Q: You recently wrote about headphones under $100. Don't you think people should concern themselves more with the real value of a product rather than the cost? For example, 20 years ago a high-end dealer talked me into $500 infrared wireless headphones, saying they would last a lifetime. We still use and love them.
A: Most people who contact me for product recommendations are looking to get the best performance they can within budgetary constraints. Your point is taken, though, and today's column will feature some general advice as well as a few cost-is-no-object recommendations for those who want the best.
We will begin with Walsh speakers from Ohm Acoustics (ohmspeakers.com). Handmade to order in New York City, these speakers use unique patented technology to effortlessly create a realistic 3-D sound field. Listeners experience a sense of spaciousness, reach-out-and-touch-it stereo imaging and sound that is natural, beautiful, emotionally engaging and crystal clear.
Once you experience it, there is no going back. Prices range from $1,400 to $6,600 per pair, and full home theater systems are available as well. These speakers are a tremendous high-end bargain and a definite lifetime investment. (I still have and use my first pair, bought new in 1986.) They also are more affordable than ever with Ohm's New Year's sale, running through Jan. 15. (Use the code NY20 to save a whopping 20 percent on a high-end product that usually isn't discounted at all.)
Next up are LG OLED televisions (lg.com), starting at $2,500. The picture quality is so superior to any LCD-LED model that these OLED sets are the only ones I would consider if I were in the market for a 55-inch or 65-inch television. Compared with even an inexpensive 1080p plasma set, I find the picture quality of current LCD-LED televisions to be laughable, 4K or no. OLED gives you the picture quality of plasma or better, 4K resolution, a wide viewing angle and low power consumption.
Sony's $1,000 RX100 V is the best pocket-size camera you can buy, and the original RX100 is pretty good, too, for $450. My favorite interchangeable-lens camera for travel is the $799 Panasonic DMC-GX85 (panasonic.com) because of its design, stunning video (including 4K) and excellent still images.
Oppo (oppodigital.com) gets four products on this list of excellence: its $1,099 PM-1 and $699 PM-2 headphones and the $599 BDP-103D and $1,299 BDP-105D Blu-ray players with Darbee Visual Presence.
If you have an interchangeable-lens camera, buying the camera manufacturer's high-grade, pro-quality lenses is always a good move. These would be the zoom lenses that are f/2.8 throughout the zoom range and fast (f/2.0 and below) fixed focal length lenses. You get sharper pictures, faster focusing and better low-light capability. Also, great lenses hold their value, while cheap lenses do not. Camera bodies come and go, but lenses are forever.
An excellent turntable is also a lifetime investment. There are lots of good $500 turntables, but $1,000 or more will get you a piece of mechanical art that makes beautiful music. It's definitely worth it if you play a lot of records. Last week's Pro-ject The Classic is a great choice at $1,099, and if you have a bigger budget, I suggest an Avid (my personal choice) or VPI turntable (vpiindustries.com). You can spend over $100,000 on a turntable, but I think returns diminish rapidly above $4,000.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.