Table of Contents
- What Are HD Music Players?
- Is HD Audio Worth It?
- Best HD Music Players – Comparison Table
- Things to Consider When Buying an HD Music Player
- Top 7 HD Music Players In 2021
- 1. Sony NW-A45/B Walkman with Hi-Res Audio
- 2. Fiio X1 Hi-Res Lossless Music Player
- 3. Onkyo DP-X1 Digital Audio Player
- 4. Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Series Hi-Res Walkman
- 5. Pioneer XDP-300R Hi-Res Digital Audio Player
- 6. FiiO M11 Android Hi-Res Lossless Music Player
- 7. PLENUE D2 High-Resolution Audio Player
This article is designed to offer you answers to the most common questions about HD music players and to give you some nice suggestions. We have tried to find the best HD music players for every price range and every budget. Hopefully, you will find something that suits your needs.
What Are HD Music Players?
You can think of HD music players as of mp3 players, only much more advanced, much more capable, and, naturally, much more expensive. Just like the old-school mp3 players, HD music players can play mp3 and other lossy audio files but they can also play all kinds of lossless and hi-res audio files (ALAC, FLAC, AIFF, DSD, PCM), which is their most important advantage over mp3 players and phones.
However, that’s not their only advantage. HD music players often have more outputs than regular mp3 players. Pricier models have balanced outputs, too. Some even double as portable DAC devices. HD music players have playback and volume controls. Most of them have touch-sensitive screens and some run on Android OS. In some cases, HD music players support wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or both). As you can see, HD music players are so much more than just mp3 players and calling them mp3 players would be an understatement, even insult.
If you consider yourself an audiophile, an HD music player is a must-have piece of audio equipment. Sure, you can always play audio files from your phone and use some crappy earbuds, but if you prefer high-quality sound, HD music player and a pair of high-end headphones is absolutely necessary.
HD music players are often called digital audio players or portable media players so don’t get confused when you hear or see one of these terms. They all refer to the same type of device.
Is HD Audio Worth It?
Well, the short answer would be yes. Every average listener will notice a difference between a crappy 128kbps mp3 file listened through a pair of cheap headphones and lossless FLAC or ALAC audio file listened through a pair of high-end (or even mediocre) headphones. However, the difference becomes less noticeable when using high-quality lossy files and high-quality headphones.
Most people will notice the difference in fidelity and amount of detail, even if a high-quality lossy audio file is compared against hi-res lossless files. However, an average listener will perceive it as a small difference. Some would argue that the difference is not worth the extra money and they will be perfectly happy with their phones and their mediocre headphones.
On the other hand, audiophiles and people who appreciate the high-fidelity sound will say that buying an HD music player is absolutely worth it.
As you can see, it’s not all black and white. The most important thing is that hi-res audio players and digital audio players are not just a marketing gimmick. They truly are capable of producing a much better sound than a cheap mp3 player or your phone.
The manufacturers are constantly pushing the limits and make more and more capable players. The most advanced (and most expensive) players support 32bit/384kHz and DSD512. More affordable models can play DSD256 and 24bit/192kHz lossless audio. Do you have to buy the most capable model to get a great listening experience? No, of course you don’t. After all, it’s questionable if an average listener can hear the difference between 192kHz/24bit FLAC file and 384kHz/24bit FLAC file.
Best HD Music Players – Comparison Table
|HD Music Players||Rating||Price||Review|
|Sony NW-A45/B||4.3||Check Amazon|
|Fiio X1||4.0||Check Amazon|
|Onkyo DP-X1||4.0||Check Amazon|
|Sony NW-WM1Z||4.5||Check Amazon|
|Pioneer XDP-300R||3.9||Check Amazon|
|FiiO M11||4.1||Check Amazon|
|PLENUE D2||4.0||Check Amazon||Read Review|
Things to Consider When Buying an HD Music Player
We always analyze things like price, design, and build, regardless of the device we are buying. In this section, we will only discuss the characteristics that are important for an HD music player. The most important factors are supported audio formats, storage size, audio outputs, and maximum supported audio quality (max supported bitrate, bit depth, and sample rate).
