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PSNEurope stocking fillers, part 1

The Rubik Speaker, Fanny Wang earbuds, a Laptop Dock, and a host of music-related books feature in the first of PSNEurope's selection of Christmas gift recommendations this year.

As usual at Christmas, we’ve got a few ‘stocking filler’ ideas for you: though, we’re starting with something very classy indeed. Hi-Fi brand La Boite Concept, has unveiled its latest design: the compact and (it says here) “affordable” (though it is more than 600 quid) LD100 Laptop Dock to complete its ‘Good, Better, Best’ line up of integrated plug-and-play laptop audio desks. The latest LD100 model features a satin black lacquer finish for the console, plus an interchangeable soft black silicon desk blotter for the top surface. The consumer can then purchase optional silicon, coloured desk blotters in red, grey or blue to match their home interior.
The LD100’s compact dimensions are 77cm long x 55cm wide x 42cm in depth. Using a single cable, simply connect a laptop, iPhone, Tablet, Smartphone or MP3 player and listen to your favourite music through the integrated USB DAC sound card (compatible MAC, PC and iPad).

The LD100 model is now available in the UK for a mere £660 (SRP) with each additional desk-blotter for £42. Now here’s a phrase you don’t hear everyday: “How are your Fanny Wangs?” But buy your loved one a stylish pair of earbuds from this Californian headphone company, and you can ask all the vaguely suggestive questions you like. Designed by a team of fashion and technology experts, the new Fanny Wang range consists of different styles of headphones, including ear-buds, on-ear and over-ear designs, with the top of the range model boasting Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology.
Here at PSNEurope we’ve been roadtesting the ‘Wang Buds’. Not your conventional design, the Buds sit outside your ear-canal, but through a silicon design, the Buds fit securely in your ear and also direct sound into your ear-canal without any damage or discomfort.

Each Wang Bud has a tiny tweeter and woofer planted in it, and the super-sized air chambers mean that there is more space for air movement, creating a “thumping natural bass while keeping clear mids and highs”. At PSNEurope, we agree. They take a little getting used to in the wearing of, but, wow, they pack real definition and punch. Wang Buds are available in red, white or black, RRP: £69.95. You’ve seen it in Hither & Dither but we had to include the Rubik Speaker again. Plug in the USB cable and the stereo jack, and immediately you’re transported back to 1982. All you need now is a SodaStream. The Rubik Speaker (9cm cubed) is £20 from the Science Museum Shop. Now for some reading. Staff Writer Erica Basnicki hasn’t been able to stop talking about, and obsessing over Alistair Lawrence’s Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World (Bloomsbury) ever since getting her hands on a copy. Published to coincide with the studio’s 80th anniversary, the hefty (nearly 2.5kg!) hardcover is packed with a gorgeous colection of archival photos and interviews that focuses on history, technology, and yes, some of the artists that have recorded at the legendary studio.

We also asked our very own David Davies what he’d choose from the years publications – this is what he told us: “2012 was, in case you hadn’t noticed, the Year of the Doorstopper Rock Biography. Galvanised by the unexpected, runaway success of Keith Richards’s Life, publishers practically fell over themselves to throw advances at elderly musicians who had a sufficient quantity of juicy anecdotes to fill 400 pages. Some, like Rod Stewart’s The Autobiography (Random House), were enjoyably knock-about but curiously unrevealing; if you wish to locate previously hidden depths to the former Faces frontman, please look elsewhere. “But at least three of this year’s bumper-crop of muso memoirs warrant your time and attention. As might be expected from such a thoughtful and well-read musician and songwriter, Mike Scott’s Adventures of a Waterboy (Jawbone) is considered and often beautifully written. If not possessing quite as many former members as The Fall, musicians aplenty have passed come and gone during the band’s 30-year duration, with Scott as the sole constant. He tells the story of the Waterboys – and that of his own, increasingly spiritual journey – with passion and dry humour. “Similarly well-crafted but with an almost unsettling undertow of self-loathing, Pete Townshend’s Who I Am (HarperCollins) also derives from the more cerebral end of the rock spectrum. Written slowly over the course of more than a decade, Who I Am is measured and generous in tone, particularly towards Townshend’s Who bandmates. But he does not stint from describing a miserable, disrupted childhood, or the events that surrounded his 2003 arrest. Townshend’s preoccupation with compositional practice and recording technology is a constant theme – hardly surprising given that he was one of the first UK musicians to have a fully equipped home studio. “In audio nerd terms, however, not even Townshend can compete with Neil Young. The Godfather of Grunge’s long-awaited memoir, Waging Heavy Peace (Viking Penguin), is every bit as unhurried and tangential as his albums with long-time backing band Crazy Horse might suggest. To say that Young is obsessed with the downsides of digital music would be to risk a major understatement, and his frequent allusions to his new high-resolution music service, Pono, do begin to grate after a while. But they can be forgiven because Waging Heavy Peace is also hugely charming and heartfelt – particularly in its final third as much-loved collaborator after much-loved collaborator (including producer David Briggs and pedal steel legend Ben Keith) passes away prematurely. More than any of this year’s other rock tomes, Waging Heavy Peace translates the intent of the artist’s musical work to the printed page, flaws and all.” There will be another round-up of stocking fillers next week. Meanwhile, if you have any seasonal-technology ideas of your own, feel free to share them with the PSNEurope editorial desk!