Monday, February 13, 2017

Yeshiva University Student Wins $18,000 on Jeopardy!

You just can't make this up. An Orthodox Jewish student from Yeshiva University finished with exactly $18,000 on tonight's "College Championship" episode of "Jeopardy!" That's one thousand times chai for those of you familiar with the "Jewish math." What's more is that Netanel Paley, who obviously knows his Torah, was fortunate when the Final Jeopardy clue was a quote from the beginning of the Book of Numbers. Netanel answered correctly after another contestant wrote "The Book of Exodus." When I saw the clue I actually thought Netanel would write "Bamidbar" as his response.

Netanel Paley of Yeshiva University during Final Jeopardy

Unfortunately, the 21-year-old Yeshiva junior came in 2nd place despite recognizing the text from the Torah. According to an interview with the Algemeiner last month, Netanel says he was a state finalist for the National Geographic Geography Bee and a regional finalist for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in high school. He said that he prepared for the “Jeopardy!” match by poring over reference books and crash-course manuals on an array of topics. He told the Algemeiner he was "very humbled" to represent the Jewish community in the competition and that if he had been given a chance, he "would have liked to say something on air about how proud I am to be an Orthodox Jew and how proud I am to attend YU and learn Judaic and general studies at the same place. But I guess just appearing on TV with my kippah (skullcap) and payot (sidelocks) was nice. I hope I made a good impression."

Netanel Paley Yeshiva University Jeopardy
Netanel Paley of Yeshiva University with Alex Trebek on "Jeopardy!"

Many contestants on "Jeopardy!" are Jewish and I've written about some of the more notable ones in the past like Matt Jackson, who currently holds the 4th-longest winning streak in the show's history. (Matt called me after I wrote about him to thank me and to elaborate on his Jewish beliefs.) I also wrote about the first female rabbi to have competed on Jeopardy!", Conservative Rabbi Joyce Newmark. Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, a Reform Rabbi and a fellow Rabbis Without Border alum, wrote about his "Jewish Approach" to being a contestant on "Jeopardy" in a recent Huffington Post column.

Female Orthodox Rabbi Marianne Novak with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy
Female Orthodox Rabbinical Student Marianne Novak with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy

Marianne Novak, an Orthodox woman from Skokie, Illinois who teaches at the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and is studying to be a rabbi at Yeshivat Maharat competed in an episode of "Jeopardy" this past October. Unfortunately for Marianne, not only did she come in last place, but she wasn't able to have a viewing party the night her taped competition aired because it was yuntif. So, if you're ever on "Jeopardy!" and the clue is "This female Orthodox rabbinical student appeared on an episode of Jeopardy! that aired on the Jewish festival of Sukkot" the correct answer is: "Who is Rabbi Marianne Novak."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Raising the Bar for a Bar Mitzvah: Leadership, Questioning and Continuity

At the conclusion of the seven day mourning period in Judaism known as shivah, it is customary for the mourners to take a cathartic walk around the neighborhood as a symbolic return to the community. Many mourners have commented to me that this walk is a therapeutic way to clear their head and move from a state of mourning into the next phase of beginning to adjust to life without their loved one.

A week ago my family celebrated the milestone of my oldest child becoming a bar mitzvah. For our family, this was truly an event we anticipated for many years, if not from the moment he was born. Our son spent a year preparing himself to be able to chant beautifully from the Torah and Haftorah, lead the Shabbat morning services, and deliver a thoughtful and inspiring d'var Torah about the importance of being persistent as a leader. He was amazing and made us extremely proud of his accomplishments. For the entire week following his bar mitzvah, we were still reveling in the celebration.

bar mitzvah boy in synagogue with torah scroll

Yesterday, as Shabbat was in its final hours I asked if anyone in my home wanted to join me for a walk outdoors. The next thing I knew, my wife and I were joined by our three children for a brisk walk around the neighborhood for about an hour. It was the perfect way to reflect as a family on the past Shabbat, what joy we all felt as we celebrated this milestone with family and close friends, and a symbolic way to now come down from the clouds and return to reality. I pray that we should all experience such moments of extreme pride in our children's accomplishments and joyous celebrations for the future vitality of the Jewish people.

