We’re back for another year of the WiFi HiFi holiday gift guides! Each week, we’ll release a new themed gift guides, chocked-full of great tech gift ideas for different people on your list. This week, we’re looking at great gifts for enhancing the home entertainment experience.
Know someone who loves British TV series and movies? A subscription to the service will afford access to just about any popular British series under the sun, old and new, from Gavin & Stacey to Doctor Who to Harlots. Content is from BBC and ITV and even includes access to current series and soap operas, many available 24 hours after they premiere in the U.K. At $9/mo. or $90/yr. following a free trial, the service can be accessed on the big screen a number of ways, including through Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Apple TV (4th Gen), Samsung, LG, Chromecast, and Android and iOS devices, as well as online via https://www.britbox.com/ca/. Amazon Prime members can also access it via the Video Channels.
Marantz AV7706 8K Surround AV Pre-Amplifier
If you want to upgrade your home theatre set-up, consider future-proofing the investment for 8K with a pre-amp like this one. It features 11.2 channel XLR and RCA pre-outs, and comes equipped with eight HDMI inputs and three outputs. One dedicated 8K input supports 8K/60Hz or 4K/120Hz pass-through capability, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10, 21:9 video, 3D, and BT.2020 pass-through while the latest HDCP 2.3 copy protection standard is supported on all HDMI inputs. Thanks to all of the latest HDMI technology and specifications, the AV7706 enables home theatre lovers to experience HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, auto low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rate (VRR), quick media switching (QMS), and quick frame transport (QFT) support. The video processor can also upscale any native video source up to 8K quality. In addition, the AV7706 features HDMI eARC which supports 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It supports the latest surround formats, including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced, and Auro-3D. MSRP US$2,499
Torus Power PowerBlock PB 10
It’s a great accessory for the home entertainment enthusiast, offering two 5-amp Torus Power isolation transformers in a compact, rugged enclosure. Designed for use in mid-power audio and video systems, it features full isolation between outlet pairs. Like its little brother, the PB 5, the PB 10 is ideal for situations where you want to isolate digital components from analog equipment or segregate switching power supplies from linear power supplies. It can be placed on or near a component shelf, on any floor surface, or it can be located elsewhere when space is at a premium. At US$1,300, it’s not exactly cheap. But if you know someone who will appreciate its benefits, it might be worth the cost, especially if a group pools their money together for a hifi and video entertainment enthusiast.
PSB Speakers Alpha S10 Powered Subwoofer
PSB Speakers’ Alpha S10 DSP-controlled powered subwoofer features specialized long-throw drivers and efficient, bass-extending bass reflex enclosures. With digital signal processing (DSP), the built-in, high efficiency digital amplifiers deliver 210W of dynamic power for deep-bass peaks and musical accuracy. It has a 10″ woofer with polypropylene cone and rubber surround, and 150-Watt digital amplifier and variable crossover from 50-150Hz. On the rear panel are Volume and Crossover Controls, Phase Switch, Low Level Input, AutoOn/Standby Switch, Gold-plated RCAs, USB Power Jack for RT100 wireless accessory, supplied rubber bumpers, and spikes that allow for installation on hardwood or carpeted floors. Like all PSB speakers, final voicing is performed by Founder and Chief Designer, Paul Barton at Canada’s National Research Council. MSRP $749.
Sonos Move Speaker
Sonos’ Move outdoor speaker has a tough, durable exterior that can withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV, and extreme temperatures, and features a rating of IP56. Operating as part of the Sonos system on Wi-Fi with the added range of Bluetooth, it supports streaming services, voice assistants, AirPlay2, and includes Sonos’ Trueplay tuning technology with automatic Trueplay, which allows the speaker to tune itself to balance the sound for the environment. The battery can run for up to 10 hours of continuous play time on a single charge. At home, Move slides on and off the included indoor charging base. Suspend mode, enabled automatically when not in use or by tapping the power button, reserves the battery for up to five days. Use built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to play music, check the news, control smart home devices, and more. $499 (on sale for $349 between November 2 and 30).
JBL Synthesis L82 Classic Loudspeakers
For someone who loves the vintage look, these retro-inspired loudspeakers are designed to emulate the look of JBL’s iconic L100 Century. Sold from around 1970 to 1980, the original L100’s has cemented a position in the hearts of generations of music lovers and JBL’s modern re-examination of their classic form aims to do the same. It features fully modern speaker design married to a classic ‘70s aesthetic. It features a two-way design with an 8” woofer and identical tweeter to the L100 Classic. It features a vintage Quadrex foam grill and comes in a choice of three colours; black. Orange, and blue. $3,500/pr.
