Greatest Apple iPod alternate options Shopping for Information: Welcome to What Hello-Fi?’s round-up of the perfect Apple iPod alternate options you should buy in 2021.
There’s no getting away from it: the Apple iPod in all its guises was (and nonetheless is) a fantastic transportable music participant. However as the corporate’s iPhones have taken over music taking part in duties for a lot of, the tech big has scaled again its vary of music gamers. In truth, solely the iPod Touch survives.
However what if you need a devoted music participant that is not the Contact? A greater-sounding participant? Or a conveyable music participant that, in contrast to the iPod, performs hi-res music out of the field? The excellent news is that there are many glorious iPod alternate options on the market.
The transportable music gamers listed under are likely to have first rate storage that may be expanded by microSD reminiscence playing cards to cater for a library of hi-res tunes. They typically help hi-res 24-bit/192kHz recordsdata and past, with some additionally in a position to playback DSD and MQA recordsdata. Some may even double up as a DAC to boost the sound out of your laptop computer.
We have examined a variety and rounded up the perfect iPod alternate options throughout a spread of costs, from eminent manufacturers resembling Sony, Astell & Kern, Cowon and FiiO. Funds accordingly for an honest pair of headphones, and you will have a formidable on-the-fly system.
Take a look at our listing of the perfect iPod alternate options under…
Within the six years since Sony launched its first high-resolution Walkman, the Japanese big has supplied hi-res audio help throughout a wide range of transportable gamers, from the very inexpensive to the very excessive finish.
It’s most centered on the finances finish of the market, although, and final yr reaped its reward within the type of a 2019 What Hello-Fi? Award for the NW-A45. Clearly not one to relaxation on its laurels, Sony has now changed that finances belter with this NW-A55L, and with it has set a brand new benchmark for inexpensive hi-res transportable participant.
The NW-A55L is fuller and cleaner, fleshing out notes (the bass is notably higher outlined) and presenting them with a extra upfront sound. If you happen to’re searching for a sonic improve over your cellphone, the Sony will supply it throughout the board.
Learn the complete Sony NW-A55L review
The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 is the most recent in what has been an extended line of fantastic, What Hello-Fi? Award-winning, ‘entry-level’ transportable music gamers, with every new era invariably proving extra proficient than the final. The SR25 doesn’t allow us to down, propelling its lineage ahead from the 2018-introduced A&norma SR15 (under) to set a brand new efficiency benchmark.
Notably extra expressive and eloquent than another portable music player we’ve encountered at this worth, and much past something that smartphones are able to, the SR25 demonstrates simply how good music on the transfer can sound, whereas additionally remaining moderately inexpensive.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 review
In gentle of the arrival of its successor (above), the SR15 is a bona fide discount due to a current worth drop. It does not have the identical degree of perception of its new sibling, however it’s nonetheless a unbelievable participant, boasting an easy-to-use interface, expandable storage and loads of hi-res file help – to not point out an entertaining and dynamic sound that is synonymous with the model.
It guarantees a extreme step up out of your smartphone and the iPod Contact. This system will also be used as a DAC/preamp, permitting you to make use of it to boost the efficiency of your smartphone and/or laptop computer.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern A&norma SR15 review
The demise of the Apple iPod has opened up the marketplace for different transportable music participant manufacturers, together with Cowon.
The Cowon Plenue D2 (or PD2) is the next-gen model of one of the spectacular finances gamers we’ve encountered – the Award profitable Plenue D. This finances transportable music participant has huge file help, pocket-size practicality, an accessible worth and sounds nice too.
It is probably not fairly such a finances discount as its predecessor, however it manages to justify the premium. If you would like a devoted music participant system, this Cowon must be excessive in your listing – we haven’t heard a better-sounding transportable music participant on the cash.
Learn the complete Cowon Plenue D2 review
The Kann Alpha is the third participant within the Kann collection, but the primary Astell & Kern participant to implement Bluetooth 5.0. It boasts a extra highly effective built-in headphone amplifier than the earlier Kann collection gamers it succeeds, too. And due to the rearrangement of varied parts and using smaller resistors and capacitors, it guarantees added energy in a smaller and extra transportable chassis.
It is nonetheless cumbersome, however will slot in a coat pocket, and helps most music file codecs, together with MQA, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV and native DSD256. It is equally wide-ranging relating to wi-fi codec help (LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC and, naturally, SBC Bluetooth). The Alpha additionally helps MQA-CD playback, by the use of Astell & Kern’s CD-Ripper.
Sonically, it is suitably spectacular. The presentation is expansive, and we’re shocked by its low-end capabilities. It handles troublesome and detailed musical passages with a masterful hand, and stay recordings are leant a level of spaciousness and realism hardly ever heard. The closest we’ll get to a gig for a while but.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern Kann Alpha review
Fiio has been an enormous title in its native China for years now, however within the West it is nonetheless a little bit of a distinct segment style – a form of higher-quality hipster various to the mainstream Apple and Sony PMPs. However the M11 Professional succeeds in interesting to the mass market with out compromising on high quality.
It is a big and weighty system, however construct high quality is excessive sufficient in order that it carries it effectively. Based mostly on Android, it is a dream to make use of, with a slick UI that glides alongside easily.
All digital file codecs are catered for, and Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay and DLNA all come as a part of the package deal. Ii boasts an expansive sound with baggage of tempo, drive and element at its disposal. It exposes loads of nuances with out sounding medical, confirming it is a fascinating and energetic hear. Extremely advisable.
Learn the complete Fiio M11 Pro review
The A&futura SE200 is the primary transportable music participant to provide the person a selection of DACs; there’s ESS’s newest chip in a twin configuration, in addition to considered one of AKM’s flagship chips as present in Astell & Kern’s flagship SP2000. Why? It’s right down to letting the person choose the sonic signature they like. Every DAC kind feeds 2.5mm balanced and the usual 3.5mm outputs, and has a set of audio filters for additional fine-tuning.
In the end we don’t see the necessity for the inferior-sounding ESS efficiency when the AKM output performs so a lot better, however that apart the corporate has nonetheless managed to set a brand new efficiency benchmark for the worth with the SE200. It serves up a sound that trumps each Astell & Kern participant earlier than it, bar the flagship SP2000.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 review
Astell & Kern’s gadgets are a number of the most premium PMPs round, however they could be a bit on the cumbersome facet. The corporate listened to buyer suggestions and produced the A&ultima SP1000M, a slim and light-weight participant that is rather more pocketable than most of its stablemates.
And it is nonetheless reassuringly effectively constructed too, with a stable construct high quality that screams high quality. The controls might be a little bit extra intuitive (we discovered the format often a bit fiddly), however that is about all there’s to gripe about.
Astell & Kern has positively not lower any corners relating to sound high quality. The presentation is clear, clear, punchy and detailed, and music sounds because it ought to. Its degree of transparency could make equally priced machines sound uninteresting, muffled or lifeless. An easy efficiency from a first-rate participant.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000M review
Astell & Kern’s Kann participant’s larger-than-life design received’t be to all tastes, however its excellent sound high quality is unquestionable, making it a fantastic various for the iPod Contact.
The Kann could be chunky, however that additional area leaves room for lots of bodily options. And relating to efficiency per pound, there’s no mistaking the Kann’s sonic chops.
It’s dynamic, has a fantastic sense of timing, and provides an insightful efficiency. Different transportable gamers on the Kann’s worth level want to look at their step – it is a formidable machine.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern Kann review
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These are the best portable music players