Headphones: There isn’t enough time in our lives to endure crappy audio quality. There are plenty of headphones/earbuds that are available at decent prices that will give you a fair level of audio reproduction. Sorry, but the line of “Beats by Dre” are not that. But, again, that’s me being a snob. In the end, if you find a product that sounds good to you, then that is what you should buy. But, if you want high audio quality then try the brand “made in the USA”, in Brooklyn, Grado Labs. Now, Grados aren’t generally the type of headphone you wear around town, their earbuds are for that duty. But if you want something for wearing at work, at your desk, while reading, any of their products – starting with the $80 SR60i will give you samples of what audio reproduction should be. I have owned a pair of SR60’s for about 20 years and I cannot recommend a product/brand any more highly… Shockingly I’m actually going to recommend a model for Skullcandy, the Aviators are actually a very nice sounding pair of over-the-ear headphones and now are available in a range of colors. The look is something you either love or hate, but they sound world’s better than any of the Beats, and for less money. Now, if you have a pair of earbuds and want to upgrade them for less than $20, try putting on a pair of Comply foam tips. Earbuds can only sound good if they can make a seal in your ear closing out the outside noise. This is good because the less background noise the lower volume you have to turn up the device, and the audio quality will increase. Comply has tips for all kinds of earbuds and will make even the cheapest of buds sound better (i.e.: the Apple standard buds, yes).
TV’s: This is a really tough one to recommend simply because there are so many variables based on size, budget, the room you want it to be in and just how picky you are about picture quality. I will tell you that for everyday TV/BluRay watching I can’t recommend the line of displays from Vizio enough. They are a tremendous bargain and can be found at even better prices at the Costco’s and Sam’s Clubs of the world. No, they aren’t world class performers, but for the price you’re getting 85%+ of the performance and I have yet to have one break or have a problem. But, if you are considering a TV purchase this season, please read this buyer’s guide from HDGuru. It will walk you through all of the different questions and details of the differences between LCD, LED, Plasma, screen size, blah blah blah… Plus, don’t forget if you do buy one, you need to calibrate it to some degree. No TV out of the box is set up accurately. Remember. People aren’t “red”.
Speakers: Again, this is an almost impossible segment to make hard recommendations. But if you are looking to do a surround sound system, I can’t recommend the Gallo Acoustics home theater setup. Yes, they are pricey, but will give you world class audio reproduction in a sleek package. I have know Anthony Gallo since he started the company and can vouch for the quality of both the build and performance. If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, the Cinema™ 100 CT from Paradigm is a good setup for less than $1000. Remember, life is too short for crappy audio reproduction.
Remote TV watching: The new line of Slingbox devices are wonderful. Now you can watch you DVR, or any device in your theater setup from wherever you have internet access (desktop, tablet or phone). The new 500 even solves the long standing issue of having to hardwire the box to your home network by adding wifi capabilities. If you travel a lot, the Slingbox will quickly become your BFF>