The model's S-Master HX™ digital amplifier works wonders reducing distortion and noise, allowing you to enjoy your favourite tracks' countless subtleties. Restoring the high-range sound that's always lost in compression, The DSEE HX™ upscaling tech is able to reproduce digital music files with rich, natural sound.
The instruction manual isn't that helpful.
Sony NW-A45 will let you enjoy and experience music at its best. The model's captivating sound will make you forget about your surroundings. At the same time, you can turn on the Ambient Sound mode and hear external sounds along with your music.
MP3, AAC, APE, Apple Lossless, DSD, FLAC, HE-AAC, WAV, WMA
Up to 45 hours
16 GB + slot for microSD
3.1" touch display, Bluetooth, NFC one-touch connectivity, S-Master HX™ digital amplifier, DSEE HX™ upscaling, Digital noise cancelling, Ambient sound mode
1 year (limited)
The player features pedometer functionality. Incorporating the Bluetooth 5.0 module, the model lets you listen to music without wires. The touch buttons will always respond to your hands, gloves or no gloves. The colour display is accessible and straightforward. The menu is easy to follow and every tool/setting is clearly laid out.
You might face some issues connecting to certain radio stations.
MusRun k188 is perfect for runners and other athletes. You can use the player as an ebook reader. The device has no issues with every major audio format, including MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, AAC-LC, and ACELP. The armband is especially comfortable.
MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, AAC-LC, ACELP
Up to 45 hours
32 GB + slot for microSD (up to 128 Gb)
Colour display, Touch buttons, Bluetooth, FM radio, Voice recording, Pedometer, Alarm clock, Sports armband and earphones included
Amazon's 30-day return policy
The player's 32-gigabyte internal storage space is enough to hold 8000 (that's eight thousand) 128 kbps MP3 songs. Plus, there's a microSD slot too. The model measures 5.7 x 3.7 x 1.5 cm in overall dimensions and weighs less than 25 grams. You can clip the player onto your clothes/gear knowing it will stay put for a worry-free workout.
The display could use some improvement.
SanDisk SDMX30-032G-G46K is the most lightweight and compact MP3 player on the list. It offers surprisingly large capacity though. The model is able to deliver a pretty rich acoustic experience. It will let you listen to your favourite FM stations too.
MP3, WMA (No DRM), AAC (DRM-free iTunes3), WAV, Audible DRM, FLAC
Up to 18 hours
32 GB + slot for microSD
Crisp LED screen, Physical buttons for navigation, Supports iTunes content, FM radio, Belt clip, Supplied earphones
1 year (limited)
The device takes less than two and a half hours to fully recharge. The Bluetooth 4.0 module that the model sports will have no issues maintaining a strong, stable connection up to 66 feet (20 metres) away for skip-free music. The sizable 2.4-inch colour screen will let you enjoy vivid HD images.
The earphones are underwhelming in many regards.
AMDISI MP3C is an affordable player that will prove suitable for many different customers. The aluminium alloy case is as durable as they come. The model will let you expand storage space up to 144 gigabytes. You'll be able to store as many lossless tracks as you want.
MP3, WAV, WMA, APE, FLAC, AAC, JPEG, BMP, TXT
Up to 80 hours
16 GB + slot for microSD (up to 128 Gb)
2.4" colour screen, Touch buttons, Bluetooth, FM radio, Voice recording, Wired earphones
You'll be able to watch videos, browse images, save different GIFs, and read ebooks. The pedometer is surprisingly accurate. The voice recorder is unusually powerful too. You'll be able to listen to lossless music.
There's no microSD slot.
Timoom MP3 Player has very few competitors within its price bracket. The model does it all at a decent/above-average level. The built-in clip makes the player great for running too. It also supports the LRC (lyrics) format.
MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, DRM, ACELP, AMV, AVI, JPEG, BMP, GIF, LRC, TXT
Up to 30 hours
LED screen with physical buttons, Bluetooth, FM radio, Voice recording, Alarm clock, Lanyard
Touch Screen for the Win
Sony NW-A45 is able to do it all. As far as mp3 players are concerned, the model isn't all that cheap. It is, however, pretty cheap considering everything that the player has to offer in return. The model's functionality and overall performance are probably its biggest selling points. But we'd like to start in a different place.
Let's talk form factor first. The player looks sleek and effortless. It is available in multiple colour schemes, from Horizon Green and Twilight Red to Grayish Black, Pale Gold, and/or Moonlit Blue.
The model measures 1.1 x 5.6 x 9.8 centimetres in overall dimensions and weighs less than 100 grams, which is pretty impressive considering the relatively massive 3.1-inch touchscreen and its functionality. Through that touchscreen, you'll be able to effortlessly access the model's numerous tools. It will let you change tracks, create playlists, and adjust settings with but a light swipe/tap.
The device's battery will usually last up to 45 hours (listening to 128 kbps mp3). Considering that the player doesn't take longer than 2 hours to fully recharge, that battery life is nothing to scoff at.
The model offers 16GB built-in storage space. Needless to say, that is not a lot. But you can always expand that not-so-large storage space with any microSD.
Detail and Subtlety Levels
Sony NW-A45 delivers on the performance/audio quality front as much as the next high-end mp3 player. Its S-Master HX™ digital amplifier works wonders reducing distortion and noise, allowing you to enjoy your favourite tracks' countless subtleties.
The DSEE HX™ upscaling tech performs a similar function, albeit with a different approach. Restoring the high-range sound that's always lost in compression, this technology is able to reproduce digital music files with rich, natural sound.
At the same time, the model's high-quality PCM conversion lets you experience the intense detail of DSD audio formats.
Last but not least, Sony NW-A45 uses its very own processing tech, converting your computer's audio signal and providing improved sound quality.
In other words, Sony NW-A45 will let you enjoy and experience music at its best. The model's captivating sound will make you forget about your surroundings. At the same time, you can turn on the Ambient Sound mode and hear external sounds along with your music.
Sports with no Wires
MusRun k188 is so simple but, at the same time, so functional and well-rounded that the model is equally suitable for kids and adults. That being said, considering the overall package, the product was clearly designed with athletic people in mind.
In addition to the quality player that we'll cover in a moment, you'll receive a sports armband and decent earphones. Add to that the model's pedometer functionality and you have an excellent product for runners.
Of course, that pedometer component isn't the only thing that's interesting about this gadget on the functionality front. Again, the earphones are pretty good considering the budget price range. But you don't have to rely on these earphones. Incorporating the Bluetooth 5.0 module, the player lets you listen to music without wires.
You'll have no issues accessing the model's other functions/settings too. The touch buttons will always respond to your hands, gloves or no gloves. The colour display is accessible and straightforward. The menu easy to follow and every tool/setting is clearly laid out.
We wouldn't say that the player is packing all that many different settings. Its functionality is nothing to write home about. At the same time, it is nothing to complain about either.
Every Format in the Book
The armband that comes with the player and its Bluetooth module make the model pretty good for sports. The player's metal housing makes it excellent for sports. It is pretty much indestructible. You won't have to worry about accidentally dropping the player and damaging your music collection and whatnot.
Despite the metal housing, the model weighs precisely 81.6 grams, meaning you won't feel its weight on your arm. Measuring 9.3 x 3.9 x 0.9 centimetres in overall dimensions, it is just the right size, not too small to make the menu inaccessible but not too large to make the player inconvenient for runners.
As per usual, the model will let you listen to FM radio stations. You might face some issues connecting to certain radio stations but nothing too much to ruin the experience. You'll be able to set an alarm clock and record audio too.
In short, MusRun k188 is perfect for runners and other athletes. At the same time, you can use the player as an ebook reader. The device has no issues with every major audio format, including MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, AAC-LC, and ACELP. The armband is surprisingly comfortable.
