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 Best MP3 Players in 2021

Best MP3 Players in 2021

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👉5 - SanDisk Clip Sport Plus - 👉4 - Apple iPod Touch - 👉3 - Sony NW-A55 Walkman A Series - 👉2 - FiiO M11...

 Best MP3 Player In 2021 On Amazon - 1moreview Guide To The Best Portable Music Players

Best MP3 Player In 2021 On Amazon - 1moreview Guide To The Best Portable Music Players

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Best MP3 Player In 2021 On Amazon Best Sellers in MP3 Players in 2021 ► ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- USA link ...

 TOP 5: Best MP3 Player with Bluetooth 2021 on Amazon | With FM Radio and Recorder

TOP 5: Best MP3 Player with Bluetooth 2021 on Amazon | With FM Radio and Recorder

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Anyone who listens to their favorite music relaxes. How about an MP3 player and listening to music wherever you are? In this video I recommend Best MP3...

 Best Bluetooth MP3 Players 2021 | Top 5 MP3 Players on Amazon

Best Bluetooth MP3 Players 2021 | Top 5 MP3 Players on Amazon

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Check the Latest Price Best Bluetooth MP3 Players in 2021. We recommended the top 7 Bluetooth MP3 Players on the market. ✔️ 7. Victure MP3 Player Clip ...

 Best MP3 Players 2021 - Budget Ten Mp3 Player Reviews

Best MP3 Players 2021 - Budget Ten Mp3 Player Reviews

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Best MP3 Players 2021 - Budget Ten Mp3 Player Reviews Product Description:- 1. Apple iPod Touch (32GB) - Blue (Latest Model) ➺ Product Link: ...

 Best Mp3 Players in 2021 - How to Choose a Player to Listen to Music

Best Mp3 Players in 2021 - How to Choose a Player to Listen to Music

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Top 10 Best Mp3 Players ✨ Astell&Kern A&Futura SE200 - ✨ Sony Walkman NW-ZX507 - ✨ Sony Walkman NW-WS413 - ✨...

 Top 5 Best Mp3 Players In 2021 On Amazon

Top 5 Best Mp3 Players In 2021 On Amazon

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 MP3 Players - The Best MP3 Players 2021

MP3 Players - The Best MP3 Players 2021

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Welcome to Reviewable. We review the best 5 MP3 Players that you can choose the right one for your purpose. We selected each of the products from best...

 Top 5 Best MP3 Players in 2021 | Professional Grade

Top 5 Best MP3 Players in 2021 | Professional Grade

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Do you want to buy an MP3 Players (2021)? Here is the best list of the Latest Top 5 Best MP3 Players. Agree with our list Please click the video description...

 5 Best Mp3 Players To Buy On Amazon 2021 | Budget Mp3 Player Reviews (Top Picks)

5 Best Mp3 Players To Buy On Amazon 2021 | Budget Mp3 Player Reviews (Top Picks)

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What Are the Best Mp3 Players? 1. HiBy R6 MP3 Music Player 2. EarStudio ES100 MP3 Music Player ...

 Top 5 MP3 Player with Bluetooth on Amazon | Under 50 | Under 100 | for iPhone & Android

Top 5 MP3 Player with Bluetooth on Amazon | Under 50 | Under 100 | for iPhone & Android

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#5. Sony Walkman NW-A105 #4. Sony NWE394 #3. Sony Walkman NW-WS413 #2. FiiO M6 MP3 Player ...

 Top 5 Best MP3 Players 2021

Top 5 Best MP3 Players 2021

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Top 5 Best MP3 Players List: (Affiliate Link) ====================== 5. SanDisk Clip Sport Plus: 4. Astell & Kern AK70 MKII: ...

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Best Mp3 Player in 2021 - Top 5 Mp3 Players Reviews - Best Mp3 Player On Amazon

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Links to the best Mp3 Players we listed in today's Mp3 Player review video: 1. HiBy R6 Portable High Resolution Audio Player 2. HIDIZS...

 ✅ Top 5: Best MP3 Player For Sound Quality 2021

✅ Top 5: Best MP3 Player For Sound Quality 2021

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👉 Why you should buy an MP3 Player? Because if you truly care about the sound quality of your music, you’d stop listening on your smartphone and invest in an...


