The Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles – 2021 Edition (Updated)

Portable music players or Digital Audio Players (DAP) are popular nowadays. Music lovers and audiophiles are looking of DAPs than can drive their HiFi, Hi-Res headphones and IEMs to enjoy music wherever they go. If you are in the market looking for the best portable music players currently available, then you are in luck because there are several options to choose from. I have updated this list to highlight some of the latest and best portable DAPs in the market according to different categories. There’s no “one DAP fits all”, each has its own unique features, pros and cons; and the best DAP for you might not be the best for someone else. Go ahead and check them out below.

Best Sounding Portable Lossless Audio Players

Like I said earlier, there is no one DAP fits all, or one DAP to rule them all, yet. True that there are several high-end DAPs nowadays that can do a lot of things. However, these DAPs tend to be (very) expensive, and some may have a tuning that doesn’t fit your taste or “not your cup of tea”.

It doesn’t mean that if a DAP is the most expensive in the market, then it is the best. Usually it is, but nowadays, there are a lot of DAPs that are affordable or mid-range-priced and are really good sounding. Some DAPs are expensive due to brand name, while other are expensive due to the set of features they offer.

In this article, I highlighted several DAPs that are best in their own category and price range. There are other DAPs that are good as well, but I didn’t include them to avoid the list from being too long. Instead, I’ll create a table later and include them there. Without further delay, let’s check out the best portable audio players now.

The Best Budget DAPs

Shanling M2X Portable Music Player

Shanling M2X Portable Music Player

(Release date: March 2019 | MSRP $219 USD) First in the list is the Shanling M2X. This small and compact portable music player features a 3.2” touch screen display and is powered by Shanling’s MTouch 2.0 system. It features a single AKM AK4490EN DAC chip, with single TI OPA1612 chip as the low-pass filter and a dual AD8397 amplifier chip.

The M2X supports 32bit/384kHz PCM format up to DSD256 audio formats. It has a 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended output as well as Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connection. Its main storage is via a single microSD card slot. It’s a simple and straightforward music player for people who are in a budget.

For latest pricing and availability: the Shanling M2X is available on here.

iBasso DX160 2020 ver. High Performance DAP

iBasso DX160 High Performance DAP

(Release date: March 2020 | MSRP $399 USD) Up next is the iBasso DX160, which is one of the company’s newer semi mid-level DAP. It features a nice 5-inch 1080p touchscreen display and runs on a modified Android 8.1 with MQA decoding. It features two Cirrus CS43198 DAC chips with support for PCM 32bit/384kHz and native DSD256.

The unit itself is powered by an octa-core CPU with 2GB DDR3 RAM and 32GB internal storage. Its main storage is via a microSD card slot as well. For connectivity, it has a 3.5mm single-ended / lineout and 4.4mm balanced output; as well as Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 802.11 ac. Consider this if you want a much better user experience.

The iBasso DX160 high performance DAP is available here.

Best Portable Music Players – No Compromise

We are now moving to the mid-range to higher-end level of DAPs. These are more feature rich, overall better sounding than the budget options and are more versatile without breaking the bank.

HiBy R5 Saber Edition Portable Android Music Player

HiBy R5 Saber

(Release Date: December 2020 | MSRP $399) The HiBy R5 Saber edition “cuts through the most complex of recording to reveal detail for all to hear“. Compared to the R5 standard edition, the R5 is smoother and warmer than the R5 Saber. At its heart, it features a dual CS43198 DAC configuration; with support for Native DSD256, and MQA 8x unfolding, aside from the usual PCM audio format. The unit itself is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC and runs on a modified Android 8.1 operating system.

It also sports 2GB of memory and 16GB of internal storage. 16GB of storage is obviously not enough. So, it has expandable storage via a microSD card slot that supports up to 2TB of microSDXC. Battery life is around 18 hours of continuous playtime, and has quick charge QC3.0 support.

The HiBy R5 Saber also features Direct Transport Architecture; and high quality Panasonic capacitors like 4 470µF electrolytic, 7 200 µF and 4 47µF capacitors. For output ports, it has a 4.4mm balanced out and a 3.5mm single-ended output. It also has a USB-C connector for charging, data and USB-DAC functionality.

The HiBy R5 Saber Android music player is now available on here.

