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The best MP3 players in 2023: What are your options?
You might think the days of a dedicated MP3 player are long gone. After all, phones offer all the music options you could ask for. We have two words for you — sound quality. Phones simply have to do too much to truly focus on peak quality, but that’s the number one goal of today’s list. Additionally, dedicated MP3 players tend to have much more battery life. Here are the best MP3 players you can buy right now.
Of course, a great MP3 player isn’t complete without a trusty headset. You might want to check out the best earbuds and best cheap headphones posts to complete your audio setup. You can also head over to our sibling site, Sound Guys, for even more audio content.
The best MP3 players
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best MP3 players as new devices launch.
iPod Touch (7th-generation)
Whether you know a lot about MP3 players or this is your first foray, you’re probably familiar with the iPod Touch. Even Apple has stopped releasing new MP3 players, but you can still find the 7th generation around. You’ll likely have to get it used or renewed, though. The Touch is the only way to go if you prefer iOS, but try to get it soon, as it has been discontinued and we don’t know how hard it will be to find it later on.
It offers a pocket-friendly experience with a 4-inch Retina display and an A10 Fusion chip like the one found in the iPhone 7. You could think of the iPod Touch as a first phone without actually giving your little ones a truly mobile device. The iPod Touch is limited to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, though you can still use it for FaceTime and iMessage to stay in touch.
It’s the least audio-focused device on the list, but it’s also the most flexible. Thanks to the App Store, you can stream and download music from services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. Keep sound quality in mind since it differs across services. WE have a list of the best high-res music streaming services available, if you need some help.
Apple’s iPod offerings may not be what they once were. The Mighty Vibe might make you feel like a classic iPod Shuffle is back on the menu.
If you remember the old shuffle, you’ll know that there’s no touch screen, just a simple button setup on a tiny square device. The Mighty Vibe offers a very similar experience, and it packs storage space for over 1,000 songs. It’s designed for the fitness-focused music lover, weighing in at just 22 grams. You can simply clip it to your shirt or pants and hit the gym.
Unfortunately, the small form-factor means the Vibe can only manage about five hours of battery life on a single charge. Even still, that should be more than enough time for your workout or a decent chunk of your workday. Just head into the Mighty app, choose from Spotify or Amazon Music, and you should be off and running. You can either rely on your favorite wired headphones or connect a convenient pair of Bluetooth buds.
The company has also released a waterproof version of the Mighty Vibe, but it isn’t available for purchase right now.
SanDisk Clip Sport Plus
Small, light, and highly affordable, the Clip Sport Plus from SanDisk is exactly what you think of with classic MP3 players. It comes in various shades, and is another excellent fitness-friendly option with up to 20 hours of playback and a comparatively large 16GB of storage (there is also a 32GB version).
It should hold somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 songs, though the Clip Sport Plus isn’t exactly for audiophiles. There are no advanced audio features, but the MP3 player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and FLAC playback.
It’s water-resistant, and the back of the Clip Sport Plus serves as a handy clip. You can use your favorite Bluetooth headphones, too, so you won’t get stuck on any equipment at the gym. If you still prefer the radio, the Clip Sport Plus is one of the best MP3 players with FM functionality.
For some listeners, the Walkman is the very definition of an MP3 player. The classic Sony line is still around, and it’s still churning out high-end audio players. The NW-A55 Walkman shows how far the line has come, and it’s not your dad’s Walkman.
The Sony NW-A105 is the company’s best MP3 player before you start stepping into wildly expensive territory. It comes with powerful audio features to improve your listening experience, though. For starters, the device is very nice-looking and features a strong aluminum frame. It can play music for up to 26 hours on a single charge, and charges conveniently via USB-C.
The device supports high-resolution audio, has an S-Master HX amplifier, and uses DSEE HX Al to improve sound intelligently. It also runs on Android, so you can take advantage of all your mobile music apps.
Sony NW-E394 Walkman
Sony offers some of the best MP3 players the industry has to offer, but they can be very pricey. If you want a more casual music device from Sony without the high price tag, the Sony NW-E394 Walkman is your best bet.
It’s nice and compact, with a stylish design Sony is famous for. It also performs very well, offering a 35-hour battery life, an FM tuner, and it can even show images. It only has 8GB of storage, but that should be plenty to keep up to 2,000 songs.
Astell and Kern KANN ALPHA
The Astell and Kern KANN ALPHA is likely the best-built device in this list. It has a strong metal construction that makes it look like it could be used as an effective weapon. Looks aren’t all that make this a special mp3 player, though. It costs over $1,000, and there are reasons for that.
Astell and Kern’s mission is to achieve the artist’s original sound quality, and the Astell and Kern KANN ALPHA is one of the best attempts yet, thanks to dual ESS ES9068AS DACs. A quad-core CPU and up to 32-bit Native DSD playback backs the experience very well. You can control your 64GB of expandable storage on the 3.6-inch display. The KANN ALPHA supports WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, and MQA formats, so you have plenty of options.
It manages 14.5 hours of continuous playback, and the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LDAC, and aptX HD support help make streaming a breeze. You can also use the Open App access to play from your favorite streaming apps like TIDAL, Apple Music, and Spotify.
We feel like the KANN ALPHA offers the best balance between price and professional features, but it’s not the absolute best Astell and Kern has to offer. You can go with its higher-end offerings, which include the A&Ultima SP3000 with a $3,699 MSRP.
FiiO M11 Plus
Fiio’s M11 Plus is another high-tech option that might put a slight strain on your wallet. It’s a true audiophile’s friend, and the large 5.5-inch HD display feels like you’re working with a second phone.
Beneath that beautiful display, you’ll find a Snapdragon 660 chipset along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It’s a breeze to charge thanks to the USB-C port, which is handy because you might only get 11.5 hours of life from the 6,000mAh battery. Thankfully, it supports 27W charging.
FiiO selected two ES9068AS DAC chips as the heart and soul of its audio playback, and the 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphone jacks allow for superior flexibility. The M11 Plus already looks and acts like a phone, but you can actually connect the device right to your phone and control the playback remotely. It might be a tricky feature to figure out but think of the audio quality.
Sony NW-WS623 Wearable Walkman
The last of today’s best MP3 players is somewhat of a robot in disguise. At first glance, Sony’s NW-WS623 simply looks like a pair of workout-ready wireless headphones, but it does far more than that. Everything you need is packed into the handy little in-ear design.
You’ll need the included fob to manage your playback controls, but the headset itself packs 4GB of storage and up to 12 hours of playback. Once your headset does reach 0%, just three minutes is all it takes to earn back an hour of music. Of course, the actual battery life will depend on what playback format you prefer, and the NW-WS623 supports MP3, WMA (Non-DRM), AAC (Non-DRM), FLAC, and Linear PCM. MP3 manages the best battery life on the list, while Bluetooth will slash your battery life by over half.
If you’re gearing up for an adventure or taking a quick dive, the Wearable Walkman is salt waterproof at up to two meters for as much as 30 minutes at a time. This Walkman is better for running in the beach, though, as it holds off sweat and sand particles better.
If you’re still not convinced with any of these dedicated MP3 players, you should just consider getting a good smartphone instead. We have lists for the best budget phones, as well as the best overall phones available in the market. Check them out!