The best gifts to speak to podcast lovers’ souls
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Published Dec 14, 2022 5:15 PM
There are two kinds of audio lovers in this world: the music-obsessed ones whose tastes span genres, with plenty of accompanying gear lust, and the podcast-devouring ones, with a desire for lifelong learning, audio storytelling, and one day going from living vicariously to experiencing vivaciously. Shopping for the first isn’t hard—the road to audiophileville is lined with specs to follow and plentiful detours through high-resolution formats and frequency ranges. It’s not as easy to gift for the latter, however. Podcasts don’t demand the same infatuation with driver types and source devices to sound their best. So what do you gift someone whose favorite thing is airwaves, which they can’t hold in their hands? Although you can’t gift them Ira Glass himself, there are tangible items you can put under the tree. We’ve collected the best gifts for podcast lovers that will give them aural pleasure and let them know that you listen to them when they talk about what they listen to. (While you’re at it, may we suggest you tell the pal who would rather listen to podcasts to tune in to The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week and Ask us Anything, PopSci‘s own productions.)
Best earbuds: Buderflys Curiosity G2 Wireless Earbuds
Just because someone says they can’t get enough of something like podcasts doesn’t mean they can enjoy an indefinite amount if their body is experiencing discomfort. And if you’ve ever tried a pair of ill-fitting earbuds, you know that, after a while, they can hurt—and when someone is deep in a two-hour podcast episode waiting for the big twist, they won’t want to take to have to take a breather. Buderflys address this potential problem head-on (or is that ear canals first), applying proprietary tech to prioritize comfortable consumption and maximum isolation for every distraction-free sesh. Instead of typical potentially irritating silicone tips, body heat-reactive form-flexing material fits to the user’s specific ear geometry, meaning the wearer can enjoy all 9.5 hours of active battery life offered by the tethered Bluetooth receiver (the number jumps to 33 hours in idle use, or infinite when used with the thin, ultra-strong T2 Linum cable instead of wireless). Plus, Buderflys use balanced armature drivers, originally developed for hearing aids, so they produce crisp, clear, high-resolution audio tailored to the spoken word and every nuanced inflection—a summit-tier upgrade for someone who is still wearing $15 they picked up from the drugstore. (And this tech makes them equally suited to listening to lengthy work webinars, virtual meetings, etc.)
Best headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Construction sounds, office chatter, and outside noise can pull you out of the world a podcast immerses you in. These headphones from Bose have three levels of noise cancellation to adjust how much you’d like to tune out. They’re Amazon Alexa-enabled, so you can look up post-podcast tidbits you were curious about via voice command. The Bose Connect app lets you share audio so friends can get in on the latest episode. They’re IPX4-rated, so you won’t have to worry about them getting ruined if you listen outdoors and there’s a surprise rainstorm. If you’re looking to upgrade a friend’s listening game, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a perfect choice.
Best speaker: JBL Charge 5
People usually listen to podcasts while doing chores, cooking, working, or commuting. However, sometimes you have to take the earbuds out to listen to the sweet sizzle of onions carmelizing in a pan. This speaker from JBL is portable and packs a potent punch thanks to its long-excursion driver, tweeter, and bass radiators. A built-in power bank lets you charge your phone—perfect to juice up after marathoning the entirety of “Missing Richards Simmons.” This speaker has a 20-hour battery life, meaning you won’t need a recharge after learning of the fitness guru’s fate. You can even listen to podcasts near the pool, thanks to its IP67 rating. It’s one of the reasons why we gave it a glowing review.
Best smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot
Sometimes, you want to learn what’s going on with the weather while finding out the truth behind Bragg’s apple cider vinegar on Maintenance Phase. Use your voice to turn up the volume when the information gets juicy, ask Alexa to purchase some nutritional yeast, and then stream Bragg’s investor Katy Perry’s 2010 groundbreaking album Teenage Dream.
Best heated blanket: Westinghouse Electric Blanket
It can get cold while staring up at the ceiling, listening to your favorite podcast. Warm up with this heated blanket, which has six heating levels and 2-10 hour time settings—meaning you can stay cozy and warm in your word cocoon. Overheat protection prevents fire, and the blanket is also fire-retardant—which is especially good if the person you’re gifting to already listens to enough crazy heated blanket-related true crime stories.
Best crossover book: Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel
Suppose you’re gifting to a fan of the “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast. In that case, they’ll enjoy this spin-off novel that documents two characters’ mysteries: Jackie and her quest to find the man in the tan jacket who gave her a mysterious note, and Diane’s search to reconnect with her shapeshifter son. And it’s available as an audiobook, if you want to keep all your media together, or in print if you’re worried your eye muscles aren’t getting as much attention as your eardrums.
