Top 10 Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles – 2018 Edition

Portable music players or Digital Audio Players (DAP) are popular nowadays. Music lovers and audiophiles are in demand of DAPs than can drive their HiFi and 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 lots to choose from. I have listed here 10 of the best portable music players for audiophiles that can play lossless and high resolution audio, from the budget friendly Fiio to the insanely priced Astell&Kern portable players. These DAPs are all best sounding and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. But each comes with varying prices and features, so I guess the determining factor for which DAP is best suited for your needs (aside from the sound quality/signature of the DAP) are the set of features, design and look, and ultimately its price. I’ll list down all the 10 DAPs according to their respective prices, from low to high. I’ll also update the list from time to time whenever something new and better comes out. Without further ado…

Top 10 Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles-Q4-2017

UPDATE: I have updated this list to cope up with the new and better DAPs that became available on the market. You can see what was previously included on this list at the very bottom marked with “DAPs previously on this Top 10 Best Portable Music Players”.

Best Sounding Portable Lossless Audio Players

ONKYO DP-X1 / DP-X1A Digital Audio Player

The Onkyo DP-X1 and DP-X1A portable digital audio players are currently the company’s flagship music players. The DP-X1A is the newly released and improved version of the DP-X1, more like a 2nd gen; and comes with twice the internal memory. They are also the big brother of the Pioneer XDP-100R and they are quite similar from one another, but the Onkyo DP-X1 is beefier than the XDP-100R. It features a nice 4.7-inch HD display, runs on Android 5.1.1 OS and comes with a 32GB internal storage (actual is lower due to OS), expandable up to 432GB via 2x microSD card slot. I’m not sure if it is powered with the same processor as the XDP-100R, but the DP-X1 comes with a dual DAC ESS SABRE DAC ES9018K2M and dual AMP SABRE 9601K with two types of balanced drives: ACG and BTL.

ONKYO DP-X1 - Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles onkyo-dp-x1a-hi-res-digital-audio-player

It supports a wide range of sampling rate from 44.1 kHz / 48 kHz / 88.2 kHz / 96 kHz / 176.4 kHz / 192 kHz / 352.8 kHz / 384 kHz (16 bit / 24 bit / 32 bit *) (* 32 bit float / integer play down-converted to a 24 bit ) and up to DSD 2.8 MHz / 5.6 MHz / 11.2 MHz (1 bit), (converted to PCM playback). For outputs, the Onkyo DP-X1 has 2.5mm 4-pole (for balanced output, 32Ω ~ 600Ω) and 3.5mm 3-pole output (16Ω ~ 300Ω); standard balanced and active control ground (ACG) Modes.

The Onkyo DP-X1 digital audio player supports DSD (DSF / DSD-IFF), FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, AAC, and MQA (update required). It can also play video formats like H.263, H.264 AVC, H.265 HEVC, MPEG-4 SP, VP8 and VP9. Plus it can also read and view JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, and WebP.

For wireless connectivity, the Onkyo DP-X1 has WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth supporting A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, OPP, HID, PAN, SBC and aptX. For wired connections it has a Micro USB-B port. It also has gain switch (low / mid / high) and a high precision equalizer with up to 16,384 discrete bands to select from and the ability to save up to 1,000 EQ profiles.


This is definitely the best or at least one of the best portable music player recently released in the market. The Onkyo DP-X1 and the new DP-X1A is third on my list due to their pricing. It’s also noteworthy to mention that the DP-X1’s price has dropped since it was first released, the new DP-X1A is more expensive than the first gen. It’s probably not a good decision yet to get the DP-X1A now considering that there’s no significant change or difference between the two. Wait for price drops or consider getting the other DAPs listed here.

See latest pricing and availability of the Onkyo DP-X1 on here and the Onkyo DP-X1A here

Fiio X7 Mark II Hi-Res Lossless Portable Music Player

Fiio has released their new flagship DAP, the new Fiio X7 Mark II; an Android based high resolution audio lossless portable music player. This DAP is definitely an upgrade from its predecessor, the X7 1st Gen. It comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $650 USD and it’s now available. The X7 Mark II continues the success and the design of the Fiio X5 III (our review here). The X7 Mark II is like an X5 III with swappable or upgradable AMP section, just like on the 1st gen. X7 DAP. Aside from that, the new X7 Mark II features an ES9028PRO DAC from ESS; bringing exceptional signal-to-noise ratio of 129dB and a total harmonic distortion plus noise figure of -120dB.

The X7 Mark II is bundled with an AM3A amp module that has both balanced and single ended output. The AM3A amp section features AD8620 precision, JFET operational amplifiers and OPA926 op-amp. The Fiio X7 II has 2GB DDR3L of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It also has a dual microSD card slots that supports up to 256GB of microSDXC card. It also supports native DSD and Infinity Sound 3.5 + 2.5. In terms of wireless connection, it has WiFi 2.4GHz and 5GHz and Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX support. It’s also built with a 3800 mAh Li-polymer battery that can last up to 8 hours (according to Fiio) and supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0.