Basically, you should look for an HD music player that can play as many lossless file types as possible. Also, you should look for one that has large storage – lossless audio files take up much more space than mp3 files and large storage is essential. Micro-SD card support is desirable, too.
Besides the standard 3.5mm or 6.25mm outputs, you should also look for an HD music player with balanced outputs. Even if you don’t have headphones with a balanced cable at the moment, it would be smart to go for a player with balanced outputs. Just in case you decide to buy high-end headphones in the future.
Max supported audio quality is also essential. Practically all today’s HD music players support much higher bitrates and sample rates than a standard CD (higher than 44.1kHz/16bit).
Some additional features like dual DACs, physical controls, and dual microSD card slots, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, Airplay support, etc., are always desirable but they will raise the price of your HD music player.
If you already have a pair of headphones that you want to use with your new HD music player and you know the type of files you are going to listen to, you will have to subordinate your choice to the existing equipment. So, if you have headphones with a 3.5mm jack and you are not planning to buy headphones with balanced cables, spending extra money on a player with balanced outputs is not absolutely necessary.
Now that you know a few basic things about HD music players and digital audio players, let’s move onto our selection of 7 best HD music players in 2021.
Top 7 HD Music Players In 2021
1. Sony NW-A45/B Walkman with Hi-Res Audio
NW-A45 is a budget-friendly hi-res audio player with an amazing feature set and a great price/quality ratio. If you are looking for an HD music player under $300, NW-A45 is a great option.
What’s in the box
The box contains your NW-A45 digital audio player, Sony’s proprietary cable for charging and connecting to the PC (WM port to USB), user manual, and 1-year warranty.
Things we like
The player is simple and stylish. It has a hard metal chassis with a matte finish (grayish-black or blue finish). It’s quite compact and lightweight – it will easily fit a pocket or a bag.
3.1in color TFT display covers the entire front panel. The display is touch-sensitive. You can use it to see the track info and to control all the basic (playback management, volume) and advanced settings (EQ settings, EQ presets, Bluetooth pairing, ANC modes, etc.).
The player features some physical buttons for the basic functions on the right panel – power, volume controls, playback controls, and HOLD/LOCK button.
On the bottom, you will see a standard 3.5mm mini-jack (for connecting headphones), a proprietary 22-pin WM port (for charging and connecting the player to the PC), and a strap hole for attaching a wrist strap.
The player runs on Sony’s proprietary OS. Adjusting to the user interface will take some time. The UI is not that tricky but it’s different than Android or iOS.
NW-A45 features a relatively small internal storage (16GB) but it also supports microSD (SDHC and SDXC) cards. The max allowed microSD card capacity is 2TB.
Inside the player, there’s a pretty large Li-ion battery. The battery can deliver up to 45h of playtime (when playing mp3 files). Depending on the file type and active features, the playtime varies. When playing FLAC lossless files, you will get 30 hours of playback. When playing DSD files, you will get up to 25h. The recharge is done via the included WM cable and takes 4 hours.
NW-A45 features Bluetooth 4.2 and supports NFC quick pairing. The Bluetooth is compatible with A2DP and AVRCP profiles and it supports the following Bluetooth audio codecs: SBC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC.
The list of supported audio file types is quite impressive. NW-A45 supports MP3 (up to 320kbps/48kHz), WMA (up to 192kbps/44.1kHz), WAV (up to 32bit/192kHz), AAC (up to 320kbps/48kHz), FLAC (up to 24bit/192kHz), ALAC (up to 24bit/192kHz), AIFF (up to 32bit/192kHz), DSD (up to DSD256). On top of all that, it also supports MQA files and has a built-in FM tuner, just in case you get bored.