Cayin N3Pro Dual Timbre DAP

cayin n3pro solid state vacuum tube dap

(Release date: August 2020 | MSRP $479) The Cayin N3Pro is one of the unique DAPs listed here. It features a solid state and vacuum tube resulting in a dual timbre output. Actually, it is “triple timbre” since in tube mode, you can choose triode or ultra-linear mode. All three modes have a unique sound signature and characteristics.

The N3Pro is a fully balanced digital audio player with both a 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced output. It features two AK4493 DAC chips that can support up to 32bit/384kHz and native DSD256 formats. Its headphone output can drive up to 800mW@32Ω using the balanced output.

However, it runs on a custom OS based on Linux. So don’t expect a similar experience with an Android-based DAP. It does have WiFi for updating and a Bluetooth connection for BT devices. With the latest firmware update, it’s also able to support MQA formats.

The Cayin N3Pro is now available in the US. You can check out its latest pricing and availability on here.

HiBy R6 Pro Portable Hi-Fi Music Player

hiby r6 pro

(Release date: January 2019 | MSRP $599) First in this category is the HiBy R6 Pro, the successor and an upgraded / refined version of the older R6. It features a dual ES9028Q2M DAC chip configuration with four MUSES8920 as I/V, two SSM6322 for low pass filter and Amp; and a Direct Transport Architecture bypassing Android.

It runs on Android 8.1 and is powered by a Snapdragon 425 SoC, with 32GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot that can support up to 512GB microSDXC. It has a 3.5mm headphone out, a 4.4mm balanced out and WiFi 208.11 a/b/g/n with Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connection.

The R6 Pro’s pricing seem to change from time to time. For latest pricing and availability of the R6 Pro check it here.

FiiO M11 Pro Android Lossless Portable Music Player

FiiO M11 Pro Android Lossless Portable Music Player

(Release date: August 2019 | MSRP $649.99) The Fiio M11 Pro is the company’s answer to the R6 Pro. The M11 Pro is also an upgraded and refined version of its predecessor, the FiiO M11. The Pro features two AK4497EQ DAC chips, a Samsung Exynos 7872 SoC, 64GB of internal storage with one microSD card slot can that “support up to 2TB” of microSDXC.

The M11 Pro has three outputs, a 2.5mm balanced, a 3.5mm single-ended and a 4.4mm balanced output. It also has Bluetooth and dual-band WiFi wireless connection. This DAP has more features and capabilities, so if you are a FiiO fan, this is currently the best they have.

FiiO M11 Pro Android Music Player is available on here.

Sony NW-ZX500 Walkman Hi-Res Digital Music Player

Sony NW-ZX507 walkman audio player

(Release date: November 2019 | MSRP $779.99) The Sony NW-ZX500 is the successor to the NW-ZX300, which was quite a popular DAP back then. The ZX300 was the budget alternative to the WM1A and WM1Z for those who are looking for the Sony sound signature.

The design is somewhat similar to its predecessor but now with rounded corners. It features Sony’s S-Master HX and DSEE Ultimate and supports up to PCM 384kHz and native DSD 11.2MHz. Just like the ZX300, the ZX500 also has a 3.5mm single-ended and Ø4.4 mm balanced connectors on top.

Sony is using a newly developed FT high polymer capacitors that, according to Sony, helps in delivering expansive vocals and instrumentation, plus powerful bass notes. It also offers WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 along with Android 9.0. With the new OS, you can do more with the new ZX500 compared to the ZX300.

The Sony NW-ZX507 is now available. It comes in two colors; you can get the Silver color here and the Black version here.

iBasso DX220 Reference DAP

ibasso dx220 referen digital audio player

(Release date: April 2019 | MSRP $899) Now for my personal choice, the iBasso DX220 Reference DAP. Unlike the other DAPs I mentioned so far, this one features a removable AMP section. Meaning you can change the output type and the amplifier of your unit; resulting also in a change of sound signature. Inside are two ES9028PRO DAC chips with support for PCM 32bit/384kHz up to native DSD512.

The DX220 has a huge 4400mAh battery, a really nice and detailed professional equalizer software and runs on Android 8.1 + Mango OS (dual system). It also features a nice 5-inch Sharp 1080p display, with 95% sRGB, 445ppi and 2.5D Corning glass panel. Among the DAPs mentioned in this list, for me the iBasso DX220 is the best, especially when paired with the iBasso AMP9 Nutube Vacuum tube amplifier module. You simply can’t go wrong with this DAP.