I think this is definitely an upgrade and one of the best DAPs released this year. We were quite impressed with the X5 III, but the sound quality is just up to mid-fi level. The X7 Mark II goes beyond that.

See latest pricing and availability of the Fiio X7 Mark II DAP on here

Pioneer XDP-300R Hi-Res Digital Audio Player

Next is the new Pioneer XDP-300R portable audio player. This new hi-resolution audio player was released together with the DP-X1A. It’s the successor of the XDP-100R, and is built with features that are similar with the Onkyo DP-X1. The XDP-300R features a dual DAC and dual AMP system; dual ES9018K2M DACs and two Sabre 9601K Amp chips to be exact. Its launch price is actually higher than the DP-X1, at £599.99, or 69,800 JPN Yen.

The Pioneer XDP-300R runs on Android 5.1 OS and fully supports third party apps from Google Play store. Its CPU side is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 APQ8074 APU and comes with a 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded via two microSD card slots. It features a nice 4.7″ HD display and comes with both wired and wireless connections. It supports most of the popular audio formats including DSD and the new MQA format; and yes it supports video formats as well.

This is quite an impressive DAP based on paper. You can read more information about the XDP-300R on our article here. For the current pricing and availability, you can check out the link below.

See latest pricing and availability of the Pioneer XDP-300R on here

Astell&Kern AK300 Portable Hi-Res Audio Player

Astell&Kern’s latest high end portable audio players are the AK300 series (AK300, AK320 and AK380). They feature new body design compared to its predecessor and new set of features. The cheaper among the three 300 series DAPs is the AK300, featuring a single AK4490 DAC chip and supports 24-bit / 192kHz bit to bit playback. It also supports DSD up to DSD128 but it’s converted to PCM. The Astell&Kern AK300 comes with a suggested retail price of $899.

The AK300 also features VCXO Clock (0.2ps), metal touch sensor home button, DLNA-based AK connect app, and the new Expandable Docking Connector that is compatible with AK Amp, Ripper, Dock, & Recorder. The AK300 has also the least internal storage capacity among the three, with only 64GB of internal storage. But there is a single microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB or 256GB of microSD card. AK’s US site says it supports up to 256GB, but on AK’s global site it says up to 128GB of microSD. That’s a little bit confusing.

The Astell&Kern AK300 also features a nice 4-inch display with a resolution of 400×800 and is built with several connectivity options like WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth v4.0 with aptX HD support. It has a standard 3.5mm single ended out, 3.5mm optical out and 2.5mm 4-pole balance outputs. This is not the best that AK has to offer, but if you want a high-end AK DAP without spending too much, the AK300 is a good place to start.

See latest pricing and availability of the AK300 on here

Astell&Kern AK70 MKII

Astell&Kern AK70 MKII Portable High Resolution Audio PlayerThe Astell&Kern AK70 MKII or Mark II is the second generation of the AK70 (well obviously). The physical design is (very) similar with the 1st generation, except for some cosmetic changes. But the real difference is the sound quality and performance. It now features a dual DAC setup; two Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chips instead of one. It supports 24bit 192 kHz bit to bit play, and also supports 32-bit audio and single or double rate DSD. However, it doesn’t support native DSD playback, instead it will be downsampled or converted to PCM format. It also features a 4-pole 2.5mm balanced output; something that most IEM users fond of. Like the previous generation, the new AK70 MKII can also be used as a USB DAC for your PC.

For storage, the AK70 MKII has 64GB of internal memory (expect that actual usable capacity is lower) and a microSD card slot that supports up to 256GB of microSD card. It also features both WiFi 2.4GHz and Bluetooth 4.0 connections with aptX HD support. Like most of Astell&Kern’s newer portable audio players, the AK70 MK II can be used with the AK CD-Ripper and it is also compatible with AK Connect app. The AK70 MKII is small, but don’t belittle this DAP; because this is one great sounding DAP for its price.

See latest pricing and availability of the AK70 MKII on here

Astell&Kern AK KANN

The Astell&Kern KANN is also one of the new portable audio player released by the company this year. This one is somewhat thick or bulky compared to the usual portable DAP. That’s because of its built-in high performance amplifier that supports an output of 7 Vrms when connected via a high-gain balanced output. The KANN was made for audiophiles or music lovers who wants to power not only their IEM/earphones, but full sized cans as well. It features a single AKM AK4490 DAC that supports native DSD playback of up to DSD256 or 11.2MHz. It also supports PCM audio playback of up to 32bit/382kHz.