This lovely budget HD music player also features many advanced settings and functions like the Clear Audio +, Dynamic Normalizer, 6-band EQ settings, 8 EQ presets, different ANC modes (bus/train, airplane, and office), and ambient sound modes. You will be able to engage the ANC modes or ambient mode only when using compatible headphones.
NW-A45 delivers smooth and detailed audio reproduction with great precision and authority. For the price, you will hardly find something better. Another great thing is that you can connect it to your PC via the included cable and use it as a DAC.
Things we don’t like
The internal storage is quite small and if you have a large DSD/FLAC/ALAC audio library, you are definitely going to need a microSD card.
NW-A45 uses a proprietary WM port for charging and connecting to a PC. No one likes proprietary connections. Replacing the WM port with a USB-C port would make this player even better.
The player doesn’t have a balanced output which is disappointing but it’s not a huge downside at this price point.
2. Fiio X1 Hi-Res Lossless Music Player
FiiO X1 is a super-cheap option. It’s far less capable than the previously reviewed NW-A45 but it’s still a good option if you can’t spend more than $100.
What’s in the box
Inside a nice cardboard box, you will find your X1 digital audio player, 1m-long micro USB charging/data cable, manual, warranty card, and some FiiO stickers.
Things we like
X1 is a tiny and compact player. It’s lightweight and very solid. The housing is made of aluminum and it’s available in four finishes – black, blue, silver, and gold.
The control scheme is fairly intuitive. You have a large scroll wheel with four buttons around it and one button in the center of the wheel. You can use these buttons to control the playback and navigate through various menus and libraries. On the left panel, there are 3 buttons – power button and volume up/down. On the right side, there’s a microSD card slot. The controls are intuitive and perfectly responsive.
On the front panel, above the wheel, there’s a nice 2in color TFT screen. Album art will be displayed on the screen, along with lyrics and other ID3 metadata. The screen will also display the battery status and volume level. You can adjust the brightness of the screen.
The player is compatible with standard CTIA inline controls found on some Samsung, Apple, and other earbuds. So, you don’t have to reach out for your player every time you want to adjust the volume or change the track.
Under the hood, X1 houses a very capable Texas Instruments’ DAC and Interstil’s amp. Thanks to this built-in amp, the headphones can drive any headphones with 16-100Ω impedance.
When it comes to ports, FiiO X1 features one micro USB charging/data port on the bottom and one 3.5mm headphone output on the top. This headphone output also doubles as the line output, which allows you to pair the player with a dedicated headphone amp (E11K, E12A), in case you have more demanding headphones.
The player doesn’t have any internal storage and requires a microSD card. The max supported card capacity is 128GB.
X1 features a 1,700mAh rechargeable battery. It can deliver up to 11 hours of playback and it can be fully recharged in less than 4h.
FiiO X1 can play lossless FLAC (up to 24bit/192kHz), ALAC (up to 24bit/192kHz), and APE (up to 24bit/192kHz). It can also play WAV files (up to 24bit/192kHz), WMA files (up to 24bit/48kHz), MP3, AAC, and OGG VORBIS files. It doesn’t support DSD and MQA.
The player doesn’t offer as much control over the playback and sound as some more advanced players but it still has 7-band EQ settings, and it delivers quite neutral and accurate sound.
Things we don’t like
X1 has no internal memory. Buying a microSD card is not only recommended – it’s absolutely necessary.
X1 doesn’t support DSD and MQA files. So, if you have a large DSD audio library, you will need something more capable (and more expensive).
X1 doesn’t support wireless connectivity (no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi).
It’s not a surprise but it’s still important to mention that X1 doesn’t have balanced headphone output. Expecting a balanced output at this price point would be too optimistic.
3. Onkyo DP-X1 Digital Audio Player
Onkyo DP-X1 is significantly pricier than the previous two players but it’s also much more capable. Back in 2016, when DP-X1 was introduced, it was the first player with MQA support. That’s only one of the numerous great features of DP-X1. This thing has both balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs, it features Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it supports a wide variety of lossless audio files including FLAC, ALAC, DSD, AIFF, etc. The only downsides are fairly small internal storage (which is not a huge deal since you can install 2 microSD cards) and a relatively small battery.
