2019 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2

With less than 10 days to go before Santa makes his way down the chimney, how’s that holiday shopping going? For those who are still working on it (we sympathize with you), here’s Part 2 of our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide, featuring a few last-minute ideas. Unless otherwise noted, we haven’t done hands-on testing, so be sure to check return policies and try to take items with strong gift potential for a test drive.

JBL Personalized
Still struggling to find that perfect gift? JBL has a cool personalization option for its Live series 400 BT, 500BT, and 650BTNC headphones and Flip 5 and Go 2 Bluetooth speakers (the Clip 3 is sold out). For the headphones, you can choose the overall color and logo color, select a pattern and color for one or both earcups, and then personalize your creation with a few words that print on the earcup and/or just above it. For the speakers, you can select the overall color and choose/position either a pattern, art design (shown), or upload a photo to personalize the grille; you also have the option of adding your own catch phrase. JBL has discounted all five of the products with its best deal reserved for the Live 650BTNC wireless noise-cancelling headphones (shown), which have been marked down to $155 — 31% off the regular price of $225. Shipping takes 5-7 business days so there’s still time to order and get your personalized gift in time for Christmas.


Austere V Series Banana Adaptors ($40)
No, not that kind of banana… Austere, an AV accessories company that opened its doors earlier this year, has a handsome gift pack of banana-plug adapters that’s sure to delight audio enthusiasts. The set includes two pairs of adapters, each gold-plated to eliminate oxidation that can occur over time with copper wire. To secure the plug, you simply twist it onto the speaker cable. No tools needed.


Twinkly App-Controllable Christmas Lights ($159-$190)
Tired of the same-old Christmas lights? Spruce them up with Twinkly app-controlled LED lights. You hang ’em on the tree or create a light display like you always do but the magic begins when you download the companion iOS/Android app, which lets you orchestrate a custom light show that draws on “more than 16 million colors.” The app is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free control and setup is described as fast and easy: You connect via Bluetooth and add Twinkly to your Wi-Fi network. The lights are waterproof and can be synced with your favorite Christmas tunes. Three versions are available: Multi-Color RGB (red, green, blue, $159), Special Edition RGB+W (red, green, blue + warm white, $169), and Gold Edition AWW (amber, warm white, and cold white, $190). Prices are for 250 lights but other packages are available.


Meze Audio 99 Neo Headphones ($199)
Except for the solid-wood earcups and a slightly lower impedance spec, Meze’s 99 Neo headphones are identical to the $309 99 Classics we recently reviewed — and loved. The over-ear ’phones have a clever self-adjusting headband and are equipped with 1.6-inch dynamic drivers housed in earcups made of black-textured-plastic. The company says the Neo’s have a “slightly different signature and the same audio quality.” At half a pound, they’re light and we expect them to be every bit as comfortable as their pricier sibling.