Apple iPod Touch 32GB – Silver 7th Generation
Sony NW-A55/L Walkman NW-A55 hi-res 16GB MP3 Player
Apple iPod Touch 32GB – Silver 7th Generation
Best Battery Life
Sony NW-A55/L Walkman NW-A55 hi-res 16GB MP3 Player
Every music lover can easily stream music using their phone, tablet or computer.
But if you want an immersive sound experience that makes you feel like you are right in a room with the artist, high-resolution audio is necessary.
To access this level of sound quality, you’ll need a portable music player capable of playing hi-res. You’ll undoubtedly enjoy the listening experience as you rock out to your favorite songs.
Here are our top ten picks for portable music players that will transport you to another time and place.
Top Portable Music Players
While your phone can get the job done, you deserve a better music experience. Let go of your mobile device and use these portable music players to get exceptional music quality.
1. Sony NW-A55L
Battery Life: 45 hoursStorage: 16GB + microSDScreen Size: 3.1 inchWeight: 99 gramsSony is known for its prowess in bringing music to life, and its hi-res player is no exception.
It is capable of playing just about any music file you can throw at it. No note is undiscovered thanks to its crisp and clean sound.
The NW holds around 400 mp3 files or 25 hi-res albums on the 16GB drive, but the microSD can take you all the way up to 2TB.
This device is also budget-friendly, balancing incredible sound, storage and functionality at a good price.
The interface is built for speed and not comfort, with a functional design that isn’t quite as fancy as other devices on this list.
It’s important to note that the NW has no Wi-Fi access, so streaming services on the go are out. However, it does have Bluetooth, which lets you stream through a laptop.
2. Astell & Kern A&norma SR25
Battery Life: 21 hoursStorage: 64GB + microSDScreen Size: 3.5 inchesWeight: 178 gramsAstell & Kern are leaders in the high-res portable music player space, as evidenced by multiple entries on this list, and for a good reason.
The SR25 iteration automatically sorts the memory allocation depending on the size of the song being played while in performance mode to prevent sonic losses.
Its expanded Bluetooth capability allows for high-quality listening through wireless headphones, and music streaming apps are available through the Open APP platform.
Up to eight artists or album covers can fit onto the screen while scrolling through the library, making it a pleasure to look at and use.
The battery lasts twice as long as the previous generation and longer than any other A&K player. Better yet, the sound is smooth and rich.
Keep in mind that this player is an entry-level product at a mid-level price. While it’s certainly worth it in terms of sound quality and functionality, the cost may give you a reason to compare it to other devices.
3. Cowon Plenue D3
Battery Life: 45 hoursStorage: 64GB + microSDScreen Size: 2.8 inchesWeight: 103 gramsThe D3 boasts Bluetooth support as well as a new volume wheel, which gives it an upscale feel without the price increase. Choose between three skins and either a silver or gold bar above a black matte finish.
As a tiny player that is the size of a matchbox, it packs robust sound quality and premium features.
Album artwork is displayed with easy grouping for your music lists.
JetEffects lets you change the reverb and sound according to the room or environment you’re in, with 44 preloaded and four user choices.
There is DSD file compatibility, though they’re not supported with JetEffects.
No third-party apps are required. Simply hook it up to your computer and drag and drop your music files.
The D3 does not have built-in Wi-Fi, so there’s no streaming available. Additionally, if you’re looking for something with a cutting-edge interface, you might want to consider other options.
4. Apple iPod Touch
Battery Life: 40 hoursStorage: 32GB, 128GB, 256GBScreen Size: 4 inchesWeight: 88 gramsApple products rarely disappoint, and the iPod is no different. As it’s evolved over time, it has become more like a smartphone without the phone.
The iPod plays your music, but you can also watch videos, take pictures, facetime and message other Apple users while on Wi-Fi.
Basically, the iPod Touch goes beyond what any other portable music player can do.
This device offers easy and intuitive access to all your music files as well as streaming capability on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It meets and exceeds functionality in comparison to all the others on this list.
In addition, its balanced sound makes it a contender with hi-res files. It’s also quite affordable for a portable music player with access to the Apple App Store.
Even though it’s not the most high-quality sound of the top players, it is still a great contender.
5. Astell & Kern A&futura SE200
Battery Life: 14 hoursStorage: 256GB + microSDScreen Size: 5 inchesWeight: 274 gramsThe SE200 is the first portable music player to give users the choice of which chip to use based on which type of output they would prefer.
It has native DSD and MQA playback in addition to lots of storage, amounting to over 5000 CD-quality WAVs.