What’s in the box
The box contains your DP-X1 DAP, micro USB Type-B charging/data transfer cable, manual, and a warranty card.
Things we like
In terms of design, Onkyo DP-X1 looks like a mixture of an old-school transistor radio and a modern Android phone. The design is quite sophisticated and the build is solid.
The whole front panel is occupied by a large 4.7-in 720p display. On the left, there’s a beautiful volume dial, and on the right, there are four physical buttons (power and playback controls) and two slots for MicroSD cards. The player runs on Android 5.1.1 OS and the screen basically has the same functionality as the screen on any Android phone or tablet.
Under the hood, DP-X1 houses a quad-core 2.2GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. It has dual Sabre DACs and headphone amplifiers. Thanks to dual DACs and amps, the balanced output is possible via 2.5mm 4-pole headphone out and via micro USB Type-B output.
The player features two audio outs on the top – one 3.5mm unbalanced and one 2.5mm balanced output. On the bottom, there’s a micro USB Type-B port. It can be used for charging and data transfer. It can also be used as a balanced output for connecting an external DAC or a headphone amp with a corresponding input. The cable for connecting other external equipment (USB type-B OTG cable) is not included in the package.
Unbalanced output supports headphones with 16-300Ω impedance and balanced output supports headphones with 32-600Ω impedance. RMS power output at 32Ω through the unbalanced audio port is rated at 75mW per channel. Through the balanced port, the player will output 150mW per channel.
Onkyo DP-X1 has a relatively small 32GB internal storage, part of which is reserved for the Android OS. The good thing is that you can insert two micro SDXC cards and expand the storage space by up to 400GB (max capacity per card is 200GB).
The player supports wireless connectivity – it features both Bluetooth (with aptX support) and Wi-Fi.
The built-in battery has a rated capacity of 1,630mAh and it can deliver up to 16 hours of playback (when playing 96kHz/24-bit audio file via unbalanced output). The playtime varies with the file type and connection type – you will get up to 15h with FLAC 24bit/192kHz or up to 12h with DSD128. When streaming files wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi the playtime is even shorter.
When connected to Wi-Fi, you can download and install apps from the Play Store, and use the player in the same way you would use your phone. You can use any music streaming app – Spotify, TIDAL, or any other. In the manual, you will find a list of recommended apps, like the Onkyo Music, which is a download service for hi-res files. The Android OS is flexible and gives you so many options.
DP-X1 supports various lossless and lossy audio files. It can play DSD files (up to DSD256), DSF, DSD-IF, FLAC (up to 24bit/384kHz), ALAC (up to 24bit/384kHz), WAV (up to 24bit/384kHz), AIFF (up to 24bit/384kHz), OGG Vorbis (up to 192kHz), MP3 (up to 48kHz), and AAC files (up to 48kHz). The player also supports MQA file playback but, in order to play MQA files, you have to update the firmware first.
Since the app is running on Android, it can also play video files so it’s actually a multimedia player.
DP-X1 features high-precision EQ settings with more than 16,000 discrete frequency bands. You can save up to 1,000 different EQ profiles/presets.
The player delivers amazing sound quality and can reveal the tiniest detail in your hi-res recordings. Naturally, to achieve that, you have to pair it with some nice headphones.
To conclude, Onkyo DP-X1 is one of the most versatile and capable DAPs in its price range.
Things we don’t like
32GB internal storage may seem like a lot but it actually isn’t, especially when it comes to lossless files (DSD, FLAC, ALAC). Having a larger storage would make this HD music player even better.
The battery capacity is not great. Onkyo DP-X1 definitely deserves the battery of higher capacity.
4. Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Series Hi-Res Walkman
If you are looking for the best-sounding DAP on the market and you don’t mind the price, Sony NW-WM1Z Signature Series Walkman could be the thing you need. As some customers said, it’s the most analog-sounding digital audio player money can buy. It’s highly versatile when it comes to supported outputs and supported audio formats. It can also drive the most demanding headphones and IEMS. However, we still think that you have to be a little bit crazy to spend that much on a DAP.
What’s in the box
Inside a premium-looking black box, you will find your Walkman NW-WM1Z digital audio player, one proprietary 22-pin WM to USB cable, wrist strap, leather case, instructions, and a warranty card.
Things we like
NW-WM1Z is a very attractive little device. It’s compact and can fit the palm of your hand. It’s a little bit heavier than cheaper players (16.1oz) but that’s because of all the high-quality components and it’s not a dealbreaker. The player has a very sophisticated gold-plated oxygen-free chassis made of copper.
The front panel is reserved for the 4in TFT color display. The display is touch-sensitive and you can use it to control all the basic and advanced settings. The player also has some physical buttons so you don’t have to unlock the screen whenever you want to adjust the volume or change the track. On the right side, you have the power/screen lock button, 2 volume buttons, and 3 playback management buttons.
On the bottom, there’s a strap hole, Sony’s WM port (for charging, data transfer, and connecting an external headphone amp), and a microSD card slot. On the top, you have two headphone outputs – one standard 3.5mm audio out and one 4.4mm balanced output.
Under the hood, Sony NW-WM1Z houses a new S-Master digital amp, top-of-the-line high polymer capacitors (for power flow regulation), and high-quality circuitries. It runs on Sony’s proprietary OS.
The player has a pretty large 256GB internal storage. If that’s not enough, you can install an external microSD card (microSD, microSDXC or microSDHC). According to the manual, 256GB of internal storage allows you to store up to 350 DSD256 tracks or up to 20,000 MP3 tracks.
The battery is pretty capable. Depending on the mode and file type, you can get more than 30 hours of playtime. To be more precise, you will get up to 33 hours when playing MP3 files (128kbps), up to 31h when playing AAC (256kbps), up to 30h when playing FLAC 24bit/96kHz or 26 hours with FLAC 24bit/192kHz. Naturally, the playtime is the shortest when playing DSD files (15 hours with DSD64, 13 hours with DSD128, 11 hours with DSD256). In Bluetooth mode, you will get up to 17h when playing MP3 files or 15 hours when streaming FLAC 24bit/96kHz. The playtime also gets significantly shorter when some sound enhancement features are active. The recharge is done via WM port and takes up to 7 hours.
NW-WM1Z supports all the most common lossless and lossy audio file types. It can play FLAC files (up to 24bit/384kHz), ALAC (up to 24bit/384kHz), AIFF (up to 32bit/384kHz), APE (up to 24bit/192kHz), DSD (up to DSD256), and WAV files (32bit/384kHz). It also supports lossy files like MP3, WMA, AAC. In the end, Sony NW-WM1Z features support for MQA files.
As mentioned in the introduction, Sony NW-WM1Z delivers a detailed and natural sound. It truly provides a unique and very analog-like sound quality. Every note is delivered with perfect accuracy and clarity, just like the artist intended.
The player allows you to play with all kinds of advanced settings including 10-band EQ settings, DC Phase Linearizer, DSEE HX, dynamic normalizer, etc.
Things we don’t like
The biggest downside is the price. We’re not saying that NW-WM1Z is not worth it but it’s still extremely expensive.
NW-WM1Z also lacks Wi-Fi connectivity so you won’t be able to stream hi-res music from TIDAL and other streaming services.
5. Pioneer XDP-300R Hi-Res Digital Audio Player
Pioneer XDP-300R is fairly similar to the previously reviewed. Onkyo DP-X1. In fact, these two manufacturers (Pioneer and Onkyo) often cooperate and use the same components for their HD music players. Their players are fairly similar in terms of features, performance, and design. They are also priced similarly.
What’s in the box
The box contains your XDP-300R HD music player, USB cable for charging and data transfer, manual, and a warranty card.
