Rick Becker's Holiday Gift Guide 2021
The Elite 8
Eight special holiday gifts for audiophiles.
Article By Rick Becker
One of my biggest pleasures of the year is to look back at the products
I've reviewed or seen at shows and make suggestions for Holiday Gifts for your beloved audiophile. Unfortunately, some of these require special knowledge or data such as the size and value of fuses, so they
won't qualify as surprise gifts but I strongly believe they will be treasured nonetheless.
Fern & Roby Vacuum Tube Drink
I spotted these at the Capital Audio Fest earlier this month and the quality of the wood-burned vacuum tube drawings was very detailed and first class quality. I
didn't catch the price, but you can contact them through their website or give them a call. They are not shown on their website yet, but twist their arm.
High Fidelity Cables NPS 1260 Contact Enhancer
It's the bottle on the right. This small bottle was the greatest tweak
I've applied to my system in 20 years of reviewing. And the feedback I've received from others
who've tried it confirms my rave review. At $349 for a 1.5 ml bottle you'd think this stuff was gold bullion. Apply it sparingly to your contacts and let it settle in for a few weeks and you will realize it is worth more than its weight in gold. You can order directly from their website and
be sure to read
my review here.
Acme Audio Labs Fuses
For the Fuse-Denier in your life, these are the ones to try. They range from $14 to $20 depending on the size and the value of the fuse.
You'll need to know the size, value and whether it is Slow-blow or Fast-blow. They come as standard Silver Cryo Fuses or Silver Cryo with special CFC coating—all within the $14 to $20 price range. The CFC special coating added even more resolution than the Standard Silver Cryo fuse.
Check out the review for a more detailed description
here. They offer an incredible value!
Synergistic Research Purple Fuses
While the Acme fuses above are more suitable for those skeptical of designer fuses or those with more affordable systems, the Synergistic Research Purple fuse is for the connoisseur with the confidence and means to spend $200 on a fuse.
I've reviewed the Black, Blue, Orange and now the Purple fuses from Synergistic and the Purple has been the largest improvement over any previous generation. As expensive as they are, they are an outstanding value when compared with the cost of buying a newer component to achieve the same improvement (if
that's possible at all.) Here again, you need to specify the size, value and whether you need a Slow-blow or Fast-blow type. And if for some strange reason you
don't like what they do for your music, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Check out
my extensive review here. And if your local dealer does not have the exact fuse you need, you
can order them online from their website.
Herbie's Audio Lab, Way Excellent II Turntable Mat
In the process of refining my complete evolution of the Linn LP12 turntable I considered several mats to fine tune the Soundeck Platter Mat which completely replaced the outer ring of the Linn platter. Each mat I tried produced a slightly different sonic signature and all were way better than the standard Linn platter with the felt mat. Coming in at $60,
Herbie's Way Excellent II Turntable Mat was a very pleasant all-rounder that improved resolution and reduced surface noise. It comes in a variety of
thickness to suit a wide range of turntables. Read what I had to say about it
within my Winter Tweak Fest last December, along with even more gift
Charisma Audio, Musiko Tonearm Cable
Installing the new Musiko tonearm from Charisma Audio on my Bard turntable required the addition of tonearm cables to my rig since the old tonearm had captive cables. While I tried others, I spent extra for
Musiko's own tonearm cables. They brought added resolution and inviting music to keep me reaching for one LP after another. They have no fancy technology or secret
sauce — just high quality materials and excellent build quality. That's analog fanatic Bernard
Li's philosophy and I'm looking forward to seeing his new complete turntable soon. While not a cable manufacturer, per se, he makes phono cartridges, the tonearm, the turntable, and these excellent high value phono
cables — the entire analog solution for people seeking high value at a reasonable price.
can read my review here. It's available with single ended or balanced connectors and with straight or right angle DIN plugs in a 1.5m standard length for $500.
Audio Sensibility DC Power Cables
Steven Huang at Audio Sensibility is known for high value cables of all sorts, and also fills niche cable markets that larger companies ignore. Near the bottom of his page full of traditional power cords was more than a handful of DC power cords for connecting separate DC power supplies to the component they serve. There were even specific power cords for such brands as SOtM and Lumin. Check them out here, and poke around his site for other interesting niche products. You might just find something that can help you out and save money at the same time. And if you
don't, give Steven a call. He might just be able to make a unique specialty cable for you.
I've got his DC power cable in house for hard wiring to the power supply of my DAC. (Keep an eye out for my DIY review this winter.)
Be sure to check out my review of his SOtM DC cables
here. Highly recommended!
Stack Audio's LP12 Baseboards And Platform
This item is specific to owners of Linn LP12 turntables, but I know there are a lot of them out there. Stack Audio manufactures a wide variety of upgrades to parts for the LP12 at prices that are far more reasonable than
Linn's own upgrades. Among them are three levels of baseboards ranging from $177 to $1296 and the platform to further isolate the turntable which is bundled with the mid-grade Alto baseboard for a total of $465. A review with the new Platform is under way, and
an earlier version of the Baseboard garnered a Blue Note Award a few years ago. It is probably the easiest of all the Stack Serene products to install, and a highly effective way to upgrade a Linn turntable of any vintage.
Be sure to check out their website for more info.
That's A Wrap!
That's it for this year, so feel free to leaf through
Enjoy the Music.com's previous Great Audiophile Gift suggestions at the links
below. Many of these items never go out of style or need!
Enjoy the holidays,
Audiophile Gifts 2020, 2019,
2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012,
2011, 2010, 2008,