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5 Best MP3 Players in 2021

By Raider @davedallyv
5 Best MP3 players in 2021

If you thought MP3 players were no more, you are not alone. However, the best MP3 players you can buy in 2021 are now much more advanced than you might imagine – and a significant upgrade on the MP3 player you might have had in your teens.
Of course, MP3 players are not as popular as they used to be. Music streaming services have made music listening on the go easier than ever. What’s more, our smartphones can now hold huge amounts of music. However, that does not mean MP3 players are obsolete.
For many people, there is still a lot to love about MP3 players. There are also plenty of devices to choose from – and no, we are not going to recommend a bunch of old iPods to you (though the latest iPod Touch is on this list).
However, why would you choose an MP3 player over your phone to play music on? Well, maybe you just do not want to be tethered to your phone all the time. Because even though you might say you are just using it for music, you might find yourself mindlessly scrolling Instagram without realizing it. What’s more, you might want to save your precious mobile data and battery while you are out and about and do not.
These days, the best MP3 players on the market are capable of storing your music library at a much higher bitrate than your 2009 iPod Shuffle could ever dream of. That means, with a pair of great-sounding headphones too, high-quality music can travel with you wherever you go.
MP3 players have also had a big design upgrade over the last decade, which means added durability and sleeker styles to slip in your pocket. Thanks to new innovations in audio engineering, they are also always improving on sound, with features like hi-res audio support and built-in DACs (Digital-to-Analogue Converters) becoming commonplace.
If you want to find one of the best MP3 players that you can buy in 2021, you are in the right place. We have selected the top choices and we have included everything you need to know to make the best buying decision in our guide below.

Astell & Kern A&norma SR25

5 Best MP3 players in 2021

The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 is an impressive MP3 player that’s designed to make your Hi-Res Audio files really sing, thanks to a new performance mode, support for balanced audio connections, and Bluetooth LDAC wireless compatibility.
With a unique, off-center design and aluminum body, it certainly looks the part, and its touch screen is bright and easy to use.
Inside the SR25 is the Dual Cirrus Logic CS43198 Master Hi-Fi level DAC, while native support for DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz audio is more than enough to satisfy even the most discerning audiophiles.
With Wi-Fi connectivity, you have access to streaming services including Deezer and Tidal, while Bluetooth aptX ensure listening with wireless headphones needn’t sound inferior to wired connections.

Storage: 64GB
Battery life: 21 hours
Micro SD: Yes

Great design
21-hour battery life
Bluetooth LDAC

Onkyo DP-X1A

5 Best MP3 players in 2021

Onkyo has been a well-known and esteemed name in audio for years, and for good reason. The Onkyo DP-X1A may not be the most compact device on this list, but we think it is the best MP3 player you can buy, offering lots of customizability, an intuitive interface, and fantastic sound quality.
Let’s start with the design, which is pretty attractive. In general, the DP-X1A looks a little bit like a phone, but much thicker, and is completely optimized for audio use. How so? Well, for starters, it has two audio ports – one headphone jack and one balanced output for those interested in a cleaner and overall better quality sound. Additionally, the device has an easy-to-use volume wheel, as well as physical playback buttons and two microSD card slots for those with a sizable collection of music.
The player is built with a full version of Android 5.1, complete with features like Wi-Fi connectivity and the Google Play Store, which results in an MP3 Player that is to Android what the iPod Touch is to iOS. Unlike the iPod, however, the Onkyo DP-X1A is built for super-high-quality audio.
Speaking of the sound quality, it is an absolute dream. It supports a range of music formats, including FLAC, OGG, WAV, MP3, ALAC, and more. In terms of hardware, the device has two chipsets, one to power the overall device, and one to handle the DAC and amplifier – resulting in a noise-free experience.
We tested the player with multiple pairs of headphones across multiple price ranges, and were stunned with the clarity and exceptional quality of the audio. There is a reason the Onkyo DP-X1A sits atop this list – it is a beast in the portable audio world.

Storage: 64GB
Formats: AAC
Battery life: 16 hours
Micro SD: Yes

Amazing sound quality
Android makes for top ease-of-use
Two microSD card slots!
A little chunky

Apple iPod Touch (7th Generation)

5 Best MP3 players in 2021

Apple took us all by surprise when it announced the iPod touch 7, the first upgrade to its portable music and video player since 2015.
With “enhancements to power, capability, and communication”, the updated iPod touch is fully geared towards gaming, with the release coming just in time for the launch of Apple’s gaming service, Apple Arcade.
The bigger upgrade, at least for audio enthusiasts, is the support for the Hi-Res Audio codec FLAC, as well as Apple Lossless, giving you more options than ever when it comes to accessing audiophile-quality music.
Using a Hi-Res Audio playback app for iOS called Vox, we listened to Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. The strings had a warm and natural quality, while soprano vocal duets soared sweetly above the mix without ever sounding harsh.
In our review, we also tested out the inbuilt speaker at the bottom of the iPod touch, and it packs quite a punch despite its size. It will not do for listening to your Hi-Res music, but if just want a little background music for your gaming sessions and cannot be bothered to dig your headphones out, it works just fine.
If you need a new MP3 player, and you do not mind using Apple Music, the iPod Touch will do just fine.

