WiFi HiFi Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Home Entertainment

Christine Persaud

Published: 11/08/2019 10:20:01 AM EST in Sound

WiFi HiFi Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Home Entertainment

We're back with the WiFi HiFi holiday gift guides! Each week, we'll release new themed gift guides, chocked-full of great tech gift ideas for different people on your list. This week, we're looking at great gifts for enhancing the home entertainment experience.

Monitor Audio MASS Surround System

Help someone complete their home theatre system with this set, which includes five high-performance satellite speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers, which WiFi HiFi contributor David Susilo reviewed earlier this Fall, come in Midnight (blue/black) or Mist (white/grey), with bespoke cloth covers that are acoustically transparent. Place the satellite speakers around the room on flat surfaces, or by using the complementary black or white MASS Stands, which include integrated cable management, and position them at an ideal height. Alternatively, they can be mounted on a wall using the MASM Speaker Mount, which comes in white, black, or grey, and includes a ball joint connection for convenient positioning. $1,399 Monitoraudio.com

Roku Express Streaming Player

For the person on your list who is just getting on board with streaming TV, wants to stream in a separate room, or has a cottage where they could use a streaming player, this one is a good option. Smaller than its predecessor, it connects to a TV and is fully powered by most TVs so you don't need to plug it into an AC outlet. Once connected, enjoy HD streaming from compatible services with the appropriate subscription. It comes with a handy remote that has shortcut buttons for the most popular streaming services, along with a high-speed HDMI cable and power cord. $40 Roku.com

Roku TV

For the person or family looking to update their living room, den, or bedroom with a brand new TV, consider a TV like the Hisense R6107 Series 55" 4K UHD Roku TV ($700) or TCL 4-Series 65" 4K UHD HDR LED TV ($650), both of which come with the Roku platform built-in. Once set-up and connected to Wi-Fi, they can stream in HD from compatible services (with a subscription when required) right from the TV without having to buy a secondary device to connect to the TV. Free channels are also available, along with titles for rent or purchase.

Denon DRA-800H Stereo Network Receiver

The Denon DRA-800H stereo network receiver features a new L/R symmetric stereo power amplifier design, delivers audio from wireless music, CD, and phono, and an HDMI section with 4K Ultra HD support offers 4K and HDR video pass-through, and ARC. With 100 watts per channel, it has double differential DAC circuitry, AKM 32-bit D/A converters, front panel USB, five HDMI inputs and one output, High Dynamic Range (HDR10), BT.2020 pass-through support, HDCP 2.3 processing on all HDMI ports, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Josh.ai, and Apple Siri. HEOS built-in enables wireless multi-room music streaming across compatible components; and IP control capability for third-party control devices and Control4 SDPP (Simple Device Detection Protocol) certification allows for integration with Control4 equipment. $749 Ca.denon.com

Amazon Echo Show

Add some video to the smart speaker experience with the Echo Show 5, which has a 5.5" display, HD camera, and built-in camera shutter so you can close it when you don't need it and open it when you do - great for those who have concerns about their privacy. Use it as you would any Alexa-enabled smart speaker with the added ability of being able to watch videos, like morning news clips or how-tos in the kitchen, see live footage from a connected and compatible security camera, or make video calls. Use it for two-way talk as well with compatible Ring doorbell cameras. Add personal photos for the clock face or play a slideshow of photos so it functions as a digital photo frame as well. Charcoal or sandstone, $100. A magnetic standing for tilling the device to adjust the viewing and camera angle is $30. Amazon.ca

Totem Acoustic KIN Play Mini

This plug-and-play compact powered two-way bookshelf Mini speaker includes all of the features of the larger KIN PLAY, but in a more compact package. Designed for use with source devices like a computer, gaming console, smartphone, turntable, or other digital or analog audio component, it features both analog and digital inputs, a built-in phono preamplifier, and 70-watt RMS per channel amplifier. Replacing an integrated amplifier/passive speaker combination, along with the required cables, it includes bass and treble controls, accessible from the included 17-keyy aluminum remote. This allows for customized sound from the listening position, says Totem. Additional specs include Qualcomm aptX HD Bluetooth; optical input up to 24-bit/192kHz; RCA inputs; 3.5mm mini jack; 4" woofer and customized 1" metal alloy dome tweeter; and magnetic grills. They come in satin black or white finishes and sell for an MSRP of $850. Totemacoustic.com

Torus Power PowerBlock PB 10

It's a great accessory for the home entertainment enthusiast, offering two 5-amp Torus Power isolation transformers in a compact, rugged enclosure. Designed for use in mid-power audio and video systems, it features full isolation between outlet pairs. Like its little brother, the PB 5, the PB 10 is ideal for situations where you want to isolate digital components from analog equipment or segregate switching power supplies from linear power supplies. It can be placed on or near a component shelf, on any floor surface, or it can be located elsewhere when space is at a premium. At US$1,300, it's not exactly cheap. But if you know someone who will appreciate its benefits, it might be worth the cost, especially if a group pools their money together for a hifi and video entertainment enthusiast. Toruspower.com

