2011 Holiday Gift Guide From the Editors!

2011 Holiday Gift Ideas from Suave Kajko and Neil Underwood

Thor 3D Blu-ray or Captain America: The First Avenger 3D Blu-ray, $35 each (approx.)

Got a superhero fan on your holiday list?  It’s unlikely that they’ll be bitten by some kind of insect and mutate into a superhero anytime soon… but here’s the next best thing.  For superhero fans, especially those with a 3D TV, either of these Blu-rays will make a perfect gift!  www.paramount.com

Cardas Notched Myrtlewood Blocks, $34-$69 (6 pack)

A classic product that is simple but highly effective, the Myrtlewood Blocks offer an aesthetically pleasing means to reduce resonance and dielectric issues associated with cables.  The blocks are cut to the Golden Ratio and are designed to be placed under cables, lifting them off the ground.  By lifting the cables off the surface material (floor or rack) any dielectric impact from the floor/rack is nullified improving cable performance. When placed under cables resonance is reduced resulting in a more detailed yet relaxed presentation.  Inexpensive and highly recommended!  www.cardas.com

Art Vinyl Record Frames, $64.95

Aside from their organic sound quality, many records are also highly collectable items.  While standard record picture frames can be easily found in stores, there’s only one that allows quick access to the album inside the frame when it’s time to toss it on the platter – the Art Vinyl Record Frame.   A guaranteed hit for any vinyl lover!  www.artvinyl.com

Furutech Slow-blow Fuses, $52-$58

One area that is consistently overlooked even in high quality components is the fuse, which protects our gear from electrical anomalies.  In the all-important power section of your gear you’ll often find a 50 cent fuse creating a bottleneck for current delivery.  Furutech’s fuses incorporate the company’s Two Stage Super Cryrogenic and Demagnetizing treatment ensuring the rhodium plated copper caps and filament are stable and stress-free, resulting in a liquid smooth presentation from your gear.  Ideal stocking stuffer!   www.furutech.com

Nordost Sort Kones, $69.95 and up

The Sort Kones are used to control mechanical resonance in audio/video gear generated by internal components such as transformers, power supply capacitors and other active devices which vibrate. I’ve heard these things in action myself and believe me – they really work.  This is a fantastic upgrade for any system that can be had for a reasonable cost!  www.nordost.com

Rolling Stones SHM SACD Japanese Reissues, $55

In 2002, the ABKO-owned Rolling Stones catalogue (1964-1971) was re-mastered and re-released on SACD.  Now thanks to Universal Japan, the Stones’ albums from ’71 onwards are available to rock’n roll fans on SACD.  Utilizing improved polycarbonate used for LCD screens, a green die on the label side to absorb stray red laser light and meticulous Japanese manufacturing the SHM SACDs sound smooth and analog-like.  www.universal-music.co.jp

Spin Clean Record Washer System MKII, $79

Records offer a very desirable sound but do require some care.  There are numerous record cleaning products in stores but the Spin Clean system is among vinyl fan favourites.  Simply combine water and the provided washer fluid in the basin and spin the record a few times around.  Once dry, you’ll be rewarded with the cleanest vinyl sound possible.  www.spincleanrecordwasher.com

Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner, $79

Cleaning the stylus of a phono cartridge is a very delicate task and the Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner is an innovative tool to help you get the job done.  Simply lower your stylus onto the semi hemispheric surface and the polymer retains all the dirt attached to the stylus.  The polymer is washable with a neutral detergent so this cleaner is good for a lifetime of stylus cleaning.  Make your vinyl lovers Xmas a special day with this unique inexpensive gift. www.sibatech.co.jp

Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray, $89

Grab your Wookiee, strap your seatbelt on and prepare for the jump to light speed – the greatest movies from this side of the galaxy are finally available on Blu-ray and make a splendid gift for all sci-fi fans!  Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a 9 disc set which contains all six Star Wars movies, each with a glorious 1080p picture and a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, as well as 3 discs of additional features.  Movies this amazing are the reason why we build home theatres!  www.starwars.com

Audio Exclusiv Silentplugs, $115/pair

Unused RCA inputs can be a source of EMI/RFI noise absorption which can pollute any active audio signal in a component.  The Silentplugs not only offer EMI/RFI protection but also incorporate resonance control on the RCA jack and the back plate of the gear where the jack is attached.  Improved micro dynamics and reduced distortion will result in a more spatial and accurate musical reproduction.  www.audio-exklusiv.de

Sieveking Sound Omega Headphone Stand, $169

Anyone who owns a nice pair of headphones would love one of these!  This curvaceous stand will allow the user to proudly display their headphones instead of having them tucked away in a corner somewhere.  It comes available in a choice of four real wood veneers:  maple, cherry, walnut and the exotic zebrano.   www.sieveking-sound.de

Jurassic Park Trilogy Blu-Ray Limited Edition, $119

The Jurassic Park trilogy is finally out on Blu-ray and makes a perfect holiday gift! Aside from captivating story lines, these films had a significant impact on advancing Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) in movies.  All three films are pure viewing pleasure and the new 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are sure to put your sound system to the test! www.universalstudios.com

