Best MP3 Player

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The proliferation of MP3's as the preferred method for enjoying our favorite music has made the compact disc all but obsolete. Much like the way the audio cassette was phased out by that bright and shiny new CD; MP3's are the latest advancement in technology and, therefore, all the major manufacturers are offering their own versions of the MP3 player. These mobile devices come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have a few core commonalities. They're built to be portable, lightweight and easy to carry with you on the go. They have varied storage capacities to hold hours upon hours (and in some cases, days) worth of songs.

Many of these devices can play various file formats beyond just MP3's and some of them can even play movies as well. There are players for every budget, some are available for as low as around $30 while others can get rather pricey; and there are players for every lifestyle, whether you want one to have with you on the way to work in the mornings or you need a player for jogging or swimming laps (that's right, there are waterproof players you can have in the pool). The bottom line is, if you're in the market for a good MP3 player we've found the best ones you can buy at any price. 

Best MP3 Player Overall:

MP3 players seem to be more popular than ever these days. Apple's iPod certainly revolutionized the industry and everyone else has met the challenge of keeping up with demand and innovation. Some have succeeded in surpassing the iPod in functionality and operating system interface and there are certainly vocal consumers who prefer other players over iPods for a myriad of reasons. Apple's device will pair best with Apple products, while many others connect to PC's and don't rely on the iTunes service which some people just simply don't like.

Most MP3 players have a wealth of compatible formats that both iPods and other types of players support, though some formats like FLAC's still elude many devices and you need third party apps to play those specifically. But there are a few things they all have in common.

For the most part these units are small and are able to do more than just play music. Full color screens allow control over your files and can broadcast clear video, sometimes in HD. They also large storage capacities and longer battery life to keep the fun going much longer.

Check out the five players on our list below and see if the one you're looking for is one of the units we recommend. Each one has made the grade based upon the following criteria: size, ease of use, file format compatibility, storage capacity, sound quality, functionality, additional features, and price.

Apple iPod Touch 64GB (5th Generation)

One of the most popular products in Apple's iPod line of media players makes the top of our list. It's slim, lightweight, has a large display and two versions shoot 1080p HD video. You have your choice of three storage capacities in 16, 32, or 64 GB models. Read Full Review

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    Apple iPod Touch 64GB (5th Generation)

    Sony NWZE385 16 GB Walkman MP3 Video Player

    No list of the best MP3 players would be complete without Sony's E Series Walkman which is super-thin so it fits easily into any pocket or purse. The Walkman lets you play music and video, offers two sizes of storage capacity and offers multiple music sources. Battery life is pretty terrific here as well, and it will even sweeten the sound of your compressed files with Sony's audio enhancement technology. Read Full Review

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      Sony NWZE385 16 GB Walkman MP3 Video Player

      Philips GoGear Ariaz 16 GB MP3 Player

      Philips brings the Ariaz model from their GoGear line to our list. This 16 GB mp3 player provides good clear audio quality and does it through your headphones or the built-in speaker that can fill a room quite nicely. Battery life is respectable but if you're looking for something to play exceptional video you may want to look elsewhere. Read Full Review

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        Philips GoGear Ariaz 16 GB MP3 Player

        SanDisk Sansa Fuze SDMX20R 4 GB Black Flash Portable Media Player

        Sandisk is well known for their flash memory storage products and they make some pretty good MP3 players as well. The Sansa Fuze+ is obviously compact and lightweight and offers a good amount of storage capacity for bringing all your favorite tunes everywhere. You can also expand that storage capability. The Fuze+ is very simple to use, supports multiple file formats, and comes equipped with a few extra bells and whistles to make music lovers happy. Read Full Review

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          SanDisk Sansa Fuze SDMX20R 4 GB Black Flash Portable Media Player

          Astell & Kern AK120II High Resolution Single DAC Audio Player

          Astell & Kern offer one of the most expensive MP3 players on the market today. This is a serious piece of equipment, strictly for discerning audiophiles who can appreciate the nuances in every layer of their music. Supporting a laundry list of formats and built with acoustic design as its prime objective, the AK120 II isn't for everyone and it comes back around to that price tag of around $1700. Read Full Review

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            Astell & Kern AK120II High Resolution Single DAC Audio Player

            Best Small MP3 Player:

            Size doesn't always matter as some of the tiniest MP3 players offer the same features as their larger and more expensive counterparts. But these are more portable and while they may not play as many different file formats as the bigger versions, they have many of the same bells and whistles. FM radio, voice recording, playlists and video screens are all widely available on these diminutive variations on the common MP3 player theme.

