Holiday Gift Guide 2020


Sound Advice Holiday Gift Guide 2020
By Don Lindich

Charging and Power

Linearflux Hypercharger MAX, $79: High-capacity charger with USB-C connections that can even be used to power a laptop.

Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000, $25: This wall charger has a built-in battery so it can charge your devices even when it is not plugged in to an outlet.

Earphones and Headphones

ZVOX AV50 headphones, $59 (reduced from $149): ZVOX is reducing the price of their popular AV50 headphones by a whopping 60% for the holidays. The combination of active noise reduction and AccuVoice makes them perfect for flying and watching programming with dialogue.

Soundcore Life headphones, $29-79: These budget Beats alternatives combine comfort, good looks and good sound. The Life Q10 is a standout value for $29, and the top Q20 and Q30 models includes active noise cancellation.

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, $99: 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 Pro, $249: Good sound and seamless Siri integration make the AirPods Pro a great gift for any Apple fan or iPhone user.

Bluetooth and WiFi Speakers

Soundcore Flare series, $39-$99: There are several models of the Flare Bluetooth speakers and all are winners, creating pure, clean sound with good bass and combining it with an LED lightshow that is pleasing and fun. The Flare Mini for $39.99 is a particular standout.

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


Technics OTTAVA-f SC-C70 Mk.II, $999: This small all-in-one sound system with CD player is a technological tour de force, providing big, highly accurate sound that seems like it is coming from a high-end component system with large speakers.

Q Acoustics 3020i Speakers. Smallish bookshelf speakers with clear, rich sound and deep bass that belies their size. They have won many awards and continue to lead their class.

Polk Audio Legend L100 Speakers, $1,199: These speakers provide a taste the very best you can expect from high-end audio. Readers who purchased them on my recommendation describe the sound as “breathtaking” and they are one of the best speakers I have ever heard, independent of price.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X Turntable, $99: This automatic budget turntable is where good vinyl playback quality begins, and its moving magnet cartridge will not damage your records, unlike many other sub-$100 turntables. Also available with a USB connection for $129.

LP Gear The Vessel A3SE Phono Cartridge, $99: By far the best phono cartridge available for under $100, the Vessel A3SE sounds much more expensive than it is and is easy to upgrade by changing the stylus. It also comes in pre-mounted versions for $148 that make it extremely easy to mount on compatible turntables.

Emotiva T-Zero Speakers, $399: Exotic technology and unbelievably good sound for under $400 sets these small tower speakers apart.

Mobile Fidelity StudioDeck turntable, $1,399: This made-in-the-USA turntable has an impeccable pedigree and impeccable performance. Perfect for the vinyl fan who has been very good this year.

Cambridge Audio AXR85 receiver, $399: An oasis in a desert of diminishing choices , this is one of the few high quality stereo receivers that you can still buy for under $500. Plenty of power, clean sound and quality construction make it well worth the investment.

Spin-Clean Record Washer, $79: This brilliantly-designed record washer provides a deep clean that rivals that of expensive vacuum record cleaning machines.


ZVOX AV157 SuperVoice TV Speaker, $199: One of my most popular recommendations in 2020, nothing else on the market makes it easier to understand television dialogue. Reduced from $299 to $199 for the holidays.

LG SK1 Soundbar, $99: This compact, low profile soundbar will greatly improve over the sound of your television’s speakers. Frequently on sale for $69.99.

Roku Streaming boxes, $29.99-$99.99 : Quality hardware, the biggest selection of channels (many of them free) and the best user interface still makes Roku the best choice for streaming entertainment. If you have a 4K TV, be sure to get one of the 4K models.

Nebula Solar Portable Projector, $599: Nebula’s portable, battery-powered 1080p HDR projector allows you to take the show on the road almost anywhere. LED light source means no lamps to replace, and it includes WiFi and Android TV so you can stream from sources like Hulu and Disney+. It has an HDMI input for use with a disc player and a built-in speaker that can produce respectable volume levels.

JWSIT 120-inch Outdoor Projector screen, $148: This high quality screen comes with a sturdy stand and carrying bags and works well outdoors and indoors. Easy to set up and break down, it is a perfect match to the Nebula (or any other) projector. Available on

Panasonic DMP-U820 4K Blu-ray player, $499: Trust me, if you have a lot of movies on DVD or Blu-ray you need this player! The remarkable, state-of-the-art video processing makes your discs look better than you ever could have imagined, with DVD looking like Blu-ray, Blu-ray looking like 4K Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray looking absolutely stunning.

TCL 5-Series and 6-Series televisions, $399 and up: These TVs are acclaimed by home theater buffs for their excellent picture quality, built-in Roku, innovative technology and affordable prices.

Samsung Q90T QLED television, $1,799 and up : My personal favorite and high-end picture reference, the Samsung Q90 series provides a gorgeous picture that will keep you mesmerized, without the worries of OLED burn-in.

Samsung The Frame Televisions, $599 and up: These TVs look like high quality framed art when not in use, and have a wide variety of images available to match your decor. You can use your own photographs as well.


Panasonic Home Chef 4-in-1, $399: A microwave with a built-in air fryer, plus more? Count me in!

MEATER wireless thermometer, $99 and up: This popular wireless thermometer comes in multiple configurations, ensuring there is a perfect one for any need.

Pelican Elite 20QT cooler, $149: Compared to the more expensive Yeti competitor this 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.

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

Photography and Videomaking

SJCAM SJ4000, $65: Get your feet wet with an action camera with this perennial favorite. Surprisingly good 1080p video and lots if included accessories make it a great buy. There are many counterfeits on the market so get one direct from the manufacturer or from authorized dealer

Canon EOS RP 24-105 kit, $1,299: This compacts full-frame mirrorless camera takes great still images has played to great reviews. Video quality lags behind the still image quality, but overall this is a good camera and a good buy.

Olympus TOUGH TG-6, $449: The king of tough cameras, the TG-6 is built to take abuse in the snow, sun or sea.

LUMIX FZ1000 MkII Ultrazoom camera, $799: This is a fantastic travel camera, with a large 1-inch sensor and an extremely large zoom range that maximizes creative opportunities. As expected from Panasonic, both still photographs and video (up to 4K) are top-notch.

Epson Perfection V600 Scanner, $229: The V600 can scan slides as well as scan and separate multiple photographs placed on the scanner glass, making it ideal for archiving your photo collection.

Smart Home

Panasonic HomeHawk Window, $149: This innovative camera system mounts to the window and monitors what is going on outside. It is triggered by human activity, not passing cars and does not require a subscription.

Wyze Cam v3, $20: This highly regarded budget home security camera is your entry into the ever-expanding Wyze system. It can operate subscription-free, but full-featured monitoring plans are available for only $1.25 per camera, per month.

Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat, $99: This sleeper of a smart thermostat is not well known, but competes with the boutique brands for under $100.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation,) $48: Currently on sale for $28, the latest version of the useful dot has gone three-dimensional with its spherical shape.

Philips Hue Starter Kit, $99: Get a start on adding smart, wireless-controlled lighting to your home with the industry leader for under $100. The kit includes a hub and four white bulbs, and more bulbs and color options can be added later.

Eufy RoboVac 11S Max, $169: The 11S Max is an excellent robovac that most anyone can afford.

Other Useful Items

Austere Clean and Protect, $30: Beautifully packaged, this premium quality spray cleaner and soft cloth is safe for all your devices from TV screens to smartphones.

Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs, $24: Vibes earplugs preserve sound quality while lowering the volume. They should be considered a must at loud rock concerts and can be used when operating power equipment, too.