The iBasso DX220 Reference Digital Audio Player is available on here.

Sony NW-WM1A Premium Walkman Digital Music Player

Sony NW-WM1A

(Release date: October 2016 | MSRP $1,199) For the Sony fans and mainstream lovers out there, the Sony NW-WM1A is currently one of the best. It’s not the best since Sony has still one DAP above the NW-WM1A, which I will talk about shortly. The NW-WM1A runs on Sony’s proprietary software, so unlike most DAPs in this list, this one is a pure music player.

It supports PCM 32bit/384kHz up to Native DSD 11.2MHz. It has a 3.5mm single-ended output and a 4.4mm balanced output. There’s also a 128GB built-in storage with one microSD card slot for storage expansion. The Sony NW-WM1A features DSEE HX and S-Master HX digital amp technology. In fact, most of the features in this player are Sony’s proprietary technology.

The Sony NW-WM1A Premium Walkman is getting older, so there may be changes to its price by now. Check its latest pricing and availability here.

Fiio M15 Flagship Android Hi-Res Smart DAP

fiio m15 flagship dap

(Release date: January 2020 | MSRP $1299.99) The Fiio M15 is the company’s flagship “Android Hi-Red Lossless Smart Portable Music Player”. It features two AK4499EQ DAC chips that are capable of decoding up to 768kHz sampling rate and native DSD512. The unit itself is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7872 SoC, meaning this DAP is no slouch at all.

It also features an XMOS XUF208 USB chip for USB DAC that supports 768kHz/32bit and DSD512 input. When it comes to wireless connectivity, it has a Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth chip that can support various formats like aptX-HD, LDAC, and more. The M15 also features Fiio’s 3rd gen FPGA that comes with advanced algorithms, more accurate clocks, and even further reduced jitter.

It’s powered with a 7,490 mAh battery and offers 15 hours of battery life or 1800 hours of standby time. Charging this device won’t take long as it supports QC2.0, MTK PE, and USB PD fast charging. The M15 has more features under its sleeves, too many to include in this summary. It’s really a no-compromise, multi-functional “smart” digital audio player; best DAP in its class. If you’re looking for a “modern player”, I’d point you towards this.

The Fiio M15 flagship DAP is now available on here.

Best DAP for Full-Size Headphones on the Go

AK KANN Cube Portable High-Resolution Music Player


(Release date: June 2019 | MSRP $1,499.00) For those who wants a portable DAP, but needs a DAP with a powerful amplifier that can drive full-sized headphones properly, the AK Kann Cube is perhaps your best option; offering up to 12V of power. This thing is larger compared to the other DAPs listed here. It features a dual ESS ES9038PRO DAC design for Pro audio equipment and supports 32bit/384kHz up to native DSD256. Aside from the usual, 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm headphone out, the KANN Cube even has a 5-pin mini XLR output, with 4Vrms, for even less noise. It also has a 128GB built-in memory, a nice 5-inch HD touch display, USB Type-C connector with fast charging support, WiFi and Bluetooth aptX HD for wireless streaming, and many more. If not for the software and versatility of the iBasso DX220, this is going to be my next best DAP.

Check latest pricing and availability of AK KANN Cube on here.

Best Portable Music Players – Money No Object

For those who have the money to burn on a DAP and money is no object in the pursuit of ultimate audio bliss, then these last two DAPs may be what you are looking for.

Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Series Hi-Res Walkman

Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Series Hi-Res Walkman

(Release date: October 2016 | MSRP $3,199.99) The Sony NW-WM1Z is part of Sony’s Signature series lineup. It’s Sony’s current flagship digital audio player, despite being available in the market for quite some time now. Compared to the NW-WM1A, the NW-WM1Z features better components; uses high quality Kimber Kable inside; double the storage capacity (256GB) and a much better sound quality than the WM1A.

Of course, at this point, it is going to be subjective already. It doesn’t mean that since it’s doubled in almost all aspects, sound quality is also “doubled”. But it does offer a much better sound quality than the WM1A.

The Sony NW-WM1Z has been in the market for quite some time now, so check the latest pricing and availability here.

