What the Tech: Gifts for music lovers

(WHAT THE TECH) - If you have a music lover on your wish list this year, you're in luck. Finding a great gift for
someone who listens to music at home, at work or on-the-go is easy. There are Bluetooth
speakers, Bluetooth/wireless headphones everywhere.

For purists, old-school turntables make great gifts along with vinyl records. Here are a few tech gadget gift ideas for the music fan in your life:

You may have saved some of your old vinyl records but have nothing to play them on; I hear that from people all the time. The past couple of Christmases audio turntables have been among the best selling electronics on Amazon, but which one do you choose?

All-in-one turntables come with a speaker built-in. These are good choices for tight spaces when you cannot connect a turntable to a home audio system. Crosley and Jensen models are highly rated by music fans. Some models can connect to a computer via a USB cable so the records can be transferred digitally to be saved and played on iPhones and in-car systems. Several models are also equipped with Bluetooth transmitters to be connected wirelessly to Bluetooth speakers and headphones.

Audio-Technica turntables are my choice this year. The Audio-Technica LP60 is easy on the budget at $89 and plays music the way it was made to be played. The fully automatic belt-drive turntable connects to stereo systems and has a pre-amp built in, which is important because most home audio systems are not equipped with a pre-amp and have no connections to a turntable. With the built-in pre-amp, you can connect the record player to the system through the cd input. Other Audio-Technica models can connect to a computer with a USB and some models have Bluetooth capability. Purists though will prefer listening to vinyl through a direct wired connection.

For a home or office speaker, I recommend the Bose SoundTouch 10. This wireless desk shelf speaker has tremendous range. It connects to a variety of audio players such as a stereo system, Bluetooth speakers and wirelessly to a computer. By connecting to a player over wifi the Soundtouch 10 provides a more warm and vibrant sound that you get by connecting over Bluetooth.

The Soundtouch 10 also works extremely well with Amazon Echo products. Bose has a promotion now that packages an Echo Dot with the speaker for $215. The speaker $179.

For portable Bluetooth speakers, my choice has been for several years has been the Eton Rukus. This rugged speaker is powered by the sun and will keep a phone charged while it streams the music over Bluetooth. The model I have is hard to find but is available through some 3rd party sellers on Amazon for around $400. Eton also sells a newer, less expensive model of the Rukus for around $60.

Bluetooth earbuds and headphones are big sellers this year. Apple's AirPods and Google's Pixel Buds are great selections but are both in the $160-$180 price range. Anker makes a nice set of Bluetooth earbuds that have good sound and good fit. The Anker SoundBuds are also priced well at around $30.

Bose has a great set of over-ear headphones that connect to phones, laptops and other devices wirelessly. The Quiet Comfort headphones are noise-canceling for long plane rides and will connect to more than 1 source. You can be listening to the audio of a movie playing on your laptop but can accept and hear incoming calls to your phone. The Quiet Comfort headphones also have Google Assistant built-in. These top of the line headphones are $350. Bose also has a lower cost alternative in its SoundLink wrap around headphones for $200.

Vinyl records aren't all old-school. New bands are releasing music on vinyl these days and music from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s is being re-released on high-quality vinyl. You can find a great selection of vinyl records in many bookstores and on Amazon.


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