Forty years ago, Sony introduced the world to a device that would become an icon: the TPS-L2, better known as the first generation of the Sony Walkman. Curiously, the concept of the device was ridiculed for its inability to record tapes, which was a high-priority feature at the time.

Despite the fearful predictions that the Walkman wouldn’t sell, the first gadget of its kind became a huge success and an emblem of the transition to a new lifestyle that was instantly adopted all over the world. 

Even though Walkman is no longer the company’s flagship product, nor is any other portable music player, the idea of having your favourite tunes wherever you go remains as relevant as ever, and technology has taken this idea to a completely new level. Let’s explore some of the best audio equipment that’s offered in various categories of users as we see the end of 2020. 

Widex Evoke 440 Fusion 2 Hearing Aid

Widex Evoke 440 Fusion 2 Hearing Aid
Widex Evoke 440 Fusion 2 Hearing Aid. Image credit: clarityhearingsolutions.com

Before anything else, a few words about those who need and deserve a little bit more of our attention. What typically comes to our mind when we imagine a classic, traditional hearing aid device? It’s usually a clunky and somewhat cumbersome item that sticks behind your ear that produces more squealing and anxiety than actual assistance to its owner. 

Well, Widex has something fantastic to offer. Evoke is the world’s truly intelligent aid, packed with previously unprecedented functions. One of the things that make Evoke stand out is having a telecoil inside, unlike other manufacturers who dropped telecoil for the sake of Bluetooth. 

Telecoil lets you tap into the audio at a facility like a church or a conference hall and pull the audio from the event into your hearing aid, if that particular facility is equipped with an induction loop system. Also, it allows direct access to a telecoil enabled phone, so if a person has difficulties with phones, having telecoil in their hearing aids can be a game-changer. 

Evoke 440 Fusion hearing aids feature a traditional receiver-in-canal form factor, whereby the hearing aids sit comfortably and discreetly behind your ear. These hearing aids are designed for smartphones so you can stream calls, music, and other audio directly through your hearing aids.

Yet what seems like the finest thing about Evoke Fusion aids is the sound classifier that intuitively analyses your sound environment and reacts to changes for natural and effortless hearing. If this isn’t a new era in technology for people who are hard of hearing, what is? With the average price of $2300 per unit for most hearing aids on the market, $1800 for the Widex Evoke 440 Fusion 2 seems like a fair price.

Roav Viva: just another charger?

Roav Viva
Roav Viva. Image credit: amazon.com

Hit the road, Jack! With this gadget, Alexa’s along for the ride, here to help you get home from wherever your Saturday night adventures have taken you, right from your vehicle. This device is a stylish microphone for the Alexa application on your phone. 

Obviously, voice-controlled navigation is a key function of the gadget, and it does its job remarkably well. Once asked for directions to a particular location, a gas station, for instance, Alexa will figure where you are – even if the car’s moving – and will take you to the closest service area along the route before your tank is drained. 

Roav Viva also plays your music tracks, orders pizza, supports hand-free calling, calendar apps, and reminder functions, and offers other 45,000 Alexa skills. Oh, and it’s also a charger.

Marshall Major III Bluetooth Headphones

Marshall Major III Bluetooth Headphones
Marshall Major III Bluetooth Headphones. Image credit: amazon.com

As Lenny Kravitz once said about Marshall music gear, “If that was good enough for Jimmy Hendrix, it’s good enough for me.”

Famed for its recognizable design and superb sound quality, the Marshall brand has been a part of the music world for the last 50 years. Marshall Major III Bluetooth14 headphones, like any other Marshall product, are worthy of attention. 

Even the pickiest fan of futurism and enthusiasts of extravagance in industrial design should applaud Marshall Major’s classy looks. The product comes in three colors, but it’s the brown ones that arguably looks most impressive. Small, rounded supra-aural earcups covered in compelling faux leather featuring the Marshall logo and a few brass-colored highlights make up most of the product’s unpretentious but elegant design. 

As for the sound quality, it’s outstanding both in wireless and in passive wired mode. Solid audio performance with strong bass depth and clarity in the high-mids and highs guarantees a thrilling music experience. The headphones fold down at hinges for compact storage, and though a carry-case isn’t included, more than 4,000 people who gave the item 5-star reviews on Amazon can live with that.

iPod Touch 7th generation: true fans will

iPod Touch 7th generation
iPod Touch 7th generation. Image credit: apple.com

For more than two decades, Apple Inc., probably the most prolific tech company in the world, has been heralded as a forerunner to its rivals, and a trendsetter for the public. In October 2001 the company unveiled the first iPod, a device that enjoyed great popularity and eventually paved the way to a legendary status. 

Nearly twenty years have passed, and we still carry iPods in our pockets. Let’s fire up the device and see what’s new compared to the previous generations. For the first time you get 2GB of RAM in an iPod Touch, and paired with a faster, iPhone 7 era A10 Fusion processor, you can count on a solid performance. 