This 4K HDR-enabled soundbar adds streaming and improved sound to televisions with HDMI, including Roku TV models. It promises to offer clean audio that makes dialogue easier to hear while its angled side drivers “fill the room with sound,” says Roku. It can also automatically quiet loud commercials. Control the Roku Streambar by voice using Amazon Alexa and/or Google Assistant devices, and you will be able to stream videos, music, and more with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit by the end of the year. It ships with a voice remote that controls your TV power, sound, and streaming. You can stream movies and TV content in HD, 4K, and 4K HDR, listening to the audio via four 1.9″ full-range drivers and Dolby Audio. Advanced audio engineering within the Roku OS helps Roku Streambar produce sound beyond its size, says Roku, while increasing speech clarity and adding depth to music. Simple volume modes make it easy to adjust sound: automatically lower loud commercials, boost the volume of voices, and optimize the sound for night listening. Spotify is available on the Roku platform and with Spotify Connect, easily launch a favourite playlist from a smartphone and listen through the Roku Streambar’s high performance speakers. With Bluetooth support, you can also easily stream music from mobile devices. $189
Chromecast with Google TV
The new Chromecast dongle now includes a remote control and features the new Google TV entertainment experience, which brings together content from different apps and subscriptions using AI-based assistance. You’ll get feedback on your viewing habits, can connect other devices, and use your TV for a new experience while listening to music. It comes in Snow, Sunrise, and Sky finishes for$70
Amazon Fire TV Stick
If you prefer to stick with the Amazon camp, there’s this new Fire TV Stick, which features an enhanced 1.7 GHz quad-core processor that makes it 50% more powerful than the previous generation, delivering fast streaming in 1,080p at 60fps with HDR support. The dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi supports 5 GHz networks for more stable streaming and fewer dropped connections. Fire TV Stick also supports Dolby Atmos for immersive sound with compatible content and speakers, and an Alexa Voice Remote with dedicated power, volume, and mute buttons for easy control of compatible TVs, soundbars, and A/V receivers. $60
Bluesound PULSE SUB+ Subwoofer
Use this new sub in your home theatre set-up for adding bass to a wireless or wired Bluesound system along with BluOS app control. It comes in either black or white, supplied with a wall mount bracket and magnetic rubber feet so you can place it wherever you want. It includes an 8” long-throw woofer and 150W Smart Amplifier with DSP that delivers low frequencies to a deep 22Hz. Designed to blend into any room décor, it is easily set up using the BluOS Controller app. MSRP $999
Yamaha SR-C20A & SR-B20A Soundbars
Select one of those slim, space-saving soundbars, both ideal for apartment-dwellers, small homes, in smaller rooms, and to use with smaller TVs. The C20A measures 23 inches long and 2.5 inches high, making it ideal for gaming rooms, bedrooms, offices, playrooms, and dorms. It can discreetly fit in front of any screen without obstructing the action or be easily wall-mounted. It includes a built-in subwoofer and dual passive radiators, exerting good bass, despite the small size, along with a virtual surround mode. Connectivity-wise, it has HDMI ARC, optical, and aux to connect and control the soundbar with your TV remote. Meanwhile, the B20A builds on the success of the previous-generation YAS-108 and includes dual built-in subwoofers that have been redesigned for richer and clearer bass, plus DTS Virtual:X. Aesthetically, it also employs a new shape and slim profile, with sleek, deep black fabric and larger, dimmable LEDs for visibility of soundbar functions and adjustments. Along with control by an existing TV remote (when connected via HDMI), each soundbar comes with its own remote and is supported by the Sound Bar Controller App for smartphone control. Easy access buttons on top of the C20A and B20A allow for quick control of volume levels, sound modes, and input selection on the units themselves. Both soundbars can be placed on a cabinet or shelf or wall-mounted via the built-in keyholes. No additional bracket is required.
NAD T 758 AV Surround Sound Receiver
At the heart of a home theatre can sit this receiver, which adds Dolby Atmos, DTS Master Audio, BluOS high-res multi-room audio, Dirac Live, 4K UHD Video, and Apple AirPlay 2 to the equation, all built-in. With Modular Design Construction, digital audio and video circuits are on replaceable modules, so you can easily upgrade the unit once new features and parts become available. Stereo source material can be converted to surround sound using NAD’s exclusive EARS surround mode. It offers full support for High Res Audio formats like MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) included in the BluOS Player and comes equipped with NAD’s exclusive PowerDrive amplifier featuring high current combined with high Dynamic Power. It supports video at resolutions up to 3,840 x 2,160 pixels at 60 frames per second with 4:4:4 colour gamut and High Dynamic Range are supported. Analogue video sources are also supported on HDMI for simple ‘one wire’ connection to a flat screen or projector. It also includes popular HDMI features, Audio Return Channel (ARC) and Consumer Electronic Control (CEC). The simple user interface allows each source component to retain the same custom settings every time it is selected for viewing, and there are no ’empty inputs’ to clutter or confuse. In addition, AV Presets allow custom setups for different types of program material (drama, action, musical, et cetera). Inputs can even be renamed to match specific components. MSRP $1,999
Asus ZenBeam E1 Pocket Projector
Looking for a different kind of home entertainment experience? This cute pocket projector boasts 150 lumens and a built-in 6,000mAh battery to offer up to five hours of projection – long enough for two films or binging a season of your favourite show. It automatically converts 1,080p/4K input to WVGA and can project an image up to 120 inches in size. It has HDMI/MHL connectivity so you can connect it to a source device like a computer, smartphone, or media streamer. And it’s purportedly really easy to set up. Grab it for about $400.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check back as this gift guide will be updated through to the end of 2020, and check out more gift suggestions in our other Holiday Gift Guides.