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP2000 Hi-Res Music Player

AK Aultima SP2000 DAP

(Release date: July 2019 | MSRP $3,499.00) Astell&Kern’s latest flagship portable hi-resolution music player is the A&Ultima SP2000. It is said to be “a true high-resolution music player, with bit-to-bit playback up to 32bit/768kHz and native DSD512 support”. The SP2000 features two AKM AK4499EQ DAC chips, octa-core CPU, Parametric EQ, Femto Clock, a 6Vrms balanced output and a 3Vrms unbalanced output.

It also has 512GB of internal memory, 5” HD touch screen display, open App support for music streaming, dual band WiFi and Bluetooth with aptX HD support, and many more. The SP2000 is definitely not a value-oriented product; it is more of a luxury DAP, just like its predecessors.

The Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP2000 is now available in the US. It’s available in both Stainless Steel version here, and Copper version here.

Bonus: Best Smartphone DAP

LG V40 with hifi quad dac

Okay, for those who wants something more than just a music player; like a “smartphone DAP”, currently the best I could think of are the LG V40 or the LG G8 series. LG’s latest smartphones are built with a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC made by ESS Technology. I think the specific chip is called ES9218P. In the previous LG V20 and V30 series, it was Bang&Olufsen who tuned LG’s smartphones. They have a warmer and “consumer-friendly” tuning. Meanwhile, the newer LG V40 and G8 series are tuned by Meridian, and has a more linear and detailed tuning with better clarity.

The LG V40 is available on Amazon here, while the LG G8s ThinQ is available here.

This is currently my list of the best portable music players available in the market that are geared towards the hobbyist, enthusiasts and audiophiles alike. All of these portable music players have great to fantastic sound quality; and it comes down to personal preference. Audio is a subjective topic, and what’s good for you may not be good for me. Just one thing, do yourself a favor, if ever you are going to buy one of these DAPs, be sure to load them with high resolution lossless audio files, at least. Please don’t load them with a lossy and sometimes poorly encoded MP3 files. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of getting one and you’re better off using your smartphone instead. Good luck!

See also my Top 10 Best Portable Music Players from Entry Level to Mid-Fi
See also my Top 10 Best Open Back Headphones under $500

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61 Responses

  1. TanLee45 says:

    How about the Lotoo PAW Gold and ARM2?

  2. Anton White says:

    Why no Questyle QP1r?

  3. George says:

    I would like to buy the Fiio X7 since it’s the cheapest from the 10. Please make a review of the X7.

  4. Tamal says:

    Small correction the k5 is only an amp, it has no dac of its own.

  5. David Nguyen says:

    Please make a comparison of the Fiio X7 and Pioneer XDP-100R

    • Alfredo says:

      Tengo el fiio x5 3rd, y el Pioneer xdp-100r, si das prioridad a streming como Spotify, es recomendable el Pioneer, pero si deseas usar solo los archivos grabados, es mejor el fiio

  6. woopie says:

    tera player?

    • Jeany Jane says:

      nah, sorry tera player didn’t passed my taste. too simple and no UI. will have another article like this and the next will be the best entry to mid DAPs.

  7. JAck says:

    None of the Digital Audio Players that are high end have replaceable batteries, after a couple of years the battery dies … eh … You discover the DAP is glued together and the battery can’t be changed. (look at reviews at Amazon (com / whatever) ) When the players have been on the marked for 2-3 years they start getting BAD reviews. (The DAC is NEW but the batteries have been inside the player for 2 -3 years. I been working for more than one computer supplier (support) and after 2-3 years the notebooks usually begin to make all kinds of errors caused by a “near flat” battery.)

    There is a reason you only get ½ year warranty on a notebook battery, THEY KNOW the battery will not last for more than 2 years max! – If the computer is sold 1 – 1½ years after production the battery will only last for a couple of months.

    I been searching for a DAP that:
    1 – is NOT glued together – I hate that!
    2 – have some kind of replaceable battery – like my 2004 DAP which is still working, but can’t handle FLAC, and is only 256mb!

    When I read reviews “this player is awesome” and so on – I would like to know how awesome the player is the day it needs a new battery?
    All the reviewers comment on battery life like it’s important. OK 10 hours is good! But how about 2 years from now, when the battery runs out in 2-3 hours and you want a new battery for your £700 glued together DAP – “oh… well.. sorry but we have glued it together, you can’t change the battery “but we have a new one on the marked that is much better than your old one only £10000”.