What follows is the sermon I delivered last Shabbat at my son's bar mitzvah:

Leadership, Questioning and Continuity
Parashat Bo

Together with my beautiful bride who stood with me under a chuppah on this very bimah almost eighteen years ago, I say zeh hayom asah Adonai, nagilah v'nishmecha bo. We are so grateful to God who has created this day and we will surely celebrate it with joy.

I must tell you that my intent was to just be a Dad this morning. After all, "Dad" is my favorite job! But when Rabbi Bergman asked if I'd like to deliver the sermon this morning, I was honored and decided that I would attempt to share some insights from our Torah portion that might convey just a fraction of the message I want to impart to my son. But make no mistake -- this is not me talking directly to my son. Rather, I hope you too will take to heart the three themes I share this morning. Three themes I believe convey a few lessons to us as parents.

But first a joke: A Jewish mother is with her son at the beach, a son of whom she is of course very proud as he recently passed his medical exams. Within minutes of entering the water for a swim he gets pulled under by a big wave and it's obvious he doesn't know how to swim.

Urgently, trying to get someone to come to her son's assistance, she screams, "HELP! HELP! My son the doctor is drowning!"

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Meaning of a Comeback

Much has been made of the comeback in big games this year. Beginning with the NBA Finals this past June when the Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3 games to 1 to the Golden State Warriors. Most basketball fans counted the Cavs out, but the team was led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to come back and win the team's first championship. In a best of 7 series, being down 3 games to 1 is usually a death sentence, but the Cavs seem to have set a trend with their come from behind victory.

Next, it was the perennially lackluster Chicago Cubs who, like the Cleveland Cavliers, were down 3 games to 1. Trailing the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs managed to summon the strength in the 2016 World Series and win the team's first championship since 1908. Down 3 games to 1 in the World Series gives your opponent 3 games to win just 1 game, while you have to sweep the final 3 games. Somehow the Cubs managed to do it and millions flooded the Chicago streets to celebrate.

Next up was one of the most exciting tennis matches I've ever witnessed. The finals of the 2017 Australian Open between veteran players Swiss Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Federer was down, yes, 3 games to 1, in the fifth and final set, but managed to come back and win his 18th Grand Slam title.

Finally, in the NFL there are no championship series like in basketball and baseball. However, in the Super Bowl this past Sunday evening the New England Patriots scored 31 (there are those numbers again!) unanswered points to win their 5th Super Bowl. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Pats were down 25 points to the Atlanta Falcons, but miraculously battled back to win thanks in large part to the best Jewish NFL player Julian Edelman's amazing catch.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Favorite Tech Products

I have the opportunity to review a lot of different technology products and I tend to put them into one of three categories. First, there are those products that really impress me and make me thankful for living in the Digital Age. The second category is made up of some useful and fun tech products that aren't very original, but enjoyable. The third category includes tech products that are poorly made, unoriginal or serve no purpose.

Recently, I determined I should create a fourth category after a friend asked an intriguing question. He knows I'm a techie and always testing the latest, greatest tech products and gadgets. He asked me which of all these gadgets I actually use and would consider to be my favorites. So, I now have a category of my favorite tech products. These are the tech products I love, use and highly recommend.

LeEco Super4 X65 TV - When it comes to big, flat screen televisions we tend to think of Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG. However, I'm on my second LeEco TV and I love them. The LeEco Super4 X65 is not your typical smart TV. It features a 4K UHD display, sound by Harman Kardon, a quad-core CPU, a multi-core GPU and a fully-integrated Ecosystem User Interface (eui) full of streaming movies and shows. I have this model in front of an exercise bike in my fitness room and I've never enjoyed my workouts as much. I've never been a huge pro football fan until I started watching the games on this TV over the past few months. I highly recommend it and they're offering $200 instant savings before the Super Bowl!

