dCS Community Holiday Gift Guide 2021

What to give an audiophile and music lover for christmas? I propose we gather ideas…

The Rest Is Noise

The Rest Is Noise
Alex Ross

Alex Ross’s sweeping history of twentieth-century classical music, winner of the Guardian First Book Award, is a gripping account of a musical revolution.

The landscape of twentieth-century classical music is a wild one: this was a period in which music fragmented into apparently divergent strands, each influenced by its own composers, performers and musical innovations. In this comprehensive tour, Alex Ross, music critic for the ‘New Yorker’, explores the people and places that shaped musical development: Adams to Zweig, Brahms to Björk, pre-First World War Vienna to ‘Nixon in China’. (from the Amazon website)


Oliver Sacks

“With the same trademark compassion and erudition he brought to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat , Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls “musical misalignments”. Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with “amusia”, to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds - for everything but music. Illuminating, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable, Musicophilia is Oliver Sacks’ latest masterpiece.” (from the Amazon Website)

“Powerful and compassionate. . . . A book that not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind.”
The New York Times

“Curious, cultured, caring. . . . Musicophilia allows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients.”
The Washington Post Book World

“Sacks has an expert bedside manner: informed but humble, self-questioning, literary without being self-conscious.”
Los Angeles Times

“Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up.”

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How Music Works - David Byrne

How Music Works is David Byrnes Bestselling, buoyant celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about. Drawing on his own work over the years with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and his myriad collaborators - along with journeys to Wagnerian opera houses, African villages, and anywhere music exists - Byrne shows how music emerges from cultural circumstance as much as individual creativity. It is his magnum opus, and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.


I frequently use the Astell&Kern flagship and am very happy with it. This is the mid-price model A&futura SE100. It should satisfy most desires for audiophile companionship on the go.

I own both the Jerry Harvey Layla and this one, the JH13 v2. The sound matches very well with the player. Music does come alive. Of course there is not the depth to the music a dCS system creates. But listening is truly enjoyable. Procuring a custom in-ear monitor means visiting a hearing aid acoustician to get an ear impression taken which gets send to JH Audio. They keep it on file for future purchases. The nice thing about a custom in ear monitor is, that it isolates ambient noise well. No need for noise cancelling headphones… Plus it draws little current. So the internal amp of the A&K is sufficient to drive it. Oh, and you get to design your very own pair of in ear monitors in their online configurator.

I have no relationship with any of the two companies… With these two gadgets one carries along a good audiophile system that takes very little space and sounds excellent considering the size.


@whitecube, hi Marco. I also own A&S (SR25) and my IEMs are Campfire Andromeda. Do you use them with a headphone amp? Thanks. Franco

Wow, the A&K player with the Jerry Harvey IEMs is an expensive Christmas gift. Can I be your friend? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Hello Franco @Frankie67,

ah, yes Campfire has a good reputation as well… With my previous SP1000 and now with the SP2000 I am plugging the IEMs into the A&K directly. I feel there is no need for more oomph to drive the small load. On the other hand, I have not tried an external amp with the IEMs either, so who knows. I have used an external amp between the A&K and the Focal Utopia over ear headphones with good results. The A&K internal amp is too weak to drive the Utopia’s load with a gratifying result. An in between step for IEMs with the A&K players is a balanced cable. The available output current is higher than on the single-ended output. I use a cable from Effect Audio for that purpose. Subtle but worthwhile improvement in SQ.

I have a Headamp Pico on order to drive the Utopia. The amp is overdue for two months now and I don’t get replies to emails either. Hopefully not a writeoff… I’m eyeing the Cayin C9 amp instead. With it one can switch between tube and solid state amplification. Sweet…

My use case for the A&K are personal or business trips of varying lengths. The shorter I’m away, the likelier I only bring the DAP and IEM. The package is just so convenient… If it’s maybe three weeks or longer, then the DAP, amp and over ear. Also, when it’s music on the go in an airplane for example, I’d say fiddling around with an extra amp is a slight hassle wich might be better avoided.