Storage: 32GB / 128GB / 256GB
Formats: AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC‑3) and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX and AAX+)
Battery life: 40 hours
Micro SD: No

Tons of apps
No Micro SD
No Touch ID

Astell & Kern AK Jr

5 Best MP3 players in 2021

Astell & Kern is known for building top-notch audio devices at reasonable prices, and for that reason, we think the Astell & Kern AK Jr is the best mid-range MP3 player out of the ones we have seen (and heard). In fact, after spending some time using it, we would argue that it is a pretty serious contender against even much more expensive players.
Before diving into the player’s capabilities, you will notice how well designed it is. The sleek, metallic look is very classy, and using it gives you a similar “status symbol” feel, as you will get with the iPhone.
The AK Jr comes in at $259 / £250 / AU$399, which is a very reasonable price for a device of this calibre. For that price, you will get 64GB of onboard storage, though there is a microSD card slot in case you want to expand upon that storage. On top of that, it supports all major audio formats, including FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, AIFF, and more – and it is able to play at sample rates of up to 192kHz.
The interface of the device is relatively easy to control, too. The home screen simply gives you options for songs, albums, artists, and so on.
Tap through using the touchscreen, and you will be able to select the music you want to listen to. It would be nice if that touchscreen was a little more responsive, but you get used to it. Battery life sits in at around nine hours, which is not amazing, but not terrible either.

Music is dynamic and crisp, with a nice and powerful sound in every aspect. The soundstage on these, when paired with a great pair of headphones, is huge – that’s to say the left and right are clearly defined, while instruments placed at the center of a mix are given plenty of room to breathe. We particularly enjoyed the guitar solo on AC/DC’s Back in Black, while Eminem’s rap on Lose Yourself cut straight through the mix – exactly the way it was supposed to.

Storage: 64GB
Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE (Normal, High, Fast), AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
Battery life: 9 hours
Micro SD: Yes

Beautifully designed
Audio sounds great
Offers Bluetooth
Touchscreen isn’t responsive enough

SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

5 Best MP3 players in 2021

Looking for the best MP3 player to take running with you? If so, you probably want something small and light – it probably does not need to hold days’ worth of music, and it probably does not need to offer the highest audio quality out there. Most of all, you probably do not want to fork out a ton of cash for it.
If that is you, in our view, the SanDisk Clip Sport Plus is the best option.
For starters, the device offers 16GB of storage, and while that may not be much for your phone, 16GB can hold a ton of songs. On top of that, despite being built for sport, it actually supports a pretty wide range of audio formats – including MP3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, and WMA.
Perhaps most important for a device like this is the battery life, and it will last you a good 20 hours. You will even get Bluetooth, which is a huge deal for many who will be using this while running or performing other activities and do not want cables to get in the way.
The interface is relatively easy to use too. Sure, it is a little dated, and is not as powerful as what you will find on your smartphone, but it is still capable as a music player. It is not touch-sensitive, though: instead, you navigate through hardware buttons that also serve as playback controls when music is playing, but we did not have any issues.
As for the sound, as long as you do not expect full audiophile-level quality here (you will not get it), we think you will find the sound very capable. Overall, it is slightly muddy with a small dip in clarity, but for most that will not matter – especially when you are out on a run or hitting the weights at the gym.

Storage: 16GB
Formats: MP3, WMA (NO DRM), AAC (DRM free iTunes) WAV, FLAC
Battery life: 20 hours
Micro SD: Yes

Audio quality is not as good as others are

What do you need to consider when looking for the best MP3 player? The most important thing you need to think about is the audio codec your music library is in.
Anyone who uses Apple Music will probably have a music library completely filled with Apple’s proprietary AAC codec, and luckily, most MP3 players will support that codec. However, if you consider yourself an audiophile, you will need support for lossless codecs like FLAC, WAV and ALAC, as these codecs do not use the compression methods used on lossy codecs like AAC or MP3.
You will also need to consider how much music is in your, well, music collection and then how much storage you will need. This is especially the case when you are using codecs like FLAC, which just devour space. The best MP3 players often have an included microSD card slot, which allows you to expand upon the included storage as your library expands – but normally only up to a certain size, normally around 512GB.
Here’s the best part though: unlike smartphones, the best MP3 players are built to last, so there is no need to go on an endless two-year upgrade-cycle like you might with a smartphone. This means it is probably in your best interests to take some time and find the one that is right for you, as you will probably be using it for a few years to come.

The post 5 Best MP3 players in 2021 first appeared on Greatofreview.

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