Paradigm Shift Active Atom Speakers, $299 each

The Active Atom is a very flexible speaker thanks to its built-in amp and digital signal processing (DSP).  It’s designed for use with portable music players, computers, iPod/iPhone docks and even TVs, guitars and keyboards.  The DSP shapes the frequency response so that the speakers play accurately and musically, while providing a good bass punch.  Input jacks allow for AirPort Express, Bluetooth and other devices to connect for wireless streaming. www.paradigm.com/shift

HRS Damping Plates MK II, $139-$239

Resonance control is a simple tweak that will reap surprisingly audible and visual benefits.  Microphonic resonance on circuit boards, power supplies and chassis can smear both audio and video performance.  These plates, available in 3 sizes to suit all components, are built from precision machined billet black anodized aluminum with a polymer cushioned underpad that makes direct contact with the top surface of the gear.  www.avisolation.com

Monitor Audio i-deck 200 Speaker System, $599

Got someone on your holiday list that has an iPod or iPhone loaded with tons of music?  Help that special someone unleash the full potential of their music with the i-deck 200 speaker system.  This high quality system features dual 4 inch C-CAM bass drivers powered by 50W amps, as well as 1 inch Gold dome tweeters, driven by 20W amps.  Not all iPod/iPhone speaker systems are created equally and the i-deck 200 is a prime example of this.  www.monitoraudio.co.uk

Nordost Leif Blue Heaven Power Cord, $279 (1.5m)

Clean power delivery is the foundation of every great audio and home theatre system.  Enthusiasts know that good quality power cables can greatly improve the performance of every component.  This Nordost cable uses FEP insulation and high-speed, low-loss Micro Mono-Filament construction to deliver the best possible power to your system.  A wonderful gift idea for just about anyone on your list!  www.nordost.com

Apple iPad 2, $519 and up

I admit that when I first bought the iPad, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would use it for.  Now I can’t imagine living without it!  With a fast processor, dual cameras, well over 100,000 dedicated apps and the ability to surf the net anywhere it’s no wonder the iPad became an instant hit.  And now dozens of AV related and home control apps are available for it from the App Store.  You don’t know what you’re missing until you own one!  www.apple.ca

Red Wine Audio Corvina Headphone Amp, $1000

Red Wine Audio has been busy designing new affordable audiophile products that are powered by rechargeable, long-life lithium batteries.  The Corvina delivers an extraordinarily quiet, yet very dynamic, musical headphone experience. It offers two selectable analog RCA inputs, an ALPS volume control, battery charger and an optional fully balanced class A XLR output for headphones that have an XLR input. State of the art gift for the discerning headphone lover!  www.redwineaudio.com

Alpha Design Labs GT40 USB DAC with Phono Stage (by Furutech), $499

Here’s a gift idea that’s perfect for those with music collections on their computers and headphone listeners alike!  This high performance component features 96 KHz/24-bit DAC and ADC chips, a headphone amplifier and a MM/MC phono preamp packed into a solid, compact enclosure.  Vinyl owners will rejoice to learn that the GT40 will allow them to record their favourite vinyl to their hard disk via the USB input.  www.furutech.com

Totem Acoustic Storm Subwoofer, $1150

Proper bass is fundamental to any audio system!  Powered by a 300 watt BASH amp, the Storm utilizes an active 8” driver supported by two identical 8” passive drivers in a sealed cabinet resulting in a clean, tight and articulated presentation.  This sub can smoothly navigate the most complex musical passages as well as provide sheer brute force during the most demanding movie soundtracks. I heard it for the first time at the 2011 TAVES and instantly became a big fan of its sound.  www.totemacoustic.com

Rega RP3 Turntable, $1,095 and up

This turntable is equally perfect for first time turntable owners and those looking to replace an older turntable – it’s warm, organic sound will bring sheer pleasure to every music lover!  The RP3 is outfitted with a brand new RB303 tonearm design, precision main bearing and a low vibration low noise motor assembly tuned to its circuit to further reduce vibration.  Available with a fitted Elys 2 cartridge for $1395.  www.rega.co.uk

Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD Audiophile Blu-ray Universal Player, $1,249

If you’re looking for the jack of all trades then look no further than the 751BD.  This player is the successor to the 651BD, CANADA HiFi’s favourite universal Blu-ray player.  The new 751BD offers Blu-ray 3D playback, QDEO video processing, Anagram Technologies audio up-sampling and twin HDMI outputs.  Aside from Blu-ray discs, it will also play CD, HDCD, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and SACD.  www.cambridgeaudio.com

Anthem MRX500 AV Receiver, $1,649

Anthem has long been the brand of choice for high-end audio and home theatre systems.  And now those with a smaller budget can get a taste of the highly regarded Anthem sound!  Under the hood the MRX500 has a lot to offer – like the award-winning Anthem Room Correction, 7 channels of power (100 watt/ch), USB input, Internet radio, decoding of all the latest audio codes and 3D compatibility just to mention a few.   www.anthemav.com.  Wishing you the most wonderful Holiday Season! – Suave-

Onkyo TX-NR 3009 AV Receiver, $2499

This 9.2-channel, THX Ultra2 Plus certified AV receiver is one of Onkyo’s best.  The TX-NR3009 features 3D compatibility, wireless network connectivity, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with Dynamic EQ & Dynamic Volume, 4K scaling via Qdeo by Marvell and all the latest audio decoders including DTS Neo X.  Its inputs include 7 HDMI, a front USB port, a PC input and an iPod dock port.  www.onkyo.ca.  Have a safe and happy holiday!  – Neil –

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