If you truly care about the sound quality of your music, you’d stop listening on your smartphone and invest in an MP3 player instead.
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 getting an MP3 player with advanced DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and circuitry inside it. A high-end MP3 player will also improve the quality of sound from your high-impedance, investment headphones.
But if you’re simply looking to untether your music library from your smartphone, a more affordable model should fit the bill just fine.
Sony NW-A105 Walkman MP3 Player
Sony’s NW-A105 Walkman MP3 player has all the bells and whistles that you’re looking for: excellent audio quality, support for a wide array of audio files, expandable storage, intuitive touch screen interface, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Best of all, because it’s powered by Android, the NW-A105 also offers access to all major audio streaming services. I tested the player and enjoyed rocking out to Hi-Res Audio albums I downloaded for offline use from Qobuz.
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). I would recommend purchasing a microSD card alongside the device. 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 the ability to install Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz, among others.
Sony NWZ-E390 Walkman 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 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 also bundles the device with a pair of earbuds.
Apple iPod touch (7th Generation) Media Player
Apple’s latest iPod touch is 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.
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. 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 pair them with your 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.