download and own 24-bit versions of your favourite symphonies.

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The company is offering a three-month subscription gift voucher for £38.97, which is a great way for someone to get to grips with the platform, and it also sells good old fashioned (digital) record tokens from £15 to £150.

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JBL Tune Flex Ghost

JBL Tune Flex Ghost headphones

A remarkably good-value pair of true wireless headphones comes in a pocket-friendly case, has a combined battery life of 32 hours and benefits from good Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology and larger-than-usual 12mm drivers.

You can choose noise isolation silicone tips (in three sizes) that sit snugly into the ear canal, or opt for a more open, Apple Airpod-style tip that rests just outside the ear.

Buy from JBL

Boombocs Studio


I’m rather smitten with this retro-styled multifunctional speaker from South London-based Boombocs. Available in four stylish colours plus a garish pink, it has a 15-hour battery life for go-anywhere convenience, as well as Spotify Connect built in, so you don’t have to rely on your smartphone for streaming.

That said, you’re by no means obliged to stick with Spotify, as it has Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, thousands of stations via internet radio and a USB port, so you shouldn’t be stuck for something to play on Christmas morning.

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Audio Technica Sound Burger


Audio Technica Sound Burger

This portable, battery-powered model is pure nostalgia for any child of the 1980s. The latest model offers Bluetooth streaming, USB-C port for battery charging, RCA audio cable for connecting to an amp – handy when you’ve had enough of the tiny speakers – and a perfectly acceptable (and replaceable) ATN3600L stylus, so it won’t do any damage to your records. Yes, the 331/3 and 45rpm belt drive design is kitsch, but it’s fun and may just inspire more people to enjoy your record collection.

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Pro-Ject Audio Vinyl NRS Box S3


For the vinyl collector, this ingenious box of tricks connects between your turntable and amplifier and uses advanced digital sound processing to remove the crackle associated with old, well-loved records.

The signal from the turntable is digitised in the box to a hi-res 24-bit/96kHz digital format, before a processor dampens the clicks for a cleaner sound. Pro-Ject calls it ‘de-crackling’ and claims it can reduce the crackling volume by up to eight decibels.

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Ruark Audio R2 Smart Music System

A timely upgrade to Ruark Audio’s classic radio, the all-new R2 offers something for every music listener, with DAB+, FM and Internet radio tuners built in as well as support for major music streaming services including Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music over Wi-Fi.

There’s also Bluetooth 5 streaming, a USB-C charging port for topping up your gadget’s batteries, AUX output and a headphone socket. But most important of all, it sounds delightful, offers intuitive control and will sit beautifully in any room of your home.

iFi GO blu

A gift for the travelling audiophile in your life, this matchbox-sized 26g portable (ten hour battery life) DAC/headphone amp will significantly upgrade the sound from his or her smartphone. Plug in a favourite pair of headphones (3.5 and 4.4mm jacks) and connect to a smartphone via the latest hi-res capable Bluetooth 5.1 connection – or plug in for hi-res streaming up to 24-bit/96kHz if using a portable music player – and enjoy greater expression, detail and depth wherever you are.

Harman Kardon Citation Oasis DAB


Easily the most feature-packed bedside alarm clock radio I’ve come across, with stylish but understated design, this offers built-in Bluetooth, AirPlay and Google Chromecast, can connect over Wi-Fi for higher quality music streaming, and boasts DAB and internet radio. With all the usual alarm clock features, it has voice control and a large wireless charging pad on the top to boost any Qi-compatible smartphone battery, plus a USB socket for charging other devices as you snooze.

Pro-ject Juke Box S2


Based around the award-winning Pro-Ject Primary E turntable, the recently updated Juke Box S2 crams in a built-in phono stage, Bluetooth receiver, pre-amp and 50W-per-channel power amplifier, meaning you only need to add speakers and you’ve got yourself a complete hi-fi, centered, as all good systems should be, around playing vinyl. But fear not, this isn’t a jack of all trades, master of none type of set-up, thanks in no small part to the new Pick-IT 25A cartridge, quality tone arm and new Acryl-IT E platter.

Nothing Ear (1)


Here’s a fresh, new and enjoyably different looking pair of true wireless earbuds from a company backed by Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod. For those who can’t afford Apple’s AirPods Pro, the Nothing Ear (1)s tick almost all the same boxes for a fraction of the cost, most notably Active Noise Cancellation, five hours of continuous listening (34 hours in total with the battery case), superb fit, reliable connectivity and an impressive, enjoyable performance.

Bang & Olufsen Emerge


I’d be ecstatic to find anything from Bang & Olufsen under the tree this year, but I’ve developed a soft spot for this stylish fabric-clad anodised aluminium Wi-Fi-streaming speaker in gold or black that sits on a shelf just like a hardback book. Audio streaming comes via the B&O app or Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Google Assistant, while the 120W amp, 4" driver, 1.45" mid-range driver and 0.6" tweeter sound exceptional through a wide 180-degree soundstage, that’s all the more impressive given the speaker’s size.

Q Acoustic M20 HD


All-in-one active speakers make sense for anyone wanting to enjoy the benefits of stereo sound, but don’t have the room, or possibly budget, for a complete hi-fi system. The M20 is an ideal solution for a home office or smaller living room, consisting of a pair of compact wireless speakers each with 125mm mid/bass driver and 22mm tweeter, powered by a built-in 130 watt amplifier. Wireless streaming is via aptX HD Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi, but there’s also optical, RCA line-in, aux and USB connections to the rear for connecting a CD player or turntable.

Apple HomePod Mini


Something not much bigger than a cricket ball really shouldn’t sound this impressive, but the HomePod Mini’s downward-firing 360-degree full-range driver manages to be punchy, insightful and enjoyable to listen to. Ably assisted by Siri voice control – which can happily tell the difference between Stravinsky and Shostakovich – if you’re an Apple Music subscriber and fancy some orbs of audio joy dotted around the house, it’s hard to beat.

Grado Prestige SR60x



Each pair of SR60x headphones is hand-built in Brooklyn, New York, which is quite remarkable given the relatively low cost, super durable build and excellent open-backed sound quality. All the effort goes into the quality of the audio components rather than hi-tech wireless features. The result is a pair of wired headphones that are expressive and refined – perfect for the music fan who loves to find a quiet place to indulge for a while.


Chris HaslamAudio and Tech Specialist, BBC Music Magazine

Chris Haslam is a freelance consumer technology journalist, specialising in tech, audio, lifestyle, health and interiors. He is the monthly audio columnist for BBC Music Magazine, rounding up the best audio equipment on the market for classical music lovers. He is also a contributing editor for Wired UK.