We've been trawling through the Tech Digest archives from the past twelve months to help pick out some of our favourite home audio gear from 2012. There's plenty to pick from here for all sorts of situations and prices to match all wallet sizes. If you're looking for a gift for a music lover this Christmas, you're sure to find something that fits the bill here!Orbitsound T9 SoundbarOrbitosound's tiny T9 soundbar was one of our audio highlights of the year at Tech Digest. In our full five star review's final verdict, we said that:
The Orbitsound T9 ticks almost every box for a soundbar. Room-filling, crystal-clear and spacious sound is complemented by a balanced subwoofer, all in a package small enough to fit into even the most cramped of AV set-ups. The Spatial Stereo technology continues to impress, and though it's a shame that high-quality Blu-ray sources aren't better catered for through HDMI, there are plenty of connectivity options to counteract that. Take into account the relatively low £199.99 price too and the T9 quickly climbs to the top of the soundbar pile. Great stuff.
Sonos SUB wireless subwooferIf you're already the lucky owner of one of Sonos's superb wireless music systems, and are looking to boost the speaker set's bass performance, look no further than their SUB wireless subwoofer. A monolithic, stylish beast finished in gloss black, it looks like its landed straight out of a sci-fi flick and delivers stomach rumbling bass levels. It's expensive, and it only works with other Sonos gear, but it's the best upgrade owners of the wireless gear can make. We awarded it four stars in its full review back in June.
Grab it here.
Otone Audio Aporto portable speakersIf you need a pair of speakers to beef up your laptop's audio capabilities, but are also in the market for a portable speaker set, check out the Aporto speakers from Otone Audio. Working off batteries or powered by USB in a desktop set-up, they feature a really smart design that sees the two speakers and central control unit combine into a baton shape, or separate up for a wider stereo effect through the use of a spring-back bungee cable.
Sennheiser RS 220 wireless headphones
If it's a wireless headphone set-up you're looking to bestow upon someone this Christmas, make sure you've got the Sennheiser RS 220 wireless headphones on your shopping list. In our five star review back in April, we said that:
Everything about the Sennheiser RS 220 wireless headphones oozes quality. From the smart design to the comfortable weight and fit, they're a product very much worthy of their premium pricing. Sounding just as great as they look, with clever features like the charging station built into the base, they're a joy to use. It's not a particularly cluttered market when it comes to wireless headphones, but the RS 220s would shine even if it were. If you're after both convenience and superb sound quality, Sennheiser's latest effort should be at the top of your wish list.
Klipsch Image S4i Rugged sports earphones
If you're buying a gift for a marathon man or fitness freak, Klipsch's Image S4i Rugged sports earphones offer both a hard-wearing build quality and a defined, pleasurable sound. In our four star review back in September, we said that:
Though they lack the aural subtlety of previous Image line earphones, Klipsch's latest rugged earphones offer both a sturdy sound and sturdy finish, making them ideal work-out fodder. They'll take more of a beating than your average earphones and, with a sound quality fitting of their £90 pricing, will feel like a marked upgrade on the bargain-bucket earphones you may otherwise chose to face the rigours of your exercise regime. A revised model with a more refined sound and smaller remote would be welcome, but they're small faults in the Image S4i Rugged earphones that otherwise deliver on their promises.
Click here for more info.
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay B9 speaker
If you're after something for the music fanatic who has everything, and have cash to burn, check out the $2,699 Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay B9 speaker.
Shaped like a giant satellite dish, it crams in a 2.1 bass reflex loudspeaker alongside five dedicated speaker units for a room-filling 480 watts of power.Breaking those audio components down, the BeoPlay A9 uses two 3/4-inch tweeters and two 3-inch midrange units. These are driven by 80-watt class D amplifiers, while a sizeable 8-inch, 160 watt bass unit, powered by its own class D amplifier, provides rumbling lows.
Controlling the speaker is as stylish as its design is, with a simple swipe across an edge-placed sensor adjusting volume levels. Placing a hand on the top of the speaker mutes the device.
Bose SoundLink Air
Bose's first Apple AirPlay-enabled device, the SoundLink Air lets you stream music directly from Apple devices, including iPods, iPhones, Macs and iPads. Using Bose's waveguide speaker technology to deliver punchy-but-detailed sound, it can also be used on-the-go thanks to a rechargeable battery pack, though it's a sold-separately add-on.
£299.95 direct from Bose.
Onkyo CR-N755 Mini Hi-Fi
Onkyo's latest networked Mini Hi-Fi has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. As well as playing back CDs, tracks stored on USB thumbsticks and FM, AM and online radio stations, its web connected capabilities allow it to access Spotify playlists, Last.fm, AUPEO!, and vTuner as well as MP3s, FLAC and other lossless audio files through DLNA support. Onkyo offer free Android and iOS apps to make controlling the stereo easy as pie too. Looking more closely at its audio specifications the CR-N755 is also kitted out with 96 kHz/24-bit optical and coaxial digital inputs and a 192 kHz/24-bit DAC for high-resolution audio, perfect for hooking up a laptop or TV, as well as WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology), the Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry and VLSC noise-mitigation technology for the best possible audio playback quality.
Onkyo also offer optional D-055 2-way speakers to go with the Hi-Fi. They're fitted with high quality N-OMF (Onkyo Micro Fibre) speaker cones, with moulded layers of aramid and lightweight non-woven cotton to provide "the perfect balance of stiffness and sensitivity required for fast and accurate response."
You can grab the CR-N755 in either silver or black for £300, or cough up an extra £150 to have the D-055 2-way speaker pair thrown in too. Grab one from this Amazon seller for the slightly cheaper price of £275.