Sharper Image Hover Board - I know when you see a hover board you immediately think danger. Yet, this is not the case anymore. Sharper Image's new safety-tested hover board has UL certification and it's much more stable than past hover board models. This rechargeable, eco-friendly hover board features twin 250 Watt motors, large rubber tires and a built in gyroscope to keep you upright. There's a learning mode (that's the one I use) and an expert mode for quicker turns and higher speeds. I've tried other hover boards, but this model is really intuitive and you don't feel like you're unbalanced. Try it out... you'll love it!

Huawei Mate 9 - I love playing with the latest models of mobile phones to see what's new and different. I had been using the Huawei Nexus 6P as my main phone and loved it, but it took me only a few minutes to fall in love with the Mate 9. With its Kirin 960 processor and intelligent Machine Learning algorithm, this ground-breaking phone is the fastest mobile phone on the market. The battery life gives you two full days before you need to charge and you can recharge for an entire day in only 20 minutes. The design of the Mate 9 is gorgeous and the Leica Dual camera takes the best photos you've ever seen from a mobile device (even in low light). USB Flash Drive Cufflinks and Money Clips - Two characteristics of tech products that lead me to put them in my favorite category are utility and conversation starters. I can check both of those characteristics off the list for's cufflinks and money clips. These USB drives disguised as beautiful cufflinks or money clips come in dozens of designs. It's pretty entertaining when someone needs a flash drive quickly and I take a cufflink off my dress shirt or pull my money clip out of my pocket. Plus, you kind of feel like James Bond wearing your secret computer drive as jewelry.

Kangaroo Notebook PC - This is one impressive laptop. It's the one I take on business trips and the one my kids fight over to use for their homework. It has a 11.6 inch screen and an Intel Atom processor, but the key characteristic of the Kangaroo Notebook is that it is an open system, which means it has separate modules for slotting into the hardware to run the specific system on that Kangaroo Mini. I can put one Kangaroo Mini in the slot for my trip and then let my kids pop a different one in for them and it's a completely different computer.

AirBar - This sleek, lightweight device instantly turns a regular laptop into a touchscreen. I simply took it out of the box and placed it at the bottom of the screen of my 15.6" Lenovo and presto... my 2 year old lapper became a touch screen just like that. It's only a matter of time until everyone is talking about AirBar and turning their laptops into touch screens. For under $100, this leads the computer accessory category that will "wow" people.

Sony Smart Tennis Sensor for Tennis Rackets - I've been using smart sensor technology for years to improve my golf swing and help my son work on his baseball hitting. One of my favorite sports is tennis and I've been eager for a product like Sony's tennis sensor to hit the consumer electronics market. With this device you can analyze each shot and optimize your tennis game. With the ability to share your results, you can have a coach living hundreds of miles away. The motion sensor recognizes impact position and a vibration sensor measures swing type. I'm able to get just under three hours of battery life and it will keep about 12,000 shots in its internal memory storage.

Netatmo Healthy Home Coach - Like most fathers, I'm always thinking about the safety of my home for my spouse and children. I want to provide the healthiest home possible for them and Netatmo's Healthy Home Coach is my dependable guide. This device accurately measures the humidity levels and the noise level at night. The app highlights potential problems and informs on how to fix them. At $99.99 it's a small price to pay for piece of mind.

Monster Firecracker - I've been a fan of Monster products for many years and yet I'm still impressed by their new products, which are always both innovative and useful. The Firecracker serves several purposes for me. First, it's a dynamic wireless speaker with 2 full-range drivers with passive bass radiator and 25+ hours of continuous play on a charge. It's also a super-bright flashlight that lasts for seven hours helping to see around a campground or to brighten up a photo with low sunlight. It comes in four colors and retails for only $129.95.