Clip It Up
SanDisk SDMX30-032G-G46K attracts with its tiny form factor first and foremost. The model measures 5.7 x 3.7 x 1.5 centimetres in overall dimensions and weighs less than 25 grams. Needless to say, these numbers are absurdly low.
We're not saying that the model's super-compact profile doesn't entail any disadvantages. The battery doesn't last longer than 18 hours, which is really good considering the model's size but not that great compared to your average MP3 player. The display could use some improvement too, although it is difficult to improve without increasing the player's size.
Having said all that, the tiny form factor offers more advantages than disadvantages. First and foremost, it makes the model superb for running. In fact, the model is excellent for all athletic activities. Aside from the small size, the player comes equipped with a nice little belt clip. You can clip the player onto your clothes/gear knowing it will stay put for a worry-free workout.
Besides, the display isn't all that bad. Of course, it is pretty small. But the model clearly wasn't designed with images/video in mind. It is a music player and nothing else. For a music player, the screen is large enough. Plus, it is pretty crisp and easy to manoeuvre. The physical buttons underneath the screen are perfect for seamless navigation on the go. The buttons have a nice tactile feel to them too.
Eight Thousand Songs
Considering the model's previously mentioned minuscule size, its 32-gigabyte internal storage space is very impressive, to say the least. That's enough to hold 8000 (that's eight thousand) 128 kbps MP3 songs. Plus, there's a microSD slot too. There's very little chance you'll be using it though.
You will, however, likely be using the earphones that come supplied with the player. They're pretty good and make the music feel as spacious as the next mid-range earphones.
As far as music formats are concerned, the player supports MP3, WMA (No DRM), AAC (DRM-free iTunes3), WAV, Audible DRM, FLAC. Its AAC support means you'll be able to access your iTunes library, so you'll be able to work with your Apple content too.
Apart from that, there's not much to cover here. As it is usually the case, the model will let you listen to FM radio stations.
Bottom line, SanDisk SDMX30-032G-G46K is the most lightweight and compact MP3 player on the list. It offers surprisingly large capacity though. The model is able to deliver a pretty rich acoustic experience. It will let you listen to your favourite FM stations too.
The Right Screen-to-Buttons Ratio
AMDISI MP3C is a really practical gadget first and foremost. It is particularly affordable considering the model's specs/performance. We really like the screen-to-buttons ratio.
The ratio is especially important because the player supports not just audio formats like MP3, WAV, WMA, APE, FLAC, and AAC but image/text formats like JPEG, BMP, and TXT. The sizable 2.4-inch colour screen will let you enjoy bright and vivid HD images. You'll be able to read ebooks too. The "FLAC" part means that the player will allow you to listen to lossless tracks.
The touch buttons make the menu easy to manoeuvre. You'll have no issues accessing/sifting through the player's many settings. Plus, the highly sensitive touch buttons are backlit too, so you'll be able to control the player in the dark without making any noises.
The overall product isn't flawless. The earphones that come with the player are underwhelming in many regards. At the same time, considering the model's price tag, you can't really expect much at all from the earphones.
The internal storage space is limited to 16 gigabytes, which isn't necessarily bad since it will let you store around 4000 songs (128 kbps MP3) but we've seen better numbers at this price range. That being said, the model features a microSD slot, so you'll be able to expand that storage space to almost 150 gigabytes.
80 Hours Straight
On the battery front, the model's nothing to complain about. Generally speaking, it will be able to last for 80 hours straight. At the same time, the player takes less than two and a half hours to fully recharge, not too bad at all. The Bluetooth 4.0 module that the model sports will have no issues maintaining a strong, stable connection up to 66 feet (20 metres) away for skip-free music.
Considering the budget price bracket, the player is surprisingly functional. You can set the backlighting to automatically go into screen-saver mode after a specified time period to save the battery. It offers one-button lock, voice record, and A-B repeat. You'll be able to listen to FM radio stations. You won't be able to listen to audiobooks but that's pretty standard for budget MP3 players.
To sum it all up, AMDISI MP3C is an affordable player that will prove suitable for many different customers. The aluminium alloy case is as durable as they come. The model will let you expand storage space up to 144 gigabytes. You'll be able to store as many lossless tracks as you want. As far as music storage in the budget price range goes, the player is as good as it gets.
Timoom Round Aspect
Video Playback Too
Timoom MP3 Player is the most affordable product on this list. The budget price doesn't really reflect that much on its quality though. It is flawed but there isn't really much to complain about, provided you take the model's price into account.
The biggest issue we have with the player is storage space. Its internal 16-gigabyte drive is pretty good. You'll be able to store ~4000 128 kbps MP3 songs. At the same time, the model does not incorporate a microSD slot, meaning you won't be able to expand that storage space.
It is a shame considering that the player supports MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, DRM, ACELP, AMV, AVI, JPEG, BMP, GIF, and TXT formats. AMV and AVI are video formats, so the player will let you enjoy high-quality video and it could use extra storage space.
Then again, who would even store video on an MP3 player these days? We all have smartphones and the most budget smartphones have no issues storing videos better than pretty much any player.
To sum this rant up, the somewhat limited storage space can be an issue but will unlikely prove to be an actual issue.
The model's battery life is a different story. It will be able to deliver somewhere around 30 hours of continuous playback in a row. That's not bad but we've seen better performance in this department. On the bright side, the player takes one and a half hours to recharge, so the ~30-hour battery life is understandable and very much excusable.
Every Media Piece
The aforementioned supported formats (MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, DRM, ACELP, AMV, AVI, JPEG, BMP, GIF, LRC, and TXT) hint at the player's functionality as well as the next characteristic.
You'll be able to watch videos, browse images, save different GIFs, and read ebooks. The player will allow you to listen to different FM radio stations too.
The usual Bluetooth module is a little outdated here. That being said, it will have no issues with devices in a 10-metre vicinity, which is enough in most cases.
We really like the model's pedometer component. It counts steps as well as any fitness bracelet.
Other than that, the player comes equipped with an alarm clock and voice recording functionality.
All in all, Timoom MP3 Player has very few competitors within its price bracket. The model does it all at a decent/above-average level. The built-in clip makes the player great for running too. It also supports the LRC (lyrics) format.
What Is an Mp3 Player?
An MP3 player is a compact electronic device designed for playing various digital media and outputting the sound to headphones via the built-in port. Initially designed for playing MP3 files only that were most popular at the time, over the years the functionality of these devices was expanded to enable the playback of other sound formats. Thus, digital players gained a support of such lossy formats as OGG, AC3, WMA as well as lossless FLAC, APE, ALAC formats. Even more to that, as most MP3 players are equipped with displays of different sizes and panel technology used to control music playback, some manufacturers implemented such advanced features as video playback, photo and text viewing, FM radio, voice record support on their devices.
Designed with portability in mind MP3 players are small and can be easily carried in your pocket or worn clipped on clothes (in case they have a special spring clip). These digital devices use internal memory or memory cards to store the supported media and use built-in or user replaceable batteries for their operation.
As seasoned music lovers already know the audio performance of your portable rig depends not only on the sound source but also on the headphones you use. Thus, to get the most out of your equipment, check our headphones review.
What Features to Compare
When choosing an MP3 player we first suggest checking the supported formats. As the name states the player should support MP3 files playback by default, however, we recommend choosing a model that also supports such modern standards as WAV, WMA, FLAC, etc. Actually, the more audio formats your device can play the better as you may not have all your favourite tracks available in MP3. Besides, some MP3 players are capable of playing video files and viewing photos of certain formats, thus you'd better be aware of all the formats supported by the player. This knowledge will enable using your gadget to the full as well as prevent problems of not being able to listen to or watch media content you've uploaded to the device.
