It may be just a few days until Christmas, but if you're anything like us, you may still have a few last-minute presents on your to-buy list. And if by "a few" you mean most of your family and friends, well, you're in good company here.
The good news is, we've been putting in the legwork to pick out some top gifts for the hi-fi fan in your life, that won't break the bank. In the world of hi-fi, that phrase can be a little subjective, but we've tried to keep most things under the £200 mark as a guide.
The best part to all this is that every suggestion that follows has picked up the full five stars in our reviews, and even an Award or two in the process too, meaning there’ll be no need for groans of oh lovely, another scarf around the Christmas tree this year.
Be quick if you want delivery in time for Christmas, though if you do miss the cut off, don’t forget your local hi-fi dealer is always ready to help too.
Pro-Ject Primary E
For any hi-fi fan looking to add a turntable to their setup, the Pro-Ject Primary E is an outstanding entry-level player that will easily outperform any cutesy-looking deck in a briefcase.
Serving up an even tonal balance and a spacious and clean delivery, this deck impresses with its drive and energy, combined with admirable depth and detail across the frequency range.
Considering its price, there are predictably few frills here. That means you won't find features like record ripping or automatic operation, but it's easy to set up and the performance speaks for itself. You won't beat it for the money.
Elac Debut B5.2
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get great speakers, and the Elac Debut B5.2's exist to prove that point wholeheartedly.
So much so, that they’re the first product that springs to mind whenever we are asked to recommend a great budget speaker. Considering the level of competition it’s up against, that’s no mean feat.
They're dynamic and expressive performers, and are as flexible in their placement as they are in their handling of genres. They're well balanced and deliver a precise and cohesive sound that we know we can’t necessarily expect at this level. For the price, they’re nothing short of exceptional.
iFi Zen DAC V2
Give the gift of an immediate sonic upgrade to any humble desktop setup, with this Award-winning DAC and headphone amp.
Now in its second iteration, the iFi Zen DAC V2 packs in new processing and circuitry improvements, and is one of the easiest ways to take a laptop’s audio quality from good to great.
It’s well specified too, with a USB Type B input and RCA line level and two balanced 4.4mm Pentaconn outputs, plus a standard 6.3mm headphone jack to boot. With a switch to move between fixed and variable outputs too, the Zen can even operate as a digital preamp if your recipient should so wish.
If your recipient likes to listen to music at home, or uses a portable music player when out and about, a pair of top-notch wired headphones would be a great gift on Christmas morning – and these have knocked our socks off.
Not only are they traditional wired headphones in an industry that has been bowled over by Bluetooth, but they are the first proper headphones from an Australian company more commonly known for their microphones. And what an achievement they are.
Whether your recipient is listening to music for entertainment or needs more critically focused headphones for monitoring, the Røde NTH-100 manage to adjust themselves appropriately – and that’s no easy task, particularly at this price.
In a sound-per-pound showdown, you'll find it hard to beat these – and we gave them a What Hi-Fi? Award for that very reason.
WiiM Pro Plus
Ok, so the WiiM Pro Plus music streamer might push the £200 budget just a little, but we're used to streamers this good costing at least double the price. That means this little box of tricks is insanely good value if your budget can stretch.
It's packed with all the features that it’s pricier competition boast, including AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect, with both wi-fi and hardwired connection via ethernet up for grabs.
There's also line level RCA, coaxial and optical connections, alongside the ability to playback audio files up to 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512. That's incredibly versatile for £220, and means your recipient can immediately bring an older hi-fi setup into the digital era.
Of course, as a 2023 What Hi-Fi? Award winner, it sounds fantastic too, and is easy to use to boot, making it a superb all-rounder at an excellent price.
If your recipient cares about audio quality, a subscription to our favourite streaming service, Tidal, is a gift that will keep on giving throughout the year.
With its offering of 24-bit/192kHz FLAC streams at its highest subscription tier, Tidal is without a doubt the best-sounding streaming service on the market. It's a hi-fi fan's streaming staple.
At £20/$20 a month for this Hi-Fi Plus tier, you can gift as many months as your budget allows — the only issue is doing that is not as straightforward as we'd like.
If you're in the US, you can buy gift vouchers that your recipient can redeem online. But if you're anywhere else in the world, you'll either need to set up an account for them with your payment details, or offer to pick up their bill for a couple of months. If they're not a subscriber yet, you'll even get 30 days free.
A great last-minute option if you're really short for time.
Chord Company C-Line
Unwrapping cables on Christmas morning might not be everyone's idea of fun, but hi-fi fans looking to make sonic tweaks to their carefully built system will be thrilled with the difference this cable can make.
The Chord Company C-Line is the best RCA cable we've heard on a budget, and will help any system's musicality shine all the brighter, enhancing detail levels for a more entertaining and informative listen.
Want more gift ideas? Here's our Christmas Gift Guide 2023 for music, film and tech fans