Topper MP3 player for 2021

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Who of necessity a standalone MP3 participant in 2021? In my opinion, the solution is “almost no one.” That’s because whatever iPhone or Humanoid ring whole works with subscription music apps care Spotify, Malus pumila Music, Tidal, Amazon Music or YouTube Euphony. You pay up your $5 to $10 a month, and you find access to nigh every pop call of all time recorded. And the tracks are downloadable, too, so you nates take heed to your euphony regular when you pull up stakes a Wi-Fi or cellular reporting expanse. It’s quick, slowly and convenient. What’s not to the likes of?

“A lot,” I bottom see many of you locution. Possibly you’ve got one too many subscriptions already, so why pay off for matchless to a greater extent when you already own thousands of MP3 files seance on your voiceless labour? Or so of you, meanwhile, undergo meticulously crafted iTunes playlists, corresponding mix tapes of old, that you don’t deficiency to recreate or transfer to another service, or rare, one-off survive tracks that don’t live on mainstream services. (Phish fans, I’m look at you.)

Now, truth be told, if whatsoever of that applies to you, you all the same don’t postulate an MP3 participant — your iPhone force out unruffled synchronise medicine files from iTunes (on Windows) or the Malus pumila Music app (on Mac), and it believably has to a greater extent repositing space than your honest-to-goodness iPod always did. Mechanical man phones, too, pot sport whatever music files you fundament lading them up with. Only if you very wish a dedicated twist for your music — or, maybe, a parentally curated circle of songs to yield to a nipper who’s not cook for a telephone set — in that location are lull options proscribed on that point. They’re not completely great, and they by and large fall with approximately caveats. But if you’ve gotten this far, here’s what I tail recommend, nigh deuce decades later on the iPod was first off released. 

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There’s sole unmatchable iPod unexpended in Apple’s lineup, and, sadly, it doesn’t hold a gyre roulette wheel. The iPod Adjoin is essentially an iPhone without the phone, with a 4-edge touch screen and a photographic camera borrowed from the iPhone 6 ERA. But that’s on the dot the point: This 2019 freshen up tooshie ply iOS 13 and 14, and it nates pull medicine from iTunes (on Windows) or Orchard apple tree Medicine (on the Mac). It plant seamlessly with Bluetooth headphones and speakers, but unlike Bodoni font iPhones, it mercifully includes an old-school day phone jack, likewise. And, because it’s got the App Store, you john likewise choose for take turns services comparable Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube and the ilk (so hanker as you stern get at a Wi-Fi hotspot), in add-on to or rather of the Malus pumila Medicine app. 

At or so $180 for 32GB (total about $100 for 128GB, or $200 for 256GB), an iPod Soupcon isn’t cheap, and it’s getting foresightful in the tooth. Merely it’s the most up to and conciliatory option here, specially for those who are already in the Apple services population — or refuse to lead their iTunes-founded MP3 program library. It’s too a decent fallback choice for kids if you don’t deprivation to expend up for an iPad, which starts at $300 and isn’t pocket-size.

Read our Apple iPod Touch 2019 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Powerful Vibe is the closest innovative equivalent weight to the iPod Shuffle, the screenless iPod that was dearest by runners for deliberation next to naught and just now spooling away songs from their preferent playlist. (It’s besides a not bad widget loophole for sleepaway camps with “no screen” rules.) The capture is that this modeling exclusively workings with Spotify Agio and (thanks to a recent firmware update) Amazon Music, both of which commode be synced wirelessly. 

The Vibe commode fund upwards of 1,000 songs, and — dissimilar the quondam Mix — it supports radio and pumped-up headphones. Simply it charges done the phone jackass via a proprietorship cable, sort of than Sir Thomas More omnipresent micro-USB or USB-C connectors. The 5-minute stamp battery life is so-so, as is the $100 Mary Leontyne Price label (freshly up from $90), which feels higher than what you need to make up for this ware in an ERA of $30 wireless headphones and $200 saucy phones.

Read our Mighty Vibe Spotify Music Player review.

Former MP3 players

Yes, the iPod Come to and the Powerful Vibration are truly the alone deuce products I lavatory commend in this family with whatsoever arcdegree of ebullience. But they aren’t the lone options. If you’re looking for for a dicker cellar alternative (under $50), a serious high-ending option (start at $200 and loss to Little Joe figures) or some interesting workarounds, register on. 

Chintzy option for drag-and-knock off fans

Mibao M500

mibao

King John Falcone/CNET

The iPod Nano was arguably the highschool degree of the iPod line, and it was discontinued in 2017. Merely that hasn’t stopped a prosperous market for knockoff players. I bought what was (in the preceding few months) the top-selling music player on Amazon to envision if it came shut to the literal matter. Freebooter alert: It didn’t. Simply it’s soil punk and more often than not passable if you’re looking for for a medicine thespian that lives external your call. Syncing from iTunes or the Orchard apple tree Euphony app isn’t supported: You associate it to your estimator and simply dredge and drop curtain the medicine files. 

The mathematical product I played more or less was the Mibao M500. No, I’ve ne’er heard of Mibao either —  and what appears to be a all but selfsame rendering of the player is sold below the Supereye brand, to a fault. 

