Greatest Apple iPod alternate options Shopping for Information: Welcome to What Hello-Fi?’s round-up of one of the best 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) an excellent moveable music participant. However as Apple’s iPhones have taken over music enjoying duties for a lot of, the Cupertino big has scaled again its vary of music gamers. In truth, solely the iPod Touch survives.
However what if you would like 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 wonderful iPod alternate options on the market.
The moveable 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 usually assist hi-res 24-bit/192kHz information and past, with some additionally capable of playback DSD and MQA information. 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 one of the best iPod alternate options throughout a spread of costs, from eminent manufacturers corresponding to Sony, Astell & Kern and Cowon. Price range accordingly for an honest pair of headphones, and you will have a formidable on-the-fly system.
Take a look at our record of one of the best iPod alternate options under…
Within the seven years since Sony launched its first high-resolution Walkman, the Japanese big has provided hi-res audio assist throughout a wide range of moveable gamers, from the very reasonably priced to the very excessive finish.
It’s most targeted on the funds finish of the market, although, and almost two years in the past the agency 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 funds belter with this NW-A55L, and with it has set a brand new benchmark for reasonably priced hi-res moveable 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. Should you’re searching for a sonic improve over your telephone, the Sony will supply it throughout the board.
Learn the complete Sony NW-A55L review
Now into its third iteration, Cowon has added Bluetooth, a quantity wheel and a twin DAC to its 2021-issue bijou matchbox-sized participant – and produced one other class chief. The cracking new quantity dial on the highest proper of the participant appears like an homage to Astell & Kern gamers (a number of of that are listed under) and makes this little machine really feel rather more costly than it’s.
The PD3 boasts a significantly spectacular battery lifetime of as much as 45 hours when you’re enjoying MP3 information, or a stable 30 hours when listening to hi-res information at ‘regular’ quantity. There may be assist for 24-bit/192kHz WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and DSD128 file compatibility too – and that assist is native, so DSD information aren’t transformed to PCM throughout playback.
This can be a proficient participant that is sonically related in character to its older siblings, however there are small upgrades right here when it comes to rhythm, timing, element and musicality. It’s essential to notice that wi-fi streaming remains to be off the menu – so you’ll have to go with out on-the-go streaming of Tidal, Deezer and others – however if in case you have the information and like the concept of pairing your moveable music participant both to a wi-fi speaker or pair of headphones for one of many smallest wi-fi programs you’ve seen, there’s no higher shout at present available on the market for the cash. We gave it 5 stars throughout the board – what extra do you must know?
Learn the complete evaluation: Cowon Plenue D3
The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 is the newest in what has been an extended line of fantastic, What Hello-Fi? Award-winning, ‘entry-level’ moveable 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 some other 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 fairly reasonably priced.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 review
In mild 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, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a unbelievable participant, boasting an easy-to-use interface, expandable storage and loads of hi-res file assist – 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 moveable music participant manufacturers, together with Cowon.
The Cowon Plenue D2 (or PD2) is the next-gen model of probably the most spectacular funds gamers we’ve encountered – the Award profitable Plenue D. This funds moveable music participant has huge file assist, pocket-size practicality, an accessible worth and sounds nice too.
It is probably not fairly such a funds discount as its predecessor, nevertheless it manages to justify the premium. If you need a devoted music participant system, this Cowon must be excessive in your record – we haven’t heard a better-sounding moveable music participant on the cash.
Learn the complete Cowon Plenue D2 review
The Kann Alpha is the third participant within the Kann sequence, 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 sequence 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 moveable 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 in the case of wi-fi codec assist (LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC and, naturally, SBC Bluetooth). The Alpha additionally helps MQA-CD playback, by means of Astell & Kern’s CD-Ripper.
Sonically, it is suitably spectacular. The presentation is expansive, and we’re greatly surprised 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
The A&futura SE200 is the primary moveable music participant to offer the person a selection of DACs; there’s ESS’s newest chip in a twin configuration, in addition to one in every of AKM’s flagship chips as present in Astell & Kern’s flagship SP2000. Why? It’s all the way 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.
Finally we don’t see the necessity for the inferior-sounding ESS efficiency when the AKM output performs so significantly 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
The Astell & Kern Kann participant’s larger-than-life design received’t be to all tastes, however its very good sound high quality is unquestionable, making it an excellent different for the iPod Contact.
The Kann is perhaps chunky, however that additional house leaves room for lots of bodily options. And in the case of efficiency per pound, there’s no mistaking the Kann’s sonic chops.
It’s dynamic, has an excellent sense of timing, and offers an insightful efficiency. Different moveable gamers on the Kann’s worth level want to observe their step – it is a formidable machine.
Learn the complete Astell & Kern Kann review
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