The Deets on Audio Devices: What to Save On and What to Splurge On

Not every gadget requires spending an arm and a leg.

audio devices
PHOTO BY Bose, Digital Walker Website, JBL, Sony ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

( Whether you’re a true-blue audiophile or just a casual music listener, you know that rarely will just one kind of audio device be enough for day-to-day life. Headphones and earbuds are typically for zoning out or escaping from the world while speakers are used to set the mood or provide entertainment to house guests. There are also other gadgets that you may need to purchase whether for your career or for hobbies, like vinyl-record players or condenser microphones.

Either way, stocking up on every kind of listening or recording device you could possibly need may take some time, some meticulous inspection, and (unavoidably) quite a bit of money. To help you shop the right devices and properly portion out your budget, we list some common types of audio devices below and tell you whether or not you should splurge on them or look for something on the wallet-friendly side. And yes, we included some great options you can shop in Manila right now.


Also read:
The Best Wireless Headphones You Can Buy in Manila Right Now
The Best Wireless Earbuds for Every Budget

This handy guide to audio devices will help you map out your budget when shopping headphones, speakers, earbuds, and more:

Headphones: Splurge

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones (P19,999)

When choosing a pair of headphones, you’re going to want the whole package—excellent sound, comfortable wear, and great specs. Go for a device that can be used both via Bluetooth and with an audio jack, so it’ll serve a variety of purposes whether sound-tripping or studio recording. Sony’s popular WH-1000XM4 headphones—one of the most widely praised tech releases of 2020—is a sure bet that’ll be worth every penny. You can count on its impeccable audio quality, lightweight (but durable) build, active noise-cancellation, and comfy over-ear fit.

See a list of Sony retailers.

Wireless Earbuds: Save

Lypertek Tevi Z3 True Wireless Earbuds
Lypertek Tevi Z3 True Wireless Earbuds (P4,790)
PHOTO BY Digital Walker Website
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If your top priority when choosing a portable listening device is sound quality, then we suggest investing in great headphones rather than an expensive pair of wireless earbuds. But if you’re primarily looking for something compact, travel-friendly, and lightweight, then by all means go for the latter option. Our suggestion? Don’t spend an arm and a leg. Sure, there are some great wireless earbuds out there, but the technology (as far as audio goes) just doesn’t compare to headphones, so they’re rarely the ideal option for audiophiles. When choosing a pair for yourself, look for durable build, balanced sound, and long-lasting battery power. These earbuds from Lypertek are a great option with 70 hours of total battery life (10 hours on the buds and six extra charges on the case), and neutral, true-to-production sound.

Available online and at Digital Walker stores.

Wired Earphones: Save

Beats urBeats3 Earphones
Beats urBeats3 Earphones (P3,390)
PHOTO BY Power Mac Center

While we don’t count out the power and capabilities of a great pair of wired earphones, they do seem to be looking a little more obsolete in 2021 with neither the size and power of headphones nor the tangle-free construction of wireless earbuds—so we don’t suggest that you splurge on them. But hey, they’re reliable for those who prefer not to charge their listening devices and typically can provide good enough sound even at low to mid-range price points. Plus, they’re much likelier to provide a better built-in microphone for phone or video calls compared to their wireless alternative. We’re eyeing these earphones from Beats, which promise clear, bass-thumping sound and go for just under P3,400.

Available online and at Power Mac Center stores.

Microphone: Splurge

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser Microphone
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser Microphone (P12,200)
PHOTO BY Audio-Technica

High-quality and high-priced microphones are typically purchased by professionals who need them—sound engineers, voiceover artists, podcast hosts, and the like—so it’s unlikely you’ll need to splurge on one if all you’re looking to do is improve video calls or make clearer voice notes. That being said, if you are going to buy your own personal mic, the more high-range models like this condenser mic from Audio-Technica will be a good option and can serve you for years on end, making them a great investment. Otherwise, just go for headphones or earphones with a reliable enough built-in mic for your online meetings.

Available online and at JB Music stores.

Portable Speakers: Save

JBL Clip 4 Portable Speaker
JBL Clip 4 (P3,549)

Those of you who like to bring your own portable speakers everywhere know that those devices will go through quite a bit of wear and tear, so we don’t suggest you blow too much money on them. A compact Bluetooth-powered speaker somewhere in the P3,000 to P5,000 range should be good enough. Look for audio that’s both loud and non-grainy in a size that you’d be willing to carry around. We recommend JBL’s Clip 4, which you can attach to your bag and is even waterproof—perfect for chilling by the pool in the summertime.


Available online; see a list of JBL retailers.

Home Speakers: Splurge

Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500 (P28,500)

While your portable speakers will be the audio device you bring everywhere, your home speakers will be totally stationary. Leave them in your living room or dining room for entertaining guests or display them in your bedroom for solid nighttime sound-tripping. Either way, your home speakers will help set the tone and ambience of your home, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra on them—this device from Bose would be a great pick. It delivers crisp, wall-to-wall sound and can even be controlled using your phone.

Available online; see a list of Bose stores.

Record Player: Splurge

Rega Planar 1 Plus Record Player
Rega Planar 1 Plus (P24,500)

There are a few turntable options in the market that go for less than P10,000, but the ones worth your coin are usually more than double the price. Listening to and collecting vinyl records is no cheap hobby and there’s no way around it. Plus, you’ll want to find a quality player that does your record collection justice, especially those rare or vintage albums. This turntable from Rega is a superb pick at a decent price point. It offers clear, full-bodied sound that blasts your tunes as precisely and dynamically as they deserve to be heard.

Available online.

Voice Assistant: Save

Google Home Mini Voice Assistant
Google Home Mini (P2,590)
PHOTO BY Digital Home Website

In general, the most popular voice assistants and smart speakers out there are usually pretty affordable—Vox has explained why. That means you can easily shop your own Google Home device—used for playing music and completing simple commands with just the human voice as a remote control—for just a few thousand bucks. It’s a great first buy if you’re looking to build a more futuristic home. Plus, it’s likely you’ll need to purchase other "smart" gadgets down the line in order to be compatible with your voice assistant, so shopping for a voice-controlled speaker in a lower price range will be the wiser option budget-wise.

Available online.

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