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Best MP3 Player 2019: TechRadar’s guide to the best portable music players

Best MP3 player: Onkyo DP-X1A

MP3 gamers won’t be as in style as they have been a decade in the past, however that doesn’t imply they’re outdated know-how. In reality, trendy MP3 gamers do a considerably higher job at storing your whole music library at a better bitrate than your 2009 iPod Shuffle ever might.

To that finish, in the event you’re on the look-out for the perfect MP3 participant that cash can purchase in 2019, you’ve come to the right place: Right here we’ll run down all the highest decisions, and inform you every little thing you must know to make a wise shopping for determination.

Whereas most people are very happy to make use of their telephones as moveable music gamers, you’re right here since you’re in search of a separate music participant – one which not solely shops your music, however makes it sound its greatest.

The most effective MP3 gamers, as a consequence of their sound constancy and sturdiness, are the last word units in the event you love listening to music – and new improvements in sound are making them even higher with every passing yr.

That stated, keep in mind that the gadget (on this case an MP3 participant) is just one hyperlink in an extended 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 for those who’re utilizing an affordable pair of earbuds).

In the event you want slightly assist, take a look at the perfect headphones for 2019. 

Best MP3 player: Onkyo DP-X1A

Greatest MP3 participant: Onkyo DP-X1A

1. Onkyo DP-X1A

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

Superb sound high quality

Android makes for prime ease-of-use

Two microSD card slots!

Slightly chunky

Onkyo has been a well known and esteemed identify in audio for years, and for good cause. The Onkyo DP-X1A will not be probably the most compact participant on this record, however it’s the greatest all-around, providing large customizability, an intuitive interface, and incredible sound high quality.

Let’s begin with the design, which is fairly good. Usually, the DP-X1A seems a bit bit like a telephone, 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 all for a cleaner and general 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. 

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 leads to 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.

Talking of the sound high quality, it’s an absolute dream. It helps a variety of music codecs, together with FLAC, OGG, WAV, MP3, ALAC, and extra. When it comes to hardware, the system has two chipsets, one to energy the general gadget, 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 have 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 moveable audio world. 

Learn our full assessment: Onkyo DP-X1A Digital Audio Participant

 Best MP3 player: iPod Touch (7th Generation)

 Greatest MP3 participant: iPod Contact (seventh Era)

2. Apple iPod Contact (seventh Era)

The age of the iPod isn’t over but – that is nonetheless probably the greatest MP3 gamers

Versatile

Properly-designed

Tons of apps

Audio codecs restricted 

No Contact ID

Apple took us all unexpectedly when it introduced the iPod contact 7, the primary improve to its moveable music and video participant since 2015. 

With “enhancements to energy, functionality, and communication”, the up to date iPod contact is absolutely geared in the direction of gaming, with the discharge coming simply in time for the launch of Apple’s new gaming service, Apple Arcade

The larger improve, a minimum of for audio fanatics, is the help for the Hello-Res Audio codec FLAC, in addition to Apple Lossless, supplying you with extra choices than ever in relation to accessing audiophile-quality music.

Utilizing a Hello-Res Audio playback app for iOS referred to as Vox, we listened to Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. The strings had a heat and pure high quality, whereas soprano vocal duets soared sweetly above the combination with out ever sounding harsh. 

In our evaluation we additionally examined out the inbuilt speaker on the backside of the iPod contact, and it packs fairly a punch regardless of its measurement. It gained’t do for listening to your Hello-Res music, but when simply need a bit of background music in your gaming periods and may’t be bothered to dig your headphones out, it really works simply positive. 

In case you want a brand new MP3 participant, and also you don’t thoughts utilizing iTunes, the iPod Contact will do exactly positive.

Learn the complete assessment: iPod Contact (seventh Era)

Best MP3 player: HiFiMan SuperMini

Greatest MP3 participant: HiFiMan SuperMini

three. HiFiMan SuperMini

Want one thing a bit extra moveable? Attempt the HiFiMan SuperMini

Compact

Properly-designed

Nice sound

No EQ

HiFiMan is probably greatest recognized for its headphones, nevertheless it makes some fairly nice MP3 gamers, too. For an instance, look no additional than the SuperMini. 

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

The gadget, 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, help a reasonably large 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 listing, nevertheless it’s nonetheless fairly straightforward to make use of. It’s a monochrome show, and is managed by way of three buttons situated underneath the display. The tradeoff to utilizing a monochrome show, nevertheless, is that the battery life is respectable, sitting in at a hefty 22 hours. 

