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According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, which means many people who stream music with their phone may not have a need for a MP3 player. However, if you own a lot of music in lossless file formats and don't want to compromise on audio quality, consider a more upmarket player with advanced DAC and circuitry inside it. A MP3 player is also a great option for runners who don't want to work out with a bulky smartphone.
When you're shopping for an MP3 player, consider the size and the quality of your digital music collection. If you've purchased most of your favorite tracks from iTunes or other popular platforms, there's not necessarily a need to splurge on an audiophile-grade player. Or, if you have a large library with lots of songs, make sure you purchase one with plenty of storage, or a slot for a memory card. Check out our top MP3 player picks that are perfect for showcasing your music collection.
Sony's Walkman NW-ZX300 is a beautifully designed MP3 player with the ability to play Hi-Res Audio files, as well as upscale compressed audio files to a higher quality. Headfonia praised the ZX300 for its looks, sound quality, and fair price point. The device has support for all major audio formats, including lossless ones. You can also use it as a desktop DAC with your computer.
The sleek body of the NW-ZX300 has a milled aluminum frame, which keeps electrical noise out of the audio experience. It has a standard 3.5-millimeter audio jack, as well as a balanced audio output for high-end headphones. Just in case, the player also supports high-quality Bluetooth streaming, as well as NFC for one-touch pairing of a compatible device. Sony has equipped the device with 64 GB of expandable storage.
The battery of device can last up to a whopping 30 hours between charges. The NW-ZX300 has handy audio control buttons on its side, as well as a high-resolution color touchscreen for navigating through its features and settings. Note that there are no headphones in the player's retail package.
Best Budget Buy
Sony's NWE395 is among the best budget-friendly MP3 players currently worth your attention. Its highlights include up 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.
Available in black or red, the NWE395 has 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. Sony bundles the player with a pair of earbuds.
If you have an extensive collection of lossless music, a large collection of audiophile headphones, and a large budget to shop with, you need to have the A&ultima SP1000 MP3 player right at the top of your shopping list. Crafted from stainless steel, the player has a design and tactility worthy of its price tag. Its retail package includes a beautiful wooden box and a fine leather case. Stereophile says while its price may be steep, if you want the best MP3 player, this is the one to beat.
Of course, superior audio performance is what the A&ultima SP1000 is all about. With an octa-core processor and two top-shelf DACs on board, the device can deliver exceptional audio, especially from high-quality lossless files. Paired with the right pair of headphones, it'll literally help you discover details about your favorite songs you didn't know existed.
The A&ultima SP1000 runs Android, so you can also use your favorite streaming services on the device. However, to make the most out of the player's extensive capabilities, we strongly suggest that you stick to lossless audio.
Key specs of the audio player include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity (but please, don't buy the device to use it with wireless headphones — a high-quality pair of wired headphones is ideal so you don't miss a beat), 256 GB of expandable storage (via a microSD card), and up to 12 hours of battery life. You can charge the device and transfer files rapidly via a USB-C connection.
$189.99 (32 GB variant)
Best for Delivering Entertainment Beyond Audio
Apple's latest iPod touch offers entertainment capabilities that go well beyond playing your MP3 collection. With a speedy processor, a 4-inch Retina touchscreen, an 8-megapixel camera, and Apple's iOS 11 platform on board, the device can also stream music and video and give you access to a vast library of apps and games.
The iPod Touch comes bundled with Apple's signature EarPods. There are five color variants (pink, blue, gold, silver, and space gray) and two storage options to select from (32 GB and 128 GB). We highly suggest that you spend extra for the larger one.
Best Beginner Option for Audiophiles
The third-generation FiiO X3 MP3 player delivers a host of high-end features and an all-metal body with a matte finish at a reasonable price. The player packs a duo of high-quality DAC chips, a standard audio jack, and a balanced audio connector.
The FiiO X3 supports popular lossless formats and Hi-Res Audio content. It can also double as a USB DAC for your desktop or laptop computer.
The rest of the gadget's features include a 2-inch color screen with intuitive interface, Bluetooth connectivity, a microSD card slot for storing large audio files, and up to 10 hours of battery life between charges.
Best for a Fully Waterproof Body
The Sony NW-WS413 headphones have an integrated MP3 player with 4 GB of storage and a fully waterproof body, which allows you to take the player/headset for a swim — even in saltwater. Even Trusted Reviews praised the headphones for their superb fit and functional waterproofing.
Other key features of the gadget include 12 hours of battery life, a handy USB dock for fast charging and transferring music from a computer, excellent fit, and intuitively placed controls. There are two colors to pick from — black and blue.
Best for a Great Set of Features for Its Price Tag
The Pioneer XDP-300R is one of the best audio players in its price range. In addition to packing dual headphone amps and DACs, the device is also a connectivity powerhouse with two audio jacks (with balanced and unbalanced output), Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
As expected from a device in its price range, the Pioneer XDP-300R supports all major compressed and lossless audio file formats. The XDP-300R runs Android, so you can install your favorite streaming apps on it, too. You can easily navigate the player's extensive playback and EQ settings on its 4.7-inch touchscreen.
There are two microSD card slots and 32 GB of built-in storage, so you'll have plenty of space for your favorite tunes. Pioneer promises up to 16 hours of audio playback between charges.
Best for Compact Design
The SanDisk Clip Sport Plus is cute, colorful, incredibly compact, and splash-resistant. It's also quite affordable, considering the features it has to offer. 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 of expandable memory (via a microSD card slot), 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 two-year warranty.