The iPhone has become so much a part of our culture that when you meet someone who really loves music, you just assume they've got an iPod or iPhone. And you're usually right. If someone on your year-end gift list is a big music fan and an iPod or iPhone owner, that means there's a nearly endless list of good gift options. Or, if you've got a big music fan on your list who doesn't have an iPod or iPhone, I've got some suggestions for you.
(If you're shopping for a musician, not just a music lover, check out these gift suggestions.)
1. iPod touch
The combination of the iPod touch's large storage - it maxes out at 64 GB - Internet access and App Store support, makes the touch not only a great music player, but also great for games, productivity apps, and much more. Add the new 4-inch Retina Display screen and the ability to record 1080p HD video and you've got an amazing all-around device that will thrill anyone who gets one.
2. iPod nano
While it doesn't offer the large capacity or App Store support of the iPod touch, the nano has a lot to recommend it. As a very portable, very light iPod, it can be great for people on the go. The new 7th generation model takes the best elements of its predecessor--its multitouch screen, a more iOS-style interface--and combines them with an FM radio, a good amount of storage, and an attractive price.
The music fan in your life probably already spends a lot of time (and money) at the iTunes Store, so they’ll know just what to do with this gift. In fact, they may already have a wishlist to spend it on. ITunes Gift Cards come in denominations of $15, $25, $50, and $100 and ensure that the recipient is always getting music they want.
4. A Music Streaming Subscription
If your music lover doesn't already have a subscription to a streaming service, they'll be thrilled if you give them one. These services let subscribers to listen to practically any song they want for free. Upgrade from free to plans that cost $5-$10/month to get unlimited listening, no ads, and the ability to listen on iPhone and offline. The major services to consider including MOG, Rdio (Get Rdio FREE), and Spotify.
5. eMusic Subscription
Your independent-minded music fan may already be an eMusic subscriber. Or they might want to be. The indie-music heavy site is a the best fit for those with adventurous or non-mainstream tastes, especially when it comes to independent and world music, classical, jazz, and blues. EMusic's become even more useful thanks to the addition major-label artists, which include Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Run DMC, The Clash, and many more. Subscriptions to this download service start as low as US$11.99/month.
Chances are, your music fan loves to listen to music in the car. Give them a way to pipe their music through their car stereo with a car adapter. There are three kinds of iPhone/iPod car kits: cassette adapters, FM transmitters, and built-in jacks. Jacks offer the best quality and the highest price, while cassette adapters have low prices and acceptable quality. FM transmitters are prone to interference in areas with a lot of radio stations, so choose wisely.
8. Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Larger speaker systems offer great sound quality and are terrific for use at home or the office, but what about when your music lover is on the go? They may want something that sounds better than the built-in iPhone or iPod touch speakers. In that case, consider portable Bluetooth speakers. There are dozens of options for when it comes to these speakers, many of which are under $100.
True audiophiles won’t be interested in the little white earbuds included with every iPod. They’re fine for civilians, of course, but the enthusiast will want something with more clarity, better response, and improved style. New iPod headphones can run anywhere from about $50-$500 (really good noise-cancelling headphones, at $250-$400, can be priceless for people who spend a lot of time on trains or planes), with prices generally matching the level of performance.
For an especially nice, affordable option, try Apple's EarPods. These $30 successors to the company's iconic white earbuds offer better sound and much better fit in the ear. They're a major improvement for music on the go.
10. Airport Express
Your music fan probably doesn't just love music on the go; I bet they enjoy it throughout the house, too. With the Airport Express, they can stream music to any speakers connected to it from their iTunes library over Wi-Fi. Set up a few of these throughout the house and their iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone becomes a remote control for a house-wide audio system.
11. Bluetooth Music Receiver
Want the wireless audio streaming features of the Airport Express at a lower price and a smaller profile? Then check out these Bluetooth music receivers that connect to your home stereo system and let you stream audio from your iOS device. Streaming audio via Bluetooth means the sound is compressed a bit, so true audiophiles probably won't find this pleasing, but people who just want to get music wirelessly from their devices to their stereos will enjoy it. Expect to spend $40-$60.
Compare prices on some leading models: