How to choose an MP3 player to listen to of music

When choosing an MP3 player, pay attention to its acoustic characteristics and the amount of permanent memory.

how to choose mp3 player

How to choose an MP3 player: key options

The most important criteria when choosing an MP3 player are:

  1. Availability and type of DAC;

  2. Availability and type of amplifier;

  3. Supported audio formats;

  4. Built-in storage capacity and memory card support;

  5. Additional functionality.

  6. Equally important is the manufacturer of the device.

Types of players

There are several criteria by which you can group Existing MP3 players on the market today. For example, in quality sound they are divided into “ordinary” and Hi-Fi. And in constructive performance – on “standard” and performed in the format of headphones with built-in player. And finally, the type of built-in memory – on having an internal drive and intended for Use exclusively with microSD card.

Sound quality differences

There are two types of players that differ in sound quality. – “normal” and Hi-Fi. The first usually refers to the lower price range and cost from several hundred to 10-15 thousand rubles, the second – to the top one (that is, from 30 thousand rubles and above).

The differences in these devices are manifested not only in price, but also in designs. “Ordinary” MP3 players come with simple DACs and low-power built-in amplifiers, which allows them play music acceptable for most users quality level. Hi-Fi devices get elaborate stuffing and therefore provide almost perfect sound.

However, one small “but” arises here. Most often MP3 players used to play compressed music, and, as you know from the title, in MP3 format. Listen to compressed music on Hi-Fi devices are like firing a cannon at sparrows. Top players designed to play appropriate formats – for example, WAV or at least Flac.

How to choose an MP3 player?

Thus, if you just need a device for listening to music on the go and you’re not ready to look online store where you can buy albums in Hi-Res, you the most ordinary MP3 player of a budget or medium price will do range. For fans of high-quality sound, ready to give thousands of dollars for top-end audio equipment (including headphones with impedance of the order of 250 ohms), designed Hi-Fi-players.

Form Factor Differences


There are two form factors of MP3 players – monoblock (regular “box with buttons”) and “headphones”. First type devices distributed most widely. Such MP3 players are quite simple. in use, have the usual UX, and most importantly – they can apply with a variety of headphones, which allows you to choose a suitable pair. They also have a drawback. Headphone wire – the weakest point of such an “audio pair”: firstly, it can interfere (especially during sports activities); and secondly – fray, break down, etc.

The player-headphones have been spared this disadvantage. Running, as the name implies, in the headphone form factor (most often with a headband passing through the top of the head or back of the head), they provide complete freedom of movement. In addition, such devices thanks to the minimum number of connectors, there can also be waterproof, which will further delight athletes not wanting to part with music while swimming or making soul.

But on this the advantages of such players are limited. And here there are more disadvantages:

  1. Unusual and sometimes inconvenient control. To switch songs, as well as start / pause will have to reach for the ear. because of the lack of screen will have to guess the desired composition on hearing;

  2. Inability to connect other headphones. However, the speakers such devices are often balanced by acoustic parameters “fillings”, therefore, the desire to change the headphones for a lowly user will not even arise.

The choice in this case is quite simple. If you do not wish put up with wires, plan to run a lot, swim, engage sports in the gym or some other physical activity, and music is needed just “for the background” – the perfect solution will become a “player headphone”. The rest will fit the usual monoblock.

Memory Type Differences

By the type of memory used, players are divided into three groups:

  1. Without internal memory, only with microSD;

  2. Without a microSD slot, only with internal memory;

  3. And with internal memory, and with a slot for MicroSD.

MP3 players without built-in memory are the cheapest and compact. Most often, such devices have tiny dimensions (slightly larger than a coin, for example) and weight (measured in tens of grams). Well, the battery life of such players can leave much to be desired.

Low price is the only advantage of such players. Behind the memory card that will be used in them, anyway have to pay. And the sound quality is usually not too high. Such players are suitable only for very unpretentious users.

Non-MicroSD MP3 Players – Probably the Most A common group of such devices. It, for example, includes almost all devices from Apple (iPod series), iRiver, Sony, and even Fiio The main advantage of such players is support a wide range of music formats, including lossless, for account of high speed access to internal memory.