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Marco this thread is about what to give people for a Christmas present. Are you aware of that?

Sure, Pete @PAR. Thank you for making my evening brighter with your light-hearted comment :grinning:

Very much needed these days…

Yup. There exist relationships where higher priced gifts like watches or DAPs make sense. But I’ll limit myself to books and other media going forward.

Pete @PAR, going by your experience I’m sure you have holiday gift recommendations up your sleeve. Why not share?


The Recording Angel
Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa
Evan Eisenberg

First published in 1987 and now considered a classic, The Recording Angel charts the ways in which the phonograph and its cousins have transformed our culture. In a new afterword, Evan Eisenberg shows how digital technology, file trading, and other recent developments are accelerating— or reversing— these trends. Influential and provocative, The Recording Angel is required reading for anyone who cares about the effect recording has had— and will have— on our experience of music. (from the Amazon website)

Representing the ultimate publication on the music photography of Anton Corbijn, one of the most important photographers and directors working today, this collection of images, many never before published, focuses on Corbijn’s evolving fascination with the music industry, from the 1970s to the present day. Anton Corbijn’s interest in music has been the engine of an illustrious decades-long career that has most recently involved the making of feature length films such as The American,
A Most Wanted Man, and Life, due to be released in 2015.

This gloriously illustrated, oversized book pays homage to Corbijn’s obsession with rock and roll — an interest that has led to lifelong friendships with Bono, Michael Stipe, Dave Gahan, and other iconic musicians. Looking back over four decades, it features hundreds of creative, offbeat images that Corbijn was able to capture largely as a result of his close relationships with his subjects. Nearly every revered musician and band is represented in Corbijn’s archives: Nick Cave to Nirvana, U2 to R.E.M., the Rolling Stones to Siouxie and the Banshees. Many of the portraits are accompanied by their subjects’ own take on Corbijn’s distinct style and approach. Also included here are previously unpublished photos of the late Joe Cocker and the band Depeche Mode, who consider him an honorary member. A fitting tribute to an innovative and deeply passionate photographer, this book will rock fans of music and photography. (from the Amazon website)

1001 Albums

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Updated for 2021
Robert Dimery

Explore musical history from the symphonic pop of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to the gargantuan grunge of Nirvana’s Nevermind. As well as the acknowledged milestones without which no collection is complete, you’ll discover many unexpected treats, such as Einstürzende Neubauten’s power tool-enhanced soundscapes and Aphex Twin’s sonic troublemaking.

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die pays homage to the forces that have shaped rock and pop - but also dips into dance, jazz, funk, punk, disco, soul, hip-hop, world music and the avant-garde. Fascinating insights and trivia accompany detailed reviews of each album. What did Time magazine consider the twentieth century’s greatest album? Which anthem by Prince was an attempt to emulate Bob Seger? And what links Count Basie and Batman?

With inside knowledge and incisive criticism from 90 internationally acclaimed music journalists, this updated edition provides an indispensable companion to the music itself. (from the Amazon website)

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@par, sorry it’s my fault!

@whitecube, thanks Marco!

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The Work Of Art In The Age Of Its Technological Reproducibility
And Other Writings On Media
Walter Benjamin

Benjamin’s famous “Work of Art” essay sets out his boldest thoughts — on media and on culture in general — in their most realized form, while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it. In this essay the visual arts of the machine age morph into literature and theory and then back again to images, gestures, and thought.

This essay, however, is only the beginning of a vast collection of writings that the editors have assembled to demonstrate what was revolutionary about Benjamin’s explorations on media. Long before Marshall McLuhan, Benjamin saw that the way a bullet rips into its victim is exactly the way a movie or pop song lodges in the soul.