Ventev Desktop Charging Hub s500 - I hate cables and cords! In a perfect tech world there would be no charging cords at all. The Ventev charging hub makes it easier to connect and removes the clutter from all the cords connected to AC outlets and USB charging ports. No more climbing under your desk to plug in. I have other similar devices, but none of them have the USB and the AC outlets in the same hub or with such a simplistic design. You can charge up to three devices at once via the three USB outputs with one dedicated rapid charge USB port. The AC outlets have surge protection and grounded LED lights.

Hyperice's Venom - I was already praising Hyperice a couple years ago when I injured my back and used the Hyperice massage ball. Venom has been even more therapeutic for my aching back after a brutal tennis match or game of pickup basketball. This cutting-edge, digitally connected, wearable back device uses heat and vibration to warm up, loosen, and relax sore muscles. Manufactured using the industry's best technology, the digital touchscreen control is fully customizable for temperature, vibration pattern and timer for the optimal massage.

Invoxia NVX200 - Like many people I don't have a landline phone at my home and everyone uses their own mobile phone. Sometimes it's nice to have a desk phone at the house or office so Invoxia created a connected phone. The dock comes with an ingenious adapter system that allows you to plug the smartphone vertically. You can take calls in hands-free mode, from up to 16 feet away, or with the telephone handset for a more comfortable use. Plus you benefit from high quality sound with the In Vivo Acoustic for conferences of up to five people. In the office you can associate contacts to speed dial keys as well.

Qardio Base Scale - This is certainly not your grandfather's bathroom scale. Qardio Base lets you know if you're burning fat and gaining muscle, losing weight rather than just water and it tracks your weight loss progress. It's able to recognize multiple users of the same household and its smart feedback mode provides motivation with icons rather than simply weight numbers. The mobile app has an easy to use interface and it really makes getting on the scale a fun activity. Who'd ever think that was even possible?

Jabra Elite Sport - So many people come up to me at the gym asking about my Jabra Elite Sport earbuds. More people are wearing wireless earbuds and headphones to work out, but they still have to deal with annoying plastic pieces that run from one ear to the next. Jabra's earbuds are so tiny you'd forget you were even wearing them if it weren't for the high quality wireless sound. The cord-free design includes two microphones in each bud that work together to filter out background noise ensuring that only your voice is heard clearly and with no distraction in every environment. Expect up to nine hours of battery life (I usually charge them twice a week). Unlike other individual in-ear buds, you'll get a secure fit no matter how vigorous your workout because you can customize the fit to your specific ear shape.

Oaxis AirScale - Let's be honest: Two major hassles when we travel are our rapidly draining phone battery never knowing if our luggage is heavier than the airline's maximum weight limit. The AirScale is a combination luggage scale and power bank solving both of those problems. It features an easy to read digital display showing luggage weight and battery power, along with a detachable strap and ergonomic design. The AirScale can weigh luggage up to 88 lbs., with an accuracy of 0.2 lbs. and it can fully recharge most smartphones two times faster than regular battery banks.

Zus Smart Car Charger by Nonda - There are countless car chargers on the market and most are cheap and poorly made, not to mention they take forever to charge phones. With the Zus smart car charger, I'm able to charge two devices while driving and they charge at nearly double the speed of conventional chargers. As an added bonus, connecting with the app will log mileage, track precisely where you parked the car, monitor your car's battery and even alert you if you're getting close to your parking meter time limit.

Razer Blade Stealth - This is one powerful notebook computer. Razer Blade Stealth is very thin and boasts the latest 7th Gen Intel Core processors. With up to 16GB of RAM and a beautiful 12.5" 4K high-resolution display, this is one amazing laptop for gaming or travel. I find it to be very durable and often toss it on the passenger seat without a case. Seeing lappers at coffee shops is a regular sight these days and yet I still get stares and questions.

