Top Picks Portable Hi-Res Audio Players

HiFiMan SuperMini Music Player: $399
Whether he’s building a pair of exotic electrostatic headphones, a mini amp, or a hi-res personal music player like the SuperMini, HiFiMan’s Fang Bian has a knack for nailing the sonics. Here he’s come up with a player that holds its own against pocketable gear costing much more. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote, “It would be hard to imagine a more agreeable companion for a long day of on-the-go listening.” (January 2017, Read Full Review)
Astell & Kern AK Jr Music Player: $499
Little brother to the AK100 we reviewed back in 2013, AK Jr is the most affordable portable music player from A&K, the company that has defined the state of the art in pocketable audio. If portability and high-resolution music are important to you, you owe it to yourself to check out the AK Jr and its winning combination of slim form factor and truthful sound. (May 2016, Read Full Review)
Korg DS-DAC-10R Hi-Res Digital Recorder: $500
Serious vinyl collectors will rejoice at the arrival of this unique digital recorder, designed to capture the nuances of vinyl records in high-resolution PCM or DSD format. Korg brought its deep knowledge of pro audio to bear on the DS-DAC-10R, which combines A-to-D and D-to-A converters with a headphone amp and phono preamp. “I have reviewed several other ways to digitize vinyl, but none of them included the ability to record using my own carefully optimized turntable and the ability to record in DSD,” wrote reviewer Michael Trei. “The Korg DS-DAC-10R gives me those features at a price that seems eminently reasonable.” (April 2018, Read Full Review)
V-Moda Vamp Verza Headphone Amp: $598 (Metallo case, $101)
For most of us, the smartphone is a constant companion and a sort of electronic swiss army knife that puts almost any form of entertainment and communication at our fingertips. Problem is, it can’t excel at everything and audio quality usually gets short shrift. Verza is certainly not cheap but it will upgrade your phone’s audio so you can enjoy high-resolution music without having to reach for an iPod or other dedicated player. (, Read Full Review)
Astell & Kern AK100 Music Player: $699
The AK100 portable music player ventures beyond the iTunes universe to open a world of high-resolution music playback. Compatible with Windows 2000 to Windows 7, it has 32 GB of memory, expandable via two Micro-SD slots, and supports lossless AIFF, FLAC, and APE files as well as uncompressed WAV files at up to 24 bits/192 kHz. Summing up his impressions, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Astell & Kern AK100 is something I’ve long feared—a portable music player that impeaches the integrity of my several iPod nano and SanDisk Sansa players.” (, Read Full Review)
Sony Walkman NW-ZX100HN Hi-Res Music Player Bundle: $700
Sony has done the Walkman name proud with an advanced music player that delivers beautifully balanced and transparent sound in a sleek form factor with excellent ergonomics and up to 70 hours of playtime per charge. You can buy the NW-ZX100 for $600 or pay an extra hundred bucks for the bundle, which includes earbuds that take advantage of noise cancellation circuitry built into the player—an idea Mark Fleischmann called “a stroke of genius.” (December 2016, Read Full Review)
Astell & Kern KANN Music Player: $999
Audiophiles who want to take treasured hi-res music files along for the ride, will appreciate KANN’s craftsmanship and luxurious sound quality. “I found it just as fulfilling to my ears as the far pricier AK240 (reduced to $1,499) and the price-no-object AK380 ($3,499),” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “If our reviews of those products whetted your appetite but their four-figure price tags held you back, KANN might be the player you’ve been waiting for.” (February/March 2018, Read Full Review)
Sony HAP-S1 High-Resolution Audio Player, $999
With a 500-GB hard-drive, 24-bit file playback capability, HDD Audio Remote app, and easy-to-operate design, the HAP-S1 is sure to grab the attention of any 21st Century audiophile. Instead of streaming music directly from a PC or external drive, it’s designed to transfer audio files from your computer and play them from its own hard drive. It even supports vTuner Internet radio and has a built-in amp to power a pair of desktop speakers. Summing up, Mark Fleischmann wrote: “As a player, it does a superb job, with an interface that makes accessing music not only easy but fun.” (June 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony Walkman NW-ZX2 Music Player, $1,200
The top-of-the-line Walkman is not the smallest or lightest dedicated music player but it is beautifully designed and loaded with bells and whistles. Among them: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a large touchscreen, 128 gigabytes of onboard storage (expandable via microSD), 60-plus hours of playback on a single charge, and high-res playback (up to 192/24 and DSD). Most important, it sounds fantastic. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it, “The Walkman rendered 3D objects, loaded with shadings and nuances, often against spatially realistic or just dead silent backgrounds.” (July/August 2015, Read Full Review)
Astell & Kern AK240 Music Player: $2,500
A super-charged version of Astell’s AK100 portable player), the AK240’s mission is to facilitate state-of-the-art playback of the highest of high-res music. And that means native DSD decoding, support for virtually all audio formats, and 256 GB of internal storage with an expansion slot for a microSD card songs. Is the AK240 worth the price of 10 iPod classics? Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “For most readers, the question is academic (and probably irritating). But this is the best portable audio player I’ve enjoyed to date, with unassailable build quality, sweet aesthetics, not-half-bad ergonomics, and stupendous sound…” (July/August 2014, Read Full Review)