Finest MP3 Participant: Welcome to our information to the perfect transportable MP3 gamers.

As Bob Dylan sang means again in 1964, “the instances, they’re a-changin’.” 

Today, even the perfect MP3 gamers are now not the go-to music units like they had been 10-15 years in the past. Smartphones have virtually solely taken over the music scene, a minimum of within the mainstream, and never with out purpose. Most smartphones will permit you to carry round 1000’s of songs wherever you go – with out having to cart round an additional system. To not point out that they do that whereas additionally permitting you to speak on the cellphone and seize images.

Nevertheless, don’t write off MP3 gamers as ineffective but. So far as sound high quality, and even sturdiness, you’ll be onerous pressed to discover a smartphone that’s even in the identical ballpark as the perfect MP3 gamers. They’re merely the perfect units for listening to music – arms down. And it’s due to this unprecedented and unequalled sound high quality that the core viewers is sort of solely comprised of audiophiles. 

However, in the event you already personal a smartphone, is it actually price upgrading to a standalone MP3 participant? Nicely, sure, it’s fully price it, particularly in the event you care about listening to music. So far as cell expertise has come lately, smartphone producers nonetheless should make some needed compromises in an effort to pack in all of the options that customers demand. Which means aside from a number of notable exceptions, you merely can’t attain the identical degree of audio constancy that the perfect MP3 gamers supply with a smartphone. You’ll even be limiting your self to diminished space for storing (to not point out costlier) with a smartphone. Now streaming providers go a great distance in direction of bridging this hole, however even when you have limitless information, the decrease audio high quality is a sacrifice that we’re merely not able to make – the DACs in the perfect MP3 gamers merely blow smartphones out of the water.  

Nevertheless, if you’re an audiophile (even in the event you’re nonetheless on the best way to turning into one), it’s necessary to contemplate that the system, like an MP3 participant, is just one hyperlink in a protracted audio chain. You’ll additionally want to consider what audio codec your library is in, and you’ll clearly additionally want an nice pair of headphones, (high-fidelity DACs are meaningless in the event you’re utilizing an inexpensive pair of earbuds), of which you’ll take a look at the perfect ones right here: Best Headphones 2017.   

What MP3 gamers does TechSwitch suggest?

So, what do you have to be contemplating in the event you’re enthusiastic about shopping for an MP3 participant? A very powerful factor you’ll have to have in mind is what audio codec your music library is in.

Should you’re utilizing iTunes, your music library might be in Apple’s AAC codec – and, fortunately, most MP3 gamers assist that codec. Should you’re an audiophile although, you’ll doubtless want assist for FLAC, WAV and ALAC, hi-fi lossless audio codecs that don’t use the compression strategies used on lossy codecs like AAC and MP3. 

You’ll additionally want to contemplate how massive your music assortment is after which how a lot storage you’ll want. That is particularly the case whenever you’re utilizing codecs like FLAC, which simply devour area. Typically MP3 gamers even have an included microSD card slot, which lets you develop upon the included storage as your library expands – however usually solely as much as a sure dimension, usually round 512GB.

Here is the perfect half although: in contrast to smartphones, MP3 gamers are constructed to final, so there’s no have to go on an sisyphean two-year upgrade-cycle such as you may with a smartphone. This implies it’s in all probability in your finest pursuits to take a while and discover the one which’s best for you, as you’ll in all probability be utilizing it for a number of years to come back.

We’ve organized our record of the perfect MP3 gamers by use case. Searching for portability? Test. What about one thing with sufficient area to archive your complete library? Simple! Listed below are a few of the finest MP3 gamers in the marketplace proper now.

Finest MP3 participant total: Onkyo DP-X1A

Highly effective, spacious and easy-to-use, the Onkyo DP-X1A is on the high of its class

Superb sound high quality

Android makes for high ease-of-use

Two microSD card slots!

A little bit chunky

Onkyo has been a widely known and esteemed title in audio for years, and for good purpose. The Onkyo DP-X1A is probably not essentially the most compact participant on this record, however it’s the finest all-around, providing big customizability, an intuitive interface, and an incredible sound high quality.

