Top 8 Portable Hi-Res Players for Winter 2023

Top 8 Portable Hi-Res Players for Winter 2023
Top 8 Portable Hi-Res Players for Winter 2023

The range of portable digital players is constantly updated with new models. Over the past few months, several very interesting Hi – Res players have appeared on sale in various price categories, and even the most affordable ones are head and shoulders above any smartphone in terms of sound quality. The top models deserve to be included in stationary systems as a digital source.


8. Shanling M0 Pro

Price – $129

The miniature portable player is available in three different colors – black, green and red – and comes with a leather carrying case. The player is enclosed in an aluminum case measuring 43.8 x 45 x 13.8 mm and weighs only 36.8 grams, while the front panel is given over to a 1.54-inch color touch screen. The built-in battery is small – only 650 mAh, but provides a power reserve of up to 14.5 hours. The DAC in the player is made on a dual chip ES9219 from ESS Saber, the amplifier has three switchable gain levels. Output power is 90 mW into 32 ohms unbalanced and up to 236 mW into 32 ohms balanced. At the same time, the player has only one symmetrical 2.5 mm jack, but the kit includes an adapter from 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm. The Bluetooth adapter can work in two-way mode and supports LDAC and aptX codecs. You can install a microSD card up to 2TB in the memory card slot.

Pros – nice design, low price, balanced connection

Cons – headphones with a 3.5 mm jack are connected via an adapter

Verdict: Excellent option for those who want a miniature player


7. HiBy R3 Pro Saber 2022

Price – $209

An improved version of the previous generation model is distinguished by the use of a dual ES9219 chip from Saber Technologies in the DAC unit, as well as the presence of two clock generators operating at frequencies of 24.576 and 22.5792 MHz. The player has a bi-directional Bluetooth adapter with support for aptX and LDAC codecs, as well as the proprietary UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission) codec. The player can handle PCM digital signal up to 32bit/384kHz and native DSD256 stream and provides full decoding of MQA files. The player has a fully symmetrical amplification path, and 4.4 mm and 3.5 mm jacks are provided for connecting headphones. At the balanced output, the power reaches 340 mW at 32 ohms. The 1,600 mAh battery promises up to 15 hours of playback in balanced mode and up to 20 hours in normal mode. The player is equipped with a pedometer,

Pros – great DAC, bi-directional Bluetooth adapter, MQA support

Cons – at this price – nothing

Verdict: Excellent value for money


6. Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper

Price – $269

The collector’s limited edition of the famous player got into our rating solely due to its stunning red copper case with a purity of 99.99%. The functionality and specifications have not changed compared to the base model – a DAC based on two ES9219C chips from ESS Saber, output power at a balanced output of 190 mW at 32 Ohms, support for MQA decoding, 2.5 mm and 3.5 mm headphone jacks. The company will release only 499 copies of the model.

Pros – stunning appearance, compact size

Cons – low power

Verdict: For lovers of unique gadgets


5. TempoTec V6

Price – $329

An interesting Hi-Res player with support for Google Play and MQA runs on a proprietary OS based on Android 8.1. The DAC in the model is built on two AKM4439SE chips from Asahi Kasei, and in the amplifying part there are four OPA1688 operational amplifiers for each channel. Output power is up to 610mW into 32 ohms on a 4.4mm balanced output, and the player also has a conventional 3.5mm mini-jack jack. The device can handle PCM streams up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD 512, and provides full MQA file decoding. Two oscillators operating at frequencies of 49.152 MHz and 45.158 MHz are responsible for the exact observance of the temporal characteristics of the signal. The capacity of the built-in battery is 4500 mAh, on the front panel there is a 4.2-inch diagonal touch screen.

Pros – availability of Google Play, MQA support, good amplifier power

Cons – unassuming design

Verdict: A player with good functionality and good value for money


4. Shanling M3 Ultra

Price – $479

An upgraded version of the popular M3 Hi-Res player is housed in an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy body with a tempered glass back. The 4.2-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels occupies the entire surface of the front panel. Two ES9219C chips from ESS Saber work in the DAC block, and a dual RT6863 op-amp is used in the amplifier section. The output power of the device is 260 mW at 32 ohms, there are 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm jacks for connecting headphones. The central processor is Snapdragon 665, the player runs Android 10. Wireless capabilities include dual-band Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth 5.0 adapter with LDAC support. The battery with a capacity of 3500 mAh is enough for 20.5 hours of work. The player is able to work with PCM streams up to 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD256, as well as fully decode MQA files.

Pros – Improved DAC, long battery life, beautiful case

Cons – power could be higher

Verdict: Excellent mid-range player


3. FiiO M11S

Price – $500

The updated 11th model of the player with the S index differs from its predecessor in the central processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 instead of Samsung Exynos – and other chips in the digital-to-analog converter. Here the DAC is built on a pair of ES9038Q2M chips from ESS Saber. The amplifier section has also become more powerful – the output power on the balanced connector is up to 670 mW at 32 Ohms. The player has three headphone outputs at once – 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm, and the latter can be switched to line-out mode. The power supply has separate leads for the preamp and power amp sections. The large battery has a capacity of 5300 mAh and allows the player to work in playback mode for 14 hours. The touch screen on the front panel has a size of 5 inches and a resolution of 720p.

Pros – top-end DAC chip, powerful amplifier, three headphone jacks

Cons – battery life

Verdict: A new generation of successful player


2.Hiby RS8

Price – $3,299

The flagship model uses many interesting solutions, including the second version of the overall Darwin II architecture, an amplifying path in class A and others. Suffice it to say that the DAC in the model is made on a resistive R2R matrix, which includes 12 high-speed switches and 184 resistors. Two femtosecond clocks operating at 45.158 MHz and 49.152 MHz are responsible for the accuracy of the digital signal timing. The body of the player is completely made of titanium, the battery with a capacity of 12,000 mAh is enclosed in its own separate casing made of pure copper. Built-in memory is 256 GB, operational – 8 GB. The player is running Android 12, the central processor is Snapdragon 665. The touch screen has a size of 5 inches and a resolution of 1080p. The signal circuits use tantalum capacitors, ELNA SILMIC II silk capacitors, Panasonic thin film capacitors. The digital filter operates in two modes – with and without oversampling. The model has two headphone jacks – 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm.

Pros – DAC on a resistive matrix, titanium case, high-quality components

Cons – only price

Verdict: Top player for portable and stationary use


1. Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000

Price – $3,699

The new top player from the Korean manufacturer has a fully dual architecture, in which the balanced and unbalanced paths are completely separated. The amplifier is made according to the proprietary Teraton Alpha circuit, which effectively suppresses supply noise and optimizes the operation of the output stages. The player’s digital-to-analogue converter block is based on AK4499EX chips from Asahi Kasei. The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 is used as the central processor. The body of the device is completely made of 904L stainless steel, the screen size is 5.46 inches and has a resolution of 1080p. The Bluetooth adapter supports aptX HD and LDAC codecs, the model is Roon Ready certified and supports MQA decoding. The maximum voltage at the balanced output is 6.3 V, at the normal output – 3.3 V. Three jacks are provided for connecting headphones – the usual 3.5 mm (can be used to output an optical digital signal) and balanced 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm. The player weighs 493 grams.

Pros – top-end chip from Asahi Kasei, separate paths for balanced and unbalanced connection

Cons – as always – expensive

Verdict: The new flagship of Astell & Kern – and that says it all

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