Listening to music is an easy-breezy process these days. You don't even need to lift a finger if you're using Alexa or Google Assistant, a smart speaker, and a music streaming app for your sound cravings. If you're a true audiophile though, that itch in your earholes won't be scratched until you've used one of the best MP3 players that support high-resolution audio playback. From affordable, entry-level options to over-the-top enthusiast favorites, this collection rounds up the best of the best.
Step into the world of audio nerds
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Absurdly good audio
FiiO has mastered the art of fine-tuning sound as proven by the superb audio gear made by the brand. Like any FiiO gadget, the FiiO M11 is a top-notch device that delivers otherworldly high-res sound complete with a touch screen and Android 10 to boot. It supports plenty of file formats and you get lossless audio thanks to MQA 8x decoding. There's 64GB onboard that can be expanded via microSD.
Properly cheap and cheerful
If you're not in need of a specialized, uber-expensive MP3 player, then SanDisk is there to save the day. The Clip Jam is an adorable audio player with a tiny footprint. You won't find any fancy codecs and file formats here, but the physical navigational buttons are easy to use while working out and you get 8GB of on-device storage.
For the pros on budget
The FiiO M11 might be wonderful, but it's certainly not accessible. The mid-range HiBy R3 Pro Saber fills in the gap without skimping on high-quality sound. This touchscreen MP3 player delivers balanced audio and supports advanced codecs such as UAT and LDAC. You even get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, letting you play music from any platform.
Any sound nerd will tell you about the excellence of Astell&Kern music players. The Astell&Kern KANN Alpha sits at the top of the pyramid, with a matching four-figure price tag. What you get in exchange is high resolution, lossless audio that makes your mouth water and your eyes sparkle. It has all the ports and technical goodies under the hood to please sound engineers and audiophiles alike.
HQ sound for all
The HIFI WALKER H2 costs half as much as the mid-range HiBy player, and we couldn't be happier about it. HIFI trades a touch screen for satisfying physical buttons, a wide assortment of supported audio file formats, DSD playback, and a built-in DAC from Burr-Brown.
The words "Sony" and "Walkman" sure trigger heavy nostalgia. Sony's cassette-tape days may be gone, but the Sony NW-A55 Walkman high-res MP3 player sports impressive features at an amicable cost. There's only 16GB of storage, but you can increase that using an SD card.
Mighty's adorable little music player is shaped like a cube and has a clip on the back. You can attach set up the Mighty Vibe in a jiffy using your phone and attach it to your armband for easy access. It can store around a thousand songs and you can sync your Spotify or Amazon Music libraries with it.
Yes, this is Android Central, but even we can't deny the legendary status of the iPod Touch. If you want a fun, user-friendly, and simple music player, get the last iteration of the iPod Touch. It has a home button, an 3.5mm audio jack, 32GB storage, and simplistic software. Plus, the bright colors look delicious!
iPod Nano incarnate
Missing the iPod Nano's small form factor coupled with a touch display? The Shanling M0 is the perfect modern alternative. It's hard to believe that such a tiny device can push out such high-quality audio. You get sublime sound from this premium device made of aluminum. This thing supports plenty of audio profiles and it has Bluetooth for wireless playback.
Those of you who don't want to separate your MP3 player and smartphone needs can grab the LG V60 ThinQ 5G. LG's foray into phone making was good while it lasted, giving us gems like the V60 ThinQ that has a DAC built-in. You can plug in a standout pair of wired headphones into the audio port and enjoy high-end sound quality. There's no shortage of storage or music playing platforms it can access. Sadly, you'll be stuck with renewed versions when looking to buy one.
FiiO mostly makes premium MP3 players that offer superior-sounding, lossless audio playback. If you can get your hands on it, the FiiO M3K is a much more economically-friendly option. You get upper-tier features like high-fidelity recording and playback, up to 2TB expandable storage, and certified high-resolution audio at a lower price.
A sleek player
The COWON iAUDIO HiFi pays homage to the sleek Motorola and Nokia phones from the 2000s. You can interact with the player using touch controls and it supports high-resolution audio. There's plenty of space in this slim MP3 player and you get a high-performance DAC & amplifier built into the iAUDIO HiFi.
Rediscovering the sound of music
Unlike picking the right music player apps for Android, looking for a dedicated MP3 player is a complicated process. A lot of thought goes into the search, especially if you have exposed your ears to high-end audio before. Nonetheless, the devices that we have gathered in this roundup have all the best features that you need. There's a little something for everyone, in every color, and every price bracket.
For audiophiles with a keen sense of hearing, the FiiO M11 is the absolute best audio player. There's an ESS Sabre DAC chip inside, it supports a vast range of file formats, and it is Hi-Res Audio certified for both wired and wireless sound delivery methods. The M11 is powered by Android and it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can essentially play music from any app of your choice. The 64GB of onboard storage is plenty, but you can expand it if needed. The one caveat here is the eye-watering asking price - this MP3 player will cost you as much as a mid-range smartphone. If you can afford it, pair it with the Fiio FD3 wired earphones and you'll experience total auditory bliss.
For lower budgets, the HiBy R3 Pro Saber and HIFI WALKER H2 are decent options. They both manage to produce similar levels of sound that sound exceptionally good. You'll enjoy top-notch audio playback without spending smartphone money with either one. On the other hand, if audio codecs, file formats, DAC & amps, and lossless audio mean nothing to you, then you should stick with basic portable music players such as the Mighty Vibe or the SanDisk Clip Jam. If you want even more versatility, grab the LG V60 ThinQ 5G to serve as a phone as well as an MP3 player. It's one of the best Android phones with a headphone jack and it has a solid DAC built-in.
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Namerah Saud Fatmi is a contributing writer for Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech & gaming and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim. You can reach her on Twitter @NamerahS.
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