Wi-Fi is included for streaming from your favorite services, and Bluetooth compatibility is offered as well.
The sleek volume wheel now has an LED ring beneath it, with different colors that correspond to the type of file you are playing, including:
Red for 16-bit tracksGreen for 24-bit tracksBlue for 32-bit tracksPurple for DSDWhile the double chip outputs are creative, they aren’t really needed. If you inevitably end up liking one more than the other, it feels like a whole section of the player is being wasted.
At one of the higher price points on our list, this device likely only appeals to a very distinct subgroup of consumers in this space.
6. FiiO M6
Battery Life: 13 hoursStorage: 2GB + microSD (up to 2TB)Screen Size: 3.64 inchesWeight: 83 gramsFiiO’s M6 has built-in Wi-Fi for effortless streaming, as well as Bluetooth for your favorite headphones. It also boasts airplay compatibility. You can listen to the music from your iPhone with crystal clear sound.
This device supports USB DAC and has native DSD support, converting your files on tap and turning your player into a converter itself.
The FiiO Link allows you to control your M6 through your smartphone like a remote once you pair your smartphone and player.
Music lovers who appreciate intuitive user interfaces may be better served by a different device, as this one doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface.
7. Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000M
Battery Life: 10 hoursStorage: 128GB + microSDScreen Size: 4.1 inchesWeight: 203 gramsAnother Astell & Kern all-star, the SP1000M is smaller and lighter than its previous models. It also has better sound quality. In fact, the clean, clear and utterly beautiful sound quality makes up for its shortcomings.
Onboard Wi-Fi means streaming capability and DSD-supported files. Additionally, USB DAC means this little machine can play just about any ball you throw at it.
While the sound makes everything else worth it, it’s worth noting that the controls can be a little finicky.
Keep in mind that this device is larger than most of the other models on our list, and it has quite a hefty price tag.
8. Cowon P2
Battery Life: 9 hoursStorage: 128GB + microSDScreen Size: 3.7 inchesWeight: 635 gramsThe P2 is a pretty player that favors function over anything fancy. This is strictly for playing your music files. With native DSD, you can convert files onboard without any outside help.
Its rich and robust sound quality convinces you that you can’t possibly be on a bus or at home. Instead, you are surrounded by sound so clear it takes your breath away.
As this is a function-forward portable music player, there is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth at all. Be prepared to use wired headphones if you select this device.
9. Astell & Kern KANN
Battery Life: 14 hoursStorage: 64GB + dualSDScreen Size: 3.3 inchesWeight: 278 gramsThe KANN is another knockout by Astell & Kern. With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, enjoy streaming from quality apps and your favorite wireless headphones.
An interesting feature is the inclusion of both micro and normal SD slots. This boosts storage capacity and allows for around 1200 full-length CDs when both slots are filled.
With DSD-supported file playback and intuitive design, the KANN is a top choice for playing hi-res music.
While its bulk makes some potential buyers pause, the KANN more than makes up for it in sound quality.
It’s important to note that this device is a bit bulky, making it hard to imagine traipsing around with it in your pocket. Fortunately, its size gives plenty of room for storage and features.
10. HiBy R3 Pro
Battery Life: 19 hoursStorage: 0GB (no storage on device), microSD up to 2TBScreen Size: 3.2 inchesWeight: 318 gramsHiBy includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for efficient streaming and wireless use. It also has DSD support and MQA rendering to 4x, as well as dual DAC chips. This player knows how to play.
HiBy Link allows you to connect with your smartphone and use it to control the player like a remote. This is useful if you want to hook up to a portable speaker, set your playlist and then move away from it.
If you’re looking for a little splash of creativity on your excellent quality screen, the HiBy has custom themes you can choose from. It also has an edgy quality that favors metal and really makes every sound shine.
However, the HiBy comes with no internal storage. It only has microSD card capability. Additionally, it doesn’t come with a microSD. Make sure you pick one up when you purchase the player.
When shopping for a portable music player, first consider your needs.
Are you looking to play hi-res music? Do you have a ton of music and need a lot of storage?
How about streaming? Is that something you want access to on your portable music player? What kind of sound and output are you looking for?
Do you want to be able to use wireless headphones? Or are you ok with plugging headphones into your device?
Fortunately, you really can’t go wrong with any of the players on this list. They are all standouts in their class. Make sure your portable music player has the requirements you’re looking for before committing to one.
Whichever player you decide to go with, sit back, relax, unplug from your smartphone and let the music carry you away.