Best Portable Players 2021: Get perfect sound from a separate music player

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When everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, the question of a portable player can cause a grin. But only for those music lovers who have never heard the difference in comparison – after all, as soon as the “head-on” comparison is made, practically no one remains in the camp of phones.

The sound of a separate portable music player, even in a not too high price category, leaves no stone unturned from smartphones – what can we say about more expensive equipment! Today we will study which models are optimal for purchase this spring.

So, we pick the best portable players in different price categories.

FiiO M3 Pro

FiiO M3 Pro

Proven manufacturer, sturdy apparatus. FiiO M3 Pro is powered by Ingenic X1000 / E processor and is equipped with an advanced ESS Saber ES9218P chip. The small IPS-screen (340 x 800 pixels) lacks stars in the sky, but the basic operations with it are quite comfortable. The output power of the FiiO M3 Pro exceeds 75 mW when operating on a load with a nominal impedance of 32 ohms, so the device is able to pump even complex headphones. The device sounds very pleasant – subtly and delicately presenting the classics and demonstrating the necessary drive on the rock. Support for formats up to DSD256 is in stock, and a 1,000 mAh battery guarantees 15 hours of listening time on a single charge.

Hidizs AP80 Pro

 

Hidizs AP80 Pro

Hidizs AP80 Pro, housed in a 316L stainless steel casing, is a stylish and modern portable player. The model uses two ESS9218P chips and reaches 130 dB signal-to-noise ratio – but the most important thing here is the use of an HBC3000 FPGA and a separate clock. This approach provides a rich in detail, sophisticated sound with excellent dynamics. It is worth noting both the balanced output, and the Bluetooth 4.2 module (LDAC and UAT), and support for a bidirectional USB DAC – in general, we have a real find in front of us.

Cowon plenue d3

Cowon plenue d3

The Cowon Plenue D3 with 64GB of storage is powered by two reference CS43131 chips for stunning detail and luxurious dynamic range. An output of 4 Vrms is ideal even for “tight” headphones, and 45 hours of operation on a single charge will surprise even seasoned music lovers. Support for Bluetooth 3.0 will surprise no one today, but, say, 48 equalizer settings are very interesting to use. The disadvantage is the low-resolution screen (2.8 ”, 240 x 320).

Sony NW-ZX507

 

Sony NW-ZX507

The crystal sound of the Sony NW-ZX507 is hard to confuse with another device – the signature S-Master HX digital amplification, DSEE HX processor and a pair of precision clocks guarantee a surprisingly transparent and natural sound. The quality of the model’s workmanship, again, is beyond praise: a case with a frame made of milled aluminum and the same block for electronics, a high-polymer capacitor ft cap and, finally, gorgeous ergonomics (interface in the form of a video tape) – bravo, Sony!

Shanling m6 pro

Shanling m6 pro

Shanling M6 Pro is powered by the powerful Snapdragon 430 processor and is equipped with Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ dual converter. The screen here is already quite large (4.7 ”), and its 720p resolution is quite comfortable for controlling the device. Three headphone outputs at once, including a pair of balanced, advanced operational amplifiers OPA1662, ADA4610, BUF634 – all this just screams quality. And so it turns out – in fact, it is difficult to find fault with the sound of the model, the player can perfectly reproduce even complex symphonic works, providing absolutely natural timbres and ideally separating sound images.

Astell & Kern KANN ALPHA

 

Astell & Kern KANN ALPHA

The luxurious Astell & Kern KANN ALPHA is one of the top models for today. The device provides amazingly plastic sound with amazing microdynamics and animal drive. “On board” – a complete gentleman’s kit, including a balanced headphone output (as much as 12 Vrms!), Gold-plated connectors, a wireless Bluetooth 5.0 module and a powerful battery that guarantees 14.5 hours of operation. Two reference ES9068AS converters grab stars from the sky – both in terms of channel separation or noise minimization, and capabilities – there is support for 32-bit PCM, and native work with MQA 8x. Bravo!

Kontinum K100

Kontinum K100

An extremely expensive model that delivers the ultimate in playback quality. In the sound of the Kontinum K100 there is the very “diamond” that High End fans are hunting for, and the dynamic characteristics of the player are excellent. Founded by James Lee of Astell & Kern, the company is now beginning to overtake its main competitor. The device has a lot of secrets – from replaceable EV standard batteries (usually used in electric cars) with a “horse” capacity of 4,900 mAh – to support for 32-bit PCM and a balanced output of 8 Vrms. A pair of AKM4497EQ chips, MQA support, 5 ”720p display, Bluetooth 4.0 – everything is fine here.

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