    Sad but true.

    • m says:

      Excellent reply; thank you.

    • Cool says:

      Damn, I didn’t know that.
      Extremely valid point. What comparable player on the market does have a replaceable battery ?

    • Roland Lickert says:

      You have a point one reason I stick to my I-Basso DX 50 that has replaceable battery same type as used for Samsung S 3 which is available in any Hand phone shop . One reason I stick to my Note 4 as well .

    • Jaythe_engineer says:

      I am an engineer that used to design industrial computers. Many of your statements are just plain false and show how limited your knowledge of battery chemistry and electric work together. I do not know of any laptop that starts to have ‘all kinds of errors’ from any battery condition. Batteries either supply enough power to run the laptop or they do not, simple as that. They are not active sources and cannot introduce noise to cause the system to have errors. And never in my 20 years of design would any person with technical knowledge use the term ‘flat battery’.

      A good LiPo battery these days can last well over 5-6 years if properly taken care of. They truly do have 1000+ charge cycles. There are 2 key points to remember. Never over charge the battery, remove the charge cable after 5-6 hours maximum. And never charge the battery when the unit is excessively hot or cold. LiPo batteries do not suffer from the old ‘memory effect’ so charging after 30-50% discharge rates is totally acceptable.

      Please be careful of what you read in some of these forums as uneducated and misinformed advice can alter your opinion of certain products and procedures in an unnecessary way.

      • Carlo T. says:

        What you have said is insignificant next to the MAIN point he was trying to make : that batteries GO BAD often times FAR SOONER than they should. As such, if you CANNOT change your battery, you are pretty much FUCKED with something that cost a LOT of hard earned money that you can no longer use. Perhaps You are one such person who find unlimited sources of money easy to come by. If so, good for you. But most of us are not in such a position. Being able to change a battery should be STANDARD on ANYTHING that cost even close to half a grand, let alone a grand or more. So why don’t you stick to your engineering and stop ridiculing someone who actually took the time to make a VERY valid point. In fact, the point he made was INSTRUMENTAL in helping make my own choice for a new player.

  8. dave smith says:

    Jack, you might want to take a look at the (recently discontinued) iBasso DX90. It uses user replaceable, and cheap, standard Samsung lipo’s. Unfortunately the latest model (DX80, for some bizarre reason) uses NOT-user replaceable batteries. I’ve found the DX90 to be an excellent player. I expect it’s discounted due to discontinuation.

    • Pete Cornwell says:

      Exactly. I just bought a DX90 because it has a replaceable battery and competes SQ-wise with anything on the market.

  9. Sudershan S says:

    Acoustic Research AR-M2 and Plenue Supreme (Plenue S) should also be included in this .. both of them have been launched before Q1 2016.

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Yes, you are right, they should be included in this list and they will be included in this list. 😉
      Will update this post very soon and will do another article for the entry to mid range DAPs.

  10. Photonicpainter says:

    Astell & Kern Junior is also great player.It is cheapest in A&K line but no mess,it has great sound! I’ve heard it on CanJam 2016 with good headphones,it sound impressive!

  11. Christopher says:

    The HIFiMan line of audiophile players have user replaceable batteries and can compete with the sound of any of these players.

  12. Briucee says:

    What a joke …many of these (aside from sony and fiio x7) don’t even have Wi-Fi for streaming (tidal Hifi)… if i pay $1-3k want I’d want the most versatile music machine I can have …lately finally AK has finally gotten with the program and started to offer streaming (which is fast taking over flax downloads and CD purchases)

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Hi Briucee, the Fiio X7, Pioneer XDP-100R, Acoustic Research AR-M20, ONKYO DP-X1 all have WiFi and supports third party app. All high end A&K DAPs have WiFi as well.

      I think you are looking for an all-rounder device, in that case, my suggestion would be the new LG V20. It’s built with ESS SABRE32 ES9218 Quad-DAC chip. Great for IEMs and lower impedance headphones. However its amp section is not that strong and it’s not able to drive higher impedance headphone.

