Home Audio Products Worth The Upgrade
1 SMART SPEAKER “Alexa, read my emails.” Amazon’s newest voice-controlled speakers let you multitask work and dinner, but the more obvious update: The shape. Echo (pictured) and its mini sibling, Echo Dot, are spherical for better acoustics. $50 for Echo Dot; $100 for Echo. amazon.com
2 TURNTABLE You can’t beat vinyl for rich, textured sound, and the Orbit Special Turntable delivers. But we’re also grooving on its looks: a walnut or maple plinth, with a sleek acrylic platter that minimizes vibrations. $459. uturnaudio.com
3 DISPLAY SPEAKER Forget having your tablet fall asleep mid-recipe. The JBL Link View can read (or reread, if you ask, via the Google Assistant) ingredients or steps out loud, and makes it easy to cook along with videos. $300. jbl.com
4 WIRELESS HEADPHONES For tuning out distractions or taking a call while taking a stretch, Jabra’s Elite 45h offers affordability, comfort, long battery life, adjustable equalization and a feature that measures hearing to customize a listening profile. In four colors, including Copper Black. $79. amazon.com
5 PORTABLE SPEAKER Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom 2 is a super-totable Bluetooth speaker with booming sound— and it floats, so no worries if it takes a plunge in the tub or lake. $100. ultimateears.com
6 SOUND BAR A good sound bar is a steppingstone to a home theater. The Sonos Beam (for small spaces) and Sonos Arc (pictured, for TVs larger than 49 inches) have built-in voice control for adjusting volume, plus compatibility with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. $399 for Beam; $799 for Arc. sonos.com
Heather Malyuk, an Ohio audiologist who performs backstage sound checks and hearing tests for musicians, offers tips for safe listening.
PLUG YOUR EARS
Prolonged exposure to decibel levels above 85 may hurt hearing. Apps like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter can give you a readout on ambient sound.
TURN IT DOWN
Follow an 80/90 rule: If you use earbuds for more than 90 minutes throughout your day, keep the volume at 80 percent or less.
If you like to fall asleep to talk or music, that’s fine, but keep the volume soft. All-night listening can lead to hearing injury.
Going to an audiologist should be routine, like a trip to the dentist. A pro can detect problems early and guide you to apps or give you simple tweaks to slow hearing loss and enjoy sound better.