The AK KANN has a 64GB of built-in internal storage, but it has a microSD card that supports up to 256GB of microSD cards and a full-sized SD card slot that can support up to 512GB of SD cards. In terms of wireless connectivity, it features WiFi 802.11 g/b/n supporting 2.4GHz connection speed and Bluetooth V4.0 with A2DP, AVRCP and aptX HD codec support. Consider getting the AK KANN if you plan to pair it with (or use) full sized headphones as well.

See latest pricing and availability of the AK KANN on here

Sony NW-WM1A Walkman Digital Audio Player

The Sony NW-WM1A is one of the company’s latest portable hi-resolution digital audio players. This is actually a trimmed down version of the NW-WM1Z DAP (the gold one below), priced significantly cheaper at $1,399.99. Like the NW-WM1Z, the WM1A shares the same body design, user interface and almost everything, except for what is under the hood (or its internal parts) and the material used for its body.

The Sony NW-WM1A DAP features 128GB of internal storage capacity, half of the WM1Z’s capacity and it uses regular OFC copper cables for its internal wiring instead of the braided Kimber Kable found in its higher counterpart. It also features Sony’s S-Master HX digital amp technology, DSEE HX digital sound enhancement and other sound enhancements found on the higher end one.

The body of the NW-WM1A is made out of aluminum chassis and Sony used MELF registers instead of Fine Sound registers found on the NW-WM1Z. Whether or not there is a huge difference in the audio performance it up to your ears. But I doubt that both DAPs will have huge difference in sound quality; and by huge I mean really significant that even an untrained ear can detect it easily.

Like most of the high end portable players, the NW-WM1A supports most of the lossy and lossless audio formats available. It also supports native DSD playback up to 11.2MHz. Also, Sony has got to improve on the naming scheme of their products. It’s pretty confusing actually and not easy to remember. You couldn’t tell which one is the higher end version based on their names alone.

See latest pricing and availability of the Sony NW-WM1A on here

Opus#2 Hi-Res Portable Digital Audio Player

The Opus#2 is the latest portable DAP from the Korean company The Bit. It’s the successor of their mid-range DAP the Opus#1 and it’s currently the company’s flagship DAP. The Opus#2 features an all-metal aluminum body, unlike the Opus#1, and features dual ES9018K2M SABARE32 DAC chips; a huge improvement over the dual CS4398 on the Opus#1. Currently, the Opus#2 comes with a suggested retail price of $1,599 at launch.

The Opus#2 supports up to 32bit 382kHz audio formats and native DSD playback. Aside from the dual ES9018K2M SABRE32 DACs, the player itself is powered by an ARM Cortex-A9 quad core CPU clocked at 1.4GHz, with 1GB of memory and runs on a modified Android 5.1.1 operating system. It is also built with a large 128GB of internal storage and can be expanded via the microSD card slot that can support up to 200GB of microSD. Unfortunately, as of its early firmware version, it doesn’t support third party app installation or Google Play store, unlike the Pioneer XDP-300R.

Aside from the 3.5mm singled ended output / optical output and a 2.5mm balanced output, the Opus#2 does comes with wireless connectivity options like WiFi and Blutooth v4. Although, I am not sure if it supports aptX HD on Bluetooth.

See latest pricing and availability of the Opus#2 on here.

Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Hi-Res Walkman

The Sony NW-WM1Z is the company’s latest and currently the flagship digital portable audio player that is loaded with lots of features. The NW-WM1Z is just one of the Signature series that Sony recently released. They also released the new MDRZ1R headphone and TAZH1ES amplifier. These three audio gear works together with each other. The Sony NW-WM1Z DAP currently retails for around $3,199.99, while the MDRZ1R headphone retails for $2,299.99 and the TAZH1ES amplifier for $2,199.99.


The Sony NW-WM1Z is built like a tank, it’s pretty much solid. It features a 4″ touch screen display, with dedicated buttons on the side; and runs on a Sony original OS. Under the hood it features an S-Master HX digital amplifier and they even used a Kimber Kable inside to connect the components with the headphone socket. It also features DSEE HX technology that upscales music to high resolution quality. As for wireless connectivity, it has Bluetooth with LDAC and NFC.


The NW-WM1Z has a generous internal storage capacity of 256GB, but if that’s not enough (since you’re loading DSD files), its storage can still be expanded via the microSD card slot. This portable digital audio player supports high-resolution audio formats like: DSD Native (11.2 MHz), AAC (Non-DRM), AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, HE-AAC, Linear PCM, MP3, and WMA (Non-DRM).


I don’t know the specific chips used inside the Sony NW-WM1Z. Sony is very tight-lip about those specifics, but this is one really interesting and not to mention very expensive audio player as well.