This book contains the second, and most daring, of the four versions of the “Work of Art” essay — the one that addresses the utopian developments of the modern media. The collection tracks Benjamin’s observations on the media as they are revealed in essays on the production and reception of art; on film, radio, and photography; and on the modern transformations of literature and painting. The volume contains some of Benjamin’s best-known work alongside fascinating, little-known essays — some appearing for the first time in English. In the context of his passionate engagement with questions of aesthetics, the scope of Benjamin’s media theory can be fully appreciated. (from the Amazon website)


American Music
Annie Leibovitz

The impulse to do AMERICAN MUSIC, writes famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, “came from a desire to return to my original subject and look at it with a mature eye. Bring my experience to it… make it a real American tapestry.” Her ambitious idea became AMERICAN MUSIC, a stunning collection of photographs of the musicians, places and people that enrich the landscape of American music.

As Rolling Stone’s chief photographer for over thirteen years, Leibovitz created a legendary body of work. Her portraits of some of the world’s most talented musicians capture more than the performer, they convey the art of making music. For AMERICAN MUSIC, Leibovitz traveled across the country to juke joints in the Mississippi Delta, honkytonks in Texas, and jazz clubs in New Orleans “to take pictures in places that mean something.” In her signature style, she shares stunning portraits of American greats – B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Beck, Bob Dylan, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Miles Davis, Etta James, Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, Tom Waits, The Dixie Chicks, Dr. Dre, The Roots and many more.

AMERICAN MUSIC includes a commentary about the American Music project by Leibovitz, short essays by musicians Patti Smith, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Mos Def, Ryan Adams, and Beck as well as biographical sketches of all the musicians. (from the Amazon Website)

Show Me The Picture
Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall: Show Me the Picture is a collection of work by photographer Jim Marshall, who created iconic images of rock ‘n’ roll stars, jazz greats, and civil rights leaders.

This career-spanning volume showcases hundreds of photographs evoking the sights and sounds of the 1960s and 1970s.

Marshall photographed noteworthy musicians like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Janis Joplin, as well as figures throughout history — from civil rights leaders to ordinary folks in New York, San Francisco, and the American South.

From intimate portraits and heady crowd scenes to haunting street shots, Marshall’s work had the power to look into the soul of an individual and capture the mood of an entire generation. (from the Amazon website)

Rock Seen
Rob Gruen

For 40 years, Bob Gruen’s name has been synonymous with rock and roll. From taking early photos on tour with Ike and Tina Turner, to capturing the early CBGB/Max’s Kansas City scene to covering current stadium rockers such as Green Day, Gruen has always been at the right place at the right time and he’s always gotten the shot. In this lavish monograph, Gruen has curated his favorite photographs from his career, with intimate captions and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Featuring such illustrious acts as the Clash, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and more, and including an introduction by the legendary Debbie Harry of Blondie, this collection is a must-have for all fans of rock and roll. (from the Amazon website)


Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé
Bob Stanley

"[Stanley is] as clear-eyed about music as he is crazy in love with it."
― Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times

A monumental work of musical history, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! traces the story of pop music through songs, bands, musical scenes, and styles from Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” (1954) to Beyoncé’s first megahit, “Crazy in Love” (2003). Bob Stanley ― himself a musician, music critic, and fan ― teases out the connections and tensions that animated the pop charts for decades, and ranges across the birth of rock, soul, R&B, punk, hip hop, indie, house, techno, and more. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a vital guide to the rich soundtrack of the second half of the twentieth century and a book as much fun to argue with as to quote.

“[An] exuberant celebration of the silly and the sublime…[Stanley’s] writing delights and surprises, and his description of the music makes you want to dance to it.”
Sarah Larson, The New Yorker

“Rich with musical history lived, worked, and felt… Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is smart, funny, surprisingly deep for just how broad it is, but, most of all, for stars and songs great and small, it is full of love”
Joshua Joy Kamensky, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Quixotic and kaleidoscopic, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! serves up erudite irreverence on every page. Like its sprawling subject, it invites everyone in for a listen.”
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

“Bob Stanley loves and finds surprising connections between a thousand kinds of pop. He makes me want to run to the nearest record store ― and move in.”
Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields

(from the Amazon website)