Upgrade Your Music Listening Experience

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GBlog picked out five music technology products to help inspire your search for the perfect audio upgrade. These minimalist designs are our favorite speakers, amplifiers, and headphones of 2014 (so far). With one notable exception, they are currently available online and in select stores, so you can invest in sound this holiday season.

A conceptual design by Dan Salisbury, Cyprium reimagines Sennheiser HD25-1 headphones in white and copper. The prototype offers the same quality of audio and noise cancellation that Sennheiser fans expect while also giving the sound industry standard a facelift. Outfitted with a copper band and modular white cups, the flexible design is lighter and more fashion-forward than most premium headphones so that the product appeals to music professionals and luxury consumers alike. This product is not on the market but is nonetheless an inspiration to headphone designers and shoppers alike.

This one you can buy. New from French audio brand Aëdle, the Legacy is a limited edition variation on their classic VK-1 headphones. The fresh take is made of aluminum and handsewn lambskin leather for a shining, textured look and utmost acoustic clarity. The music accessory also comes with a newly designed cable with an inline remote control and microphone.

Designed by Stefan Radev + Partners, this aluminum and wood object is a vacuum tube amplifier. The audio technology can be used solo or in conjunction with other sound equipment to deliver pristine music and more. The minimalist design is compact, timeless, and versatile. Use the amplifier with Apple or Android devices.

Harman Kardon and JBL have two star products on this list. The Harman Kardon Esquire is a wireless audio system with Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. The speaker has dual drivers and a built-in bass port and can be used for music listening around the house or on-the-go. Additionally, the Esquire can connect with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones to make clear, no-fuss conference calls. Ideal for business travelers, the Esquire takes the stress out of conference calls with custom-tuned microphones and noise cancellation technology. The square-shaped device readily lies flat in one’s bag. The Esquire comes with a fabric travel case—the black version is matched with a gray case with a crackle finish—which, though quite handsome, holds just the speaker, not the charging attachments. Nonetheless, the overall design is quite small and lightweight, making it a top choice for frequent flyers. As an added perk, the Esquire’s three-port charger can be used to power up a phone, a tablet, and even an early 2000s iPod on the same plug. Once fully charged, the speaker provides up to eight hours of pristine playback and call time. Beautiful to look at and listen to, the Esquire is shelled in leather, aluminum, and Harman Kardon’s patented grill. The minimalist design is available in black, white, and brown, each style priced at $249.95.

The JBL Synchros S300a is a pair of over-the-ear headphones with JBL Professional Audio Sound with PureBass performance. The built-in remote and microphone is designed for Apple products but is still functional with other brands. The device offers full volume, pause, and play control for my iPod but just pause and play for an Android tablet, for instance. Designed in California, the Synchros S300a rocks an easygoing design—matte black or white, brushed steel, and red or blue accents. The basic design is stamped with JBL’s logo from all sides but otherwise discreet. Made of quality materials, the collapsible headband is stainless steel, and the comfortable ear cushions are leather. Flexible in three directions, the lightweight design readily folds up to travel in its slim carrying case. The JBL Synchros S300a is priced at $149.95.

Any of these sound accessories would make a great gift for a friend, a loved one, or yourself. They’re varied, handsome, and functional in design, ideal for anyone’s collection. Did we miss your favorite audio tech of the year? Let us know what you would add in the comments!

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Holly

Holly is a poet from Kentucky. She grew up first in a Sears house, then on a farm. She studied English and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College and moved to Manhattan for love. As an occasional jewelry-maker and museum patron, Holly favors wearable and functional design but is eager to see work that challenges her aesthetics. Read more and connect by visiting her blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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