Let’s begin with the design, which is fairly good. On the whole, the DP-X1A appears to be like somewhat bit like a cellphone, however a lot thicker, and is totally optimized for audio use. How so? Nicely, for starters, it has two audio ports – one headphone jack and one balanced output for these focused on a cleaner and total higher high quality sound. Moreover, the system has an easy-to-use quantity wheel, in addition to bodily playback buttons and two microSD card slots for these with a large assortment of music. 

It’s a really good setup, and whereas it might take you a minute or two to get accustomed to the button placement, as soon as it clicks it’ll really feel as pure as respiration.

Then there’s the software program and interface, which once more, is easy to make use of. 

The participant is constructed with a full model of Android 5.1, full with options like Wi-Fi connectivity and the Google Play Retailer. Which ends up in an MP3 Participant that’s to Android what the iPod Contact is to iOS.

In contrast to the iPod, nevertheless, the Onkyo DP-X1A is constructed for super-high-quality audio – however the total expertise of proudly owning a participant that may go far past merely taking part in music is identical. The Android expertise is fairly inventory, although there may be an Onkyo-built music app, which supplies extra management over issues like EQ, DSP options, and so forth.

Then there’s the sound high quality, which is an absolute dream.It helps a spread of music codecs, together with FLAC, OGG, WAV, MP3, ALAC, and extra. By way of , the system has two chipsets, one to energy the general system, and one to deal with the DAC and amplifier – leading to a noise-free expertise. 

We examined the participant with a number of pairs of headphones throughout a number of worth ranges, and had been surprised with the readability and distinctive high quality of the audio. There’s a purpose the Onkyo DP-X1A sits atop this record – it’s a beast within the transportable audio world. 

Learn our full evaluate: Onkyo DP-X1A Digital Audio Player

Finest compact MP3 participant: HiFiMan SuperMini

Want one thing a bit extra transportable? Strive the HiFiMan SuperMini

Compact

Nicely-designed

Nice sound

No EQ

HiFiMan is maybe finest identified for its headphones, however it makes some fairly nice MP3 gamers, too. For an instance, look no additional than the SuperMini. 

The SuperMini, because the title suggests, is somewhat smaller than a lot of the different gamers on this record, however that doesn’t appear to come back at an enormous price – it’ll nonetheless ship wonderful audio high quality and it’s fairly straightforward to make use of, too.

The system, which has a price ticket of $399 (£400, AU$399), doesn’t have any onboard storage – you’ll have to purchase a microSD card individually. It does, nevertheless, assist a reasonably big vary of audio codecs, together with FLAC, DSD, WAV, MP3, and AIFF, and audio with a pattern price of as much as 192kHz.

The consumer interface is probably not as flashy as some others on this record, however it’s nonetheless fairly straightforward to make use of. It’s a monochrome show, and is managed through three buttons positioned below the display screen. The tradeoff to utilizing a monochrome show, nevertheless, is that the battery life is fairly lengthy, sitting in at a hefty 22 hours. 

Then on to sound, which, as you’ll count on from an organization like HiFiMan, is nice. The high-end on this participant is sweet and crisp, with out being too aggressive by any means. On high of that, there are many mids to go round, with out the participant in any respect straying into inaccurate territory. We had been somewhat skeptical of the thought of a participant from an organization that provides gamers nicely into the multi-thousands greenback vary, however the SuperMini holds its personal, and at an honest worth.

Learn the total evaluate: HiFiMan SuperMini

Finest mid-range MP3 participant: Astell & Kern AK Jr

Searching for the middle-of-the-road possibility? Take a look at the AK Jr

Superbly designed

Audio sounds nice

Affords Bluetooth

Touchscreen is not responsive sufficient

Astell & Kern is thought for constructing top-notch audio units at cheap costs, and for that purpose we predict the Astell & Kern AK Jr is the perfect mid-range MP3 participant. Actually, after spending a while utilizing it, we might argue that it’s a reasonably severe contender towards even rather more costly gamers.

Earlier than diving into the participant’s capabilities, you’ll discover how well-designed it’s. The modern, metallic look may be very stylish, and utilizing it offers you an analogous “standing image” really feel you’ll get with the iPhone.

The AK Jr is available in at $259 (£250, AU$399), which is a really cheap worth for a tool of this calibre. For that worth, you’ll get 64GB of onboard storage, although there’s a microSD card slot in case you wish to develop upon that storage. On high of that, it helps all main audio codecs, together with FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, AIFF, and extra – and it’s capable of play at pattern charges of as much as 192kHz.