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, an intuitive touchscreen 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.

The media player's fantastic audio quality comes courtesy of a high-resolution amplifier, a sophisticated enhancement engine, and support for a plethora of top-tier audio codecs, among many other features. There’s even an option to add a nostalgic, vinyl-like effect to your favorite digital tracks. The gadget has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity for use with wireless headphones or earbuds.

You can expect up to 26 hours of audio playback from the NW-A105 Walkman. However, you should be mindful that streaming wireless content over Wi-Fi, checking your email, and using Android apps will have an impact on its battery endurance. I like that the gadget uses a futureproof USB-C connector for charging.

More: These Cheap Headphones Will Exceed Your Expectations

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Who needs a standalone MP3 player in 2021? In my opinion, the answer is "almost no one." Any iPhone or Android phone is an audio player that works with subscription music apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music or YouTube Music. You pay your $5 to $10 a month, and you get access to nearly every popular song ever recorded. And the tracks are downloadable, too, so you can listen to your music even when you leave a Wi-Fi or cellular coverage area. It's quick, easy and convenient. What's not to like?

"A lot," I can hear some of you saying. Maybe you've got one too many subscriptions already, so why pay for one more when you already have a music library of  thousands of MP3 files sitting on your hard drive? Some of you, meanwhile, have meticulously crafted iTunes playlists, like mix tapes of old, that you don't want to recreate or transfer to another service, or rare, one-off live tracks that don't exist on mainstream services. (Phish fans, I'm looking at you.)

Now, truth be told, if any of that applies to you, you still don't need an MP3 player -- your iPhone can still sync music files from iTunes (on Windows) or the Apple Music app (on Mac), and it probably has more storage space than your old iPod ever did. Android phones, too, can play whatever music files you can load them up with. But if you really want a dedicated device for your music -- or, maybe, a parentally curated set of songs to give to a kid who's not ready for a phone -- there are still MP3 device options out there. They're not all great, and they generally come with some caveats. But if you've gotten this far, here's what I can recommend, almost two decades after the iPod was first released. 

Best for die-hard iTunes users

iPod Touch

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's only one iPod MP3 player left in Apple's lineup, and, sadly, it doesn't have a scroll wheel. The iPod Touch is basically an iPhone without the phone, with a 4-inch touchscreen and a camera borrowed from the iPhone 6 era. But that's exactly the point: This 2019 refresh can run iOS 13 and 14, and it can pull music from iTunes (on Windows) or Apple Music (on the Mac). It works seamlessly with Bluetooth headphones and speakers, but unlike modern iPhones, it mercifully includes an old-school headphone jack, too. And, because it's got the App Store, you can also opt for alternate services like Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube and the like (so long as you can access a Wi-Fi hotspot), in addition to or instead of the Apple Music app. 

At around $180 for 32GB (add about $100 for 128GB, or $200 for 256GB), an iPod Touch isn't cheap, and it's getting long in the tooth. But it's the most capable and flexible option here, especially for those who are already in the Apple services universe -- or refuse to leave their iTunes-based MP3 library. It's also a nice fallback portable MP3 player option for kids if you don't want to spend up for an iPad, which starts at $300 and isn't pocketable.

Read our Apple iPod Touch 2019 review.

Screenless Spotify option

Mighty Vibe

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Mighty Vibe is the closest modern equivalent to the iPod Shuffle, the screenless iPod that was beloved by runners for weighing next to nothing and just spooling off songs from their favorite playlist. (It's also a great gadget loophole for sleepaway camps with "no screen" rules.) The catch is that this model only works with Spotify Premium and (thanks to a recent firmware update) Amazon Music, both of which can be synced wirelessly. 

The Vibe can store upwards of 1,000 songs in its music library, and -- unlike the old Shuffle -- it supports wireless and wired headphones. But it charges through the headphone jack via a proprietary cable, rather than more ubiquitous micro-USB or USB-C connectors. The 5-hour battery life is so-so, as is the $100 price tag (recently up from $90), which feels higher than what you want to pay for this MP3 device product in an era of $30 wireless headphones and $200 smart phones.

Read our Mighty Vibe Spotify Music Player review.