Things we like
In terms of design, XDP-300R is fairly similar to Onkyo DP-X1. It doesn’t look incredibly sophisticated but it’s simple, stylish, and easy to use.
On the front, there’s a large 4.7-in 720p display. On the left side, there’s a nice volume dial. On the right, there are four physical buttons (power/screen lock button and 3 playback control buttons). Right below the buttons, there are two slots for microSD cards. XDP-300R runs on Android 5.1 OS which makes the use fairly simple.
XDP-300R has two audio outputs – an old-school 3.5mm jack and 2.5mm balanced jack. Both are located on the top. On the bottom panel, there’s just a micro USB port (for charging and data transfer). The USB port can also be used in case you want to connect an external DAC or headphone amp (but you have to buy the cable separately).
Just like the XDP-300R, DP-X1 has a quad-core 2.2GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM. It also has dual Sabre DACs and headphone amps. Inside the player, there are two divided circuit boards (for output stage and converter stage). Thanks to dual DACs and amps, the balanced connection is possible via 2.5mm 4-pole headphone out or via micro USB port.
XDP-300R is quite capable and can drive a wide variety of headphones. When using the balanced output, the player will push 150mW per channel (@32Ω).
The internal storage is not huge. You have 32GB in total, but part of it is reserved for the Android OS. Luckily, you can always install a microSDXC card (or two). The max allowed capacity of a microSD card is 200GB (400GB in total).
XDP-300 supports wireless connectivity and it features both Bluetooth (with SBC and aptX support) and Wi-Fi.
The built-in battery is, just like the storage, relatively small. The capacity is rated at 1,630mAh. According to the specs, you will get up to 16 hours of playtime when playing 24bit/96kHz files (through balanced output). Depending on the file type, the playtime is shorter or longer. So, when playing FLAC 24bit/192kHz, the max playtime is 15h. When playing DSD128 files, the playtime shortens to 12h. You will get less than 10h when streaming music via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi connectivity and Android OS allow you to go to Play Store and download and install all kinds of streaming apps, including Tidal, Spotify, Onkyo Music, etc. In the manual, you will find a list of recommended apps.
XDP-300R supports numerous lossless and lossy audio files. When it comes to lossless files, XDP-300R supports DSD files (up to DSD256), FLAC (up to 24bit/384kHz), ALAC (up to 24bit/384kHz), WAV (up to 24bit/384kHz), and AIFF (up to 24bit/384kHz). It can also play OGGVorbis (up to 192kHz), MP3 (up to 48kHz), AAC files (up to 48kHz), DSF, and DSD-IFF. The player also supports MQA playback.
XDP-300R can play video files. The list of supported video formats includes H.263, H.264 AVC, H.265 HEVC, MPEG-4, etc.
XDP-300R delivers quite an amazing sound quality and can reveal the tiniest detail in your hi-res tracks. When paired with the right set of cans, XDP-300R will make your music listening experience so enjoyable. Android also gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to sound adjustments. The player has highly precise EQ settings with 16,000 adjustable frequency bands.
Things we don’t like
The storage is relatively small. If you have a large high-res audio library, you will need an external microSD card. Luckily, you can expand the storage space by up to 400GB.
The battery is not bad but it’s not great either. When playing DSD files you will get less than 12 hours. When streaming music via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you will get less than 10 hours.
6. FiiO M11 Android Hi-Res Lossless Music Player
FiiO is a fairly popular choice when it comes to digital audio players, portable headphone amps, and DACs. Their equipment is very capable, reliable and, most importantly, it’s fairly affordable. All those things apply to FiiO M11 digital audio player. It is incredibly feature-packed and versatile. It’s one of the best HD music players under $500.
What’s in the box
The player comes in a nice-looking box along with a USB-A to USB-C cable, 3.5mm coaxial adaptor cable, transparent silicone case, quick start guide, and a warranty card.
