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Convenience is key. The on-demand economy is in full boom. And though there is generally nothing wrong with that, it does mean that quality can take a hit sometimes. For audiophiles, this most often takes place with digital music files.
True audio enthusiasts know there are few greater feelings than listening to a clean vinyl, on a perfectly tuned system, to recreate a concert experience, or fantastically transport the listener to a recording studio as a giddy bystander. But when it comes time for the daily commute, those listening experiences are dulled. Maybe high-quality headphones will allow for some of the missing tonal experiences, but ultimately it comes down to the device playing the file, and what file that is.
Portable high-resolution music players store and play audio files the way other devices do, only they are suited to playing specifically high-resolution files – the bigger, denser, peers of typical MP3s or what’s found in standard streaming services. When tracks are recorded for broad distribution – MP3 or streaming – they are compressed, and a lot of the finer sound details are cut away to make for a smaller file. While that may free up space on your device, it also significantly lowers the quality of your listening experience.
If you want to maintain the best quality sound — which really, is the way the artists intended for you to hear their tracks — you’ll want to pick up a portable hi-res music player. As the name suggests, these devices are small enough to slip into your pocket or fit in the palm of your hand, and they run sans wires. Either charge them up or slip in a battery and you’re good to go.
The best portable hi-res music players will deliver a truer audio experience. Keep one on-hand to soundtrack your commute, pump up your workouts, and to give you a more fine-tuned, richly-detailed, intimate listening experience that you just can’t get from your phone alone. Here are some great options to consider.
1. ACTIVO High-Resolution Portable Music Player
The Activo CT10 is significantly more than meets the eye. Engineered with – and containing parts from – Astell&Kern, this device is built with sound superiority as its sole objective.
For those unfamiliar with Astell&Kern, it is a super premium audio engineering company that produces portable high-resolution players similar to the CT10, except for 10x to 20x the price. Thus, this unit gets you a ton of value without sacrificing a ton of quality.
The CT10 is a compact, value-conscious, high-resolution player built with ultra premium components. The main sound chip in the CT10 is the TERATON, a stunning piece of technology that truly unlocks nearly every nuance to a song, creating a richer listening experience – especially on the go.
PROS: Superior performance, great battery life, decent storage. Scores of additional features that help unlock audio potential on other devices; the CT10 can be used in a specific mode to enhance the audio playback of files on a computer.
CONS: Natively Android, though there are apps to allow for Apple focused services and features.
2. HIDIZS Hi-Res Digital Audio Player
HIDIZS’ AP80 is the company’s “entry level” digital audio player, but that’s a bit like saying a BMW is an entry-level car. The AP80 has all the fixings to make it a high-performance, high-resolution music player.
With powerful audio delivery and 15 hours of continuous play time, the AP80 offers up concert-worthy sound for longer listening periods. A bevy of customizable EQ features allow for precision sound tuning, and up to 1TB of memory means there is a veritable wealth of music options packed into something no bigger than 2.5 inches.
PROS: The AP80’s “apt-x” feature allows for increased Bluetooth music quality thanks to internal processes.
CONS: Some users have remarked that the size of the overall unit is a bit small.
3. MYMAHDI MP3 Player
The MYMAHDI MP3 Player offers a more versatile approach to high-resolution audio. With a wider screen and additional functionality, the MYMAHDI has e-reader and video playback capabilities in addition to being a music player.
Supporting most every high resolution audio file as well as 1080p video, the MYMAHDI is a digital player that covers a lot of ground for the user.
PROS: More versatile than other digital audio (only) players.
CONS: Lower memory capacity than expected — the unit maxes out at 128gb. Still plenty of memory for multiple high-resolution movies and a healthy high-resolution sound catalogue.