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The Best Standalone MP3 Player for All Budgets

James Frew Updated 14-11-2019

It may have been a while since you’ve used a standalone MP3 player. Most of us now stream our music through services like Spotify or Apple Music rather than maintain a physical or digital music collection.


However, our smartphones aren’t always the best way to listen to music. Battery life, data allowances, and screen time restrictions all impact our music playback. If you’re after a separate device to listen to music on, we can help.

Here are the best MP3 players you can buy today for all budgets.

Best MP3 Player Overall:
Apple iPod Touch 256GB

Apple iPod Touch 256GB Apple iPod Touch 256GB Buy Now On Amazon $379.99

While Apple has discontinued the legendary iPod Classic, the iPod Touch 256GB is a worthy successor. That said, the iPod Touch barely resembles the comparatively basic iPod Classic. The Touch is more like an iPhone without the cellular connection. It has access to the App Store, runs Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, and comes with apps like Apple Music pre-installed. You can load your own music via iTunes too.

Unlike many standalone MP3 players, the iPod Touch has an 8MP primary camera with a 1.2MP front-facing camera. While you can only access the internet via Wi-Fi, the most significant difference between the iPhone and the iPod Touch is price. You’d pay almost double for the equivalent amount of storage on an iPhone. If you don’t need 256GB of storage, you can save some money by opting for the 32GB or 128GB model instead.


Best Sony MP3 Player:
Sony Walkman NW-ZX300

Sony Walkman NW-ZX300 Sony Walkman NW-ZX300 Buy Now On Amazon

Sony were the originators of personal audio with their Walkman cassette and CD players. Although never as popular as the ubiquitous iPod, the Sony Walkman MP3 players continue to offer great value for money. The Sony Walkman NW-ZX300 is one of the best MP3 players for audiophiles, too.

The NW-ZX300 weighs 157g, has a 30-hour battery life, and charges in 5.5 hours. It also runs the purpose-built Sony Original OS, rather than a mobile operating system like Android or iOS. The device supports a comprehensive selection of file formats, including Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files, and can even upscale your compressed audio files thanks to a feature called DSEE HX.

The rigid aluminum frame is designed to resist electrical noise, giving clear audio reproduction and playback. The NW-ZX300 comes with a balanced plug for headphones, providing dedicated right and left audio channels. There’s support for Bluetooth as well, using Sony’s LDAC to transfer data at nearly three times the rate of standard Bluetooth profiles.


Best Waterproof MP3 Player:

FINIS Duo FINIS Duo Buy Now On Amazon $69.38

The FINIS Duo is among the best waterproof MP3 players on the market, but it is also fairly unique. The Duo is primarily aimed at swimmers who want to be able to listen to music underwater. To that end, the device is IPX8 rated for waterproofing up to 3 meters for 30 minutes.

It is unlike other MP3 players on this list, though, as it uses bone conduction, rather than headphones, to playback your music. The Duo can be placed onto a headband or the strap of your goggles and rests on your cheekbone. You won’t have to recharge it too often either, as the battery lasts up to seven hours. It has 4GB of onboard storage for MP3 or WMA audio files.

Best Cheap MP3 Player:
Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player

Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player Buy Now On Amazon $28.50


In their heyday, cheap MP3 players would lack features or storage space—not anymore. The Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player is an affordable, but feature-packed, option. This 16GB MP3 player has SD card support so that you can expand your storage up to an additional 128GB. It also has a Bluetooth 4.0 connection, making it a breeze to connect to your favorite Bluetooth headphones and speakers.

The device supports all major audio file formats; MP3, WAV, WMA, APE, FLAC, and AAC. There is a built-in speaker, an FM radio, support for ebooks, a 2.4-inch color screen, and a voice recorder. It even offers 55 hours of playback from a two-hour charge. Of course, if you’re after a standalone MP3 player, you may not need all of these features. However, for the price, it’s an excellent choice.

Best MP3 Player for Kids:
Mighty Vibe

Mighty Vibe Mighty Vibe Buy Now On Amazon $85.99

You may not want to give your children something easy to damage or expensive. If you’re after an affordable, but resilient MP3 player, then the Mighty Vibe is an excellent choice. The device is the spiritual successor to the discontinued iPod Shuffle but has one key difference; Spotify. The Mighty Vibe allows you to download up to 1,000 tracks from Spotify to listen to on the device, without your phone.


This makes it the perfect MP3 player for kids—download their favorite Spotify playlist to the device, and they can listen for up to five hours on a single charge using wired or wireless headphones. The player weighs just 20g, and is water and drop resistant. It does, however, require a Spotify Premium subscription to download music.

The Best MP3 Player for You

Although your smartphone can playback music, it isn’t always the best choice. A dedicated MP3 player may work better for you, especially if you have your own music library. They often have more storage and better battery life too. That’s not to mention that they are often significantly cheaper than a smartphone.

Before you add music to your new MP3 player, you’ll want to make sure your music library is organized. These tools to manage your MP3 collection The 4 Best Tools to Manage Your MP3 Music Collection These are the best tools to manage your MP3 collection, helping you cure your music library management headaches. Read More may help you out.

Related topics: Buying Tips, MP3, MP3 Player, Music Album, Music Management, Streaming Music.

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  1. Sally Hu
    September 3, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I would like to get a non-budget MP3 for the audio quality but wondering if spending more would make a difference since all my music is in MP3 format. Would really appreciate input/guidance. Thank you!

  2. ssrinivasan
    June 7, 2017 at 4:41 am

    I use a couple of old Nokia feature phones without SIM cards. They are compact and have Bluetooth, 16 GB SD card capacity plus other features like clock, calendar, alarm etc. Convenient and no extra cost. Can't ask for more.

  3. Nick
    June 7, 2017 at 1:12 am

    There's no Rockbox support for the Clip Sport or Jam.

  4. n
    June 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

    The first picture is the superior Sansa Clip Zip and not the model you thought it was.
    Secondly, I am surprised there is no mention of the Shanling M1.

  5. Dragon
    June 6, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I still have a Sansa e280 that I bought when it first came out. I don't remember what I paid for it but it has 8 gigs onboard and micro slot for another 16 at least. Radio on the fly recording removable battery had to trash the ear phones and get a good pair of earbuds but it was still worth the money. Still my favorite mp3 player.

  6. Rohin
    June 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Which mp3 player is good for exclusive in-car use? Should have lots of storage or micro SD card slot. Plse suggest

  7. TEEJ
    June 5, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Any standalone music player that can install Spotify (most likely Android based)?

  8. likefunbutnot
    June 5, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I actually like older versions of the Sansa Clip. The color screen on newer models has a pretty serious negative impact on battery life and does nothing to improve usability for its intended purpose. I carried one in my pocket and kept a second in my car for years. I particularly appreciate FLAC support on them and only completely gave up on them because I prefer the convenience of bluetooth earbuds most of the time.

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      I had several Clips and Clip+s. They are designed to break down over time. The clip mechanism is good for about a year and then the plastic starts cracking. Like you I also switched over to Bluetooth headphones. A dedicated device is great but the way they design them to break is really just sad.