What is the best sounding MP3 player?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
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I'm after a bit of help making a decision on what the best sounding MP3 player available is at the moment.

I currently have the Sony HD5H and I am very happy with it. Great sound, 30gb and an endless battery life. However I have just bought the Shure SE530 earphones and I want to unleash their potential. I am using 352 Kbps Atrac3plus Advanced Loseless at the moment. I would like to know if there is new player out there that can match the battery life and more importantly improve on the sound. I don't use any download services all my music comes from CD, so I can acheive the best sound posisble. I don't care about radio, video or any other ridiculous feature. I like music and that's all I'm going to use it for.

Please help

Joe Cox

Content Director, What Hi-Fi?
Staff member
May 31, 2007
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It may not be the answer you want to hear, but the Apple iPod remains the best sounding digital music player we've heard. While there are a number of emerging threats to the nano - from Samsung and Creative - if you're after a 30GB player, the iPod remains our choice for sound quality alone, let alone when you consider the ease of use and software.
You're right to consider your headphones, file formats and bitrates of course. Should you plump for an iPod, we'd advise you go for Apple Lossless files. These will be larger in size - three or four times larger than a standard MP3/AAC - as they theoretically don't lose any information from the original CD track, despite being around half the size. We have noticed some small differences if listening to Lossless files against CDs on top notch hi-fi kit, but if you're going to be largely listening using your iPod, the difference will be negligible, while in turn being noticeably superior to standard 128kbps files.

Clare Newsome

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Jun 4, 2007
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Joe's right - there really is nothing to compare to the iPod for sound, with Apple Lossless definitely the way forward.

Personally, i'd opt for the 80GB version - not much more money, and a lot more space for those Lossless files.

One final, penny-pinching tip: if you do buy an iPod, sell the sealed packet of headphones on eBay - they do brisk business....