      Then again, like audio or music each one of us has his/her own personal preference and needs. Most of the DAPs above may not work for you, but for others they do.
      Personally I’d go for an all-rounder device as well.

  13. Homer says:

    Cayin i5 would give these players a run for their money.

  14. Michael Lee Finney says:

    I had about given up on lossles players, but they appear to be coming along. However, the review didn’t cover much needed information.

    1. What is the maximum capacity? If it uses mirco sd cards, what is the upper limit? I can easily by 512G cards at amazon for 60$. My minimum acceptable capacity is 512G and expect to exceed that in the near future.
    2. How about music organziation? I need (at least) genre / artist / album, but sometimes want other organizations. Will it take standard files from Windows, including with Unicode names? Does it understand tagging in .flac files? Can you search by variious criteria.
    3. The other poster is absolutely correct. I will not buy another player with a non-replaceable battery. I am retired, and once I spend the big bucks, I will not do so again for many years.
    4. Many want wireless connections. I will not use any form of wireless as a security policy. I need to know about wired connections.
    5. If it uses a

    • Jeany Jane says:

      1. Most of these DAPs supports up to 128GB of microSD cards. Only a few supports 200GB or 256GB. You said you can “easily” buy a 512GB at amazon for $60, but I don’t see any 512GB microSD card at that price at amazon. Care to point out want microSD card are you referring to?
      2. I’m not sure if you have noticed it or not, but this is clearly not a review. It’s a list, a round up list and not a review. If you are looking for information such as music organization, you’ll have to check out individual reviews of these players. Or better yet visit an audio store where you can audition them.
      3. Unfortunately, non-removable and non-replaceable batteries has become a trend, even on smartphones. If you want a good audio player with removable batteries, I suggest you check out the LG V20.
      4. All of these DAPs have wired connections. Majority of audiophiles prefer to use wired connections. Bluetooth and WiFi are additional features for convenience. You don’t need to use them if you don’t want to.

  15. Alessio Biondi says:

    Does exist a portable player with usb output for the akg n90q headphones?
    Yes, they have usb direct connect line out option, with their internal DAC.

  16. music says:

    Which one of the modern players are equipped in Bluetooth/apt-x codes???
    Not mentioned in the article….

  17. Gardy says:

    I have to decide between the sony nw-wm1a and the fiio x7… what should i do?

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Fiio X7 Mark II is out and will be available in the market soon. It has an MSRP of $650, I think you might want to check that one out before finalizing your decision.
      Also note that the X7 has interchangeable or upgradable amp module, thus making its sound sig a bit different depending on the module used.
      You might want to consider the set of features the NW-WM1A has vs the X7 / X7 II.

  18. Kevin says:

    One somewhat significant change between the ONKYO DP-X1 vs DP-X1A: X1 has 32GB internal memory, the X1A has 64GB. There are also reports of improvement with the securing of the headphone jack.

  19. Tako says:

    I own fiio x7 ii. And calyx m. I tried all thise dacs. But for sound quality people those ak are not as good as Calyx m. Just try once calyx m it is old one but fantastic sound. And new fiio beats down ak 380 just try

  20. Gopa says:

    Chord Mojo + Poly ?

  21. Esoteric Natured says:

    Based on this review, one might as well get the LG V30+ with the Quad-DAC, 128GB internally and the ability to go 2 TB if they ever make it for a reasonable price on the SD Card. Also, based on one of the comments, has anything changed with wireless connectivity? Based on the current capabilities, I don’t believe wireless is up to an “audiophile’s” standards and shouldn’t even be a consideration.

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Audio quality alone, I believe these DAPs would outperform even the LG V20 / V30+. Don’t get me wrong, I think the LG V30+ is really good, I have the V20 and sound quality is very acceptable and capable.
      These DAPs can definitely compete in terms of audio quality (since it’s their forte after all), but other aspects and features… HHHMMMMMMM….. probably not.

  22. Peter says:

    Think long and hard about any purchase from small companies making big promises – Did my research and bought A&K audio player – Within 5 months the charging adapter port dislodged – 2 months of chasing them down – ignored email and excuses – then to add insult to injury they refuse to repair the device even thought it was within the 1 year warranty window? I’ve been in the audio industry for 20+ years and have never been treated with such disrespect as A&K. I wasted my $$$$ and will now go with a major manufacturer like Sony, Pioneer or Onkyo – These Chinese manufacturers do NOT stand behind their product – Have gone thru 4 Ipods over the years – Never had something as simple this occur – cold solder joint , poor quality control whatever stay away unless U prefer to throw your money away

  23. Nicholas says:

    Why did the iBasso DX200 come off the list?

