The Best Earbuds, Speakers, Smartphones and More Holiday Music Buys

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Have you noticed all the gorgeous music eye candy popping up everywhere you turn? Flashy smartphones, tiny earbuds with big bass, sick speakers, and more music gadgets are just begging to be bought. With the holiday sale season in full swing, this is the best time to indulge your inner music junkie and splurge. Here, we’ve rounded up the best earbuds, laptops, speakers, albums and new music gadgets worth buying for the 2014 holidays:

Best Earbuds Between $50 and $200: Apple may have Beats by Dre, but the real bass-lovers are drooling over Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 earbuds with their sleek fit and decadent sound quality. Can’t afford the $179.99 price tag? Check out Audio-Technica ATH-CKX7I SonicFuel In-Ear with its flat, tangle-free cables and ear-hugging C-tip design ($72.34 on Amazon).

Best Laptop for Music: Everyone knows that MacBooks are legend for their superior mixing, DJing, and audio capabilities, but PCWorld.com calls Samsung’s ATIV Book 9 the “best-sounding laptop” they’ve listened to. That’s because it has a Wolfson WM5102 audio CODEC encoder/decoder and can play songs with an exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio (113dB). In other words: crisp tempos and kickin’ bass. Now, for the sticker shock: The ATIV Book 9 came out in July at $1,500.

Best Music App: Of course, we have to mention our free MyMusicCloud store-and-play music app, which syncs your library across any laptop, smartphone, tablet and Samsung smart TV / smart watch regardless of operating system (Apple, Android, Windows, Nokia). Listen on or offline, make playlists, view lyrics and singer bios, and get song and artist recommendations anywhere you go.

Best Portable (and Wearable) Bluetooth Speaker: When you need a light, portable yet powerful speaker with satisfying bass, check out this Bluetooth-synced beauty.  At a lightweight 4.2 x 3.2 inches and 5.6 ounces, the JBL Clip ($49.95) easily hangs onto your backpack, belt-loop, or the back of your SUV (for the ultimate tailgating party). Comes with a plug-in charger.

Best Smartphones for Music: From dub-step to hip-hop, music fans seem equally split between two smartphones with powerful speakers and sound: the Sony Xperia Z3 (with Android for T-Mobile and soon new for Windows) and the HTC One M8 ($99.99 with 2-year contract at Best Buy) with its BoomSound system. Unlike most smartphones, both have front-facing speakers and impressive built-in amps. The Xperia Z3 is a whopping $630 alone or $26.25 / month with T-Mobile for 2 years. (You can also get the cheaper Z3v version from Verizon for $199.99 with a 2-year contract.)

Best New Music: Now that you’ve berzerked your way through the Marshall Mathers LP 2, here comes Eminem with a giant, new 2-disc compilation album called Slim Shady XV out Monday, November 24. The first disc features 12 tracks from Slim with partners like Sia (“Guts Over Fear”), Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, Big Sean and Danny Brown (“Detroit vs. Everybody”), and his posse Royce da 5’9 and D12. Disc 2 is meant to showcase the best of Shady Records, including 50 Cent’s “Wanksta” and “I Get Money,” Slaughterhouse’s “Hammer Dance” and Yelawolf’s “Let’s Roll” featuring Kid Rock. There are also old faves like 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” with an original lost-and-now-found demo version starring lyrics that were ultimately discarded. Here’s a peek:

So how do you like to listen to Eminem or your favorite music – on a laptop, smartphone, headphones or elsewhere? Tell us in this poll …

 

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