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The best MP3 players you can buy

We rounded up the best MP3 players from Sony, Fiio, and more that can sync with services like Spotify to let you listen to your music without a phone.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Sony NW-A306 Walkman | Best MP3 player overall
Sony NW-A306 walkman
Sony NW-A306 Walkman
Best MP3 player overall
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Sandisk Clip Jam | Best budget MP3 player
Lime green SanDisk mp3 player with black earbuds next to it
Sandisk Clip Jam
Best budget MP3 player
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Mighty 3 Spotify Music Player | Best mini MP3 player
Mini purple MP3 player with buttons
Mighty 3 Spotify Music Player
Best mini MP3 player
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Fiio M11S | Best lossless audio MP3 player
The front and back of a black mp3 player with music on its screen
Fiio M11S
Best lossless audio MP3 player
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Remember MP3 players? Long before we had everything we needed on our phones, we had to have a portable player to listen to our music. In the history of portable audio players, there were Sony Walkmans, followed by CD players, and finally, the MP3 player dominated the early 2000s--especially with the debut of the iPod in 2001.

It may surprise you that MP3 players (also known as digital audio players or DAPs) are still very much around in 2024. The MP3 players of today sync to streaming services like Spotify, sport color and touchscreen displays, and offer expansive storage options. And while you may be listening to them with wireless earbuds instead of corded ones, they offer us a sense of nostalgia while still giving us the advantages of today's tech. 

Also: The best Bluetooth speakers

What is the best MP3 player right now?

We rounded up the top MP3 players you can buy through evaluating storage, battery life, media type, and price to deliver this curated list of picks. My top choice for best MP3 player overall is the Sony NW-A306 Walkman thanks to its compact design, price, and high-quality audio, but I've rounded up the best MP3 players on the market today that are worth ditching your smartphone for.   

Also: The best sound systems you can buy

The best MP3 players of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Detailed sound
  • Compact and portable
  • Long battery life
  • Can be a bit tricky to use with a Mac
More Details

Sony Walkman players may look a little different than you're used to, but this Walkman still functions the same as Walkmans of the past -- just with a modern edge. It has an LCD display with up to 18GB of memory, and if that's not enough, you can expand up to 32GB with an SSD card. 

Sony says it uses artificial intelligence to enhance the quality of compressed digital music files, uses S-Master HX technology to reduce distortion, and employs a reflow solder to improve sound localization. 

Also: Sony has a new Walkman. That might be a bigger deal than you realize

The player also has High-Resolution Audio, which captures and reproduces digital audio at a higher rate than CD to get you closer to the original studio recording. You can access apps like Spotify or Apple Music via Wi-Fi, or connect it to a PC to access your music collection.

Reddit users praise the long battery life and say that the Walkman's quality is such a step up from a smartphone that it's worth the buy.

Sony NW-A306 specs: Storage: 18GB (expandable up to 32GB with SD) | Battery: Up to 36 hours | Display: 3.6-inch tocuhscreen | Media types: PCM, AAC, WMA, JPEG, and MP3

Pros & Cons
  • Super affordable
  • Good sound quality for its price
  • Expansion card for more storage
  • Does not bookmark your position in a book or song
More Details

If you want to spend less than $35 on an MP3 player, this Sandisk Clip Jam player is a solid option. It's just 0.8 ounces and comes in fun colors like red, pink, and green. It has room for 8GB of storage, or about 2,000 songs. However, a microSD card slot allows for additional storage.

Plus. this MP3 player also has a built-in FM radio tuner and included earphones. 

Overall, 90% of Best Buy customers who have bought this player would recommend it to others, giving it an average rating of 4.3 out of 5.

Sandisk Clip Jam specs: Storage: 8GB plus a microSD slot | Battery: Up to 18 hours | Display: 0.96-inch (128 x 64) White OLED | Media types: MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV

This compact MP3 player from Mighty is reminiscent of Apple's popular iPod Shuffle and works similarly but is more 2024-friendly. You use the Mighty app to sync your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists wirelessly. Mighty Vibe's Stay Fresh feature automatically syncs these playlists while you sleep, so you always have up-to-date tracks.

A clip-on design makes this MP3 player perfect for running or working out. Plus, it's rated IPX4 to resist splashes of water or sweat. It works with both Bluetooth headphones and wired headphones, although some users report that wired headphones sound better. 