Other MP3 players

Yes, the iPod Touch and the Mighty Vibe are really the only two products I can recommend in this category with any degree of enthusiasm. But they aren't the only options. If you're looking for a bargain basement option (under $50), a serious high-end alternative (starting at $200 and going to four figures) or some interesting workarounds, read on. 

Cheap option for drag-and-drop fans

Mibao M500


The iPod Nano portable music player was arguably the high point of the iPod line, and it was discontinued in 2017. But that hasn't stopped a thriving market for knockoff players. I bought what was (in the past few months) the top-selling music player on Amazon to see if it came close to the real thing. Spoiler alert: It didn't. But it's dirt cheap and generally adequate if you're looking for an MP3 format music player that lives outside your phone. Syncing from iTunes or the Apple Music app isn't supported: You connect it to your computer and just drag and drop the music files. 

The portable music player product I played around was the Mibao M500. No, I've never heard of Mibao either --  and what appears to be a nearly identical version of the player is sold under the Supereye brand, too. 

But for around $30 (!), you'll get 32GB of onboard storage (with a microSD expansion slot for more) and extras including wired headphones and an armband. It supports standard 3.5mm headphones and Bluetooth wireless, though the latter involves a finicky pairing process for music play. It has an onboard FM radio, too.

Alas, you get what you pay for: The company's website isn't in English, so good luck with any tech support. More importantly, though, the Mibao's D-pad navigation and lack of external playlist support just had us longing for that classic iPod scroll wheel of yore. Yes, the Mibao is cheap and yes, it plays your music files -- but that's about it.

Micro player for runners

SanDisk Clip

SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip

In the (distant) past, the tiny SanDisk Clip family of players were a serviceable option for basic music playback (with similar drag-and-drop limitations to the Mibao above). But some Amazon reviewers have criticized the later iteration of that model -- the Clip Sport Plus -- saying that its Bluetooth connection wasn't up to snuff. If you want to go this route, you might want to stick with wired headphones. 

Swim-friendly tunes

Sony Walkman Headphones


Want to listen to music while you're swimming? Sony offers waterproof headphones that double as an MP3 player with 16GB of storage. We haven't reviewed these at CNET, and the Amazon reviews aren't enthusiastic, but it's such a unique waterproof MP3 player option, I wanted to include it here. 

Aftershockz Xtrainerz


This 4GB "player in a headphone" model uses Aftershockz's patented bone-conduction technology. It's also fully waterproof, and retails for $150. (CNET hasn't tested these hands-on, either.)

Music on your wrist

Apple Watch


Once upon a time, people strapped iPod Nanos to their wrists and called it an Apple Watch of sorts. Nowadays the real Apple Watch can act as a sorta-kinda iPod, at least for Apple Music subscribers. Just sync some playlists to the Watch, and you can enjoy digital music (not to mention podcasts) on a set of wireless headphones, even if the iPhone is nowhere nearby.

The budget hack

Any old smartphone


If you've got an old phone -- or you buy a new one without service -- you'll have access to the full realm of app-based music services, and any music files you care to upload. Something like the $130-ish Samsung Galaxy A10E (shown above) fits the bill nicely, since you can drop in a MicroSD card that you've preloaded with tunes. But again, the closer you get to the $180 mark, the more an iPod Touch beckons.

High-end portable music players

Astell & Kern and Sony Walkman


Audiophiles have long looked down on digital music because the sound quality was notably inferior for golden-eared listeners with distinguishing tastes. But the development of lossless file formats (such as FLAC) and cheap ample multigigabyte storage have made portable high-fidelity music a reality.

At this point, there are really only two major players in the high-end portable music space: Astell & Kern and Sony (where the Walkman brand still lives on). I've used earlier versions of each brand, but not the current models. 

Sony Walkman music players range from about $218 to $3,500 and beyond. 

Astell & Kern players start at $700. 

If you're the sort of person who has hard drives full of uncompressed music audio files -- and can hear the difference between that and comparatively low-resolution MP3 and AAC files -- then, by all means, pair up one of those players with your wired headphone of choice. 

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A better high-end alternative

Tidal, Amazon and (soon) Spotify

That said, I think the better option for budding audiophiles is a subscription to one of the several music services that offer higher bitrates on your existing devices. This premium approach began with Tidal, which offers content at 1,411 Kbps and up. Amazon has since joined the party with Amazon Music HD (bitrates up to 3,730 Kbps). And later in 2021, Spotify is planning a higher-quality offering called Spotify HiFi.