However, the Geekbench scores point out that Apple might have held back a bit with the A10 inside the iPod Touch, which was probably done for a good reason, given the smaller battery inside a smaller chassis. One of the benefits of the new hardware is support for group FaceTime video calls with over 50 participants! That might be handy for many of us, especially in the light of another looming lockdown. 

There are, of course, some major missed opportunities with this gadget. The same type of slow, 8-megapixel camera module from the previous generation hasn’t been updated. Even keeping in mind that people don’t buy these things to shoot photos, the camera might become a serious drawback for some customers. Yet, what seems to be a real misstep is the lack of any sort of biometric authentication – neither Face nor Touch ID is onboard. 

As a standalone portable music player, the iPod Touch 7 will give you the best and fastest UI, and reliable and smooth playback with an excellent headphones output. Whatever headphones formfactor or brand you own, it’s going to be hard to grump about the sound quality. 

SInce Apple is still updating iPods, there’s still a great demand for them, and you probably don’t want to miss out. For $199 you’ll get a perfect self-contained music player with outstanding sound quality, a great gaming console, and the best first iOS device for your kid to explore and play with, however, only if you temper your expectations.

Sony NWE394 Walkman: best value per dollar MP3 player

7 Audio Gadgets You’ll Love
7 Audio Gadgets You’ll Love. Image credit: sony-mea.com

The iPod Touch 7 might be the best music player overall, but not everyone needs its extra functions. Needless to say, paying a premium price for an item that literally duplicates all your phone’s capabilities doesn’t make much sense. 

Sony has never forgotten the glorious success of its legendary Walkman TPS-L2, and the recent model NWE394 was designed to occupy the niche of portable music players. Rather than offer a little of everything, Sony has put all its efforts into the great sound quality of this new player. 

The music sounds exceptionally clean, clear, and balanced. You’ll feel a great presence of warmth on the high-end, rich mids, and detailed highs. If you’re an audio expert and one of the frequencies fails to satisfy your high standards, several audio enhancements will push the sound further with presets and a custom equalizer. 

Small, light, and slim; it slips right into your pocket and its impressive sound will encourage you to run an extra mile or to make another repetition at the gym. The new Walkman has Bluetooth so you can use any headphones, and the 1.77-inch LCD screen makes it easy to navigate playlists. All in all, the Sony Walkman NWE394 is the best value for the money.

1Mii B05 Airplane Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter

1Mii B05 Airplane Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter
1Mii B05 Airplane Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter. Image credit: amazon.com

This is something new! The B05 flight wireless adapter is designed for in-flight entertainment systems but can also be used with handheld games consoles, PCs, at the gym, and more. It’s a perfect companion for your Bluetooth headphones. 

This small transmitter provides high-fidelity stereo sound at 24-bit lossless audio signal over a wireless connection. Powered by a top Qualcomm Bluetooth 8675 chipset, 1Mii supports simultaneous Dual Link, allowing you to share movies, music, or podcasts with your seatmate. 

The Bluetooth range of the device is 60 feet, so you’ll keep the signal if you pop to the plane bathroom or take a walk to the galley to grab a drink. Even the longest flights won’t exhaust the adapter’s power. Rechargeable batteries can last for 6 hours of playtime on a single charge, and the charging case holds additional charging capacity for up to 30 hours’ playtime. 

If you’re flying from Singapore to Newark and watching all the “Die Hard” series in a row, the 1Mii B05 Airplane Bluetooth transmitter won’t let you down. While the price of $75 may not seem rock-bottom, this neat thing seems to be worth every penny.

Marshall Stockwell II Bluetooth Speaker

Marshall Stockwell II Bluetooth Speaker
Marshall Stockwell II Bluetooth Speaker. Image credit: marshalheadphones.com

Here’s another pure rock’n’roll product by Marshall on our list. The analogy with legendary guitar amplifiers is obvious and isn’t limited to the belt-like handle. This speaker is an attention-getter – the silhouette of Marshall combo amplifiers worshiped by musicians and fans alike, metal grilles on both sides, and analog frequency control knobs instead of soulless buttons. 

The product is characterized by an omnidirectional sound so that the people behind the speaker will hear it just as clearly as those in front of it. There’s no preset equalizer, nor is there a special application for adjusting it, which can be viewed as a subjective weakness: there are always those who wouldn’t mind playing around with the settings. However, the sound is clear and voluminous. 

The music sounds awesome in different genres, except that drum cymbals “hiss” a little bit in certain tracks, and that’s where adjusting high frequencies might be a good idea. The Marshall Stockwell II will make a great gift, especially to someone familiar with the guitar world – they definitely won’t be disappointed. Last but not least, if your wild tailgate party or a romantic rendezvous at the beach is going to last up to 20 hours, Stockwell II will be able to keep the right atmosphere on a single charge.