The Best MP3 Player of 2022 – How-To Geek
What to Look for in an MP3 Player in 2022
First, let’s answer the obvious question: Why not just listen to music on your phone? There are several reasons, but at the higher end of the scale, MP3 players pack far better audio components than even the best phone.
On the budget end, they can go places that you might be afraid to risk breaking or losing your phone—and plenty of them are smaller than the standard smartphone to boot.
Even if you have one of the increasingly rare phones with a headphone jack, these can’t drive headphones as well as a high-end MP3 player. The headphone amplifier built into a quality MP3 player will have more power to drive more sensitive headphones, plus the sound quality will often be miles better.
While we frequently call them MP3 players, these portable playback machines can handle many more formats than just MP3 files. Many higher-end players and some budget models feature support for hi-res audio formats and lossless audio files like FLAC and ALAC. Some even support more advanced audio formats like DSD.
An important aspect you’ll need to consider when shopping for a player is the headphones you’ll use with them. Any player can drive a standard set of earbuds, but a higher-end digital audio player can drive more power-hungry headphones.
The above doesn’t matter if you intend to listen with wireless earbuds or a portable speaker. On the other hand, this requires Bluetooth. Many players offer Bluetooth support, but not all of them do.
Most of the reasons for buying an MP3 player involve playing your own music files, but occasionally, you’ll want to stream too. Some players—usually higher-end models—work with streaming services. That said, even in pricier players, sometimes an FM radio is all you get in addition to your own digital music collection.
- ✓ Fantastic sound quality
- ✓ LDAC and aptX HD for great Bluetooth sound
- ✓ Expandable storage up to 1TB
- ✓ Balanced output for high-end headphones
- ✗ Angled screen won’t be for everyone
Astell&Kern is a manufacturer of high-end digital audio players, and for years the company has often been ahead of the competition. While the Astell&Kern A&Norma SR25 MKII may seem expensive compared to MP3 players both old and new, this is among the company’s most affordable models, and you’re getting a lot for the money.
At the core of the A&Norma SR25 MKII is a dual DAC from Cirrus Logic, capable of playing back files up to 32bit/384kHz for lossless files. It also features Native DSD (DSD256) support, in case your collection includes these files. In addition to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, you get a 4.4mm balanced output for connecting to high-end headphones.
Speaking of headphones, you shouldn’t need to be too careful about the ones you use with this model. The Astell&Kern A&Norma SR25 MKII can easily drive power-hungry over-ear headphones, though we can’t guarantee it will work with every single pair of headphones out there.