If you like what you hear, consider upgrading to a decent headphone DAC (that's "digital to analog converter") like the Audiofly Dragonfly and a serious wired headphone. Then you'll have a solid audiophile option that's good for the road, without the need for a standalone music player.

Your MP3 collection in the cloud

YouTube Music and iTunes Match

If you've got a digital music collection that includes one-offs and live tracks that aren't available on the mainstream services, you can upload them to online services, where they can live alongside subscription tracks and be shared among multiple devices (including smart speakers).

YouTube Music, formerly known as Google Play Music, offers this service at no additional cost for up to 100,000 tracks.

Apple users can opt for iTunes Match, which lets you upload your own digital music to live in tandem with Apple Music tracks. It costs $24 a year, above and beyond the price of Apple Music.

If you opt for either of these options, make sure you keep a local backup of your files, just in case these services go away.

Note that Amazon shuttered its "MP3 locker" service in 2018.

More audio recommendations

Best Bluetooth MP3 Players 2021 - Top 5 MP3 Players on Amazon

The 4 Best MP3 Players of 2021

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is definitely the FiiiO M9, which has amazing audio, a ton of expandable storage, and multiple outputs including wireless Bluetooth codecs. You basically get it all, including the less common 2.5 mm headphone jack. But all that comes at a very premium price point, so keep that in mind.

On the lower end, Sandisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 Player gets our recommendation for the runners out there. It's small and easy to use and has built-in water resistance. It's true that lack of microSD support is not our favorite, but for everything else this player offers, it's worth it. Run free!

About Our Trusted Experts

Jeffery Daniel Chadwick has been writing about tech since 2008. He's reviewed hundreds of products for Top Ten Reviews, including media players, home improvement, and audio gadgets. He was a big fan of the Sony NWE395 for its snappy interface and compact size, and the affordable MYMAHDI M350.

Jason Schneider has ten years of experience writing for tech and media companies. He's reviewed almost every audio product Lifewire has to offer, from headphones and earbuds, to MP3 players and sound systems. He liked the AGOTEK A01T, praising the amount of value the compact budget MP3 player offered.

Adam S. Doud has been writing and reviewing technology in this space for almost ten years. He's always looking for the next portable entertainment solution and he's watched more than a few Netflix shows on his ceiling.


What is an MP3?
An MP3 is a compressed sound file that devices like your phone, computer, and MP3 player can play. But in this case, “MP3” is a generic term referring to most sound files. Sound files can come in many types including AAC, WAVE, FLAC, M4A, MP3 and more. MP3s are the most common kind of music file, so typically people refer to any kind of sound file as an MP3 in the same way that most people refer to facial tissue as “Kleenex.”

My phone plays MP3s. Do I need a separate device?
Technically, you don’t need a separate device for play MP3s and other sound files. But, it offers several advantages over your phone. An MP3 player is dedicated to just one job, which is playing sound files. One specific advantage that offers is that all your memory can be dedicated to just your music collection instead of dividing it up between apps, photos, music, and more.

Does an MP3 player just play MP3s?
No! MP3 files are the most common music file out there, but they are not the only ones. As we mentioned above, most MP3 players can actually play a variety of sound files. It’s important to know what kinds of sound files your player can play before you pick one up. While most players will play just about anything, there are some exceptions.

What to Look for in an MP3 Player

Storage - Arguably the most important aspect of an MP3 player is how much it can hold. That’s often referred to in gigabytes or GB. Just as often it can be referred to as an estimated number of songs. An average song takes up between three and four megabytes which means you can put about 230 songs in 1GB of memory. When it comes to memory, higher numbers are better, and it’s a good idea to look for memory expansion through the use of microSD cards.

Codec and file support - Here’s where we get into a bit of alphabet soup. As mentioned, music files can come in a wide variety of formats including WAV, MP3, M4A, and more. MP3’s are by far the most common, but they’re not the only game in town. When you add in Bluetooth codecs which is the format Bluetooth headphones received and decompress music, it gets more confusing. Common Bluetooth codecs include aptX, aac, LDAC, and more. This comes into play when you’re shopping for headphones as well, so it’s important to pay attention to this part.