JAM Audio Voice - At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) it seemed like just about everything was somehow integrated with Amazon Alexa. Well, one of the early integrations was JAM Voice, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker. Don't let JAM Voice's size fool you because this little guy packs a lot of power. It's very reasonably priced and available at most stores and online. I have it paired with other JAM speakers around the house and I can control it from the mobile app. It connects to most music services to stream from room to room.

PopSockets and PopClip Mount - Certainly not a very techie invention, PopSockets have taken the world by storm. I love these things so much. I simply add a PopSocket to the back of my mobile device to allow me to grip it better. You can also add a second PopSocket to give your phone or tablet a stand. Some people also use the PopSocket to wind their earbud cord around. I've recently started using the PopClip companion product to mount my phone. It works great on mirrors, the dashboard of your car, the refrigerators or just about any other flat surface.

XYZ Printing da Vinci Mini 3D Printer - There was a time I thought 3D printing was so far in the future, but now it's become a typical household device for me. The da Vinci Mini connects wirelessly and easily to your home network for easy 3D printing. I can't imagine a better 3D printer for the home or office in this price range (under $300). The filaments for the da Vinci Mini are made using PLA plastics derived from corn starch, making them biodegradable and non-toxic. If you've been thinking of learning the art of 3D printing, I highly recommend this trusty printer.

BEDDI Glow - My pet peeve is alarm clocks that are too bright. I like to know what time it is when I'm in bed, but I don't like a bright light shining in my eyes reminding me that it's getting late and I can't fall asleep. BEDDI Glow is an intelligent alarm clock with a wake up light that wisely is dimmed during sleeping hours. With BEDDI Glow you can wake up naturally with sunrise simulating light, listen to your favorite music from Spotify or Apple Music and customize your settings through the free mobile app. BEDDI Glow also contains an adjustable mood light composed of 16 million colors.

Logitech M720 Triathlon Multi Computer Mouse - I'll admit it: I'm a mouse snob. I hate using someone's poorly made wired computer mouse that came with their desktop. Every Logitech mouse is intuitive, comfortable and smart. I favor the M720 Triathlon Mouse (under $50) because it can be connected to up to three computers at once (illuminated numbers tell you which computer it's connected to) and allows for hyper-fast scrolling. It lasts for 24 months on a single AA battery.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rabbi Marvin Hier Must Bow Out of the Donald Trump Inauguration

Earlier this year, Ivanka Trump asked her rabbi to offer a benediction at the Republican National Convention before her father accepted the Republican nomination. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, undoubtedly honored to be asked, quickly accepted the invitation only to later withdraw from the speaking engagement following an outpouring of anger from his Upper East Side New York Jewish community. Many of his former students and members of his Orthodox congregation were outraged that their rabbi would venture into a very political role and show honor to such a divisive candidate.

Despite my support of Donald Trump’s opponent and my concern with the way the Republican nominee was running his campaign, I felt that Rabbi Lookstein was on solid ground in accepting the honor and should have rebuffed the criticism. Separation of Church and State is an often misunderstood concept in our nation. Rabbis, like other clergy, are very much involved in politics. We have the moral imperative to speak our minds on the important topics of the day. I looked forward to Rabbi Lookstein’s wise words of Torah at the GOP convention and was disappointed he opted to extricate himself from the event.

Rabbi Marvin Hier

Rabbi Marvin Hier has now come into the public spotlight, having been asked to offer blessings for President Trump and Vice President-elect Pence at the inauguration on January 20. My position regarding Rabbi Hier’s role at the inauguration is diametrically different. Rabbi Hier runs the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. This institution, which I have visited several times, has as its central mission “to confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.” The museum educates young people and challenges everyone to create change by erasing bigotry and discrimination. Trump’s entire presidential campaign encouraged the opposite. He denigrated immigrants, mocked the disabled and disrespected women.

