And one of the best things about our pick of six is that there's certainly something to suit all tastes – from the legendary Leonard Cohen, to the enchanting Imogen Heap, for example.
All six of these albums will give your system a thorough work out and, more importantly, treat your ears to some of the best tunes around in 2014.
See all our gift ideas: Christmas Gift Guide
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
Duration: 35m 55s; Standout track: Almost Like The Blues
The demands that Popular Problems will place on your system aren't perhaps the most wide-ranging. But they're certainly stern. Cohen's voice is a subterranean rumble, dripping with texture, while his band are absolutely to the fore. So the album will require integration and resolution from your system. It also needs to swing, albeit gently.
Imogen Heap – Sparks
Duration: 59m 07s; Standout track: Propeller Seeds
Warm and organic, but busily electronic and with ample variation, the most recent album from Imogen Heap will ask much of your system. Delivered sympathetically by a skilful set-up, however, and you'll find it to be unlike any other release you've heard this year.
More after the break
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Duration: 38m 10s; Standout track: A Long Time Ago
While there's little in the way of dynamic variation, Stay Gold instead offers a tasteful peak of intensity from the outset and seldom gets much quieter or louder. It's sweet sounding, however, and is heard to best on a set-up that's sympathetic to the warm, complex tonality of fiddles, picked steel-string acoustic and pedal steel guitars.
St Vincent – St Vincent
Duration: 40m 09s; Standout track: Birth In Reverse
An album that is built, origami-like, of unexpected angles and unlikely materials, St Vincent's eponymous LP is a layered, painstaking production that demands extensive tonal and textural variation from your system - even in its simplest moment. One of the albums of the year.
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Duration: 49m 10s; Standout track: Simon Ferocious
Rave Tapes is an album that will have inferior systems in a spin: with lots of texture, instrumental and tonal variation, as well as skyscraping dynamics and prodigious levels of detail to be uncovered. If your system can cope, however, you'll find plenty of powerfully-defined structures submerged beneath the distortion and clamour.
Nils Frahm – Spaces
Duration: 75m 10s; Standout track: Says
Nils Frahm musters the kind of intensity that really should be beyond one man equipped only with a treated piano, keyboards and a sequencer. With Spaces, Frahm demonstrates that he can be playful, soothing or abstract and it's an album that will soon find any flaws in your system's sense of timing.