Size - MP3 players come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to know what you’ll use the MP3 player for. If you want it for exercise, then smaller will be better. If it’s more of a general use, then slightly larger will be ok. Keep in mind that smaller might be more prone to loss, or could be harder to manipulate so it’s important to be realistic about what you want the MP3 player for.

What to Look For in a MP3 Player Buying

We live in an era of amazing technology. If you have a smartphone and internet connection, you have access to the world’s music, movies, TV shows, and more—all from the palm of your hand. But not everyone wants an all-in-one device. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to buy a dedicated music player, like an MP3 player.

For starters, there’s the fact that not everyone has a music streaming subscription, and not everyone wants to use up their phone’s storage space for music. Not only that, but while smartphones are considered pretty portable, there are much smaller digital audio players, or DAPs, that are perfect for things like taking on a run or going to the gym.

Then there’s music quality. While most people won’t notice a difference between the audio quality on offer from a smartphone and that played by an MP3 player, audiophiles will be the first to tell you that there can be a difference in things like clarity and detail, especially when the audio being played is a high enough resolution.

If you’ve decided that you want to buy a dedicated digital audio player for yourself, there are a number of factors to consider. Audio quality aside, you might also want to consider an MP3 player's overall design—elements like the display, the size of the device, and the ports being used might all come into play. Last but not least, you’ll want to consider things like software, the amount of storage, and types of storage.

Audio Quality

These days, perhaps the most common reason to buy an MP3 player is because of the fact that some of them offer heightened audio quality over devices like a smartphone. There are a number of elements that go into providing great audio quality, and sometimes, even when all the specs are right, a device can still sound bland. While it’s important to educate yourself when it comes to audio player specs, we still recommend looking at reviews of a device before you buy it.


It's pretty common to see the phrase “hi-res audio,” and that’s thanks largely to the release of services like Tidal and devices that support high-resolution audio. Fully understanding audio resolution takes a degree or two, so we’re not going to go into a complete analysis of how digital audio works. However, the gist of things is that digital audio is made up of a “sample rate” and a “bit depth.”

The sample rate is basically how often information about audio frequency is taken, while bit depth determines the dynamic range of digital audio. That’s to say, the higher the sample rate, the “smoother” audio will sound, while the higher the bit depth, the more dynamic it will sound.

There’s also the bitrate, which basically determines how much information related to digital audio can be captured. The higher the bitrate, the more information that’s captured—resulting in full-sounding audio. When a bitrate is lowered, less information is captured, but the file size is ultimately smaller. Thankfully, bitrate doesn’t really play into buying a music player, as devices will be able to play all bitrates, provided they have enough storage.

Head spinning? You’re not alone. If you just want to know what to look for from a music player, look for a device that can play at least audio with a 44.1kHz sample rate and a 16-bit bit depth. That’s CD-quality audio, which is pretty good for most people. For those looking for higher-quality, hi-res audio, you’ll want to find a player that can handle audio of at least 96kHz and 24-bit. There’s not the true definition of “hi-res audio,” but 96kHz/24-bit support is a good start—and any more than that is even better. And if what you're really looking for is a budget MP3 player, then just know that the audio quality will most likely be lacking.

File Formats

Most MP3 players can play a set of core audio formats, but it’s those extra formats that may dictate the audio player that you buy. Audio formats fall under three categories: lossless, lossy, and uncompressed. Lossless audio is compressed in a way that cuts down on the file size but still allows music players to recreate the full, uncompressed version. Lossless audio formats include FLAC and ALAC.

Lossy audio, on the other hand, cuts down on file size even more by sacrificing some of the audio information and simplifying the data in the file. The result is a lower-quality audio file, which can be noticeable, depending on how compressed the file is. Common lossy audio files include the famous MP3, AAC, and WMA.

Last but not least is uncompressed audio, which doesn’t do anything to the audio file in order to save on space. When you’re buying a high-quality audio player, these audio formats are the ones you’ll probably use most. Uncompressed audio files include the likes of WAV and AIFF.

You’ll want an audio player that can play at least most of these formats. You may also want the player to support DSD files, which is a format of high-resolution audio.


