Even if the majority will prefer a basic MP3 player, you may be one of those whose sound quality is paramount.
But be careful because not all models are created equal. This buying guide has been published by me to allow you to choose the best music player in 2020 according to your budget!
FiiO M11: the best portable FLAC player on the market?
In the sector of portable music players, think again, there are many brands that compete for the market. Some, such as Fiio in particular, have largely contributed to the fact that the portable music player has become widely democratized today. And we must admit that the latter knows how to do it, and masters his subject well. Its know-how can be felt through its different models. Precisely, we are here in the presence of the FiiO M11, a new high-end generation that brings its share of improvements.
The strong points
Wifi + Android: This is probably the most notable feature that makes this model a high-end audiophile player. Indeed, this combination was only found on the very high-end X7, at least with this brand. This offers the user an almost unlimited list of features since they can install what they want in terms of application.
Music will also have no limits, with the various online streaming services. If you were looking for a Spotify compatible player or even Netflix, you have found the right one.
Very good sound performance: What is sought above all in an audiophile player is sound quality. At this level, the FiiO M11 is simply flawless, with phenomenal power, a double DAC, a double operational amplifier, much sound processing available, and above all, an efficient and precise 10-band equalizer.
Ease of use: Despite the multitude of features offered by this device, it turns out that navigation through the various menus and parameters remains fluid and intuitive. The interface is fluid and responsive, as long as one respects its primary purpose, that is to say the audio. So do not expect to run games or other greedy applications on it, this device is just not made for that.
Two protective covers: One of the biggest points of this model is that it comes with two protective covers, one in leather, more aesthetic, and the other in silicone, more effective against shocks.
Storage: If the device already has an internal memory of 32 GB, the user can still use two microSD card slots, each of which can accommodate a card with a capacity of 2 TB, which in all does a lot of storage, enough to hold more than a million titles!
The weak points
Autonomy: Despite its 3.8 V battery at 3800 mAh, the autonomy of the device remains quite limited to 13 hours, which is not surprising given that we have the total on this model, namely the audio player high performance, touch screen, WiFi and Android.
Cowon Plenue D: the best quality value for money
If you are of those who think that Internet connectivity and an operating system under Android are not used for much on a portable audiophile, and especially that you are not ready to slam an amount too large for this type of, so how about Cowon Plenue D? Backed by its vast experience, the brand has once again been able to combine performance and compactness. The fact is also that this player offers a very interesting price/quality ratio.
The strong points
Value for money: According to the testers, this audiophile player is able to satisfy the most demanding backpackers, in terms of audio performance. At the design level, it also seduces a lot with its compactness. However, the price turns out to be quite affordable, given the level of the device.
Excellent performance: Despite its small size, this audiophile player almost astonishes with its great sound performance. As an indication, the power of its headphone output goes towards 320 mV RMS, which is more than enough to push the portable headsets usually found on the market. This same output is also extremely faithful, which will allow you to fully enjoy your favorite songs, down to the smallest detail.
Careful design: This model advances manufacturing with solid materials. Its compactness, once again, really deserves to be praised, especially since the manufacturer has been able to very well arrange all the buttons as well as the various ports. It looks like a small pack of high-end cigarettes, even a lighter, with its very minimalist dimensions of 77.1 x 53.1 x 14.9 mm.
Monstrous autonomy: On the market, Cowon Plenue D is one of the devices capable of displaying monstrous autonomy. This model promises in particular up to 100 hours of autonomy in mp3 playback (but around fifty hours in FLAC player mode). With this, you can easily reach the two weeks of use (about 4 hours of listening per day), all for only 3 and a half hours of recharging.
Standby mode: One thing that often annoys with this type of device is the start-up time. In this model, the manufacturer has thought of integrating a standby mode in the event of prolonged use, which increases the speed of execution when you are going to restart the device. Speaking of speed, it should also be noted that this model has the advantage of quickly analyzing new songs added.
The weak points
Getting started: No doubt because of its small size, navigation through the different menus can be difficult at first. That said, once you understand how it works, there is no more worry.
Sony NW-A45: an inexpensive but reliable music player
Of course, in terms of player, Sony still holds a certain place both in the market and in the minds, marked by the famous Walkman, a product that has crossed several generations. Sony would have been stupid not to continue, and rightly, the brand offers us here one of its devices mastering the famous Hi-Res Audio, this revolution which was born in 2014 in terms of sound quality. The Sony NW-A45 is certainly an entry-level product, therefore an inexpensive audiophile player, but which also knows how to seduce with many qualities.
