Buyers Guide: Best Audiophile (best sounding) MP3 Players
In this day and age you’d probably be hard pressed to find large numbers of people who don’t know what an MP3 player is and what it does. This is largely due to the massive success of the Apple iPod players back in the day but the inclusion of MP3 players on mobile phones has certainly helped bring digital music players to the attention of the public.
With so many players and different ways of enjoying digital music being available nowadays there is a tremendous amount of choice out there which varies between the cheap and cheerful up to the sublime and pricey.
We’ve been carrying various premium MP3 players for several years now (in fact that’s how the company started all the way back in 2001) and have seen some fantastic players come and go over the years. So if you are interested in a player which is the cream of the crop then take a look at our suggestions below as one is bound to take your fancy.
We’ll be adding more awesome sounding players to this guide going forwards so if these don’t take your fancy check back for more news or feel free to get in touch over the phone or email.
Colorfly C4 Pro Pocket HiFi 32GB 24bit/192kHz Upsampling Music Player (£549.00)
Starting off with the cream of the crop – the Colorfly C4 is probably one of the best sounding players which we currently stock and is effectively a pocket-sized HiFi due to the near-unparalleled sound.
The Colorfly C4 has 32GB of memory built in and considering that many people will want to use a lossless, or uncompressed, MP3 format with this player there is a handy memory card slot (capable of taking 32GB card) for when space is getting low. The player is also very simple to use and the design, while not to everyone’s taste, is well thought out and lovingly put together.
Moreover, the Colorfly C4 features stereo jacks and acts as an amplifier so you can wire it easily in to your stereo and enjoy the premium sound quality at home without the need for earphones.
You can read a staff review here.
What makes the Colorfly C4 great?
• Fantastic sound quality is the order of business with the player and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
• Transferring music from your computer is a breeze as you simply need to copy and paste the files straight in to the memory.
• High quality parts are used both for the guts of the player, the brushed metal front and the real black regius walnut back.
What isn’t so good?
• The player is quite large, mostly due to the high quality internal components, so can’t exactly be described as the most portable player.
• While the overall design of the Colorfly C4 is well thought out the looks are possibly an acquired taste.
• The cost of the player is quite high so won’t be in keeping with the budget for many people.
See the Colorfly C4 MP3 Player here.
Cowon J3 MP3 Player (from £169.00)
The Cowon range of players have been around for quite some time now and no doubt fans of premium MP3 players would have heard their name bandied around the internet. The designs and players have changed quite a bit over the years but the sound quality these players pump out have gone from strength to strength.
The Cowon J3 players have been out for a while now and is probably one of our strongest sellers. The popularity of the J3 is mostly down to the great sound and streamlined interface which makes navigating around the menus straight forward. However, there are a few other clever tricks such as memory expansion (up to an additional 32GB), an extremely healthy battery life of around 64 hours and the lovely AMOLED screen for enjoying photos and videos.
You can view magazine and customer reviews here.
What makes the Cowon J3 MP3 Players great?
• Amazing sound quality is the order of business for the Cowon J3 and for the price you’ll be hard pressed to find many players which sound better.
• The player offers a memory expansion slot, which can take Micro SDHC cards up to 32GB in size, so you won’t need to worry about running out of space quickly.
• The Cowon J3 is lightweight and sized well to fit comfortably in your hand or pocket.
What isn’t so good?
• There is an ongoing problem with compatibility when using the Cowon products on a Mac, Linux or Windows 7 64 Bit machines so until Cowon resolve this you might experience a few annoyances if you use these systems.
• Since the Cowon J3 is intended as a high quality music and video player those wanting an all-in-one device with WiFi and so one might need to look elsewhere.
• There is a folder limit of 12,000 which shouldn’t be too much of an issue but is worth mentioning just in case.
See the Cowon J3 Players here.
Sansa Clip+ MP3 Player (from £25.99)
The Sandisk Sansa Clip+ might seem like a slightly odd choice for this guide but we don’t see it that way. We think of this charming little player as a very budget friendly yet fantastic sounding MP3 player. The Clip+ also has a healthy underdog following on websites and forums such as Headfi.org and we can certainly see why.
While the sound quality of the Sansa Clip+ might not be totally on par with some of the big boys in the high end player market the sound quality is well balanced and there is a decent amount of volume. Moreover, there’s a handy memory expansion slot for boosting the onboard storage and as it clips on to clothing it’s always easy to get to.
You can view customer reviews here.
What makes the Sansa Clip+ MP3 Player great?
• The sound quality is strong and given the small price the Sansa Clip+ will probably surprise you.
• The built-in memory expansion slot (supports Micro SDHC up to 32GB) could come in handy for when the internal memory is getting a bit low.
• Thanks to the handy clip on the back of the player, coupled with the tiny size, you don’t have to waste pocket space – just clip on an press play. Moreover, the clip also makes the player great for exercise.
What isn’t so good?
• Sound-wise the Clip+ may struggle to totally measure up to some of the other ‘audiophile’ players.
• The small size could well put some people off with fears of it becoming dethatched from clothing and lost.
• The screen is very basic so don’t expect to see much more than text on the screen.
See the Sansa Clip+ Players here.
Cowon X7 Portable Media Player (from £199.00)
The Cowon range are normally our first port of call for suggesting premium sounding players as they sound so good and quite often don’t have a ridiculous price tag attached. The Cowon X7 is no exception as it sounds great and will accept most audio formats, including uncompressed ones.
The Cowon X7 also features a hard drive (120GB or 160GB) so you won’t be running short of space any time soon. The player also purports to feature a 100 hour battery life which is quite impressive and the screen is large enough to comfortably watch videos.
You can read magazine and customer reviews here.
What makes the Cowon X7 Portable Media Player great?
• Generous hard drive sizes allow you to store huge amounts of music and this will be especially handy for users of lossless formats.
• The large screen means that if you tire of listening to your music you can comfortably enjoy watching some video instead.
• The sound from a Cowon player is very highly rated so they are a great choice if you want a top end player while not paying over the odds.
What isn’t so good?
• Some may find that the player is just a tad too bit to comfortably carry around in a pocket. Unfortunately this is a sacrifice you would have to make for the massive storage.
• There have been a few reports of the touch-screen not being calibrated correctly so sometimes the wrong option might be selected when browsing around the player.
• Like the other Cowon players there are compatibility issues when using them one Mac, Linux or Windows 7 64 Bit computers.
See the Cowon X7 Media Players here.