The DAC, or digital-to-analog converter, is basically the device that turns a digital signal into something that the human ear can hear. Not all DACs, however, are created equal—some are better than others, and some are much better than others. Most people use a DAC all the time without knowing it. They’re built into phones, computers, and, of course, dedicated music players.

So how do you know if a DAC is good or not? Well, you don’t. Really what finding a good DAC comes down to is sound, and some simply sound better than others. One differentiating factor, however, is that an audio player has a dedicated DAC at all. Some simply use the DACs built-in by chip manufacturers. Some take things a step further still, and feature dual DACs, or even quad DACs—and these are likely even more focused on high-quality audio.

There are, thankfully, a few tried-and-true brands. ESS, for example, has been building DACs for some time now, and they’re known for their high quality. ESS Sabre DACs are featured in portable music players from the likes of Onkyo, while many other manufacturers, like Astell & Kern, and HiFiMan, build their own DACs. If you’re looking for a music player with high audio quality, one from a company that builds their own DACs is probably a good way to go.


Audio quality is important, but depending on what you’re doing, the design might be equally as important. The design doesn’t just refer to how a device looks—it also relates to functional choices that the manufacturer has made.

Here are some of the most important design elements to keep in mind when buying an MP3 player.


The size of an audio player could have a big impact on how and when you use it. After all, if you’re looking for a music player to take to the gym or to take running, you probably won’t want an overly large device. If all you care about is a high level of audio quality, then size may not be as much of an issue.

On the smaller end of the spectrum, you’ll get devices like the SanDisk Clip Sport, which is a few inches tall and about a 1.5-inches wide. On the larger end, however, you’ll get the Onkyo DP-X1, which is around 5-inches tall, 3-inches wide, and .5-inch thick. The trade-off? The SanDisk device, while fine for sports use, isn’t really built for audio quality. The Onkyo DP-X1 features Dual Sabre DACs, a full version of the Android operating system, and so on.


The display on an audio player probably isn’t as important as the display on a smartphone, but if you want to watch videos on your device or simply prefer looking at a high-quality display, then the display might be a consideration for you.

There are a few display aspects to consider. For starters, you’ll want to think about the display’s size. While most audio players probably have smaller displays that measure less than 2-inches diagonally, some players have displays of more than 4 or 5 inches.

You’ll also want to think about whether or not the display is even a color display. Some displays are simply there for functional purposes—like on the HiFiMan SuperMini. Others, however, are really built to heighten the user experience, like the display on the Onkyo DP-X1, which is as good as the display on many smartphones.

Last but not least is display resolution, which basically dictates how clear an image is on the screen. The higher the resolution, the better the picture. This is probably not a big deal for those looking for a budget device, but it's worth noting.

Of course, it’s important to remember that some MP3 players don’t even have displays—like the old Apple iPod Shuffle. That may not be that big of a deal for you, but you’ll probably be a little limited in how much control you have over your music.


If you own and use a smartphone, then you may find it easier to control an audio device that has touch controls. Not all of them do, but there are a few, like the aforementioned Onkyo DP-X1.

Other devices may not have touch controls, but they’re still built to be relatively easy to use. Some probably have playback buttons to quickly and easily control music when it’s playing, while others will have buttons to scroll through menus. No matter what the setup is, it’ll probably be relatively easy to figure out how to use the device. However, if you want maximum ease of use, then a touch-control device is probably the way to go.


While you probably don’t need a ton of ports on your device, you will need a few. For starters, you’ll need a charging port. Most audio players use the MicroUSB port, which has been the standard for some time now. Despite this, manufacturers will likely start adopting the USB-C standard at some point in the near future. USB-C is more convenient, because it’s reversible, plus it’s faster when it comes to data transfer. It’s not worth buying or avoiding a device just because it has USB-C, but it’s still a nice bonus to have one.

Of course, when it comes to an audio player you’ll also want a headphone jack. This isn’t really a feature you’ll have to look for—if you’re buying a portable music player it will have a headphone jack. But you might also have other audio ports, too. Some offer a 2.5mm balanced output, which may offer a slightly better audio quality and a little more power. Ports like this are really only built-in for audiophiles, and they’re different sizes so that you don’t accidentally put in a pair of standard headphones, which could do serious damage to the headphones. To make use of the port, you’ll need to buy specially balanced headphones with a 2.5mm jack.

