Hi there, fans of music! There’s something inherently wonderful about owning a dedicated MP3 player in a world where everything is about streaming and cellphones. It is similar to having a portable, mini concert that you can take with you wherever you go. You’ve come to the perfect spot if you’re searching for the top MP3 players available right now. Now let’s examine the top choices that will be popular in 2024.
There are still MP3 players in use. The greatest MP3 players even allow you to listen to music without a phone by syncing with services like Spotify.
List of the best MP3 players of 2024
The best MP3 players of 2024
Sony NWE394/B 8GB Walkman
MP3 player overall
pros & cons
- Small and compact
- Decently priced
- Create and listen to your own playlists
- Can be a bit tricky to use with a Mac
- Not suitable for listening to podcasts
Features of the Sony NWE394/B: Media types: PCM, AAC, WMA, JPEG, and MP3; Storage: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB; Battery life: up to 35 hours; Display: 1.77-inch (128 x 160) color LCD
Though they might not look quite like the Walkmans you’re used to, Sony Walkmans still have the same functionality as Walkmans from the past, but with a contemporary twist. It has an LCD screen and can store up to 16GB of music—roughly 4,000 songs—on its memory.
The Sony NWE394/B may be readily accessed by dragging and dropping files from a laptop or computer. It can also be used to construct custom playlists using iTunes or Windows Media Player. In addition, wired earbuds are supplied right out of the box, along with 30 preset FM radio stations, an alarm, and a sleep timer.
Sandisk Clip Jam
Best budget MP3 player
pros & cons
- Super affordable
- Good sound quality for its price
- Expansion card for more storage
- Does not bookmark your position in a book or song
Features of Sandisk Clip Jam: 8GB of storage plus a microSD slot; 18 hours of battery life; 0.96-inch (128 x 64) white OLED display; support for MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV media genres.
This Sandisk Clip Jam player is a good choice if you want to get an MP3 player for less than $35. It weighs only 0.8 ounces and is available in vibrant hues like pink, green, and red. It can store up to 2,000 songs (8GB) in storage. More storage is possible, though, thanks to a microSD card slot.
This MP3 player includes earbuds and an integrated FM radio tuner, much like my top choice.
Mighty Vibe Music Player
Best mini MP3 player
pros & cons
- Stay Fresh feature to keep your playlists up to date
- Lightweight with a clip design
- The app could be more user-friendly
- Wired headphones definitely work better
Features of Mighty Vibe: 8GB of storage, 5 hours of battery life, a 1.4-inch display with only buttons, and support for Spotify and Amazon Music
This little MP3 player from Mighty Vibe functions similarly to Apple’s well-liked iPod Shuffle, but it’s more appropriate for 2023. You may wirelessly sync your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists with the Mighty app. You can always have the newest songs on your playlists since Mighty Vibe’s Stay Fresh function automatically syncs these playlists while you sleep.
This MP3 player’s clip-on design makes it ideal for working out or running. Although some users claim that wired headphones sound superior, it can be used with both Bluetooth and wired headphones.
Best lossless audio MP3 player
pros & cons
- Impressive and dynamic sound
- Quality-built metal chassis
- Touchscreen display
- Quick charge isn’t really that quick
- Older software and limited memory
Features of the Fiio M11S: Storage: 32GB and 3GB of RAM; Battery life: 13 hours; Display: 5.15-inch touchscreen with no bezel; Supports media types: MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, DXD
Apple’s incorporation of lossless audio technology in Apple Music has contributed to the increase in popularity of lossless music in recent years. This MP3 player from Fiio has a specially designed chip that reduces distortion and noise floor, making it ideal for lossless audio files.
Right out of the box, the player runs Android 10, allowing you to access the Play Store and your preferred streaming app. It makes use of Bluetooth 5.0 technology and transforms into a superior Bluetooth amplifier with improved frequency response when placed in Bluetooth receiver mode.
What is the Best player for MP3s?
Based on compatibility and cost, the Sony NWE394/B 8GB Walkman is the best MP3 player for the majority of users. Additionally, its battery life of up to 35 hours is rather outstanding.
|4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
|Up to 35 hours
|Sandisk Clip Jam
|8GB plus microSD
|Up to 18 hours
Which MP3 player is right for you?
The right MP3 player for you will depend on how much storage you need, what audio files you want to upload, if you need something simple or high-end, and what price you’re willing to spend.
Below, I’ve broken down the options further.
|Choose this MP3 player…
|If you want…
|The best overall option when it comes to price and quality. This Sony Walkman is compact and allows you to listen to your favorite curated playlists.
|Sandisk Clip Jam
|A budget-friendly MP3 player. It has room for about 2,000 songs.
|A mini MP3 player that has a clip. You can sync up your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists wirelessly to listen on the go.
|An MP3 player perfect for lossless audio. It has a quality metal build as well as a touchscreen display.
How did I decide which MP3 players to buy?
When choosing the best MP3 players, I considered many factors, such as brand name and reliability, customer reviews (both good and bad), audio quality, and more. Ultimately, the following factors helped determine my top picks:
- Storage: The amount of storage in an MP3 player will ultimately determine how many songs it can hold, so we paid attention to devices with lots of storage space. For example, 16GB of memory equates to about 4,000 songs.
- Media types: While MP3 players of course take MP3 files, we also considered devices that support additional file types, including WMA, WAV, AAC, and more.
- Battery: The great thing about modern-day MP3 players is that they will have much better battery lives than the devices of the past. The average battery life for a good MP3 player will be about 12 hours.
