Sound Advice Gift Guide 2019

Bluetooth speakers and soundbars

Soundcore Flare Mini and Flare+ Bluetooth speakers: The best speakers you can buy for under $50 and $100, Soundcore’s Flare Mini ($49) and Flare+ ($99) look, feel and sound much more expensive they are. The LED lightshow can be adjusted or turned off at the touch of a button.

AxiomAir N2 Freedom, $529: This advanced and customizable wireless speaker from high-end manufacturer Axiom Audio is based on a Raspberry Pi minicomputer, allowing it to be updated with new features easily.

ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 TV Speaker, $199: With six levels of voice boost, the ZVOX AV203 is one of the most advanced dialogue-enhancing speakers you can buy. Reduced from $269 until the end of the year, it is a great deal, too. Veterans save 15% by calling ZVOX directly. 

TCL Alto 7+ soundbar, $179: The Alto 7+ soundbar with wireless subwoofer is an ideal match for TCL’s excellent line of affordable TVs.


Cell phone and tablet accessories, earphones and headphones

Anker PowerCore Fusion, $25: This high-speed wall charger has a built-in battery than allows it to function as a power bank, so it can charge your devices even when an outlet is not available. 

ZVOX AccuVoice AV50 noise-canceling headphones, $119 each or 2/$199: Available in four colors, the combination of AccuVoice and active noise cancellation in the AV50 headphones makes them perfect for viewing in-flight entertainment. Veterans save 15% by calling ZVOX directly. 

Cambridge Audio Melomania, $129: Melomania is “love of music” and these true wireless earphones have excellent sound quality in the finest British tradition. 

Grado SR60e headphones, $79: Grado’s wired, open-back headphones are where high-end sound quality begins, and are handmade in the USA.

Apple AirPods with wireless charging case, $199: Good sound and seamless Siri integration make the AirPods a great gift for any iPhone user. 

Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, $149: These excellent true wireless earphones are endorsed by 10 Grammy winners and include HearID, which allows you to scientifically optimize the sound for your own ears and hearing. 

Apple iTunes and Google Play Store Gift Cards: While some may consider gift cards unimaginative, most tablet or Smartphone user will appreciate being treated to some apps or music from the Apple and Android online stores.

Gabb Phone, $99: this kid-friendly ZTE phone is limited mostly to talk, text, and camera, stripping the apps and browser to provide young ones a safer experience. The monthly cost is $19.99/month and there is no contract.


Hi-Fi, TV and Home Entertainment

Audio-Technica AT-LP60 turntables: Improved and updated for 2019 and starting at $99, Audio-Technica’s AT-LP60 automatic turntables come in many varieties including USB and Bluetooth models, as well as in packages with headphones and speakers.

LP Gear Vessel A3SE, $99: With its affordable price and clear, sweet and dynamic sound, the Vessel A3SE is a great upgrade for entry-level turntables. Available in a pre-mounted set for $148

Music Hall Classic turntable, $599: A breakthrough in sub-$1,000 turntables, the Music Hall Classic must be touched and heard to be appreciated. It is easily the best combination of sound quality, features, good looks and solid construction you can get under $600. 

Spin-Clean Record Washer, $79: The affordable Spin-Clean uses an ingenious design to give your records a deep cleaning comparable to what you get from an expensive vacuum record cleaning machine. 

TCL 5-Series and 6-Series televisions, $299 -$1,299: The TCL 5-Series easily outclasses TVs selling at similar budget prices, and the 6-Series competes with the big boys without the big expense.

Samsung Q90 QLED televisions, $2,199-$4,499: Available in sizes from 65 to 82 inches, the Samsung Q90 produces picture quality approaching OLED televisions but without the burn-in worries. 

Panasonic UltraHD Blu-ray players: Expensive but absolutely 100% worth it, the $499 UB820 and $999 UB9000 have picture processing that is beyond state-of-the-art. They made DVDs look so good that viewers thought I was playing Blu-rays on my 50-inch plasma, and both 1080p and 4K Blu-ray on were rendered with sheer perfection on 4K sets. Noticeably better than even the vaunted Oppo players, if you have a 4K TV and like to play movies from disc you need to buy one – today.

Roku Players: Roku streaming media players continue to be the best way to add streaming services to your TV. The Roku Express ($29) is perfect for 1080p televisions, and 4K television owners may want to look towards the Roku Premiere ($39) Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49) and Roku Ultra ($99) to get the most out of their televisions.

Q Acoustics 3020i bookshelf speakers, $319: The award-winning Q Acoustics 3020i speakers have rich, clear sound that makes it the best speaker you can buy in the $300 price range. 

Emotiva T-Zero tower speakers, $399: The EmotivaT-Zero uses exotic tweeter technology to bring airy, high-end sound to your room and was one of my most-loved recommendations of 2019. 

Wharfedale Linton speakers with stands, $1,499: The beautiful Wharfedale Linton speakers have cutting-edge sound quality, boxy mid-century modern looks and a furniture-grade wood finish that work together to provide both musical enjoyment and great pride of ownership. The stands double as record racks and should be considered mandatory for anyone purchasing these speakers. 

Samsung HW-Q90R soundbar, $1,699: The Samsung-Harman/Kardon HW-Q90R includes wireless surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer to bring high-quality Dolby Atmos sound to your room easily and relatively inexpensively. Frequently available for well under MSRP.



Sega Genesis Mini, $79: Retro video games are all about great gameplay, and the Sega Genesis system of the 1990s had some of the best games of all. The Genesis Mini includes 2 wired controllers, connects to your TV via HDMI and includes 40 classic Genesis games and 2 bonus games.


Cooking and outdoors

MEATER, $99 to $199: MEATER wireless meat thermometers measure ambient and internal temperatures from a single probe. My favorite is the $99 MEATER+ with its extended Bluetooth range.

Pelican Elite 20 cooler, $149: Compared to its $199 Yeti competitor, this ruggated cooler has a superior latching system, better insulation performance, is available in a wide variety of color combinations, includes a lifetime warranty and is made in the USA. Save 15% off all products (excepting phone cases) with code PELICANLIFE15 at

Thermopop, $34: An excellent instant-read thermometer that is reliable and looks great, too, with many different colors available.

Smoke 2-Channel Alarm, $99: Another winner from Thermoworks, Smoke monitors the temperature of your BBQ and meat using the included probes and transmits the information to a pre-paired handheld receiver.


Smart Home 

Amazon Echo Show 8, $99: The Echo Show 8 provides Alexa functionality, solid sound quality and a sharp 8” HD screen in a single package. 

Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit, $69: A great way to get started with the industry-leading smart lighting system, this kit provides two bulbs and a hub you can build on. 

Wyze Cam, $25: Wyze HD security cameras with night vision are the best value on the market, with good video quality and a built-in adjustable foot stand. You can record 14 days of rolling coverage to the Cloud for free.


Special mention

Orient Altair Watch, $130 on sale: Orient watches are loved by watch enthusiasts for their affordability, accurate mechanical movements, good looks and solid quality. The stylish Orient Altair dress watch is a great introduction to mechanical watches and includes the date, a 24 hour dial, and a day of the week dial. This combination is unheard of in a good quality $140 mechanical watch and that makes it a bit of high-tech in itself. I bought the white face with blue hands and markings, and absolutely love it. Sign up for Orient’s newsletter to save 10% on your first order.