Water Resistance

While most DAPs probably don’t have any kind of water resistance, if you’re buying a device for the purpose of doing things like going running or going to the gym, you may want some kind of water resistance. After all, who says a little rain has to prevent you from exercising?

Most devices that have water resistance at all will have a rating of IPX7, which allows it to be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for as long as 30 minutes, or IPX8, which allows for immersion in up to 3 meters of water for as long as 30 minutes. Safe to say, you won’t want to take these devices swimming, but they should be perfectly fine in the rain.

Some DAPs, on the other hand, are specifically built for swimming. Some manufacturers sell modified versions of the iPod Shuffle for swimming, while others, like SYRYN, build their own waterproof players. If you plan on using your DAP a lot around water, perhaps these are a better option for you.

Other Features and Considerations

There are a few other features to keep in mind when buying a digital audio player, and they could play a big role in how useful your digital audio player is to you.


The amount of storage you have on your digital audio player is important, especially if you have a lot of music and want to store high-resolution audio files that generally take up a lot of space. Most audio players these days use solid-state storage, which is good news for those who intend to take their audio player with them. Spinning disk hard drives can break with too much movement.

More important than the type of storage, however, might be how much there is. If you plan on really only storing MP3 files and have less than 1,000 songs you want stored, then 8GB to 16GB may be plenty for you. If, however, you want to store WAV files and have a large library of music, then you’ll want much more than that. In that case, we recommend going for at least 64GB, which should be able to store around 2,000 CD-quality WAV files, and higher quality audio will take up more than that.


Software can have a significant impact on the overall user experience, though for more basic devices with only smaller, monochromatic displays, that may not matter.

Some DAPs feature fully-fledged operating systems that can do much more than just play music. The Onkyo DP-X1, for example, features a full version of Android 5.1, meaning it can do pretty much anything an Android tablet can do. Not only is that good for the overall user experience, but it also makes it easier to stream music through music streaming apps and download high-resolution music files without the need for a computer.

In general, most devices will have proprietary software developed by the manufacturers of the devices. That software will probably work fine for navigating through music and displaying album art, but probably not for much else. If you want a more fully-featured device, you’ll need to specifically search for an Android-powered device, or find a second-hand iPod Touch.

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity will often go hand-in-hand with software. Some DAPs feature Wi-Fi radios, meaning that you can connect to the internet as well as download and stream music. Wi-Fi connectivity could also be helpful for things like software updates. Devices like the iPod Touch and Android-powered devices will most-likely have Wi-Fi connectivity built right in.



Best known for premium iPhones and Macs, Apple isn't usually a name associated with "budget" products. However, if you're looking for an affordable entry into the iOS ecosystem, the latest generation iPod Touch is a great option that gets you all the apps you've come to expect from Apple—along with a very capable MP3 player.


AGPTEK offers an impressive lineup of affordable MP3 players known for their durable build and solid sound quality. You can find ones in a variety of storage capacities and physical sizes, as well as models that offer features tailored for exercise.


Best known for flash memory products, SanDisk also makes great budget MP3 players all with a convenient clip to make running easier. With several storage options and compatibility with a variety of file types (not iTunes, though), people love this brand for its prices and simple functionality.


The Sony Walkman brand is perhaps the most well-known when it comes to music players. You can find ones with some incredible features and pay into the thousands of dollars, but there are also some affordable options that offer the same great quality that Sony is known for.


When it comes to finding a great digital audio player, there are a ton of options, and given the number of things to keep in mind, it might be a little daunting.

If you’ve read through this and still aren’t quite sure what to get, then we have some recommendations on narrowing down the choices. First, decide whether you want a player for things like casual listening and sports, or for ultra-high-quality audio. If you’ve decided on sports use or casual listening, then find a budget device with the most storage and right size within your price range. If, however, you prefer to go for a high-quality audio solution, then figure out a budget, and find a device with the features you want—like dual or quad DACs and tons of storage.

Of course, there’s one thing to make sure not to forget, and that’s a great pair of headphones. If you’re going to be using your device for sports, you’ll want a pair of sports headphones, and if you’re using the device for high-quality audio, then you’ll want a pair of audiophile headphones, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

No matter what you’re looking for from a digital audio player, there’s sure to be something out there for you, and you can certainly find a great device at a budget-friendly price.


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