The disadvantage is the limited amount of internal memory. Therefore, to carry the entire music library, you have to “fork out” on expensive device with a large internal drive. But in players with a small amount of internal memory will often have to be changed recorded music.

MP3 Players with Built-in Memory and Card Slot MicroSD is the most universal solution. Music in them is possible write to both internal and external drives, which provides virtually unlimited scalability music libraries. ”

Players of the last two types are recommended for purchase. Devices without their own memory are worth buying only case they provide unavailable in other solutions functionality (for example, “budget Hi-Fi player” Fiio X3 II, equipped with quartz DACs and at the same time worth about 15 thousand rubles, does not have built-in memory).

Main selection criteria

Criterias of choice

Availability and type of DACs

DAC – Digital-to-Analog Converter – Used as clear from the name, to convert digital audio into analog currents. The better it is, the more frequencies it can play the player and the wider the band of each frequency. Those. from DAC characteristics depends on whether you can hear each note in songs or you have to be content with the general rhythm.

If the DAC model is separately indicated in the device characteristics – such a player is recommended for purchase. Moreover, the best DACs The following companies produce: Crystal, Philips and Wolfson. However they are quite expensive – often unreasonable for portable player.

Indirectly find out about the availability of DACs based on supported formats (see below).

Availability and type of amplifier

As the name implies, an amplifier is a functional element, which increases the amplitude of the sound wave. This allows “swing” the headphones, make them louder or more distinct.

Well, if the technical specifications of the MP3 player are indicated amplifier. If not, it’s okay, just your favorite headphones Beyerdinamic with an impedance of 250 ohms will have to be used at home. AND the best mobile amplifiers are devices from Analog Devices and OPA.

Indirectly find out about the presence of an amplifier based on supported formats (see below).

Supported Audio Formats

There are two types of audio formats – compressed and lossless. The first are small in file size, more or less good sound quality (which greatly depends on the bitrate), and most importantly – low load on the processor of the player. Lossless formats, in its in turn, have a large file size, excellent sound quality, huge bitrate, frequencies inaudible by humans are not cut out in them, but at the same time, when decrypting, they heavily load the processor.

Compressed formats include:

  1. OGG. It is found mainly in streaming services;

  2. MP3 The most common format;

  3. AAC. Compressed format used by Apple;

  4. WMA Compressed format used by Microsoft.

  5. Uncompressed (lossless) formats include:

  6. FLAC. Most common;

  7. ALAC. Like FLAC, only proprietary to Apple;

  8. APE The most common Hi-Res format.

If the player supports lossless formats, then in it installed more or less good DAC and amplifier. If not supports – none of this exists, all conversions are performed on the device’s processor.

Nevertheless, the more formats the player supports – the it’s better. If it, like the Sony NWZ-B183F, only supports MP3 and WMA, music of a different type will have to be converted with special programs.

Internal storage capacity and memory card support

Large capacity built-in storage for an MP3 player, if not support for lossless formats is required, not needed. Even 4 GB You can record 2-3 discographies of different artists. However, Optimum capacity is 8-16 GB.

If you plan to record very large discographies (e.g. U2 band collection or all posthumous albums of Michael Jackson), should you buy a player with support for microSD memory cards or built-in drive from 16 GB.

Additional functionality

Among the additional features that you might find useful, can distinguish:

  1. Body material. Metal is more reliable than plastic;

  2. Moisture protection. What is needed for athletes;

  3. Bluetooth Allows you to connect wireless headphones;

  4. Screen on several lines. Displays not only the name of the song, but also the selected modes, as well as general information.

But the touch screen and video format support in most cases are completely useless. Rather, they even say that the manufacturer saved on a good DAC and amplifier, just sticking more powerful processor. Unless, of course, we are talking about iPod Touch

Top manufacturers

Among the best manufacturers of players can be identified:

  1. Apple Releases the famous iPod series;

  2. Sony Known for the Walkman brand;

  3. Fiio Budget Hi-Fi players.

  4. You can also highlight the companies Ritmix and iRiver, producing budget MP3 players.

In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose quadrocopter, secrets of choosing a voice recorder and the main factors of choice inexpensive phone.

Attention! This material is subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a buying guide.

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