Another important parameter that greatly affects the convenience of use of your MP3 player is its battery life. With a rapid technology development, the battery life bar was raised to dozens of hours of continuous music playback. Again, the longer the battery life the less often you'll have to recharge your digital player or replace its battery. With that, 20 and more hours is considered a decent result.
The next point we advise paying your attention to when deciding on a specific MP3 player model is the storage capacity. Still, the same applies to the storage capacity: the larger the storage the more songs and videos you can keep and enjoy on your player. With that, 1 GB capacity allows you to store more than 7 hours of lossy MP3 music in maximum quality achievable with this format, which is good for a one-day listening. However, with the same storage, the result is far less impressive for an uncompressed lossless WAV format (providing even better sound quality)- slightly more than an hour and a half.
Last but not the least, consider the usability features. Based on our experience, the arrangement and ergonomics of control buttons are really important. We also think that navigation through folders, switching between tracks, volume control indication and the way an information about the current track is displayed on the screen greatly affect your player usability. However, for some users, such additional features as, for example, shockproof and water-resistant case, integrated camera or a microphone are the options that also have significant value.
Q: What is an MP3 player anyway?
A: As you most probably know from your own experience, an MP3 player is a portable digital device intended for playing music and audio files stored in a built-in memory or a memory card and outputting the sound to your headphones. However, over the last few years, such devices have evolved from simple small MP3 players that support a few music formats equipped with minimalistic monochrome displays to versatile digital devices with a comprehensive support of sound formats, wireless connection, colour touchscreen, rich connectivity capabilities and other advanced features. These modern gadgets are often called DAPs (digital audio players) with no sharp distinction between the two.
Q: What is the difference between various MP3 player models?
A: While the basic functionality of playing back your music remains the same for all the MP3 players, they may significantly differ in advanced features. For the players, the number of supported file formats may range from mp3 and WAV to a list of all the popular lossy (i.e. mp3, OGG, AC3) and lossless (FLAC, ALAC, APE) formats, including the so-called high-resolution files (with 24 bit 192 kHz and higher sampling rate). Moreover, with powerful hardware, large screen and advanced software implemented latest MP3 players can play various video digital content, which turns some of them into best portable media players. Some models support voice recording, offer an SD/micro SD cards support in addition their built-in memory. The time you can listen to your music on a single charge or without replacing the battery also varies for different digital players depending on the battery used. With that, the best portable mp3 players offering 20 and more hours of continuous music listening. However, this parameter may be two times smaller for really high-quality MP3 players equipped with high-performance audio circuitry able to drive high-impedance headphones and delivering an outstanding listening experience.
Q: Why do I need an MP3 player when my smartphone can play audio?
A: Aside from a better portability, good MP3 players usually offer a better sound performance, thus making listening to your music more exciting. Another factor one needs to keep in mind is that using a separate player for your music prevents your smartphone battery from discharging much ahead of time. Q: What are most common MP3 player use scenarios?A: Though MP3 players are used mostly on the go, you can use these devices as analogue sound sources for your car or home stereo system. However, when connecting your music to an acoustic system keep in mind that you need to use an amplifier to drive your speakers as even the best quality MP3 players are designed to drive headphones only.
Q: What headphone/earphone types can I use with my MP3 player?
A: It really depends on the player output power, which usually is specified by the manufacturer. Though most of the modern earphones and headphones are easy to drive, the specified player output power may be higher than the actual one due to different factors. That is why we recommend judging the audio performance of a specific player with specific headphones only based on your personal listening.
1. Donald Bell MP3 player buying guide, CNET July 2, 2013.
2. How to Choose an MP3 Player, wikiHow.
3. Wendy Sheehan Donnell How to Buy an MP3 Player, PCMag. August 8, 2013.
4. David Beren The 8 Best Budget MP3 Players to Buy in 2017, Lifewire. July 12, 2017.
5. The best MP3 players to buy in 2017, Telegraph. June 23, 2017.
6. Tom Morgan How to buy the best MP3 player, Which?