With vinyl record sales rising by 260 percent over the last few years, and showing no signs of slowing down, odds are that there’s an old-school vinyl fanatic in your life. And that he or she could be of any age. Between new bands releasing music on vinyl, and old classics getting polished up with new mastering technologies, music lovers of all ages are hopping onto the vinyl bandwagon.
Thus, we’ve teamed up with our friends at the “best damn record club out there”, Vinyl Me, Please, to bring you a gift guide full of products hand-picked for the vinyl lover in your life.
1. A new record, every month (starts at $23/month)
For starters, what good would all the other stuff on this list be without some actual vinyl to listen to? Vinyl Me, Please has gift plans for periods of three months, six months, or 12 months. Included in the subscription is monthly delivery of a vinyl LP (it’s always a surprise), an original 12”x12” art print inspired by the album, a cocktail recipe crafted specifically for pairing with the record, and other perks.
2. U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable ($309.00)
A minimalist turntable focused on detailed sound without unnecessary features, this is an excellent stereo component for the vinyl lover who wants audiophile-quality sound without the hefty price tag and extra features. Manufactured in Boston, Massachusetts, these things don’t just sound great. Made with an acrylic platter, which makes for consistent speed and punchy bass, they look great.
And, they even have a red Orbit. (We had to.)
3. AudioQuest NightHawk headphones ($599)
Some audiophiles prefer to listen to music with high-quality headphones rather than speakers—it allows them to hear a wider stereo image, and with the sound being pumped directly into their ears, they don’t have to worry about the acoustics of a room. Made with sustainable materials, some of these headphones’ components are made with 3D printing. But the important thing is the sound—the drivers in these headphones are designed to work more like loudspeakers than typical ’phones, and each component is meticulously crafted with acoustics in mind.
RedOrbit was able to get two pairs from AQ (Thanks guys!) and tested their gold standard song on them (The Jurassic Park theme), and it was like listening to an entirely new song. We heard parts of the arrangement we didn’t know existed. It brought a tear to our eye.
4. AudioQuest DragonFly DAC ($145.69)
This one doesn’t really have anything to do with vinyl, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. If you buy a nice pair of headphones for listening to your records, you may as well also use them for all of your digital music, as well! You can always just plug them into your computer’s headphone output, but unless you’ve built a custom machine, chances are, your computer’s audio card is of average quality at best. This nifty digital-analog converter is the size of a USB flash drive, and delivers the best possible audio so you can get the most out of those fancy headphones.
5. Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers ($399)
These speakers have a built-in power amp, so that’s one less stereo component you’d need to buy! Capable of pumping out 150 watts, these bad boys will get loud, yet still remain punchy, clear, and balanced, whether you’re listening to music from a device plugged into the speakers via USB, or music from a turntable or other component.
6. Kate Koeppel Design Record Dividers ($70-410)
Once you own enough records, you’re going to want a way to keep them organized. These laser cut, wooden record dividers come in different quantities and methods of organization. There’s a 26-panel set (with each having a stenciled letter of the alphabet), and smaller alphabetical sets with a range of letters spread out over three or six panels. There are also genre dividers that can be ordered in varying quantities—and you get to pick which genres you want, so you have dividers that best suit your needs.
7. A Century of Artifice by Michael Cina ($55)
Award-winning artist Michael Cina has produced album covers for the label Ghostly International, whose roster includes electronic artists Com Truise, Tycho, and others since 2007. This book, produced in conjunction with the VSCO Artist Initiative, features 100 of the album covers he’s produced over the years, along with the accompanying concept art.
8. Dovetail Record Crates ($225)
Improperly stored vinyl can warp, causing it to spin on the turntable at an inconsistent speed and giving it a pitchy sound. Yuck! Keeping your records in a properly sized crate will keep them playing properly. Since you don’t probably want to keep your record collection out in the open where it’s easily accessible, you’ve got to check out these handcrafted solid-wood crates. They hold up to 100 LPs, come in oak or walnut, and feature sharp looking brass and leather handles.
9. Grado Labs SR325e Headphones ($295)
If you want some great sounding headphones, but the wood grain aesthetic of the NightHawk cans isn’t your style, check these out. They’re designed with more of a ‘60s aesthetic.
10. Sub Pop Records Liberty Needle T-shirt ($20)
If your special vinyl lover is into grunge and indie rock, they’ll love this shirt from the Sub Pop label, which features the hand of the Statue of Liberty holding the Seattle Space Needle.
11. PS Audio Sprout Amplifier ($499)
This power amplifier is sleek, simple, versatile, and loud. It’s the size of a large book, looks nice, and features digital, analog, and USB inputs, as well as Bluetooth capability.
12. Zu Audio Omen Mk.II Floor Speakers ($1800)
If you’re looking for a bigger sound than what tabletop speakers can deliver, look no further than these floor standing speakers. Built in the U.S., these high-quality speakers are built to last a lifetime and work well with both vintage and modern equipment.
13. Schiit Modi 2 Headphone Amplifier ($119)
If you’ve got nice headphones, you’re going to need something to power them. This simple headphone amplifier features analog inputs for your turntable and other stereo components, as well as USB connectivity so, like with the Audioquest DragonFly, you can use this to enjoy your digital music, as well.
14. Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II Tube Amplifier ($2,295)
If you want to be really old school, you’ll want this tube-driven power amplifier. Tube audio components are renowned for their smoothness and warmth—it’ll add a little sweetness to the already warm vinyl sound (and, of course, your other audio sources, as well). It also features a built-in, one watt headphone amplifier.
15. Rega RP6 Turntable ($1,990)
We didn’t want to just give you one measly (though super cool) turntable in this roundup. Here’s another nice one worth your consideration. It has the same minimalist design as the Orbit turntable. And it comes in red.
16. Numero Group Ork Records Vinyl Box Set ($70)
17. Spin Clean MKII Record Washer ($79)
Those records are going to get a little dusty over time, and you want to clean them thoroughly and carefully to keep them sounding like new. This nifty device allows you to clean both sides of your records at once!
18. Wax Poetics Magazine Subscription (4 issues for $54)
A quarterly journal, this magazine is the self-described “best music magazine on the planet”. It focuses on jazz, funk, soul, blues, and reggae.
19. 69 Love Songs Reissue by The Magnetic Fields ($100)
A three-volume concept album originally released by indie pop group The Magnetic Fields in 1999, this vinyl reissue includes six records in varying colors—black, red, and clear—in a slipcase with a 24-page book of liner notes.
Feature Image: Q Avenue Photography/Vinyl Me, Please