- Price: MP3 players vary greatly in price, so we made sure to include different price points for different budgets.
How many songs does an MP3 player hold?
This all depends on the amount of storage that is on the MP3 device. The number of songs an MP3 player can hold will also depend on a song’s file format and compression rate, so these numbers may vary. Here is a quick guide for reference of how many songs typical storage types can hold:
- 4GB = 1,000 songs
- 8GB = 2,000 songs
- 16GB = 4,000 songs
- 32GB = 8,000 songs
- 64GB = 16,000 songs
Is it worth it to buy an MP3 player?
In 2023, you might wonder if it’s even worth buying an MP3 player when you can just listen to music on your smartphone. However, MP3 players are great for kids who want to listen to music but don’t yet have a smartphone, people who like to run or hike outside, or those who simply want to listen to music without any distractions from their phones.
Do MP3 players need Wi-Fi?
No. Because MP3 players don’t need Wi-Fi to work, you can use them in more situations. However, some MP3 players do have Wi-Fi connection capabilities, such as the Mighty Vibe player.
Why do people still use MP3 players?
There are lots of very good reasons to use a dedicated digital audio player. The biggest one is arguably sound quality: depending on the device, you can listen to much higher quality versions of tracks than anything you’ll be able to stream from your phone – especially if your device has a headphone jack, which most mobile devices lack. For serious music fans, this is a major consideration: Bluetooth audio quality is getting better, but for full hi-res audio you still need your headphones to be wired. Even Apple’s most expensive headphones, the AirPods Max, can’t deliver Apple Music’s Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless file quality wirelessly.
Another reason to get a DAP is curation of music; not everything you want to listen to is available on the best music streaming services – and not everything that’s there today might be there tomorrow, because songs and even artists come and go (or pull their work from your chosen streaming service overnight). By synchronising an MP3 player with your desktop music collection you can always be sure that you can hear what you want to hear. A big bonus for many people is that with your own music collection, you don’t need to pay a monthly subscription to listen to it, or to listen to it without ads.
Although it’s less of an issue than it used to be, another reason many music fans preferred MP3 players is because they were designed to do one thing and one thing only: play music. Most smartphones weren’t, and thus, the audio performance wasn’t brilliant – the inexpensive DAC squirrelled away in the phone could only do so much. Battery life and storage space weren’t always great either.
It’s also worth pointing out that MP3 players don’t require you to have a mobile phone connection or wi-fi to get your music, so you can happily wander far and wide (or hop on a flight, subway or fast train) without losing your soundtracks.
Is MP3 quality as good as CD?
The short answer is no. That’s because MP3 is a “lossy” format: in order to make MP3 files as small as possible, some of the audio information is removed – frequencies most of us cannot hear, anything less noticeable to the human ear. This is often described as ‘compressed’ audio. With a CD, music is stored with a resolution of 1,411 kilobits per second. For clarity, the best possible quality MP3 has a resolution of 320 kilobits per second. So clearly there’s a lot less data in even the highest quality MP3 file.
What’s clever about MP3 is that it tries to get rid of the audio information you’ll miss the least. For example, one of the most obvious signs that you’re listening to an MP3 instead of a CD isn’t because one of the instruments has gone AWOL. MP3 doesn’t do that. But you’ll probably notice a lack of really deep bass, and a more “splashy” sound on higher frequencies such as the drummer’s cymbals and hi-hats. The lower the quality, the more obvious these things become – and at the very lowest quality, MP3s sound like someone’s playing them on a really bad radio.
For many people the convenience of MP3s – you can fit more on your device, streaming uses less mobile data and you don’t need a really good internet connection – outweighs the loss of sound quality, especially if you’re listening on the move. But MP3 is a fairly old standard now, and there are better options.
As the name suggests, lossless audio is any music file that has been recorded, packaged, stored, unlocked and played in a way that doesn’t incur any ‘loss’ to the musical information, and ‘hi-res’ files are those boasting greater than 44.1kHz sample rate or higher than 16-bit audio bit depth – ie. better-than-CD quality.
How we Test the Best mp3 Players
We test dozens of hi-res portable music players every year at TechRadar, and that means we know exactly which features, specs, file support and wireless audio codecs to look for. It’s important for us to compare the performance of these players against the claims made by their manufacturers, which is why we take the time to make sure the stamina, durability, connectivity and sound quality claims are legit.
We make sure to test each product against its chief competitors too, so you can be sure that if we say so, the product is the best bet for the money. We live with these players for weeks and we run them in religiously so that the components have ‘bedded in’ before we commence our tests, and we don’t finish testing until we are certain of the sound quality.
On this, we test the audio performance using a range of musical genres and with both wired and wireless headphones – and streamed and downloaded music from various sources, to ensure that these products can handle everything from thumping dance tracks to softly-spoken podcasts in whatever format we throw at them.
After more collective years in this game than we’d care to divulge, we are truly confident that our star-rated reviews are the best indication of the quality. There are no sales teams involved in our verdicts and we’re not getting paid bonuses to hand out extra stars, which gives us complete impartiality. It also means if we don’t like it for sound, design, usability and features, we simply won’t recommend it here.
For us music enthusiasts, MP3 players continue to be a reliable option in a world full of multifunctional devices. There is a player out there for everyone, regardless of their needs—high-quality audio, mobility, or just a straightforward and dependable player. These players accommodate all tastes in music, from the updated Sony Walkman to the adaptable iPod Touch and the audiophile-approved FiiO M11 Pro. Select your preferred track, put on your headphones, and rediscover the enchantment of your beloved music.