The interface of the system is comparatively straightforward to regulate, too. The house display screen merely offers you choices for songs, albums, artists, and so forth. 

Faucet by means of utilizing the touchscreen, and also you’ll have the ability to choose the music you wish to take heed to. It might be good if that touchscreen was somewhat extra responsive, however you’ll get used to it. Battery life sits in at round 9 hours, which isn’t superb, however not horrible both. 

So how does it sound? In a single phrase: stunning. 

Music is dynamic and crisp, with a pleasant and highly effective sound in each facet. The soundstage on these, when paired with an ideal pair of headphones, is big – that’s to say the left and proper are clearly outlined, whereas devices positioned on the heart of a mixture are given loads of room to breathe. We significantly loved the guitar solo on AC/DC’s Again in Black, whereas Eminem’s rap on Lose Your self minimize straight by means of the combination – precisely the best way it was alleged to.

Finest MP3 participant for iTunes customers: Apple iPod Contact

Purchased into the Apple ecosphere? iPod Contact is the participant for you!

Versatile

Nicely-designed

Tons of apps

Audio codecs restricted

Everyone knows the title “iPod” … which might be because of the truth that it modified the sport in relation to shopper audio within the early aughts. All these years later, although, they’re nonetheless a few of the best to make use of, most versatile and best-looking gamers in the marketplace – particularly the iPod Contact. 

Why’s that? Nicely, it’s virtually an iPhone that’s not a cellphone. The system is ready to run most apps on the app retailer, making it rather more than an MP3 participant. 

It’s not as audiophile-targeted as most different MP3 gamers, for instance, it doesn’t assist FLAC or DSD codecs, both. However it does assist WAV, MP3, AAC, and so forth. It additionally tops out at 44.1kHz – although for most individuals that will likely be greater than sufficient contemplating it’s CD-level audio. 

The iPod Contact might be the best MP3 participant in the marketplace to make use of. It’s managed utilizing a contact display screen, which is ultra-responsive, and boasts a colourful look and vivid show. In fact, you in all probability didn’t want us to let you know that. The system begins at $199 (£209, AU$299) for the 32GB model, or $299 (£299, AU$449) for the 128GB model.

As talked about, the iPod Contact does cap out at 44.1kHz audio, however it nonetheless sounds fairly good – and in the event you actually need it to it may present an audiophile expertise by means of an exterior DAC linked to the Lightning port. In fact, in the event you’re going to go to all that bother, why not simply purchase an audiophile participant? 

Finest MP3 participant for athletes: SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Heading to follow? Do not forget your SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Extremely-portable

Cheap

Simple-to-use

Audio high quality isn’t nearly as good as others

Searching for an MP3 participant to take operating with you? If that’s the case, you in all probability need one thing small and light-weight – it in all probability doesn’t want to carry day’s price of music, and it in all probability doesn’t want to supply the best audio high quality on the market. Most of all, you in all probability don’t wish to fork out a ton of money for it.

If that’s you, in our view, the SanDisk Clip Sport Plus is the best choice. 

For starters, the system affords 16GB of storage, and whereas that is probably not a lot to your cellphone, 16GB can maintain a ton of songs. On high of that, regardless of being constructed for sport, it really helps a reasonably wide selection of audio codecs – together with MP3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, and WMA. Maybe most necessary for a tool like that is the battery life, and it’ll final you a great 20 hours. You’ll even get Bluetooth, which is a big deal for a lot of who will likely be utilizing this whereas operating or performing different actions and don’t need cables to get in the best way.

The interface is comparatively straightforward to make use of too. Certain, it’s somewhat dated, and isn’t as highly effective as what you’ll discover in your smartphone, however it’s nonetheless succesful as a music participant. It’s not touch-sensitive, although. As an alternative, you’ll navigate by means of buttons that additionally function playback controls when music is taking part in – however we didn’t have any difficulty with that.

As for the sound, so long as you don’t count on full audiophile-level high quality right here (you received’t get it), we predict you will discover the sound very succesful. General it is barely muddy with a small dip in readability, however for many that received’t matter – particularly whenever you’re out on a run or hitting the weights on the health club.

  • Searching for a one thing to take heed to in your new MP3 participant? Take a look at our record of the best podcasts round.
Shop Amazon