Thorens TD202 Turntable

For someone who's getting serious about vinyl, this turntable has a neat feature: in addition to functioning as a standard turntable, it has an integrated phono stage with an additional analogue/digital converter with USB out for digitizing vinyl music to a computer using compatible recording software downloaded from the Web (not included). It includes a pre-configured cartridge, integrated, switchable phono stage for direct connection to any amplifier or receiver, smooth-running belt driven motor, and an aluminum platter with rubber mat. Manual plug-and-play, it has a large, high-gloss black plinth and AT 95E cartridge. $1,200 Thorens.com

Amazon Echo Input

This neat accessory can make any basic speaker Alexa-enabled and controllable by voice, which is great for someone who might not be ready to jump full force into the smart speaker space or might want voice control in a second room. Connect the device to just about any third-party speaker via 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth. A custom four-microphone array lets you talk to Alexa from across the room, even while music is playing. Once connected, use the external speaker to do everything you would with an Alexa-enabled speaker, including asking questions, controlling smart devices, and playing music. Speakers can be added to a new or existing Multi-Room Music group for synchronized streaming throughout the home. If you have multiple Echo devices within hearing distance, Amazon's Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) technology intelligently calculates the clarity of your voice and determines which Echo is closest and should respond to the request. Support for English and French, $45 Amazon.ca

PSB Speakers Alpha S10 Powered Subwoofer

PSB Speakers' Alpha S10 DSP-controlled powered subwoofer features specialized long-throw drivers and efficient, bass-extending bass reflex enclosures. With digital signal processing (DSP), the built-in, high efficiency digital amplifiers deliver 210W of dynamic power for deep-bass peaks and musical accuracy. It has a 10" woofer with polypropylene cone and rubber surround, and 150-Watt digital amplifier and variable crossover from 50-150Hz. On the rear panel are Volume and Crossover Controls, Phase Switch, Low Level Input, AutoOn/Standby Switch, Gold-plated RCAs, USB Power Jack for RT100 wireless accessory, supplied rubber bumpers, and spikes that allow for installation on hardwood or carpeted floors. Like all PSB speakers, final voicing is performed by Founder and Chief Designer, Paul Barton at Canada's National Research Council. MSRP $749. Psbspeakers.com

Denon DCD-600NE CD Player

If you know someone who still keeps a bountiful CD collection and has no plans for getting rid of it any time soon, this might be an appreciated gift. The CD player supports CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 and WMA formats and features Denon AL32 Processing technology. It is outfitted with power transformers fitted near the bottom and immediately above the insulators to prevent unwanted vibration. The Pure Direct Mode feeds sound directly to the amplifiers by deactivating the front display that might otherwise colour the sound. The circuit design is engineered to make signal paths as short as possible. With layered circuit boards and shorter circuits, the interference between left and right channels is reduced, and the adverse influences on audio signals are minimized. As a result, the circuit paths reproduce cleaner audio signal that remains faithful to the original recording, says Denon. USS$299. Denon.com

Sonos Move Speaker

Sonos finally launched an outdoor speaker, so those who already enjoy Sonos in their homes, or who have been holding out for an outdoor version, will be clamouring to get one. Put one under the tree for the person you know will use it in their backyard or by the pool. It has a tough, durable exterior that can withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV, and extreme temperatures, and features a rating of IP56. Operating as part of the Sonos system on Wi-Fi with the added range of Bluetooth, it supports streaming services, voice assistants, AirPlay2, and includes Sonos' Trueplay tuning technology with automatic Trueplay, which allows the speaker to tune itself to balance the sound for the environment. The battery can run for up to 10 hours of continuous play time on a single charge. At home, Move slides on and off the included indoor charging base. Suspend mode, enabled automatically when not in use or by tapping the power button, reserves the battery for up to five days. Use built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to play music, check the news, control smart home devices, and more. $499 Sonos.com

Focal Chora Bookshelf and Floorstanding Speakers

For someone looking for the right speakers for their home theatre, den, living room, or bedroom, consider these, the successor to the Chorus line. There include midrange and bass speaker drivers that are made of an all-new cone made of Slatefiber, a new speaker driver material designed and manufactured by Focal in France. New materials achieve even greater damping, rigidity and lightness, like thermoplastic polymer with non-woven recycled carbon fibers. With this cone, the sound reproduction of midrange frequencies is "perfectly balanced and rich, with minimal coloration and plenty of dynamics," says Focal. The Chora line consists of the Chora 826 and Chora 816 floorstanding loudspeakers and the Chora 806 bookshelf loudspeaker, all of which come in black, light wood and dark wood finishes. Pricing starts at US$899 for a pair of the 806s. Focal.com

Article Tags:  wifi hifi holiday gift guide, holiday gift guide, gift guides, tech gift guides, tech gifts, gifts for home entertainment, gifts for home theatre, audio gifts, video gifts


WiFi HiFi Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Home Entertainment

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