Consider it or not, the MP3 participant will not be lifeless. Nicely, that really is dependent upon what you consider if you consider an MP3 participant. Positive, the traditional iPods of yesteryear could be out of the image, as our smartphones can do every little thing they might and a complete lot extra. However, there may be nonetheless room for a devoted machine for audio, whether or not or not it’s for a a lot increased high quality of audio or just to have a compact, inexpensive machine that does not get weighed down with all the extra features of a cellphone.

You’ll find MP3 gamers (although taking part in lossy MP3 information stands out as the least of what they’ll do) that function highly effective DACs and amplifiers, providing you with the premium sound and energy that you’re going to want in case you use high-end, over-ear headphones or earbuds. You may additionally discover substantial assist for all kinds of audio codecs, varied connectivity choices, and extra storage flexibility in lots of of those units. So, in case you’re searching for a transportable residence on your music library, you may discover it right here.

TL;DR – These are the Greatest MP3 Gamers:

  • Onkyo DP-X1A
  • Sony NW-A55
  • Astell & Kern Kann
  • Astell & Kern AK Jr
  • Apple iPod Contact
  • Astell & Kern A&futura SE200
  • SanDisk Clip Jam

1. Onkyo DP-X1A

Greatest MP3 Participant

Onkyo DP-X1A

Consider it or not, there are some MP3 gamers that value upwards of $1,000, although anybody utilizing them doubtless is not taking part in precise MP3 information. If you realize you need a high quality choice however do not wish to dive that far into the deep finish, the Onkyo DP-X1A is available in at a extra affordable worth whereas providing some critical audio chops. The Onkyo DP-X1A is compact, like an iPad Video of yesteryear, and weighs lower than half of a pound.

What you are getting in that package deal is an Android-powered audio participant with 64GB of storage in-built and twin microSD card slots to dramatically improve the storage on your music library. Because it’s operating Android, you might additionally obtain streaming apps from the Google Play Retailer. The place it’s going to differ out of your typical Android cellphone or fundamental MP3 participant is in its inclusion of twin Sabre amplifiers and DACs, which it makes use of to drive the left and proper audio channels individually when utilizing the 4-pole balanced audio output. With assist for all kinds of audio codecs, you may undoubtedly get to make the most of that efficiency. And, in case you generally end up eager to ditch the cables and go wi-fi, you may nonetheless get assist for high quality audio with the aptX codec over Bluetooth.

2. Sony NW-A55

Greatest Funds MP3 Participant

Sony NW-A55

  • See it on Abt
  • See it on Sony


OK, so you realize there are advantages to getting a devoted audio machine however perhaps you do not wish to spend as a lot as you’d spend on a brand new cellphone simply to get one. The Sony NW-A55 is a Walkman for the trendy day and brings a variety of the high-end audio you are after at just a bit over $200. With it, you get a slick design and a touchscreen show, so it is able to go face to face with an iPod Contact, although you additionally get bodily playback controls on the facet of the machine.

In relation to audio, although, the Sony NW-A55 goes a lot additional than an iPod Contact. You’ll be able to plug a pair of wired headphones into the unit and luxuriate in your favourite lossless audio information pumped out by an S-Grasp HX amplifier, or you may even use DSEE HX to upscale compressed audio information. You are not restricted to wired headphones, both. The Sony NW-A55 contains NFC for simple pairing with Bluetooth headphones, and it gives up assist for each aptX HD and LDAC codecs to allow you to take pleasure in wonderful audio high quality over Bluetooth. And, if you’re at residence and do not want a transportable music participant, you may plug the NW-A55 into your pc and use it as a USB DAC.

3. Astell & Kern Kann

Greatest MP3 Participant Underneath $1000

Astell & Kern Kann

The Astell & Kern Kann music player isn’t for the casual music listener. Its price tag all but ensures that, but it does manage to stay under $1,000 (especially with a discount that’s live right now from Astell & Kern that see the price drop to $600). You get a solid device with physical buttons for playback control and a volume dial built into the side of the device to match the design. 64GB of built-in storage will get you started, but if you have a large collection of high-res audio, you’ll likely want to use the SD and microSD card slots.

This music player has a broad range of supported file formats from classics like WAV and MP3 to FLAC, OGG, and more. Inside, it’s packing a 32-bit AKM AK4490 DAC and its own amplifier with up to 7 Vrms of output to support high-impedance headphones or low-impedance speakers. You’ll also get plenty of options for how you use it, as you can plug into an unbalanced 3.5mm jack or balanced 2.5mm audio jack powered by the internal amplifier or connect with balanced or unbalanced line-level outputs. There’s even Bluetooth for wireless audio with support for the aptX codec to boot. As an added perk, the Kann can also take audio input over USB, letting it serve as an external DAC for your computer.

