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The best MP3 players (and, yes, they're still a thing in 2023)

Remember when MP3 players were a thing? They still exist, and the best MP3 players can even sync with services like Spotify to let you listen to your music without a phone.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer on

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.

It may surprise you that MP3 players (also known as digital audio players or DAPs) are still very much around. The MP3 players in 2023 can sync to streaming services like Spotify, color and touchscreen displays, and expansive storage options.

Also: The best Bluetooth speakers

I've rounded up the best MP3 players on the market today that are worth ditching your smartphone for.   

Pros & Cons
  • Small and compact
  • Decently priced
  • Create and listen to your own playlists
  • Can be a bit tricky to use with a Mac
  • Not suitable for listening to podcasts
More Details

Sony NWE394/B tech specs: Storage: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB | Battery: Up to 35 hours | Display: 1.77-inch (128 x 160) color LCD | Media types: PCM, AAC, WMA, JPEG, and MP3

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 16GB of memory, which equates to about 4,000 songs.  

You can easily drag and drop your files from a laptop or computer to the Sony NWE394/B, and it's also compatible with iTunes or the Windows Media Player to create your own playlists. In addition, there are 30 preset FM radio stations, a sleep timer and alarm, and included wired earbuds right out of the box. 

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

SanDisk Clip Jam tech 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

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 and eight books. However, a microSD card slot allows for additional storage.

Like my top pick, this MP3 player also has a built-in FM radio tuner and included earphones. 

Pros & Cons
  • Expansive storage
  • Multiple output connections
  • High-quality and dynamic sound
  • Software could be a bit better
  • Super expensive
More Details

Astell & Kern KANN MAX tech specs: Storage: 64GB plus microSD | Battery: 13 hours | Display: 4.1-inch (1280x720) touchscreen  | Media types: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DIFF, DSF, MQA

At $1,299, this MP3 player isn't for the average person. Instead, this is for audiophiles who want a high-quality MP3 player to immerse themselves in music fully. It has an analog volume controller to deliver a rich, dynamic sound.

This player has four levels of gain, which is the amount of amplification applied to a signal to increase its strength. In addition, a feature called ReplayGain will automatically adjust the volume so it's consistent across tracks. KANN MAX also has three output connections: a 3.5mm single-ended output, a 2.5mm (4-pole supported) balanced output, and a 4.4mm balanced Pentaconn output.

In addition, Open App Streaming allows for online/offline access to selective apps like Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, and more. 

Pros & Cons
  • Stay Fresh feature to keep your playlists up to date
  • Lightweight with a clip design
  • The app could be more user-friendly
  • Wired headphones definitely work better
More Details

Mighty Vibe tech specs: Storage: 8GB | Battery: 5 hours | Display: 1.4 inches (Just buttons, no display) | Media types: Spotify and Amazon Music

This compact MP3 player from Mighty Vibe is reminiscent of Apple's popular iPod Shuffle and works similarly but is more 2023-friendly. You use the Might 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. It works with both Bluetooth headphones and wired headphones, although some users said that wired headphones sound better. 

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

FIIO M11S tech 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

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 OPA926 op-amp 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 4.2 technology, and when set into Bluetooth receiver mode, it becomes a high-quality Bluetooth amplifier with better frequency response. 

What is the best MP3 player?

The best MP3 player for most people is the Sony NWE394/B 8GB Walkman, based on compatibility and price. It also has an impressively long battery life of up to 35 hours. 

MP3 player



Battery life

Sony NWE394/B     


4GB, 8GB, or 16GB

Up to 35 hours

SanDisk Clip Jam


8GB plus microSD

Up to 18 hours

Astell & Kern KANN MAX


64GB plus microSD

13 hours

Mighty Vibe



5 hours




13 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 NWE394/B     

The best overall option when it comes to price and quality. This Sony Walkman is compact and allows you to listen to your favorite curated playlists. 

SanDisk Clip Jam

A budget-friendly MP3 player. It has room for about 2,000 songs or eight audiobooks. 

Astell & Kern KANN MAX

An MP3 player for audiophiles who are serious about sound. It has four levels of gain and three output connections for different sound experiences. 

Mighty Vibe

A mini MP3 player that has a clip. You can sync up your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists wirelessly to listen on the go. 


An MP3 player perfect for lossless audio. It has a quality metal build as well as a touchscreen display. 

How did I choose these MP3 players?

I considered many factors when making the final picks for top MP3 players, such as brand name and reliability, customer reviews (both good and bad), audio quality, media types, and different price points. 

Is it worth it to buy an MP3 player?

In 2023, 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 phone.

Do MP3 players need Wi-Fi?

No -- the beauty of MP3 players is that they don't need Wi-Fi to work, meaning you can use them in more situations. However, some MP3 players do have Wi-Fi connection compatibilities, such as the Mighty Vibe player or the Astell & Kern KANN MAX. 

Are there alternative MP3 players worth considering?

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

Black rectangle mp3 player with soundwaves on its screen


Aiworth Portable - Another cheap option

This MP3 player is just $36 and uses Bluetooth 5.0 for faster data transfer. It can also store 32GB, which is about 5,000 songs. 

View at Amazon
Light blue iPod touch


iPod Touch - A fan favorite

Even though Apple discontinued the iPod Touch in 2022, you can still buy used or refurbished models if you want to relive the good ol' days. The iPod touch can also take photos and videos. 

View at Walmart
A black mp3 player with a song playing on its screen


Mechen HR - An MP3 player that displays lyrics

A full-color 2-inch LCD display can display lyrics to whatever song you're listening to so that you can sing along. 

View at Amazon
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