Rabbi Hier’s institution draws its vision from noted Holocaust survivor and theologian Simon Wiesenthal. This great man must be rolling in his grave knowing that the dean and founder of the center that bears his name will be bestowing a blessing on a man who bolstered his presidential campaign by genuflecting to the alt-right—a group that includes neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers. That Rabbi Hier would stand on such a public stage in front of the world and offer a blessing for a man who refused to distance himself from David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is completely anathema to his life’s work.

By refusing this role, Rabbi Hier would be making a loud statement in defiance of prejudice and hate. He has the opportunity to proclaim to the world what his institution stands for and why he has staked his entire professional life on the legacy of Mr. Wiesenthal. As a rabbi, I ordinarily find it uncouth to publicly criticize a colleague for accepting an engagement such as this, regardless of political viewpoint. In the case of Rabbi Hier offering a blessing for President Trump, I’m deeply concerned about the message it will send to the world. A man in Rabbi Hier’s position must condemn hatred and bigotry, not condone it through blessing. In any other instance, it would be a significant honor to serve as the rabbi at a presidential inauguration, but the consequences this time are too significant. Rabbi Hier: Don’t spoil your legacy.

Originally published at

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Now Hear This: The Best Audio Products of 2017

I've been an audiophile since I was a kid and discovered my father's over-the-ear headphones that plugged into his Sony receiver. Audio headsets have come a long way in the past 35 years. A significant change has been the move to wireless, but it's also worth noting that our headphones have become fashion accessories. We wear them at the gym, through the airport and just chilling at Starbucks. It's no longer unusual to see teens wearing a pair of expensive Bluetooth headphones around school as they listen to their favorite songs streaming on their iPhone. I've put together a list of some of my favorite personal audio electronics below:


Grado RS2e - This multi-generational family business takes their headphones seriously. Very seriously. Each pair is handmade and they're the preferred headphones of the likes of Neil Young, Phish and Aerosmith. The South Brooklyn factory is where the magic occurs. Grado's headphones are assembled in such a way to enhance their sonic qualities, with even the cord being constructed to diminish vibrations. Sold by Grado's official retailer 4OurEars, the Grado RS2e has an upgraded driver and the new 8 conductor cable design. It's made of beautiful hand crafted mahogany and boasts an overall sound that is like nothing you've ever experienced with a pair of headphones. Grado describes it as a warm harmonic color, full bodied vocals, excellent dynamics and ultra smooth top end. $495

MASTER & DYNAMIC MW50 - Hands down, the best wireless cans you can put on your ears in 2017. The only reason I wasn't very surprised by the amazing sounds when I threw these babies on my head is because I've come to expect this level of quality from Master & Dynamic. I use the ME05 in-ears too and I've come to appreciate my music even more ever since. These over-ear phones are lightweight (a third lighter and smaller than last year's MW60 model), stylish and ridiculously comfy. If you're questioning why have to really splurge to get these, it's all about the premium everything that goes into these, but you'll appreciate them for years and years to come. $449

3D Sound One - These wireless headphones offer high quality drivers (40mm) and a strong battery life (18 hours). They charge with a micro-USB connector and are lightweight enough to forget you’re even wearing them. These headphones are ideal for the gamer who anyone who loves watching movies with enhanced audio quality. $249

VXi’s BlueParrott S450-XT - The first Bluetooth headset to give you both hi-fi stereo sound and clear conversations thanks to VXi's advanced noise-canceling microphone technology. Enjoy over 24 hours of music, movies or calls. Plus you can customize these headphones with the Parrott Button. $179.99

Hifiman Edition S - Hifiman is known as a producer of top-quality planar magnetic headphones. With the Edition S you get two headphones in one as you can switch from an open to a closed back. The incredible sound quality would lead you to believe these cans cost a lot more than they do. Prepare to be impressed and enjoy the comfortable sonic perfection of the Edition S. $249