See latest pricing and availability of the Sony NW-WM1Z on here

Astell&Kern AK320 and AK380 Hi-Res Portable Audio Player

Finally, Astell&Kern has the new AK320 and AK380 Hi-Res portable audio players; both offering the best sounding portable audio players available; not to mention the most expensive in the market, with a current retail price of around $1,799.00 for the AK320 and around $3,500 USD for the AK380. The AK320 and AK380 somehow look different. The picture on the left (below) is the AK320, meanwhile on the right and the two other photos below is the AK380.

Astell&Kern AK380 - Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles

The AK320 looks similar with the AK300, but despite having a slight difference on the body design, both the AK320 and AK380 are very similar under the hood. The AK320 features a dual AKM AK4490 DAC and similar other components. They also share similar features and capability. The main difference is that the AK320 does not support native DSD playback, like the AK300; and the internal stage capacity is only 128GB unlike the AK380 with its 256GB.

The Astell&Kern AK380 also features a dual DAC AKM AK4490 chips that supports 32-bit 384kHz bit-to-bit playback, native DSD support, Parametric Equalizer, 200fs VCXO reference clock, Metal Touch Sensor Home Button, Scalable Amp, DNLA based AK Connect App and more. The company has designed the AK380 with the Pro-Audio in mind, claiming that “the sound that Pro-Audio people have been looking for starts with the AK380”. That’s a bold statement; literally, they bold that line on the official page.

Astell&Kern AK380 -03 Astell&Kern AK380 -02

It features a 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) touchscreen display and supports all sorts of audio file types: from the lossy MP3 format, to the popular FLAC lossless format and all the way up to DSD256 1bit 11.2MHz audio format. The AK380 also has both 3.5mm unbalanced out with optical out and a 2.5mm unbalanced out; a USB micro-B input; and WiFi and Bluetooth V4.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, aptX).

See latest pricing and availability of the Astell&Kern AK320 on here and AK380 here.

Special Mention: A&Ultima SP1000

Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000The A&Ultima SP1000 is currently Astell&Kern’s flagship DAP. It’s their top of the line product, cream of the crop, “the ultimate”; and it exceeds the AK380 not only in sound quality and performance, but also in price as well. This $3,000++ portable audio player features dual AKM AK4497EQ DAC chips and octa-core CPU. It also has a 5-inch HD touch display with a resolution of 720×1280. You can also notice that the overall design is different from the AK300 series. The volume wheel has been redesigned, and the housing will be available in either stainless steel or copper. The two AK4497EQ DAC chips from AKM is able to playback 32bit/384kHz natively “with no compromise on sound quality”. It supports native bit-to-bit DSD playback up to 11.2 MHz and I’m more positive that it supports PCM formats as well.

Gone are the micro USB ports and A&ultima SP1000 features a Type-C USB port, allowing file transfers of up to 10Gbps. The SP1000 also features fast charging at 9V/1.67A; and it will only take 2 hours to charge and will allow you to playback music up to 12 hours. Other features are: built-in 256GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 256GB via microSDXC; WiFi 802.11 g/b/n with Bluetooth 4.1, 3700mAh battery, 3.5mm unbalanced output (serves as optical output as well) and a 2.5mm 4-pole balanced output.

The A&Ultima SP1000 is one seriously priced DAP and it’s for people with (very) deep pockets. Diminishing returns for this DAP is very real and it doesn’t really offer great value compared to other DAPs due to its price. But you can expect that sound quality is top of the line level. So think twice or thrice before getting this DAP; unless money is not an object for you.

See latest pricing and availability of the A&Ultima SP1000 on here

There you have it guys; this is currently my list of the best portable music players available on the market that is geared towards the enthusiasts and audiophiles. Remember, all of these portable music players have fantastic sound quality. You may or may not hear any difference or differentiate the sound signature from one DAP to another using the same set of headphones or earphones. This all 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. 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!

DAPs previously on this Top 10 Best Portable Music Players:
Acoustic Research AR-M20
Pioneer XDP-100R
Astel&Kern AK100 II
Cowon Plenue P1
Luxury & Precision L5 Pro
Cowon Plenue M2
Sony NW-ZX2
Astell&Kern AK120 II
iBasso DX200
Astell&Kern AK240

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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54 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.

  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.

  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

  1. May 4, 2016

    […] Editor’s note: At $899, the AK300 souds like a good deal considering that its bigger brothers are far more expensive. But how does it par with other DAPs that are priced below $899. The Pioneer XDP-100R and Onkyo DP-X1 are very attractive and competitive DAPs as well. I just hope I can review one soon. In the meantime you can check out some of the best DAPs currently available here. […]

  2. June 17, 2016

    […] See also my Top 10 Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles […]

  3. July 31, 2016

    […] Top 10 Best Portable Music Players For Audiophiles – Q1 2016 Edition […]

  4. March 18, 2017

    […] if ever there is a chance you can audition these portable DAC AMPs much better. Also check out our best portable DAPs (digital audio players) and the best open back headphones on the market. Good luck and happy […]

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