"MP3" players in 2018


I always thought that Onkyo DP-X1 looked very cool, but absurdly expensive.

I do long for the days of mp3 players and no smartphones. Am I turning into one of those “simpler times” people? :weary:



I feel like most of my posts are crowdsourcing info anymore, BUT, I was curious for people’s takes on the world of portable digital audio players. With the iPod Classic being discontinued, I’ve been looking into good solutions/alternatives. I’ve been poking around the last couple weeks and it’s insane the prices on some of these, however the audio quality of even reasonably priced DAPs seem superior to iPods. The issues are that the interface is often sluggish and they don’t generally have a lot of info readily available, so tech support/community support seems minimal (from what I can tell).

So earlier this week I ordered a Fiio M6 and a 400 gb microSD card. Slowly loading things on and it seems a major stumbling block to consider is whether the player cooperates with the Mac format (for me). So I’ve returned the M6 and spent some time researching options. I feel like the Sony NW-A45/B might be my best option. Maybe not as hi-fi, but hi-fi doesn’t matter if I’m constantly stressed by and wrestling with getting files over to the DAP.

Anyway, I can’t be the only one trying to sort this out as the reign of the iPod is over. Heck, maybe it’s been over, but I was just happily using them anyway ha.

Thoughts? Wisdom? I’ll update when I get my Sony and whether that seems any more cooperative.


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Personally I never bought into the whole Apple logic of having to syncronize your library with the device. It feels like an overly complicated way to solve a simple problem. I’m mentioning this to give you a perspective on my advice that follows.

Personally I really like devices that work with the standard tools the OS provides, in my case that is Finder. My preferred workflow is: attach PMP, open finder, drag&drop files, disconnect, done.
I also like devices that come little extra stuff.

From that perspective, and after quite a bit of research, I landed on the FIIO X1 mk2 (as mentioned above). Which works well with MacOS, does not rely on weird proprietary protocols.
Of course if you want to drop your complete music library on it that might not work (I think it supports only up to 256Gb for the SD card) and for that synchronizing might indeed be a better option. But maybe it’s more aa matter of how you approach it?

You know… sometimes one gets very fixated on how things should work, and there’s all these things that are so super important about it, just to find out that it wasn’t all that important after all, and it’s mostly a matter of the perspective you have on things. At least that’s what happened to me many times.


Agree with the annoyance of iTunes. I basically still miss Soundjam from the OS9 days ha. Drag a folder into the window, hit play, delete it and put new tunes on there when you want to listen to something else. I have never done playlists.

So, the X1 just mounts as a drive and you can drag files from a file folder onto the drive or do you have to use some weird protocol? I ask because the Fiio M6 used Android File Transfer or something like that which was frustrating. It’s weird that Fiio would have different products using different approaches to this, but yeah, the X1 sounds great in that regard.


I just drag and drop onto an iPhone6, just set it in iTunes. It the only time I do go I to the awful iTunes experience though, I’d rather not. I listen to digital tracks using Audirvana.


I miss my 250gb Zune. No, seriously. The Windows software was almost as bad as iTunes – but the third generation of the hardware felt and sounded fantastic.

At the time it was stolen from my office (which I’m still bitter about) the world was in that awkward period when nobody was making hard disk MP3 players anymore, larger amounts of flash memory were still prohibitively expensive, and I wasn’t ready to embrace streaming yet. I’m glad we’ve moved on from there, but I still kind of think we went the wrong way.

I miss the sound of a hard drive whirring to life in my pocket :wink:

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@sellanraa - sorry to read you had a bad experience with the M6. The X5 has been fine for me. I’m still very happy with it. Really no issues since I posted a while ago further up the thread. It’s been used on two Mac laptops (both 2009 models) running 10.8 and 10.10 without problem. I just plug it in via usb, the SD mounts as a drive and I drag the music over in the Finder.
I found ejecting the SD slightly fiddly at first as the card sits quite a long way in and there’s not much to push on (it helps to have a slightly long finger nail). But it’s what I think of as the standard spring loaded push it in to eject mechanism. Now I have the knack it’s no problem though.

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The Zune’s squircle pad really was a joy to use. I’m getting so sick of waiting for Spotify’s app to load that maybe I’ll dig my old Zune HD out later… The HD was such a slick little trapezoidal slab of alien technology. Too bad about the software :laughing:


Cool, well, if this Sony doesn’t do the job (that will hopefully arrive today), maybe my 3rd and final try will be an X5 before giving up and accepting that I’ll just have to harvest iPod classics for the rest of my life :slight_smile:


Hopefully the Sony works out for you.
We have a Sony at work (don’t know the model) and it seems to do the job well the couple of times I’ve used it. Straightforward drag and drop.

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Yes it works just like a regular USB stick. I don’t know about other FIIOs but this one works like that.
When it came out it had a bit of a wonky jogwheel implementation and gapless playback didn’t work. Fortunately they did sort out all the issues with subsequent updates.
The only things I can complain about is that the device remounts itself after you eject it from the Finder (so you need to be quick with unplugging it) and that their slogan isn’t really gramatically correct :smiley:

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Hi all –

I don’t like to play music from my laptop (it’s nice to be able to reboot or just turn it off without disturbing whatever I might be playing) and I don’t have (or want) a smartphone capable of playing FLAC.

Is there some little device that presents itself as a standard (linux-friendly) USB storage device that I can drop FLAC files onto, and play them back ideally with a menu interface on the device of some sort that displays metadata?

Does such a beast exist off-the-shelf? I’d consider hacking something together with a raspberry pi zero and a battery, but I like to save my fiddling-around time for music pursuits. :slight_smile:

I’m playing digital music now mostly via a raspberry pi plugged into my sound system, and that works just fine – but it’s also my home fileserver and runs a no-ip daemon that lets me access my data remotely as well, it would be neat to have something I could stick in my pocket too…

I realize that probably everyone just uses a smartphone for this! Is there a dedicated digital player in 2019 that does the trick for those of us who prefer to not carry the internet in our pockets?



might be some info here: "MP3" players in 2018


Thanks! That Fiio X5 looks interesting… @papernoise did you end up going that route?


Yes, but not with the X5. I have an X1 Mk2, been having it for quite some time and am totally happy with it. It ticks all boxes for me. Battery life is decent, takes standard SD cards, does not rely on a proprietary sync client (eg. itunes), plays all formats I want (mp3, off, flac, and even does 24bit if that’s your thing).
It’s devoid of any added crapware and has a standard headphone jack.
Since the latest update it even has gapless playback, which is nice when you listen to a lot of ambient.
The only thing that bothers me is that when I eject it on the mac I have to be really quick unplugging the cable or it will automatically reconnect itself. But that’s really the only bad thing I can say about it.


Writing something for norns that turned it into a serviceable MP3 player would be both hilarious and, I think, totally possible.


I think I just found my next project for Norns and my new “portable” MP3 player.

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I just gave my Sansa clip+ an overhaul: new battery, re-soldered the headphone jack and stuffed it with a 128gb sd card. Ready for hopefully another 8 years of great service :smiley:


So it’s possible to buy new batteries for them separately?


Totally! I’ve even seen people online going for larger batteries and an extended 3d printed case. I’m quite happy with the current battery life in combination with Rockbox though.

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