Verified customers like the ease of use of the Mighty 3 and note that it's super durable. 

Mighty 3 specs: Storage: 8GB | Battery: Up to 8 hours | Display: 1.5 inches (Just buttons, no display) | Media types: Spotify and Amazon Music

Pros & Cons
  • Impressive and dynamic sound
  • Quality-built metal chassis
  • Touchscreen display
  • Quick charge isn't really that quick
  • Older software and limited memory
More Details

Lossless audio has risen in popularity in recent years thanks to Apple's implementation of the technology in Apple Music. This MP3 player from Fiio is perfect for lossless audio tracks thanks to a custom-made chip, which provides lower noise floor and distortion. 

The player comes with Android 10 right out of the box so that you can access the Play Store and whatever streaming app is your go-to. It uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology, and when set into Bluetooth receiver mode, it becomes a high-quality Bluetooth amplifier with better frequency response. 

Reddit users recommend using cable headphone to get the best sound out of it, but note that even the Bluetooth sound via LDAC is much better compared to a smartphone.

Fiio M11S specs: Storage: 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage | Battery: 13 hours | Display: 5.15-inch bezel-less (1440 x 720 ) touchscreen | Media types: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, DXD

What is the best MP3 player?

The best MP3 player for most people is the Sony NW-A306 Walkman, based on compatibility and price. It also has an impressively long battery life of up to 36 hours. 

MP3 playerPriceStorageBattery life
Sony NW-A306 Walkman
$6518GB (expandable up to 32GB with SD)
Up to 36 hours
Sandisk Clip Jam$358GB plus microSDUp to 18 hours
Mighty 3$1258GB8 hours
Fiio M11S
$50032GB13 hours

Which MP3 player is right for you?

The right MP3 player for you will depend on how much storage you need, what audio files you want to upload, if you need something simple or high-end, and what price you're willing to spend.

Below, I've broken down the options further. 

Choose this MP3 player...If you want...
Sony NW-A306 Walkman
The best overall option when it comes to price and quality. This Sony Walkman is compact and has Hi-Res audio.
Sandisk Clip JamA budget-friendly MP3 player. It has room for about 2,000 songs.
Mighty 3A mini MP3 player that has a clip. You can sync up your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists wirelessly to listen on the go.
Fiio M11SAn MP3 player perfect for lossless audio. It has a quality metal build as well as a touchscreen display.

Factors to consider when choosing an MP3 player:

There are several considerations to keep in mind before purchasing an MP3 player.

  • Storage: The amount of storage in an MP3 player will ultimately determine how many songs it can hold, so pay attention to devices with lots of storage space. For example, 16GB of memory equates to about 4,000 songs. 
  • Media types: While MP3 players of course take MP3 files, consider devices that support additional file types, including WMA, WAV, AAC, and more. 
  • Battery: The great thing about modern-day MP3 players is that they will have much better battery lives than the devices of the past. The average battery life for a good MP3 player will be about 12 hours. 
  • Price: MP3 players vary greatly in price, from budget-friendly picks to expensive ones built for audiophiles.

How did we choose these MP3 players?

When choosing the best MP3 players, we do extensive research into different products and brands, taking into consideration user reviews (both good and bad), competitor analysis, and more.

How many songs does an MP3 player hold?

This all depends on the amount of storage that is on the MP3 device. The number of songs an MP3 player can hold will also depend on a song's file format and compression rate, so these numbers may vary. Here is a quick guide for reference of how many songs typical storage types can hold: 

  • 4GB = 1,000 songs
  • 8GB = 2,000 songs 
  • 16GB = 4,000 songs 
  • 32GB = 8,000 songs 
  • 64GB = 16,000 songs

Is it worth it to buy an MP3 player?

In 2024, you might wonder if it's even worth buying an MP3 player when you can just listen to music on your smartphone. However, MP3 players are great for kids who want to listen to music but don't yet have a smartphone, people who like to run or hike outside, or those who simply want to listen to music without any distractions from their phones.

Do MP3 players need Wi-Fi?

No. Because MP3 players don't need Wi-Fi to work, you can use them in more situations. However, some MP3 players do have Wi-Fi connection capabilities, such as the Mighty Vibe player.

Are there alternative MP3 players worth considering?

Of course, there are plenty of other MP3 players outside of these four options. Here are some other products I think are worth looking into.

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