The 8 Best MP3 Players

Updated February 14, 2018 by Chase Brush

8 Best MP3 Players
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Just because your smartphone can play all the music you might want doesn't mean you should use it for that purpose -- at least not exclusively. MP3 players, though well past their prime, are still the ideal devices for listening to tunes without compromising sound quality. Some of the models on this list are even capable of accessing online apps and games, and playing and recording video, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best mp3 player on Amazon.

8. AGPtEK A20

If you're looking for a great gift idea or just an easy way to listen to your favorite songs without having to spend a ton, check out the AGPtEK A20. This basic budget model offers decent sound quality and a convenient, uncomplicated interface in a fairly compact body.
  • grippy tactile finish
  • limited storage
  • will not work with audible ebooks
Model SMPA20AR
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Astell & Kern AK70 Portable

A high-end offering for the most serious audiophiles, the Astell & Kern AK70 Portable features both USB connectivity and optical line-out, 64 GB of expandable memory, and a design that blows any of its competitors clear out of the water. Of course, it'll cost you a mint.
  • supports wifi streaming
  • very high quality craftsmanship
  • difficult to build playlists
Brand Astell&Kern
Model AK70RED
Weight 4.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. AudioFlood Shuffle

If you care less about easy music selection or video playback and just want a durable device that can keep up with your active lifestyle, then the AudioFlood Shuffle is a perfect choice. It's completely waterproof and impact resistant, and comes with a handy built-in clip.
  • backed by a 2-year warranty
  • depth rated to 200 feet
  • subpar sound quality
Brand AudioFlood
Model Space-5gen-Waterproof-i
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. FiiO X3

With its touchwheel navigation, the FiiO X3 is somewhat reminiscent of Apple's old iPod, though most other aspects of the device remain pretty original. It has two audio jacks for a balanced and multifunctional output and also supports Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless streaming.
  • black or red accents
  • supports all major file formats
  • center button is too sensitive
Brand Fiio
Model FiiO-X3IIIBK
Weight 14.1 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

Though neither the design nor audio quality are likely to knock you off your feet, there's still a lot to like about the SanDisk Clip Sport Plus, including its highly portable size and ability to attach to whatever you're wearing. It's a great option for anyone on the go.
  • built-in fm radio
  • lightweight and water-resistant
  • long 20 hour battery life
Brand SanDisk
Model SDMX28-016G-G46K
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Onkyo DP-X1

The Onkyo DP-X1's winning feature is its flexible and intuitive interface, which is built on the Android platform and powered by a fast quad-core processor. That allows it to handle many of your favorite apps, including those like Spotify, without lagging or freezing up.
  • quick-control buttons
  • real-time dsd conversion
  • customizable precision eq
Brand Onkyo
Model DP-X1
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Apple iPod Touch

For fans of this tech giant's products, there's still no beating the Apple iPod Touch. It comes in six color options and four storage sizes, so you can pick the one that fits your needs and style, and has a vibrant 4-inch retina display with multitouch IPS technology.
  • can access the apple store
  • front facing chat cam
  • can record and play hd videos
Brand Apple
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Sony NW-A35

With special sound enhancement and amplifier technology, the Sony NW-A35 is a premium player that was designed to support hi-res audio for discriminating music fans. At up to 45 hours, it also has far and away the longest battery life of any leading device out there.
  • intuitive touchscreen control
  • comes in three different colors
  • portable minimalist construction
Brand Sony
Model NW-A35/B
Weight 7 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Lifetime Of Music In Your Pocket

I think it's fair to say that music is the most immediate, immersive art form. Photography comes close for immediacy, but it can't reach the same level of physical and emotional stimulation that a piece of music can. I've been touched by many a photograph, but I can't recall one ever bringing me to tears or pumping me up for an exciting event; it's music that gets inside us like nothing else.

How you choose to get that music inside you depends a lot on your environment. I doubt you would, for example, choose to use an MP3 player while home alone. That's when you get to blast your favorite tunes without relying on headphones.

Of course, if you have the right speaker setup, and a compatible music player, you can use the same MP3 player you usually pair with a nice set of earbuds at the gym to pump glorious rhythms through your home system.

That's because all an MP3 player is, at its most basic, is a storage device with its own power source. Nowadays, disk-based storage is a lot less common than solid state memory, so before you get to the interface it's all just battery and memory.

The amount of memory and the power of that battery will have something to do with how you qualify a certain MP3 player over another, but it's that crucial interface that's going to make all the difference.

You can store thousands of songs on a given MP3 player, and play them back over almost any medium. The way in which you access those songs and albums varies from the incredibly simple interfaces that hearken back to the early days of the iPod to the more elaborate layouts of modern Apple and Android devices.

Not only do these more advanced MP3 players store and play back your music for you, they also host the full suite of apps for either platform, essentially doing anything an iPhone can do without the calling capabilities.

Music, Only Music, But Music

We touched above on the different capabilities of some MP3 players, and a deeper understanding of these differences will arm you with the perspective you need to make the best choice among them. At first glance, Apple seems like the king of the hill, but if I remember anything from playing that game as a child, the king inevitable loses the hill from time to time, so keep your mind open to the other possibilities.

At this point, storage space is almost irrelevant. Sure, you'll pay a little more to fit more songs, videos, pictures, etc. on your device, but you've got the option to save a little cash and keep your space limited, as well. If you're an audiophile with a lot of lossless audio content, you're going to need as much space as you can get. If you're more used to streaming audio, smaller bit rates won't phase you, and you can grab something with a little less storage.

Now, you might be attracted to the candy-like colors and flashy apps that Apple offers, and that's totally understandable; they continue to boast the largest app selection of any platform. If you're less into the apps, however, you stand to gain a lot of battery life by working with a simpler interface. It's the iPod's bright, colorful screen with all those fancy animations that drains its battery so fast. Without those variables, you have an MP3 player that will take much better care of you as you travel through terrain with difficult electricity availability.

If all your MP3 player does is play music, it's liable to last longer, have better battery life, and save you a good bit of money, as well. It's music, and it's only music, but, hey, it's still music.

Thanks A Lot, Steve

As we delve more and more deeply into the advanced technologies of the 21st century, it seems as though our collective memory has positioned itself to recall Steve Jobs as the inventor of the MP3 player. This is simply not true.

Long before the first iPods hit the market in 2001, companies like AT&T and SaeHan offered digital audio players with internal and external memory, and even the ability to download music from the internet and sync it with smaller flash memory cards for playback. Before those, of course, there were the Walkman portable cassette players and Discman portable CD players that created more clutter than anything else.

We can give Steve credit for changing the game, though. Not long after the first couple of iPod generations passed by, Jobs and his team at Apple realized that they could centralize a number of entertainment platforms on a single device well beyond just music.

In 2007, hot on the heels of the release of the first generation iPhones, Apple released their first generation of iPod touches, which utilized all the technological advantages of the first iPhone, just without the cellular contract or capabilities.

Since then, some companies have attempted to replicate Apple's interface, offering apps and touchscreens along with MP3 playback, while others have stuck with the tried and true method of delivering only music to their customers.

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Last updated on February 14, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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