Bragi Dash - The Dash, which is completely waterproof and comes in black or white, has been getting a lot of attention over the past year and deservedly so. It's actually a microcomputer that fits into your ear (yes, that sounds very futuristic and spy-like). The Dash stores and plays 1,000 songs without needing a secondary device. It boasts 27 sensors that measure fitness tracking including heart rate, distance cadence and breaths. It's compatible with Google Fit and Apple Health. With everything it does it's actually impressive that it gets four hours of battery life per charge. $299

Rowkin Bit Charge - Rowkin now offers a Mini Plus+ and a Bit in addition to the Bit Charge, which I tried out. Billed as the world's smallest stereo wireless Bluetooth earbuds, you can't help but feel that the future has arrived when you put these in your ears. The high fidelity listening experience you get with the Bit Charge doesn't make sense considering the size of the two tiny earbuds you just place in your ears. With the iPhone 7's headphone jack removal, Rowkin Bit Charge offers a fitting solution for users who want a completely cordless experience. All three of the Rowkin earbuds are exclusively available on Amazon in three colors: Space Gray, Silver, and 24K Gold Edition. $59.99 (single) $119.99 (dual) Search Rowkin on

Earin M1 - I've been watching this company for years and was amazed by their Kickstarter campaign (one of the most successful campaigns on Kickstarter ever). These are ideal for anyone who is sick of cables and wires. These earbuds are as small and as light as possible to create the most immersive sound imaginable. They are built with high-precision balanced armature speakers for incredible acoustic detail and clarity to deliver a breathtaking audio experience. $199

Libratone Q Adapt Lightning In-Ear - New for the holiday season, these in-ears are Powered by the iPhone's Lightning connector and come in four colors. The remote has four buttons to activate a hush function, access CityMix, play and pause. You can also take phone calls. One of the nicer features is CityMix, which provides four adjustable noise cancellation levels, letting you customize your listening experience from completely blocking out external noise to letting in just enough to stay safe. $149 (discounted from $179)

Etymotic Research ER4XR - When you buy a pair of Etymotic headphones, you're buying the research that went into ensuring the best sound quality. For three decades, Etymotic has been producing noise-isolating, in-ear earphones. In fact, this is the company that invented it. These earphones completely seal your ear providing 98% noise isolation (reducing outside noise reduces the risk of listening to music at unsafe levels). Etymotic also makes a number of more inexpensive earphones, such as the MK5 and the MC5 models. $349

Jaybird X3 - Ideal for working out, these secure-fit, sweat-proof premium sport buds deliver superior audio performance. The metal accented design is beautiful and you get 8 hours of play time for a full week of workouts. Estimate 15 minutes for an hour of play time. Comes with the Jaybird MySound App to save your sound profile. Available in four colors with metal accents: Blackout (Black and Silver), Sparta (White and Gold), Alpha (Military Green and Dark Chrome) and Road Rash (Red and Dark Chrome) $129.99

AfterShokz Sportz Titanium - I've been a fan of AfterShokz for years because I like that they don't really go in your ears. Rather, it uses  bone  conduction  technology  to  transmit  audio  waves  to  the  inner  ears through the skull, bypassing the eardrums completely. You simply place them on your cheekbones leaving your ear canals open to allow you to remain alert and aware of ambient sounds while you enjoy your music. Expect exceptional  sound  quality  thanks  to  PremiumPitch+, which delivers dynamic range and truly powerful bass. I'd happily pay twice as much for these. $59.95

ROAM GameON Earphones - After announcing a partnership with Atari over the summer, ROAM recently launches the GameON wired earphones for both gamers and music lovers. These earphones deliver extraordinary sound quality with a beautiful, brushed titanium exterior. Launched as an indiegogo campaign, these earphones boast the SureFIT ear tip horns to accompany the traditional silicone ear tips, providing up to 27 variations for maximum comfort and performance. $169

AUKEY Bluetooth Wireless Sport Earbuds - Not all earbuds have to be pricey to deliver great sound and the AUKEY line is proof of that. These lightweight and secure wrap-around earbuds sell on for under $20 and you'd never believe the price after listening to your music for a few minutes with them. You get 8 hours of playback or up to 160 hours of standy time, plus the microphone works really well for taking calls. AUKEY throws in an extra set of ear-tips and offers a 24 month warranty. $19.99 Search AUKEY on


