Three best MP3 players

Allen Foster

When it comes to headphone usage, the three biggest factors impacting hearing loss are the headphone type, volume, and length of time used.

Music makes us feel. It connects with us in such unique and amazing ways that it offers radically dissimilar experiences for different people -- one person can find a song distasteful, while for another it's an anthem. Music comforts us when we're down, understands our soul when we feel alone, and lifts us up when we triumph. Music is a potent and powerful magic. We should never be far from our favorite playlist. Luckily, with a portable MP3 player, you never have to be.

The following is a concise guide to help you understand the features of MP3 players so you can decide which one is ideal for you.

Considerations when choosing MP3 players

User interface: Some MP3 players have buttons for navigating the features, while others have a touchscreen. Some units are so small that the only way you can access your playlist is when the MP3 player is connected to a computer. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad here. It's whatever your preference is. Just make sure you're not disappointed with how easy or hard it is to manage the songs in your playlist.

Storage: Depending on song length, 1GB can hold roughly 250 songs. If you're a music aficionado, you've probably got a whole mess of music that you love to listen to. Make sure the MP3 player you choose has enough memory to hold all of your favorite tunes.

Bluetooth: With a Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player, you can pair your device with a Bluetooth speaker and listen to your music in your car, through your home audio system, or through a pair of wireless headphones.

Battery life: Your MP3 player will only work as long as it has a charge. If you plan on listening to your music for extended periods of time, you'll need a device with a battery that can last for several hours before needing to be recharged.

MP3 player features

Apps: If you want to do more than just listen to music, you'll need a player with a WiFi connection to download apps.

Streaming: More and more music providers are offering streaming-based service. If you use an app such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, or Tidal, you'll need an MP3 player that allows you to stream your music. With a streaming service, storage isn't a problem because the music won't actually be on your MP3 player.

Radio: Some MP3 players allow you to listen to AM/FM radio, too. If it's important to pick up over-the-air stations, make sure the MP3 player you're considering has this capability.

Waterproof: If you want to listen to music while you swim, you'll need a specially designed MP3 player that is waterproof.


Q. Why would I want an MP3 player when I already have a smartphone?

A. MP3 players are typically more rugged and have actual buttons to press, two features that make them ideal for use in a wider variety of situations. Also, most MP3 players cost a fraction of the price of a smartphone, so if you damage it while exercising, the pain to your wallet isn't quite as bad.

Q. When you say "a fraction of the price," how much are we talking?

A. If you're looking for an exercise companion, a durable unit that plays a sufficient number of songs to keep you pumped through your workout, you won't need to spend more than $40 or $50. Bargain-priced units can be found for $15 or $20. But if you want all the apps and accessories, the price will be $200 or more.

MP3 players we recommend

Best of the best: Apple iPod Touch 32GB 6th Generation 

Our take: This-top-of-the-line MP3 player/WiFi-capable device with an incredible accessory bundle is ideal for any avid music fan.

What we like: This is a fully loaded MP3 player featuring a wide assortment of built-in apps and an 8 megapixel camera. Besides the unit, you get a case, screen protector, carrying pouch, stylus, earphones, and Lightning cable.

What we dislike: Expensive.

Best bang for your buck: AGPTEK 8GB Bluetooth MP3 Player 

Our take: A compact, lightweight Bluetooth-capable player designed for the athletic user.

What we like: Room for 2,000 songs and a long-life battery. Can be clipped on to accompany you on your hardest workout or longest run. Supports MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, WAV, AAC file types, as well as FM radio and voice/FM recording.

What we dislike: Many features aren't supported when using unit in Bluetooth situations.

Choice 3: Pyle Waterproof MP3 Player Swim Headphone 

Our take: Fully submersible headphone player can be used by swimmers and other aficionados of water sports.

What we like: With 4GB of flash memory, these headphones provide storage for approximately 1,000 songs. Lightweight unit has quick-tap controls, allowing for quick and easy song and volume changes even in the midst of a heavy-duty workout.

What we dislike: Extremely compact size means you can only set up and manage playlists while unit is connected to a computer.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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