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What Mp3 Player has the Best Sound Quality?

This question might be the digital equivalent of the battle of the bands. In our generation the presence of mp3 players has become ubiquitous: the tiny little devices travel with us everywhere, holding more music than the CD racks of yore, often hidden inside our phones for good measure. Everyone now commands their very own soundtrack, built from hundreds of preferences over many years without having to carry anything bigger than the size of a card. But all that technology is useless if it sounds like garbage, right? So what mp3 player has the best sound quality?

There are many different arguments about this, which brand loyalists in just about every camp out there. Beyond that there are product tests done by leading tech websites, consumer interest magazines and informally by consumers themselves. In these, Sony often comes out slightly ahead and Apple sometimes lag surprisingly toward the end. But I'm going to forsake all of these fine, scientific testing methods and suggest something a little more revolutionary:

It doesn't make a difference.

Whoa, audiophiles, whoa! Give the man a chance to speak before you break out the tar and feathers. I don't mean for one second that audio quality isn't important; no one wants to hear hissing and crackling in the middle of their favorite song. But consider this:

  • The audio quality is already so staggeringly high on mp3 players that the differences between them are tiny;
  • Many mp3 players use the same sound chips anyway; and
  • Most sound quality issues come from the connections or the peripherals (headphones, external speakers), not the device itself.

When you take these factors into consideration, I say shop for an mp3 player based on features and price, not alleged sound quality, and make sure you have a good set of headphones to go with it. This will deliver far more hours of high quality sound than the brand wars ever will.