            Check out the five picks we've chosen to be the best players on the market right now, selected along criteria including portability, sound quality, ease of use, functionality, added features, storage size capacity, file format compatibility, and price.

            Apple iPod Nano 16GB Space Gray (7th Generation)

            Apple's iPod Nano tops the list because it looks great, sounds even better, and is a heck of a lot of fun to play around with. It's able to play multiple formats, has Bluetooth capability and can also play video on a 2.5 inch touchscreen. Read Full Review

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              Apple iPod Nano 16GB Space Gray (7th Generation)

              Cowon Z2-32BL 3.7" AMOLED 800 x 480 Capacitive Touchscreen MP3 Player

              Cowon's Z2 Smart is aptly named, with the ability to enhance the sound of your music during playback through its proprietary audio technology. It's portable and compact enough to take with you anywhere and doesn’t require a long charge time to replenish its internal lithium battery. With a touchscreen large enough to easily read and access all of the player's navigation menus, the Z2 even lets you watch movies. Add Wi-Fi for surfing the web, and you have one of the best small MP3 players around. Read Full Review

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                Cowon Z2-32BL 3.7" AMOLED 800 x 480 Capacitive Touchscreen MP3 Player

                Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                For just around $50, you can get this 2 GB unit that lets you store a few hundred tracks along multiple playlists, as well as podcasts, audiobooks and more. Unlike previous iPod Shuffles, this one puts the control of your music back in your hands instead of random shuffling through your library of files. Read Full Review

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                  Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                  SanDisk SDMX22-004G-A57K Sansa Clip Zip 4 GB

                  Sandisk makes some of the best compact and affordable players on the market at the moment and this unit is a shining example of the dedication to quality you can expect from the Sansa line of mp3 players. The SDMX22 is chock full of features while still remaining affordable at any budget. You get 8GB of storage space, great sound quality and portability with this unit. Read Full Review

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                    SanDisk SDMX22-004G-A57K Sansa Clip Zip 4 GB

                    Speedo Aquabeat 2.0 4GB MP3

                    The swimwear folks at Speedo have a rather impressive little MP3 player that can be used on the water, underwater, during a workout, or when you're just heading to work. It lacks some of the more sophisticated extras you might find on other players at this size, but Speedo has gotten a lot right here as well. While storage capacity is average, you can't beat the value at this price. Read Full Review

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                      Speedo Aquabeat 2.0 4GB MP3

                      Best MP3 Player For Running:

                      MP3 players that are best suited for fitness and running are often compact and can be attached to your body for hands-free portability. Whether it's a clip, an armband or a neckband that fits snug around the back of your head, these kinds of players are meant to withstand the elements (you'll find two on our list that are waterproof). They also have user-friendly interfaces that often include one-touch controls, and they're lightweight for simple portability.

                      Most of these units play other file formats besides only MP3s and have storage capacities all the way up to a possible 32 GB for hours of audio playback. Battery life ranges on these units and some even have fast charging capabilities providing an hour or two of playback on a mere three minutes of charge time.

                      The five following best MP3 players for running were chosen along criteria including portability, weight, ease of use, functionality, sound quality, format compatibility, storage capacity size, and price.

                      Sony NWZW273 4 GB Waterproof Walkman Sports MP3 Player

                      The Sony Walkman product line has come a long way. This waterproof MP3 player has enough storage for hundreds of hours of audio and is compatible with multiple formats including MP3, WMA, AAC and more. The earphones are also the device, fitting around the neck and comfortable to wear through any number of activities. Lightweight and wireless, this is the perfect MP3 player for the after-work athlete, the dedicated marathoner, or anyone in between. Read Full Review

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                        Sony NWZW273 4 GB Waterproof Walkman Sports MP3 Player

                        Kubik Evo 8GB MP3 Player with Radio and Expandable MicroSD/SDHC Slot - Black

                        There's a lot to like about the Evo, an 8GB media player from Kubik Digital. It can playback a wide variety of formats with crystal clear sound quality and it's small enough to take with you running, working out at the gym, or on your commute to the office. Battery life is pretty good here as well, and you have your choice of enjoying your music and video files or checking out FM radio instead. Read Full Review

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                          Kubik Evo 8GB MP3 Player with Radio and Expandable MicroSD/SDHC Slot - Black