B&O BEOPLAY H9 - What's that? I can't hear you (at all)! These are noise cancelling cans like you've never seen before. With the H9s you get Bang & Olufsen's Signature Sound plus amazing noise cancellation and the most comfortable over-ear headphones on the market. These are all about sound, comfort and luxury. With the soft lambskin and adaptive memory foam on the ear cushions, I promise you'll never want to take these off. Worth every last penny here. $499

Plantronics BackBeat PRO2 SE- If Plantronics only gave you the immersive, high-res sound that would be enough. The active noise cancellation in these absolutely beautiful Special Edition headphones is the gravy. Boasting Class 1 Bluetooth power with an amazing range of up to 100 meters and up to 24 hours of continuous listening time on one charge, I keep kicking myself for not discovering Plantronics earlier ("Where have you been all my life?"). Like other quality noise cancelling headphones they fold flat for easy travel storage and comes with a handsome carrying case. $249.99


Altec Lansing's Super LifeJacket - powerhouse with booming base with double power banks.
Everything-Proof: Certified waterproof, shockproof, snowproof – they even float! Built for On-the-Go: Your perfect everywhere speaker, equipped with power banks to charge other devices and 50 hours of battery life. All with Great Sound: After 90 years, Altec knows audio. Both speakers deliver powerful, omni-directional sound. $299.99

B&O A2 Active - I absolutely love this portable Bluetooth speaker with True360 sound. The idea that you can now take a speaker with Bang & Olufsen's premium sound quality with you to the pool or beach is crazy to think. It's both dust and splash resistance and comes with two canvas straps. This little bad boy boasts up to 24 hours of battery life. Comes in sand stone or natural colors. $399

Bluesound Pulse Flex - This two-way speaker delivers the best of performance and portability. It's truly a game changer. Simply connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network and listen to all your music from anywhere in your home or office. Plus you can stream any music service or library directly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop in CD-quality with aptX Bluetooth. Attach the rechargeable BP100 battery pack and take your music with you. $299

iClever Loud Bass (BTS09) - I am consistently being impressed by iClever's audio products. They are inexpensive, but not cheap products at all. Quality is clearly a priority along with providing amazing audio performance. The BTS09 speaker lets you stream incredible stereo audio from any enabled mobile device. It works flawlessly with a Amazon Echo Dot or Fire TV Stick giving Alexa a very nice output for sound. Charge time is about 2 hours. $79.99 Search iClever on

Jam Audio Voice - This little speaker is powerful! Jam Audio's Voice is among the first non-Amazon speakers with Alexa Voice Service technology to learn your habits like calling Uber, control smart home devices, stream music and get the latest news. It streams from your favorite music services and gives you news, traffic and weather updates as well. $79.99

Kef Muo Portable Bluetooth Speaker - This speaker is truly packed with innovative technologies including Kef's Uni-Q technology, which provides high quality sound when streaming music wirelessly from a computer or mobile device. 12 hours of playback time and approximately 3 hours to charge fully. Has memory for up to 8 Bluetooth devices. Comes in 6 colors. $349.99


Deezer - I use a lot of different music streaming services. For a long time I went back and forth between Spotify and Pandora. Then I shifted to Google Play Music and I continue to enjoy my SiriusXM mobile app to listen to Howard Stern. This fall, however, I was introduced to Deezer and I haven't looked back. Deezer is one of the world’s leading, on-demand digital music streaming services, offering a unique, personalized experience for every user. It is super easy to create the ultimate playlist. Deezer Premium+ gives you access to Deezer’s full library of 40M+ tracks (the world’s largest) and to FLOW, Deezer’s signature feature that functions as a personal assistant that intuitively knows what you want to hear and when you want to hear it. $120/year subscription