'Tis the season of giving, especially after the nerve-wracking and sorrowful year that was 2016. If you ask us, we're usually just satisfied with gift cards and/or concert tickets, but there's a lot you can get for your music-crazed friend this Christmas.
This year, while dreadful by a wide margin, provided a bounty of top-class albums, and music equipment and accessories have also been boosted by new (or even vintage) technology, providing a healthy range of products that are both affordable and high-quality.
The Temper Trap live in Singapore
Here are some ideas for gifts you can get for all your loved ones, even yourself.
Alpha & Delta D2 (SG$40)
We've heaped praises upon these in-ear headphones, but we can't stress this enough — you won't get a better deal at $40 than these babies. Not only will these satisfy music fans of most genres, this will be very helpful for listeners who need their Spotify fix while exercising.
Sporting an advanced sweat-resistant design, this is a no-brainer. If you're looking for something along the line with an even stronger audio performance, try out their AD01 earphones.
Sony MDR-100ABN headphones (SG$499)
If you've grown sick and tired of cables, Sony offers a pair of headphones that perform wonderfully without the excess of dangling wires when on-the-go. Effortlessly slick, the MDR-100ABN is the stylish sister of the MDR-1000X (priced at SG$599), which also offers noise cancellation for those long-haul flights.
Audio-Technica LP5 (SG$598)
The modern turntables by Audio-Technica have been widely praised as stellar gateways into the audiophile side of vinyl playback. Specifically, the LP-120 — sharing strong similarities with the classic Technics SL-1200 — has been the defacto budget turntable for discerning listeners. But this year, Audio-Technica upped the ante with an incredible looking turntable that balances the vintage hi-fi look with modern tech at a decent price point.
Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT Turntable (SG$799)
If an even more modern turntable is something up your loved one's alley, the Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA turntable is an amazingly minimalist option (and also a real mouthful to say). Its most striking feature is its audio connectivity via Bluetooth, which allows an even greater array of speakers and headphones without the hassle of hi-fi cables. It may be pricier than other turntable options out there, but its Bluetooth audio quality has been highly praised.
Also, it just looks amazing.
Charlie Lim's Time/Space LP (SG$45)
One of 2015's best albums, recently issued in a streamlined deluxe package, with the full Japanese vinyl treatment (obi strip, pressed in Japan, textured sleeve) and crystal-clear colored vinyl — if there's one piece of music you'd like to gift someone this year, this is it.
Laneway Festival Singapore 2016 tickets (SG$185 each)
Laneway Festival's 2017 line-up, while still contentious with casual fans, features strong diversity and a terrific balance of emerging acts (AURORA, Sam Rui, Whitney, Sampa The Great) with some of the stronger, more recognized names (Nick Murphy, Glass Animals, Clams Casino, Tycho). Get a pair for someone who's ready to dip their toes into more adventurous fare.
Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 (SG$395)
For the guitar gear geeks, Ebenex has this baby, and it features 5 stunning pedals in one neat package. While a combination like this has been a mainstay for the budget-conscious, the Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 is specially built to function with a pure, all-analog signal path, ensuring sound that's more organic and less processed than most digital gizmos.
Rock On! 2017 tickets (SG$48 to $218)
Even as 2016 is nearing its end (THANK GOD), there's still one major concert left on our list: Rock On! 2017, a showcase featuring the majestic Alicia Keys, alongside a list of acts that include Hoobastank and Rainie Yang. Held at The Float @ Marina Bay on New Year's Eve, this might just be your perfect way to round off an exhausting year. Or, if you'd like to try your luck, you can win tickets on us!
The Analog Vault's Electronic Selection (SG$30 to $48)
The selection at The Analog Vault is truly impeccable, and their catalog is vast enough to warrant their own gift guide.
While you can peruse their recommendations here, we personally pick their bundle of electronic music as a great way to add to someone's record collection — Nicolas Jaar's cinematic return Sirens (SG$48), Aphex Twin's surprise EP Cheetah (SG$30), Honne's wintry debut Warm On A Cold Night (SG$45), Moderat's understated III (SG$48) and James Blake's maximalist opus The Colour In Anything (SG$48).
A City Without Snow (SG$10)
If you have an analog purist friend, or someone who has yet to delve into Singaporean music, A City Without Snow would be the perfect seasonal gift. But really, these songs will last longer than the December holiday, with its rich bounty of original tracks and wistful covers. Its "pea green" cassette is a lovely collectible, and its label Middle Class Cigars takes care of each pressing with strict quality control, so if you're getting yourself one, maybe it's time to invest in a cassette deck.
Korg Pa600SG (SG$1,064)
Korg PA600SG is a collaboration between Korg, City Music, and Republic Polytechnic with the aim of preserving the unique heritage and culture of Singapore. The keyboard features traditional ethnic instrumental sounds, along with the usual fare of classic instruments, and they fare from Chinese, Malay and Indian music.
City Music are currently running a year-end sale, providing a hefty discount to the keyboard from its original price of SG$1,520.
MONO Vertigo Electric Guitar Bag (SG$229)
Recently acquired by Singaporean entrepreneur Kwok Meng Ru, MONO has had a rock solid reputation for its legendary Vertigo guitar bag — an ergonomic wonder that's a frequent choice for musicians. Gift this to any guitarist and they'll thank you repeatedly.
Or, if you're not just looking for strictly music-related fare...
Sneakers by Converse and VANS (SG$69 to SG$139.90)
The kind of footwear most commonly associated with music culture, both Converse and VANS are currently offering sneakers that are top-notch and viable options. The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Rubber, for example, is an ergonomic improvement over the classic design, while VANS are dishing out a series of beautiful pairs — from their vivid Splatter Collection to the gloriously classy Vansguard shoes.
Jamie's Italian (SG$49.90++ to SG$65.90++)
If, you know, you're also not into the standard, gift-wrapped fare, our friends at Jamie's Italian are also offering a festive lunch menu at their VivoCity and Forum outlets at SG$49.90++ per person, or a festival dinner feast menu at SG$65.90++. Especially if your family's out of town this year, this place would be perfect to share the Christmas spirit with friends.