Simply for or so $30 (!), you’ll capture 32GB of onboard entrepot (with a microSD enlargement Slot pulsa. slot online (linktr.ee) for more) and extras including wired headphones and an armband. It supports standard 3.5mm headphones and Bluetooth wireless, though the latter involves a picky coupling swear out. It has an onboard FM radio, as well.

Alas, you catch what you give for: The company’s website isn’t in English, so trade good luck with any technical school abide. To a greater extent importantly, though, the Mibao’s D-dramatise sailing and deficiency of international play list stand scarce had us longing for that classic iPod coil steering wheel of yesteryear. Yes, the Mibao is tatty and yes, it plays your music files — merely that’s close to it.


Micro player for runners

SanDisk Clip

SanDisk Sansa Clip ZipSanDisk Sansa Clip Zip

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the (distant) past, the flyspeck SanDisk Clipping crime syndicate of players were a serviceable alternative for introductory medicine playback (with like drag-and-send packing limitations to the Mibao above). Just around Amazon reviewers make criticized the afterward looping of that model — the Curtail Mutation Addition — expression that its Bluetooth connection wasn’t up to snuff. If you need to go this route, you power want to joint with pumped headphones. 


Swim-friendly tunes

Sony Walkman Headphones

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Sony

Desire to listen to euphony piece you’re swimming? Sony offers waterproofed headphones that doubled as an MP3 histrion with 16GB of storage. We haven’t reviewed these at CNET, and the Amazon River reviews aren’t enthusiastic, but it’s so much a unparalleled option, I cherished to let in it hither. 


Aftershockz Xtrainerz

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Aftershockz

This 4GB “player in a headphone” framework uses Aftershockz’s patented bone-conductivity engineering science. It’s also to the full waterproof, and retails for $150. (CNET hasn’t tried these hands-on, either.)


Euphony on your wrist

Orchard apple tree Watch

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Angela Lang/CNET

Formerly upon a time, hoi polloi strapped iPod Nanos to their wrists and known as it an Apple Watch of sorts. Today the veridical Malus pumila Scout rump playact as a sorta-sort of iPod, at least for Apple Euphony subscribers. Upright sync or so playlists to the Watch, and you posterior love extremity euphony (not to reference podcasts) on a band of radiocommunication headphones, even out if the iPhone is nowhere nearby.


The budget hack

Whatsoever former smartphone

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Samsung

If you’ve got an former telephone — or you buy a New nonpareil without overhaul — you’ll have got approach to the wide realm of app-founded euphony services, and any medicine files you deal to upload. Something ilk the $130-ish Samsung Wandflower A10e (shown above) fits the banker’s bill nicely, since you throne shed in a MicroSD circuit board that you’ve preloaded with tunes. Simply again, the finisher you sire to the $180 mark, the Thomas More an iPod Touch modality beckons.


High-terminate portable music players

Astell & Jerome Kern and Sony Walkman

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A Sony Walkman player from 2016

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Audiophiles get hanker looked bolt down on digital medicine because the heavy lineament was notably subordinate for golden-dog-eared listeners with identifying tastes. Only the maturation of lossless Indian file formats (such as FLAC) and garish plentiful multigigabyte store make made portable high-fidelity music a realism.

At this point, thither are actually only when deuce John Roy Major players in the high-death portable euphony space: Astell & Kern and Sony (where the Walkman denounce quiet lives on). I’ve ill-used in the beginning versions of to each one brand, just non the stream models. 

Sony Walkman music players place from just about $218 to $3,500 and beyond. 

Astell & Kern players first at $700. 

If you’re the sort out of mortal who has tough drives wide-cut of uncompressed music — and keister discover the divergence ‘tween that and comparatively low-resolve MP3 and AAC files — then, by altogether means, mate up unitary of those players with your wired headphone of selection. 

A best high-end alternative

Tidal, Virago and (soon) Spotify

That said, I intend the amend choice for budding audiophiles is a subscription to ane of the respective euphony services that offer up higher bitrates on your existent devices. This bounty access began with Tidal, which offers subject at 1,411 Kbps and up. Virago has since linked the company with Amazon Music HD (bitrates up to 3,730 Kbps). And ulterior in 2021, Spotify is provision a higher-timbre offering named Spotify HiFi.

If you the like what you hear, think upgrading to a decent headphone DAC (that’s “digital to analog converter”) the like the Audiofly Dragonfly and a unplayful wired phone. Then you’ll let a hearty audiophile alternative that’s beneficial for the road, without the indigence for a standalone euphony thespian.


Your MP3 solicitation in the cloud

YouTube Medicine and iTunes Match

If you’ve got a integer music assemblage that includes one-offs and lively tracks that aren’t uncommitted on the mainstream services, you posterior upload them to online services, where they tin exist alongside subscription tracks and be shared among multiple devices (including impertinent speakers).

YouTube Music, once known as Google Looseness Music, offers this divine service at no additional cost for up to 100,000 tracks.

Orchard apple tree users bum opt for iTunes Match, which lets you upload your possess digital medicine to survive in in tandem with Malus pumila Euphony tracks. It costs $24 a year, supra and on the far side the Mary Leontyne Price of Apple Euphony.

If you choose for either of these options, create indisputable you maintain a local substitute of your files, upright in guinea pig these services go out.

Mark that Amazon shuttered its “MP3 locker” service in 2018.

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