Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 5: Technology | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 5: Technology

Headphones, Turntables, Speakers, and More

Dec 04, 2019 Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to Part 5 of Under the Radar‘s Holiday Gift Guide 2019. This one is centered on technology. Being that we’re primarily a music magazine and website, the focus here is on audio tech. We’ve kept this one simple, highlighting one set of speakers, two headphones, a fantastic turntable, and a couple of other useful items.

In terms of our Holiday Gift Guide 2019 we have already posted a guide about video games and two drinks related guides, one for coffee, beer, and wine and another for cocktails. Then we posted part one of our collectibles guide. And stay tuned for more guides we’ll be posting on board games, DVDs and Blu-rays, music box sets and reissues, toys and other gifts for kids, and books and graphic novels. And don’t forget that Under the Radar print magazine subscriptions also make a great gift. Plus donating to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift receiver is also a good way to go.

AKG K371 Headphones (AKG by Harman)

RRP: $149.00

The trend for years has been going towards smaller and smaller earphones that fit in your ear (sometimes uncomfortably) and are perhaps Bluetooth. And some of those can sound great and are especially useful when you’re on the go or exercising. But true audiophiles know that older school headphones often sound best. AKG’s K371 headphones are a great current option. They are over the ear headphones that have a clean, crisp sound. They are incredibly comfortable and fold up for easy storage or travel. The K371’s are lightweight, weighing only 255 grams (or nine ounces). The oval ear pads are great at isolating sounds and providing minimal leakage when you’re trying to listen in quiet environments. The headphones feature 50mm drivers and would work well for multiple professional uses (for music studios, podcasters, film editors, etc.), as well as just to jam out to your favorite tunes without disturbing your roommate, a sleeping spouse, a newborn baby, the other people trying to study in the library, or some other such situation. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

AKG K275 Headphones (AKG by Harman)

RRP: $99.00

A slightly more affordable headphone option from AKG is their K275 model. The main difference between the K371 and the K275 is in the design, as they both feature excellent studio quality sound. The K275 weigh a bit more than the K371 (295 grams versus 255 grams), feature circular ear pads instead of oval ones, and don’t fold up quite as compactly as the K371 model. But the K275 feature 50mm transducers “to create greater low-frequency extension and detailed bass reproduction,” as the AKG website puts it, and is another great option for both professional and home use. It all depends on your budget and which look and fit you prefer. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)


RRP: $349.00

The right chair will make a world of difference at your workspace or gaming station. If you’re going to be spending hours on end at a desk, whether it be for lengthy battle royale matches or itemizing your taxes, every one of those minutes should be as comfortable as you can make them. MAINGEAR have taken 15 years of gear design experience and channeled that into their FORMA chair line, which boasts impressively sturdy and ergonomic construction. There are few elements in these chairs that can’t be customized on the fly, from its four-directional armrests and hydraulic piston lift, to a backrest that can recline an incredible 165 degrees. The chairs come in several color combinations for their high-quality, stitched leatherette seats, and for extra comfort include breathable neck and lumbar pillows (which are moveable, for when you need to change positions). With a five-year limited warranty, the FORMAs are a long-term investment in a techhead’s comfort. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

JBL 104 Reference Monitors (JBL by Harman)

RRP: $129.00

I hate to admit that in the early days of Under the Radar I had some fairly cheap computer speakers by which to judge and review music submitted by MP3 downloads and streams. I got by, but no doubt missed some important dimensions in the sound. I have long since upgraded to some Harman/Kardon SoundSticks, which have served me well for several years. JBL’s 104 Reference Monitors would also do the trick. They are intended for placement on desks, on either side of a computer. The professional uses include podcasting, video editing, and the computer recording of music. The pair comes armed with an integrated 60-watt Class D power amplifier, which distributes 30 watts to each speaker. The JBL 104 features 4.5-inch (118 mm) low-frequency drivers and coaxial .75- inch (19 mm) soft-dome tweeters. And while there is no subwoofer, the bass sound is still quite potent. You can easily connect laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, or anything that has a headphones jack, or there are separate inputs for more professional equipment. The main speaker itself also has a headphones jack that when used mutes the speakers. At an affordable price, you really have no excuse not to have your computer or listening device of choice hooked up to high quality speakers such as the JBL 104. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

MAINGEAR Classic Backpack for laptops (MAINGEAR)

RRP: $99.00

It’s time to toss out the ratty messenger bag your laptop has been rattling around in for the last decade. MAINGEAR’s new line of tech-oriented backpacks will hold up to a 15.6-inch screen in its protected, padded sleeve, keeping your computer safe as you lug it between gaming locations or workspaces. The oldschool, backpack design-with its padded straps-minimize the normal strain on your neck and shoulders, bringing the weight down to a level where you’ll almost forget you’re carrying anything, even when it’s loaded up with additional gear like headphones, a mouse, and books. Speaking of carrying things, too, you’ll have lots of options of where to put them all: MAINGEAR’s backpack has more pockets than a Rob Liefeld comic book hero. One of those hidden pockets even contains a Tile tracking device, making it possible to track the bag if you misplace it. MAINGEAR’s Classic Backpack is stylish, practical, comfortable, and durable-checking off every single box that you could possibly want from a laptop carrier. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

Stir It Up Wireless Bluetooth Turntable (House of Marley)

RRP: $249.99

Why pay thousands of dollars for a turntable, when you get a fantastic one such as House of Marley’s Stir It Up Wireless for a reasonable $249.99? Our research found that there are crazy turntables out there that even sell for as much as $650,000, and while that’s an extreme example, it’s routine to find high-end models priced in the $1000 to $2000 range. I’m sure some of those models have increased stabilization or other aspects that appeal to those who use them in a professional capacity, but for home listening there’s no reason to spend that much money. So what makes the Stir It Up Wireless stand out from other reasonably priced turntables? Firstly, as its name suggests, the model easily connects to Bluetooth enabled speakers and headphones at the touch of a button. This is not your granddad’s record player (seriously, for many years the turntable I used was one from the 1970s that used to belong to my late grandfather, who was a sometime jazz pianist). This is not the only wireless turntable on the market, so what else makes the Stir It Up so special? For starters, the stylish device is constructed out of solid bamboo and recycled material (such as plastic and aluminum). There’s also quote from the company’s namesake, reggae legend Bob Marley, elegantly etched into the arm. What’s more, when you buy any House of Marley product some proceeds go to Project Marley, which helps support reforestry and to date have planted 191,000 trees. As well as having Bluetooth, the Stir It Up also has traditional wired connections (including a RCA outpout and a 3.5mm headphone jack). It even has a USB port so you can connect it to your computer to record vinyl. Really, it has everything you could need from a turntable and you don’t need to break the bank buying it. Also available for a lesser price of $199.99 is the more basic Stir It Up model, which isn’t wireless/Bluetooth compatible and doesn’t have a USB port, but is equally stylish. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

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