It’s been a rough year to say the least. The on going COVID-19 pandemic, protests, and now baseless accusations about the current Presidential Election results. Through all this I still have to go to work and when I’m home I’m either asleep, playing video games or listening to music. Therefore, I’d like to end this year on a good note by sharing a few things I’ve either been using over the past year (apologies for not writing about them) as they have helped me through these trying times and might make a good last minute stocking suffer. So, while there’s still a few days left to place orders or make a quick run to a store read on and decide for yourself.
Astell&Kern KANN Cube Digital Audio Player
This is a high-end, high powered digital audio player that any music lover would appreciate. It’s not exactly portable by todays standards due to its larger aluminum body and weight. What you get in exchange is a device loaded with just about everything one needs to fully enjoy uncompressed and hi-res music files of all types. This dedicated audio player has both a standard 3.5mm and a balanced 2.5mm port, dual DACs, 128GB of storage, a micro SD slot that supports up to 1TB, and enough power for even the most sensitive of IEMs and headphones just to name a few. Add in its ability to be used with a home audio system or computer the KANN Cube is a versatile and well made music player that does not disappoint.
AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC Preamp + Headphone Amp
Here’s another choice of many audiophiles including myself. Measuring no bigger that a thumb drive the Cobalt sports a buttonless design, and it’s plug-and-play operation makes it super easy to use. Once connected all you have to do next is fire up your music player of choice and start listening. The color coded indicator shows what type of music you’re listening to whether it’s standard CD quality, Hi-Rez or MQA. It works with both Android and iOS devices and since it’s USB you can also attach it to a computer or even a home system if compatible. The USB connector makes this a vary versatile device for use just about anywhere, anytime.
Creative Labs Sound Blaster X3
There are many high-end DACs available for your home system but what separates this one from the competition, is its’ gaming and movie modes. A good DAC will eliminate things like background noise and enhance the separation of musical instruments, but with gaming what you need is enhanced and directional sound effects to not only distinguish one type from the other but where they are coming from. The X3 does that and more. This also applies to movies allowing the user to experience more realistic surround sound effects while using headphones. Creative Labs took their years of experience and knowledge to create an all around DAC that works well in all three cases and is easy to use. Old school computer builders will know Creative Labs from way back and the Sound Blaster X3 is DAC for the current digital age that is easily at home connected to any computer as well as any dedicated home audio system. This is a good choice for any gamer, audio or video lover who would like an easy way to enhance their audio experience from system without breaking the bank.
Grovemade Discbound Notebook
The writer shouldn’t be left out especially during the holidays. The Grovemade Notebook comes in 3 different sizes, along with leather or natural linoleum book covers and finished with solid brass discs to hold everything together. The included paper is a nice weight of #70 so ink doesn’t seep through while also giving you a choice of lined, dotted and plain paper styles. The discbound style makes adding and removing paper a breeze which is great for customizing the notebook to your liking and for those who tend to rip out sheets often or are looking to keep only the most important writings together.
Nintendo has been making gaming consoles since the late 80s but when they came out with the Switch they hit a home run. Although, the Switch doesn’t share all of the same gaming titles found on Sony’s Play Station or Microsoft’s XBox it does have one thing over these two systems. Portability. The Switch can go from a portable handheld system to your standard gaming console by just connecting it to the included dock. Hence, the name. Just like the competition you can purchase digital or physical copies of the games you like. Although, it only has 32GB of builtin storage you can expand that through the microSD slot which supports up to 1TB. And just like the competition, there are lots of accessories including different controllers to fit your gaming needs.