4. Astell & Kern AK Jr

Best MP3 Player Under $500

Astell & Kern AK Jr

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The marketplace for high-end MP3 gamers is sort of shockingly costly, however when you think about the form of high quality amps and audio converters they must pack into a transportable machine, it begins to make a bit extra sense. That mentioned, you may nonetheless snag a premium one for beneath $500 with the Astell & Kern AK Jr.

This little music participant is thinner and lighter than Astell & Kern’s Kann, making it extra pleasant for normal listening on the go. You’ll be able to go for informal listening with this participant, because it helps MP3 and Bluetooth, and it even has 64GB of inside storage to maintain a bit of music library. However you may also go for a hi-fi library. There’s room for a microSD card to retailer the extra-large information that come from lossless audio codecs like FLAC and WAV. You even get assist for high-res DSD audio. And, if you wish to use the Astell & Kern AK Jr’s DAC and amp on your pc, you may plug it in and despatched audio out to your headphones or audio system by means of it.

5. Apple iPod Contact

Most Versatile MP3 Participant

Apple iPod Contact

  • See it at Best Buy
  • See it at Walmart

Yes, Apple still sells an iPad Touch. The presence of iOS 13 makes it a versatile portable device that you can use for books, video, gaming, and pretty much anything else you’d do with an iPhone (except make calls). You even get access to Apple Arcade.

Of course, the iPod Touch is a little different than other MP3 players. Like any iOS device, you don’t get an expansion slot, but you can buy the Touch with 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage. And despite being like a miniture iPad, it’s not really a music-first sort of device. It supports the most common file formats, like MP3, AAC, WAV, and AIFF, but that’s it.

6. Astell & Kern A&futura SE200

Best MP3 Player When Price is No Object

Astell & Kern A&futura SE200

If you happen to’re all-in on high-fidelity audio, then you definately shouldn’t shrink back from the Astell & Kern A&future SE200. This high-end audio participant is an improve over its already-impressive predecessor, the SE100, and it brings some notable enhancements. It’s nonetheless received a helpful, five-inch touchscreen show that can assist you navigate your music library whereas providing a easy quantity dial and facet buttons for simple playback management.

Contained in the stylish aluminum and ceramic chassis, Astell & Kern have packed in a single AK4499EQ DAC from AKM and twin ES9068AS DACs from ESS, making the SE200 the primary Multi-DAC digital audio participant. Astell & Kern have additionally gone with a number of amp designs to let the completely different DACs’ audio traits shine. All of this functionality will allow you to take your favourite lossless audio information (with 256GB of built-in storage) and play them by means of your favourite headphones on the go, whether or not they be balanced, unbalanced, and even wi-fi Bluetooth headphones with aptX HD assist.

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7. SanDisk Clip Jam

Greatest Impulse Purchase MP3 Participant

SanDisk Clip Jam

  • See it at Walmart
  • See it at Best Buy

As long as you set your expectations appropriately, you might be surprised what you can get for $30. The SanDisk Clip Jam might be a good portable player for a kid, or for situations in which you don’t want to carry an expensive portable device. You don’t get wireless connectivity, nor does it support apps or streaming. But you can add a microSD card to augment the 8GB of onboard memory for a total of 40GB.

It comes in a handful of bright colors, and as its name implies, it has a built-in clip you can use to attach it to your clothes. Since it also plays MP3, WMA, AASC, OGG, WAV, and FLAC tracks, this might be all you need.

What to Look for in a Portable Music Player

We tend to call portable music players “MP3 players,” a tacit acknowledgement of the overwhelming popularity of that lossy, highly compromised audio format. But the most important consideration when shopping for a player is to make sure it supports the format your music happens to be stored in. That might include Apple iTunes tracks in AAC format, or high quality “audiophile” tracks in FLAC, OGG, or lossless DSD files. Keep an eye on storage capacity as well: A modestly sized music collection of high bitrate music can easily climb into the hundreds of gigabytes.

Most audiophiles already know the value of a high quality digital-to-analog converter (DAC). An MP3 player with a high-quality DAC can easily sound better than your PC’s on-board sound card. And while the advantages of putting a pair of DACs in an MP3 player are debatable, driving the left and right stereo channels with discrete amplifiers can certainly ensure accurate sound reproduction.

Should you care about getting an MP3 with a balanced audio port? It depends upon how good your headphones – and your hearing – is. A balanced port can reduce line hum and increase the signal to noise ratio, letting you hear more of your music. But you need to be able to swap a standard 3.5mm headphone cable for a 2.5mm balanced cable – and your headphones ideally need to be designed for balanced connections, or there’s no point.

And if you want to connect your player wirelessly, look for Bluetooth support – ideally, with aptX wireless codec support for higher quality audio. Otherwise, shop for your audio player by asking the same questions you’d ask for any portable device – do you like the interface, for example, how long does the battery last, and do you want it to do anything besides play music, like run apps or play games.


Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech for the reason that days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh.

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