    • Jeany Jane says:

      This is a little bit an outdated article already. We’ll update this very soon. The DX200 is still a very capable DAP. But there are newer DAPs released in the market and are usually better than their predecessors.

  24. stephen Ella says:

    I have been using iPod Classics Gen 5. A quick change over of hard drive and battery means a like new player.
    I am using Rockbox, have 384G (plus room for another micro card) and a extra large battery (3000mAh).
    Total cost has been under $200. Not the best audio but good enough for long overseas trips.

  25. Josh Beck says:

    You know what never gets mentioned in these reviews but is the primary concern for many people, is usability. How reliable is it, how long does it take to boot, are the buttons responsive, is the UI responsive. How does it do on importing and recognizing music, how is playlist functionality, etc? I have an AK Jr and I agree sound quality is nice for the price and era when I bought it, but the UI is painfully horrendously laggy, it rescans the entire library on boot up if I have deleted anything recently, meaning a 5-10 minute delay before it is usable, and the “back” button in the upper left is pretty small such that I only get it with about 70% accuracy. When I miss it, I hit the album art, which has the function of hiding the back button, which means I need to tap the album art again to get the back button again to have another go at hitting it. But I also have to train myself to wait for the UI refresh for all actions. In that regard, it cannot compete with a first generation iPod released in 2001. I’d like a newer player with a bit better sound and functionality, but most importantly, I want a rock solid, snappy, elegant, easy and intuitive UI, and I could give a flying f*ck about access to the Google Play store 🙂

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Hi Josh, this isn’t really a “review”. This is just a compilation on some of the best DAPs out there. And I haven’t updated this in a while. For sure there are new ones already that are better on this list. AK’s are really expensive DAPs, more or less “overpriced” and many would agree to this. There are far better DAPs in the market than the AK Jr. If you’re looking for that price to performance, then you shouldn’t look at AK products at all. You may want to check out the HiBy R6 DAP then. It’s one of the fastest and snappiest out there thanks to its Snapdragon SoC.

  26. Gman says:

    Hi guys just to be fair you mention pricing on the Sony as a negative . Let’s be honest the A & k models are seriously unjustified pricing there is no question . It pure elitist bull. There is nothing in the build or R & D that justifies the pricing. Human ears can only hear as good as the hosts life experiences ( The hosts environmental experiences and biology (age) ). So that leaves fair market value and I for one would contest any justification by A & K looto paw or any of the other so call high end audiophile quality players. That not to say these players are not good it just illogical pricing that will damage this market . You make your for 1/3and get close to the same quality.

  27. Peter says:

    I would like to replace my old iPod in my car. I do not understand why manufacturers do not think of those who want to listen to high-quality music in their car. Could you suggest to me a DAP that meets the following:
    – Max Sampling Rate: 32-bit / 384kHz
    – File Types: DSD, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, WMA, IOS, DSF
    – Handle external HDD to 2 TB
    – Have composite video out (via 3.5mm A / V connector)
    – have remote control
    Thanks in advance if you can help me.

  28. John Lupton says:

    Jeany, hi you state above: “The Onkyo DP-X1 and the new DP-X1A is third on my list due to their pricing. ” I am not clear on what your #1 & #2 players are? Please clarify, thanks. The Kann looks tempting….hmmm.

    • Jeany Jane says:

      Ahh sorry about this. There were 2 other DAPs before the Onkyo’s before (I think it was the Fiio and some other DAP). I haven’t updated this article yet. and I should have because it’s pretty much outdated already. And there are new DAPs available in the market as well. But generally, I arranged them according to price, from low to high. Kann is good specially if you have a headphone that requires a good AMP. AK also released new DAPs like the futura and norma

  29. Alessandro Sabatino says:

    LG G7… The best

  30. paul says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive list. If I had the basic requirements of 200g+ storage capacity, bluetooth and coax outputs, and less that $500, it looks like my only options are HiBy R6 and iBasso DX150. Is that correct?

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