Best book for true crime lovers: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
True crime listeners wish they could solve a real-life unsolved crime. True crime journalist Michelle McNamara did just that as her life’s work before her sudden death in 2016—this novel, chronicling her search, was published posthumously. The crime was solved in 2018, two months after the book was published. It’s also the basis of a 2020 six-part HBO documentary. Like our other book choices, it’s available as both audiobook and physical media.
Best hands-free phone holder: Gear Beast Cell Phone Lanyard
We all know the pain of not having enough hands and being forced to put down our cellphones as we go to another room, then finding out the limitations of our Bluetooth headphones or earbuds right at the climax of an exciting episode. Never experience that again with this wearable cellphone holder, which uses silicone bands to secure your phone to a lanyard. There’s also a cardholder for on-the-go use.
Best wearable blanket: THE COMFY Original
Podcasts are best enjoyed pacing around your house, picking up random things Past You decided to put down and forget about—or maybe that’s just me … no, I don’t think so. But why leave the comfort of your blanket cocoon when you can walk around with it? The Comfy achieves just that by combining a microfiber/sherpa blanket with the convenience of a hoodie. It’s perfect for your podcast-loving friend who also happens to be an introvert.
Best onesie with pockets: Just Love Printed Flannel Adult Onesie
Hard pants are every podcast’s worst enemy. Slip into something comfortable with this unisex onesie, which comes in five colors and six sizes. Even better, it has pockets, making it perfect for the podcast lover who misplaces their phone or earbuds.
Best treadmill: Goplus 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill
Taking a walk and listening to podcasts go hand in hand. Cold weather stops that for some, depriving podcast lovers of just a little serotonin. Fix that problem with this treadmill, which can be used as a walking pad. It even comes with a remote control for hands-free use. If you’re gifting to someone looking to kill two birds with one stone regarding fitness and media consumption, this treadmill makes for a great choice.
Best mug warmer: Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer
Making a warm cup of tea and having it go cold quickly is one of life’s curses. This mug warmer re-warms your cuppa in two minutes or less, with an indicator light signaling when it’s time to take a warm sip. A long power cord means whoever you’re gifting this mug warmer to won’t have to worry about reaching for an outlet.
Best smart mug: Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug
If you’d like a step-up gift from a mug warmer, why not get an entire smart mug? It keeps a drink hot for 1.5 hours on a full charge—one podcast episode. You can also keep it hot all day by placing it on its designated charging coaster. If you’re shopping for a techie who enjoys podcasts, they’ll appreciate the app connection and smart movements, like waking up when it recognizes movement or liquid.
Best how-to book: Podcasting for Dummies
Obsessed with the podcast-obsessed capers of Only Murders In the Building? If you’re looking to make a podcast or see how a podcast is made, this how-to guide will lead the way. Learn how to refine your idea, find an audience, record, edit, market, and monetize your creation. The person you’re gifting to is no dummy, but this guide will easily explain how the sausage is made.
Best interface: Focusrite Vocaster Two
Once you’re ready to make that storyboard dreamboard a reality, this interface was made specifically for podcasting, with labels and controls for hosts and guests with an intuitive design. It also makes recording easy, thanks to an Auto Gain button and live-audio recording capabilities.
Best microphone: Logitech Blue Sona Active Dynamic XLR Broadcast Microphone
No podcast is complete without a good mic, and this is a great mic. This phantom-powered XLR mic from Logitech for Creators is made for capturing rich, broadcast-quality vocals thanks to its hyper-focused supercardioid pickup pattern, dual-diaphragm capsule, and internal shockmount. Combined with built-in 25dB ClearAmp tech and a 40Hz-18kHz frequency response (with high-pass filter and presence boost toggles), plus a 290-degree swivel mount, these factors make this mic ready for you to explore every angle from any angle.
Best boom arm: Donner Boom Arm
This boom arm from Donner has a desk clamp for easy set-up, with a metal arm that will last for years. Friends don’t let friends hold a microphone with their shaky, unreliable hands.
Best acoustic panels: 52-Pack Acoustic Panels
Outside noises and stray reflections can ruin a podcast’s quality. Help your friend turn their spare room into a recording paradise with these one-foot square foam acoustic panels, which come in a bountiful 52-pack. That should be enough to transform their room to start on their podcast or streaming dreams. (If you’re going this route, check out our primer on soundproofing a room—though there’s no podcast version yet.)
Best for street interviews: Blast Mic
If you’re hitting the street, the Blast Mic is a must-have. It’s portable, wireless, and easy to use. Pair it with your phone’s Bluetooth to set up a Blast Radio account, connect it to Wi-Fi (whether a local network or your phone’s hotspot), then press a button to livestream on Blast Radio—no interface necessary. Two electret microphones in XY configuration with adjustable gain and onboard DSP ensure maximum sound quality, and an 8-hour internal battery makes sure you can capture all the actions and reactions. There are also 3.5mm inputs and headphone outputs if you work with multiple sources, participants, etc.
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