                          Pyle PSWP4BK Waterproof Neckband MP3 Player and Headphones

                          Made to fit around your neck, the MP3 player is part of the lightweight, waterproof headphones much like the Sony Walkman at the top of our list. Rated IPX-8 for submersion in up to 3 feet of water, this player is ideal for those who sweat buckets when going for a run or if you just want to listen to some Phish while you're swimming. Read Full Review

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                            Pyle PSWP4BK Waterproof Neckband MP3 Player and Headphones

                            Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                            The iPod Shuffle is perfect for busy lifestyles. It's a simple little unit that you can clip right to your running jacket or sports bra and press play. There's no screen, only a simple multi-directional pad to control which songs play when, and the handy voice-over feature can give you all artist and track information with just the touch of a button. Read Full Review

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                              Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                              iRiver T6 MP3 Player

                              The T6 from IRiver is a modest, relatively inexpensive MP3 player with limited format compatibility and easy to use, yet oddly assigned controls. There are four options for storage size capacity and it comes with some of the typical bells and whistles as the other options on our list, such as FM radio and a 1.8 inch color screen that's suitable for looking at photos. Read Full Review

                              iRiver T6 MP3 Player

                              Best Cheap MP3 Player:

                              Maybe not cheap, but inexpensive is really the way to describe these five MP3 players. Each one is priced at or below $60, and they offer something for everyone's budget.

                              On the low end, you'll find a player that has storage for up to 500 songs, four hours of battery time and gives you control over your library with a directional pad. On the high end, there are MP3 players on our list that play multiple formats (including video files), offer up to 8 GB of storage for 3,000+ songs, and provide high quality sound with crystal clear playback.

                              These selections are all compact and easily portable for music anywhere you want to be. In choosing these players we compared them along the following criteria including their sound quality, compatible file formats, ease of use, functionality, added features, storage capacity size, and price.

                              SanDisk Sansa Clip Plus 4GB Black MP3 Player

                              SanDisk's Sansa Clip+ takes the top spot for a number of reasons. Size played a big factor in the decision; the unit itself is small and designed for portability. Storage capacity is massive, allowing for extensive libraries of audio to be brought with you at all times. The device can also playback a variety of formats besides MP3. Read Full Review

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                                SanDisk Sansa Clip Plus 4GB Black MP3 Player

                                Philips GoGear Raga 4 GB MP3 Player

                                Another option on our list that is priced at the higher side of the spectrum, this unit from Philips comes available in 4 and 8GB storage sizes. The engineering on this device contains specific audio-sweetening technology to deliver a player that provides some of the best sound of any unit and comes with a few extra features that make it worth your time and money. Read Full Review

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                                  Philips GoGear Raga 4 GB MP3 Player

                                  Sony Walkman NWZ-E383BLK 4GB MP3 Player

                                  Priced at around $50 this player handles audio and video files for hours of playback. Sony's Walkman plays multiple formats and has loads of memory for storing hundreds of files. You'll also get an FM tuner with loads of presets and there's a USB port for easy recharging from any computer and a five band equalizer to sweeten the sound just the way you like it. Read Full Review

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                                    Sony Walkman NWZ-E383BLK 4GB MP3 Player

                                    Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                                    Apple's iPod Shuffle has been around for a few years now, but it's still the best little player on the market for a reasonable price. Unlike previous generations of the device, this Shuffle gives you full control over your playlist. There’s also a voice-over feature that provides track information through your headphones in lieu of a display. It's tiny, but it comes with a handy clip so you don't lose it. Read Full Review

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                                      Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB MP3 Player

                                      Riptunes MP1857 2GB MP3 and Video Player,1.8" Full Color Display

                                      This unique little device has a load of features with a small amount of storage capacity. The MP1857 retails for less than $20, so it's entirely affordable for any budget while still being able to play back a respectable amount of file formats. It plays video but don't expect much resolution on the unit's small full-color display. You also have some limited control over your music but at this price, you're definitely still ahead of the game. Read Full Review

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                                        Riptunes MP1857 2GB MP3 and Video Player,1.8" Full Color Display
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                                        2 comments
                                        • redwar01hotmail.com redwar01hotmail.com

                                        I would like a small light music player not hard to operate. I am new to this world of technology and need advise

                                        Posted on 4/1/2014 10:53 am | Reply
                                        • 5broccoli7 5broccoli7

                                        Hi I am looking for a device to put downloads of about 1 hour duration for listen to while walking or driving. I would like to put many such downloads on it so am looking for space. Would like to keep the price under 100.00 Take you

                                        Posted on 4/18/2013 11:09 am | Reply