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Alms for the Audiophile

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Picture it: You’re spending a chilly December evening at home, savoring Nat “King” Cole’s The Christmas Song, a cup of eggnog, and the warmth of a wood fire and a favorite blanket. What denizen of the Western world wouldn’t enjoy that? Fortunately, most of it’s hard to mess up. Eggnog and easy-start fireplace logs you can find at any grocery story and a blanket’s pretty much a blanket.

Getting a recording of Nat “King” Cole to sound like the real Nat “King” Cole, though, is a tougher trick. It’ll be easier if there’s some new audio gear among your holiday gifts. But if your loved ones select your presents from the crowded shelves of a big-box electronics retailer, you’re not going to get the gear you really want. The good stuff resides mostly in stores and Web sites devoted to top-notch audio, places your loved ones will never find if left to their own devices. It’s up to you to steer them straight.

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