Record totes, weights, portable turntable, books for your beloved vinyl and hi-fi friends.
Here’s a challenge for you: The holiday season is in full effect. Those who celebrate Christmas are facing a serious deadline for grabbing the perfect gift for the hi-fi head and those who celebrate Hanukah are already in the thick of it. You are out of time, but you still want to find a present that shows you care.
Below, some quick-hit ideas that might assuage your guilt at procrastinating and delight your beloved deep listener with your thoughtfulness. Another idea: order two of each and keep one for yourself as evidence of your deep commitment to your own well-being.
In Sheep’s Clothing Record bag
Yes, we are highlighting a few items of our own among these recommendations, but mostly because we’ve only got a few left and want to remind you that they’re running out: Our large, heavy duty canvas tote with extra-long natural web handles fits around 50 records – and some extra room for a water bottle, canister or sweater. Perhaps most importantly, it’s designed by ISC’s Radha Vishnubholta and hand screen-printed in Los Angeles by WOO Studios. It’s $30.
Dry weather creates static, which can interact with vinyl and turntables in unpredictably annoying ways. That’s where the Milty comes in. Pull the trigger and the Zerostat gun will remove the static charge from a record. How? Piezoelectric crystals that give off positive (pull the trigger) and negative (release it) ion streams eliminates the static charge. They cost $99 and are worth every cent.
Store this turntable right next to your spare tire for those just-in-case moments when you stumble across a record store in the wild. The Numark PT01 is a standard at this point when you want to listen to an LP before you buy it, either to check quality or because the rarity you just found isn’t even on YouTube yet.
Per Turntable Lab’s sales pitch: “It’s a good deal all around. The Numark PT01 follows the basic principles of vintage portable models, but adds several modern conveniences which older portables lack: USB and RCA output, hi/low tone control, and +/- 10% pitch control. In addition, the PT01 has the basics down solid – 33, 45 & 78 rpm play so you can listen to basically any record you find, the inclusion of both 3.5mm and 1/4” headphone inputs so you can listen with whatever headphones you got (or the built-in loudspeaker), plus the ability to run on battery or included power plug is crucial. Price: $129
Our In Sheep’s Clothing slipmats can be wrapped in the same package as the records you got your lover, they’re not very pricy, and, best, feature a trio a cherries and a motto, “The Sweetest Sounds in Hi-Fi.” $12 and going fast.
Some find 45s annoying, but those people usually are not DJs. Filled with B-sides that never made it onto albums and a plethora of cheap obscurities, 7-inch singles require commitment – you gotta get up to change sides every four minutes – but the rewards are many. One of them? Choosing a rad 45 adapter. Love & Victory makes weighted, enameled 45 rpm adaptors that are packaged in a muslin pouch. Great graphic designs include a “Defend Roe v. Wade” illustration, colorful spirals, spinning tigers and emoji. They’re $15.
While we are by no means suggesting that your DJ partner needs a $180 Varia Instruments turntable weight for LPs and 45s, we are saying that it’s a thing of beauty and will fulfill its duty helping to improve tracking and reduce skipping on slightly (annoyingly) bowed records. That said, for a fraction of the price you can buy this heavy-duty $25 stocking stuffer made by Viborg.
At $60, the record stand shown above is more expensive than most on Etsy; truth be told, you can find a serviceable one for $20. This elegant stand, however, will likely prompt gasps when your listening buddy unwraps it.
You need a brush. A nice one that’s solid and won’t scuff your records if your hands are shaky. Despite the recent controversy surrounding Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs’ apparent misrepresentation of their master sourcing – to our ears their records still sound remarkable – their brushes are an essential component for every record lover.
Don’t just take our word; retail hub Turntable Lab knows its stuff, and its description captures why Mo-Fi’s brushes rule: It’s a “proprietary cleaning pad that really gets deep into the grooves, eliminating most of the dirt and grime that causes noise on your records. The brush also features a unique ergonomic handle that helps you get a good grip and apply the right amount of pressure to really scrub the record. It can be used as a wet-cleaning brush or as a dry record brush.” It’s $19.95.
Disclosure: We’re highlighting iFi’s Hip DAC in part because we love its design but also because reviews for the quality of its output have been uniformly positive. Designed to mimic a flask, it’s a sharp-looking mid-priced DAC that will boost the quality and clarity of digital files and streaming services.
Per the audio site What Hi-Fi: “At this level, you’re unlikely to find a portable DAC as clear, zealous, fully featured, or as downright good-looking as the iFi hip-dac 2. When a product leans quite heavily on a gimmick – i.e. masquerading as a vessel for alcohol, albeit a nice one – you might feel yourself dismissing it before you’ve given it a chance. To do so where iFi is concerned would be wrong, because really, this DAC is anything but a joke.” We also highly recommend Cambridge Audio’s DACMagic 200.
Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagen – Faith, Hope and Carnage
A profoundly moving series of conversations between singer, writer, Birthday Party founder and Red Hand Files newsletter scribe Nick Cave and journalist Sean O’Hagen, Faith, Hope and Carnage offers revelations and meditations on creativity, process, grief, life, and artistic productivity.
It’s a book that you’ll return to repeatedly, and whose words will echo in your psyche long after reading.
In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi: Listening Vol. 1
The first edition of our Listening book series! “You’re holding in your hand the physical manifestation of an idea, one that aims to connect the tactile sensation of flipping through paper pages to absorb knowledge with the thrill of dropping a needle onto a sublime recording to connect you with the musical cosmos.”