If you truly care about sound quality, you’d stop listening to music on your smartphone and instead invest in an MP3 player.
When you’re shopping for an MP3 player, though, consider the size and the quality of your digital music collection. If you own a lot of music in lossless file formats and don’t want to compromise on audio quality, consider a more upmarket MP3 player with advanced DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and circuitry inside it. A high-end MP3 player will also have the ability to power high-end, high-impedance, audiophile headphones. Otherwise, you can consider a more reasonably priced offering.
In addition to the audio hardware and performance, it’s important to consider the amount of available storage an MP3 player offers. You should either consider a product with ample built-in memory, or one with a built-in microSD card slot for effortless and affordable expansion. Today’s splurgeworthy MP3 players will most likely offer you a combination of both.
Check out our top MP3 player picks that are perfect for showcasing your music collection!
Sony NW-A45 Walkman MP3 Player
The name may be a blast from the past, but Sony’s NW-A45 Walkman MP3 player has all the bells and whistles to make it the top pick in this category. It offers excellent audio quality, support for a wide array of audio files — including Hi-Res audio content — outstanding battery life (up to 45 hours between charges), expandable storage, and intuitive controls that include a touch screen and tactile buttons, among many other features. Crucially, the NW-A45 Walkman is also reasonably priced, especially considering how capable it is. There are two colors to pick from: dark gray and light blue. The MP3 player’s impressive audio quality comes courtesy of a high-resolution amplifier. We also like that the gadget has Bluetooth connectivity for use with wireless headphones. You can even use the Sony NW-A45 as a desktop USB DAC with your PC or Mac.
FiiO M6 MP3 Player
The FiiO M6 mp3 player is a solid runner-up to our Sony top pick because it’s elegant, feature-packed, and more affordable. The audio performance of the M6 is also top-notch, courtesy of high-quality audio components, as well as a speedy Samsung-made chipset. Compared to the Sony NW-A45, the M6 has less battery life (up to 13 hours) and considerably less built-in storage (only 2 GB versus 16 GB). The latter makes purchasing a microSD card alongside the device mandatory. What makes the FiiO M6 stand out in its price range is a 3.2-inch touch screen with an intuitive user interface, as well as compatibility with all major streaming services. FiiO has made this possible by equipping the gadget with a customized version of Android, thus bringing compatibility with Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz, among others. As expected, the FiiO M6 supports a wide range of audio formats, including Hi-Res Audio files. Other highlights of the product include Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to work as a USB DAC on your computer.
Sony NWE395 MP3 Player
Sony’s NWE395 is among the best budget-friendly MP3 players out there, thanks to a rather superb 35 hours of battery life, up to 16 GB of non-expandable storage (4 GB and 8 GB variants are also available), and a 1.77-inch color display with an intuitive interface. The NWE395 has a built-in FM radio and Apple iTunes integration. Being an entry-level option, the MP3 player supports the most commonly used audio formats, but it can’t play lossless audio. You can order the audio player in black or red. I like that Sony bundles the device with a pair of earbuds.
Apple iPod touch (7th Generation) Media Player
Apple’s latest iPod touch is truly in a league of its own when it comes to sheer entertainment capabilities. Equipped with the same A10 Fusion chip as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, a 4-inch Retina touch screen, an 8 MP camera, and Apple iOS, the device can do a whole lot more than play your MP3 collection. Apple iOS is what sets the iPod touch apart from all competitors. The tech giant’s mobile platform will give you access to a vast selection of high-quality apps and games, including access to all major music and video streaming services. Save for making phone calls, the media player will deliver an iPhone-like experience, including the ability to FaceTime and iMessage people. Thanks to its powerful chip, the iPad touch can also entertain you with augmented reality apps. Review editors from PCMag and TechRadar praised the gadget of offering a reasonably-priced gateway to Apple’s superb mobile platform. The iPod touch has a standard audio jack, and it comes bundled with Apple’s iconic EarPods. There are six color variants (pink, blue, gold, red, silver, and space gray) and three storage options to select from (32 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB). We highly suggest that you avoid the entry-level one.
SanDisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 Player
The SanDisk Clip Sport Plus is our favorite pick for workout warriors who want to take a break from their phone. It’s cute, colorful, insanely compact, water-resistant, and quite affordable. After testing seven MP3 players, Wirecutter named the Clip Sport Plus its best cheap MP3 player pick. Features include a 1.44-inch color display, 16 GB memory, and FM radio. Bluetooth connectivity is also on board, in case you want to use your favorite pair of wireless headphones. The Clip Sport can deliver up to 20 hours of playback on a single charge, making it a good choice for the gym. Despite its low price tag, it comes with a pair of earbuds in its retail package. Available in black, red, or blue, the MP3 player comes with a 2-year warranty.