Things we like
FiiO M11 has a very attractive all-black metal chassis with straight edges. The player does look a little bit larger than average. What makes it distinctive is the glass panel on the back. The panel has a PET coating and carbon fiber texture that makes it truly distinctive. On the front, you have a pretty large 5.15in touch-sensitive display. The screen supports 720p resolution and, since the player runs on Android 7.0, you can use the screen to control everything, just like you control your Android phone or tablet.
On the left side, M11 has a nice-looking gold-plated volume knob, play/pause button, and two track management buttons. On the right side, there are two concealed microSD card slots. Theoretically, these slots support any microSD card with up to 2GB capacity (4GB in total). On the top, there’s the power button.
One of the most amazing things about M11 is the number of outputs and ways in which you can use this little device. All the inputs and outputs are located on the bottom. M11 features not one but two balanced outputs (2.5mm and 4.4mm). It also has one 3.5mm output that serves as a headphone out, line-out, and coaxial out. On the bottom, there’s also a USB-C port for charging, data transfer, and for connecting to PC (when using the player as a DAC device).
Under the hood, M11 houses Samsung Exynos SoC, dual AK4493 DACs, OPA926 amp chip, and high-quality circuitries.
As mentioned earlier, it runs on Android 7.0 so you can install any third-party software or music streaming app (like Spotify or Tidal). You can’t use Google Play to download and install apps but you can install any app compatible with Android 7.0 through FiiO Marketplace. There are also some pre-installed apps like the FiiO Music app. Thanks to 3GB RAM, multitasking should not be a problem.
Thanks to all those headphone outputs and high-quality amp and DAC chips, you can use M11 with a wide variety of headphones (supported impedance – 16-300Ω through balanced outputs). If you want to drive more demanding headphones, you can connect the player to the external DAC/Amp device via 3.5mm coaxial adaptor or via USB-C to USB-C cable adaptor.
M11 can also be used as a DAC device – just connect it to your computer via USB-C cable and then connect the M11 to a speaker or external amp via coaxial 3.5mm port.
The player has a relatively small 32GB storage and part of it is used by the Android OS. You will have less than 25GB of space at your disposal which basically means that you have to buy a microSD card (or two).
The built battery has 3,800mAh capacity, which is pretty good but not amazing. Depending on the file type, active features, and used ports (balanced, unbalanced), you will get different playtimes. For example, when playing MP3 files (16bit/44.1kHz) via the unbalanced 3.5mm port, you will get 13h of playtime. You will get less when using the balanced port and the same file type (more than 9 hours). According to the specs, you will get more than 40hours of playback in Bluetooth mode.
When it comes to wireless connectivity, M11 features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (dual-band – 2.4 and 5GHz), and it also supports Airplay.
Samsung’s chip features Bluetooth 4.2. It’s compatible with A2DP and AVRCP profiles, and it supports SBC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and LHDC Bluetooth codecs.
If you want to stream music via Wi-Fi, you can stream it from your Windows/Mac computer via DLNA or via Airplay.
You can even pair your phone with the M11 via Bluetooth (FiiO Link feature) and use your phone as a remote to control the playback on M11.
M11 is one of the first HD music players that has a certificate for hi-res wireless streaming.
This little thing can play all kinds of lossless files (FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV, APE). The max resolution for all these files is 32bit/384kHz. It can also play lossless WMA (up to 24bit/96kHz), DSD (up to DSD256), and DXD 352.8k. It also supports MQA and it will stream MQA files via Tidal. It goes without saying that it can play all the popular lossy files (MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA, etc.).
Thanks to the Android OS, M11 can even play video files – you just have to install some third-party video player.
FiiO M11 delivers solid sonic performance with impressive clarity, crispness, and musicality. The distortion is practically nonexistent.
Things we don’t like
M11 doesn’t support Google Play and Apple Music. It supports all kinds of third-party apps and music streaming services but you have to download them through FiiO Marketplace.
The internal storage is relatively small – installing a microSD card is necessary and recommended.