The strong points
Wide compatibility: This device offers fairly wide compatibility in terms of file formats, ranging from mp3 to the very recent MQA, including WMA, wav, aac, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, and even non-native DSD. If you are looking for a good portable FLAC player, here is a good candidate. Note that this Walkman even has an FM radio, the headphones (or headphones) acting as an antenna.
Good sound performance: On this point, Sony very rarely disappoints. This is also valid on this model which includes the latest versions in terms of amp (S-Master HX) and algorithm (DSEE HX), and a 6-band equalizer which will allow you to refine the different bass levels, medium, and treble.
In any case, this model surprises many with its sound performance, with a balanced and warm tone, clear treble and round bass, as well as a fairly wide sound scene considering its price range. If you are looking for a Hi-Res player, you are served.
DAC function: This device also has a particularly interesting function, allowing it to be used to amplify a computer with a bad sound card or even a Smartphone. It’s about doing what is called a “bypass”, thanks to the integrated DAC function on this device, thus making you benefit from the quality of the S-Master HX amplifier.
Easy to use: The interface of the Sony NW-A45 is very easy to use, very intuitive. Besides, it looks like handling the high-end Walkmans “series”. You can also have NFC for one-touch listening functions, and Bluetooth streaming. Note that this device still incorporates the SBC, which guarantees compatibility with older devices.
The weak points
No headphones: It is true that with this type of device, it is customary to plan the purchase of a more efficient headset if one wants to take full advantage of the sound performance of the device. That said, Sony should still have provided a small pair of headphones, even a low-end one, to be able to use the device right out of the box.
What is a music player?
The primary reason why we opt for a portable music player is often to be able to enjoy a very good quality of our music anywhere and anytime. We can, therefore, be immersed in a musical universe without disturbing others by involuntarily imposing our musical tastes. If you are a music lover or a music lover, the audiophile player has been specially designed for you. Here are a few things to know about an audiophile player.
Why get one?
An audiophile player is known for its ability to offer the best possible sound quality to its user. For each of us, optimized listening quality is one of the main goals of buying such a device. It is therefore recommended to choose high definition audio files (FLAC, ALAC, or even DSD) to optimize this sound gain.
Note that unlike a simple mp3, this type of device is designed to reproduce and keep as much value as that which the sound engineer concocted in his studio during production.
Other than that, a portable music player has autonomy ranging from 10 to 100 hours. This will allow you to have continuous and prolonged listening. Finally, some portable music players are equipped with a digital/analog conversion function (DAC) so that they can be connected to a computer as an amplifier.
Smartphone or music player?
Currently, everyone (or almost?) Has a Smartphone, this device considered to be a mini pocket computer capable of running a multitude of applications, including multimedia. Precisely, if we can put our music on our Smartphone, what is the point of investing in another additional device, why buy an audiophile player? Here are some answers.
In terms of noise, there is a big difference between a Smartphone and an audiophile player. And that seems perfectly normal when you think about it. Indeed, a Smartphone has been designed to run many different applications, including the music player. While an audiophile player has been specially designed for this, although some models run on Android and thus offer the possibility of installing applications. So, in terms of power and frequency response, nothing beats an audiophile player.
Storage and battery
There too, the Smartphone is handicapped by its numerous applications and other files that must share the storage of the device. However, in an audiophile player, all the storage will be dedicated to music, ditto for autonomy. Regarding this last point, when you use a Smartphone, you automatically think of the remaining percentage of the battery, and you will probably have to close the player to leave enough juice to surf, or even to be reachable. With an audiophile player, you rarely have a battery problem.
That said, investing in an audiophile player also has its drawbacks: having to carry around an additional device, having to buy better quality headphones, etc.
How to use an audiophile player?
Using an audiophile player is relatively simple. In a few words, just transfer our music to it from a computer, and press the Play button. In the details, it can be more complicated, depending on the model. For example, you need to know how to navigate through the various menus and functionalities of the device, in particular, to tweak the settings (equalizer, sound processing, etc.). But to use an audiophile player well, you must also choose the right headphones that go with it!
Which headphones for music players to choose?
Indeed, a good portable audiophile needs a good headset, if the user wants to take full advantage of the sound performance of his device. Apart from the arguments of comfort (ergonomics, size, etc.), it is especially important to look at the power and noise reduction (insulation), in order to fully enjoy your music. On this point, you will not be wrong to trust the most famous brands, such as Beats by Dr. Dre, Sony models or others.
There is also the issue of “wireless” or “wired”. At this level, the wired will always remain the most effective and the most efficient, but the wireless will also remain the most practical (provided that the portable player offers the Bluetooth function). In addition, the latter has experienced clear improvements in terms of loyalty and speed these days.