Sound Advice: A speaker discount, stereo cleaning tips and quality concert earplugs

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

Q. Thanks for recommending the $19.99 ZVOX AV30 earbuds on closeout. I ordered them after reading your article and greatly enjoyed them while on vacation. Upon returning home I looked to order another pair for my wife, but found they were unavailable from either ZVOX or Amazon. (I had ordered mine directly from ZVOX.)

With the AV30s apparently sold out, what would be your new recommendation for earbuds under $40? Searching for the AV30s on Amazon revealed other value-priced earbuds, but I didn't recognize any of the brands.

—G.S., Pittsburgh

A. The AV30 earbuds sold out extremely quickly. I received many requests for an inexpensive alternative and am researching a few promising models. I hope to have good news soon.

With the AV30s selling out much more quickly than anticipated, ZVOX provided a $20 coupon code SAVE$20 to those who missed out. They later opened up the code to anyone who wants to use it and it is valid on all ZVOX products $49.99 or higher. If you are looking for another bargain, the compact AV70 AccuVoice speaker is a great companion to a tablet or phone. It is reduced from $99.99 to $49.99, so with the $20 off the AV70 is $29.99 with free shipping, a $70 savings. zvox.com

Q. My component stereo collects a lot of dust! It is a challenge to get it all. Do you have any advice for gear cleaning?

—J.B., Kansas City, Missouri

A. If you can use them, cloth dust covers are a good start!

It is easy to damage the turntable stylus and cartridge if not cleaned correctly. The stylus (needle) will collect a lot of dust playing records, and this dust tends to cling to the needle and accumulate under the cartridge. Some vinyl lovers use a small brush, but it is much safer and more thorough to use canned air. Lock down the tonearm then hit it with a quick blast of air from about 2 feet away to remove the dust.


If dust has found its way into the volume and tone controls and they make a crackling sound, remove the knobs, spray in some contact cleaner and work the controls left to right to clean them out. This crackling tends to affect older gear with analog controls.

A stick vac with a narrow brush is useful for cleaning out behind and under the stand. I use a Buture VC80 that I have been quite pleased with. It is rechargeable, stands on the brushhead when not in use and comes with accessories to turn it into a handheld vac. There is a coupon code Buture30 that reduces the prices of the $193.99 VC80 and $189.99 VC50 models by 30%. ibuture.com

I use dry microfiber towels to dust the surfaces of the components and the stand. Austere V Series Clean & Protect will safely clean displays and screens. Clean & Protect is streak-free and antibacterial, and at $29.99 is a great investment. You can get a 10% discount the first time you order from the Austere website, and Austere power strips are my absolute favorite. austere.com

Q. Often live music is so loud that it causes hearing damage. Can you recommend an earplug that protects your hearing while maintaining the fidelity of the music?

—N.O., Sussex, Wisconsin

A. You are very wise to protect your hearing at concerts. Vibes high-fidelity earplugs do exactly what you want and are the industry standard. Typically $33.95, they are currently on sale for $28.95. I won’t go to a rock concert without them. discovervibes.com


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