M11 is not as portable as some other digital audio players but that should not be a dealbreaker, especially considering the price and all the available features.
7. PLENUE D2 High-Resolution Audio Player
If you are looking for something reasonably priced but still reliable, versatile, and with a balanced headphone output, we don’t think you should go under $300. Sure, there are DAPs and HD music players under $200 (even under $100) and if you can’t afford something pricier, all those players are viable options, but if you can spend $300, you should. One of our favorite affordable players is PLENUE D2. It’s a high-res audio player with DSD support, balanced output, and capable battery. However, it doesn’t support wireless connectivity and doesn’t have any smart features. If $300 is too much for you, you could try PLENUE J or PLENUE V.
What’s in the box
The box contains your PLENUE D2 player, micro USB cable for charging and data transfer, quick start guide, and a warranty card.
Things we like
PLENUE D2 irresistibly reminds us of the original Walkman (not the new Walkman DAP). It has that kind of retro vibe, which is not a bad thing. It’s super-compact and lightweight.
On the front, there’s a nice 2.8in touch-sensitive display. You have some basic physical control buttons on the right side (volume controls and playback controls). On the left side, there a microSD card slot (supports microSD and SDXC). On the top, there’s the power button and two headphone outputs (unbalanced 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm 4-pole output). On the bottom, there’s a micro USB charging port.
PLENUE D2 player houses dual CS43131 DACs for clearer and noise-free sound and a pretty large Li-ion battery. The battery provides up to 45 hours of playtime, but only when playing MP3 files (at 128kbps). The playtime shortens drastically when playing FLAC and DSD files (less than 30 hours when playing 24bit/96kHz FLAC file). The recharge takes less than 4 hours.
The internal storage is large than average. You will have 64GB of space at your disposal and you can also add a microSD card (max supported microSD card capacity is 128GB).
PLENUE D2 can play all kinds of lossless files including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV (up to 24bit/192kHz). It also supports APE (up to 16bit/48kHz), MP3, WMA, and OGG files.
Besides the standard tools, PLENUE D2 allows you to play with EQ settings – this player has 44 presets and it also allows you to set manually four additional presets (through 5-band Equalizer).
Things we don’t like
PLENUE D2 doesn’t support wireless connectivity – it doesn’t feature Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You can’t use it to stream music from Spotify or Tidal and you can’t use it with wireless headphones.
Q: What is the best HD music player in 2021?
A: Well, the answer depends highly on your budget. The prices of HD music players vary a lot. You can find a decent player for less than $200 but if you want the best, you will have to pay $2000+. Our absolute favorites are Sony’s reference NWWM1Z Hi-Res Walkman and Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP1000M. However, you can get a great music player for less than $1000. If that’s your limit, you should try iBasso DX220 and HiBy R6. If you can’t spend more than $500, try FiiO M11 or Pioneer XDP-300R.
Q: What is a lossless music player?
A: The answer is quite obvious, isn’t it? It’s a player that supports the playback of lossless audio files (FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, APE, DSD, etc.). So, basically, every HD music player is a lossless music player. However, only the most capable of them support all the lossless audio formats and the highest possible sample rates and bit depths. So, for example, only a few of them support DSD256 and DSD512.
Q: What is a DAP music player?
A: DAP stands for Digital Audio Player. It’s a music player that plays digital audio files. DAP, portable music player, HD music player, lossless music player – all these terms are synonyms.
Q: What is the highest quality audio format?
A: In terms of bit depth and sample rate, DSD512 is probably the highest quality audio format (512 times higher sample rate than a regular CD). FLAC files have the max sample rate of 192kHz with a 24bit depth. ALAC files support 32bit depth and 384kHz sample rate. However, noticing a difference between high-quality DSD, FLAC, and ALAC files, is practically impossible for most people.
Q: Can iPhone/iPod play 24bit audio?
A: Yes. All current iOS devices support ALAC files, which basically means that they support 24bit audio (up to 96kHz/24bit).
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.