When it comes to sound, the high-end on this participant is good and crisp, with out being too aggressive by any means. On prime of that, there are many mids to go round, with out the participant in any respect straying into inaccurate territory. We have been a bit of skeptical of the thought of a participant from an organization that gives gamers nicely into the multi-thousands of dollars vary, however the SuperMini holds its personal, and at an honest worth.

Learn the complete assessment: HiFiMan SuperMini

  • This product is simply out there within the US and UK on the time of this writing. Australian readers: take a look at a high-quality various within the Onkyo DP-X1A 

Best MP3 player: Astell & Kern AK Jr

Greatest MP3 participant: Astell & Kern AK Jr

four. Astell & Kern AK Jr

On the lookout for the middle-of-the-road choice? Take a look at the AK Jr

Superbly designed

Audio sounds nice

Provides Bluetooth

Touchscreen isn’t responsive sufficient

Astell & Kern is understood for constructing top-notch audio units at affordable costs, and for that purpose we expect the Astell & Kern AK Jr is one of the best mid-range MP3 participant out of those we’ve seen (and heard). In truth, after spending a while utilizing it, we might argue that it’s a reasonably critical 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 could be very stylish, and utilizing it provides you an identical “standing image” really feel as you’ll get with the iPhone.

The AK Jr is available in at $259 (£250, AU$399), which is a really affordable 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 need to broaden upon that storage. On prime 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 gadget is comparatively straightforward to regulate, too. The house display merely provides you choices for songs, albums, artists, and so forth. 

Faucet via utilizing the touchscreen, and also you’ll have the ability to choose the music you need to take heed to. It will be good if that touchscreen was just a little extra responsive, however you 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: lovely. 

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

Best MP3 player: SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Greatest MP3 participant: SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

5. SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Heading to apply? Don’t overlook your SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Extremely-portable

Cheap

Straightforward-to-use

Audio high quality isn’t nearly as good as others

On the lookout for an MP3 participant to take operating with you? In that case, you in all probability need one thing small and lightweight – it in all probability doesn’t want to carry day’s value of music, and it in all probability doesn’t want to supply the very best audio high quality on the market. Most of all, you in all probability don’t need 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 gives 16GB of storage, and whereas that is probably not a lot on your telephone, 16GB can maintain a ton of songs. On prime of that, regardless of being constructed for sport, it truly helps a reasonably wide selection of audio codecs – together with MP3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, and WMA.

Maybe most essential 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 large deal for a lot of who might 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. Positive, it’s a bit of dated, and isn’t as highly effective as what you’ll discover in your smartphone, nevertheless it’s nonetheless succesful as a music participant. It’s not touch-sensitive, although: as an alternative, you navigate via hardware buttons that additionally function playback controls when music is enjoying, however we didn’t have any points.

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

Best MP3 player: Sony NW-A45 Walkman

Greatest MP3 participant: Sony NW-A45 Walkman

6. Sony NW-A45 Walkman

That is one of the best MP3 participant for many who don’t need to spend so much

Expandable reminiscence card slot

Minimalist consumer interface

Straightforward to add new music

Makes use of proprietary charging cable

If the thought of utilizing iTunes freaks you out and spending greater than $200 on an MP3 participant simply isn’t believable, then your greatest MP3 participant might be the Sony NW-A45 Walkman.

Full of 16GB of built-in storage and a slick touchscreen UI, the NW-A45 begins at round  $149 and is available in a number of colours that may go well with any style. For audiophiles, the NW-A45 helps Hello-Res playback, plus DSEE H may also help restore lossy information again to a close to lossless state. In contrast to your telephone, Sony’s Walkman comes with an S-Grasp HX digital amp that’s highly effective sufficient to drive some comparatively high-impedance headphones whereas nonetheless accommodating low-impedance cans, too.

Versatile and straightforward to make use of, the Sony NW-A45 will get the nod as our MP3 participant decide for the first-time purchaser.

What MP3 gamers does TechRadar advocate? 

So, what do you want to search for in an MP3 participant? Nicely, crucial factor you could take into consideration is the audio codec your music library is in.

Anybody who makes use of iTunes will in all probability have a music library utterly full of Apple’s proprietary AAC codec, and by chance most MP3 gamers will help that codec. Nevertheless, when you contemplate your self an audiophile, you’ll want help for lossless codecs like FLAC, WAV and ALAC, as these codecs don’t use the compression strategies used on lossy codecs like AAC or MP3. Nevertheless, they’ll take up more room.

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

Right here’s the perfect half although: in contrast to smartphones, MP3 gamers are constructed to final, so there’s no have to go on an countless two-year upgrade-cycle such as you may with a smartphone. This implies it’s in all probability in your greatest 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 couple of years to return.

  • In search of a one thing to take heed to in your new MP3 participant? Take a look at our record of the perfect podcasts round.

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