Luxurious MP3 Gamers Take Goal at Followers of Digital Audio

Now that our smartphones are capable of stream or play nearly any type of media, one may assume that the times of the devoted MP3 participant are over. In any case, the preferred considered one of all time, the iPod Basic, trotted quietly off into the sundown final yr. However a couple of corporations are doubling down, taking purpose on the obsessively sound-acutely aware audiophiles on the market with units that value twice — or ten occasions — as a lot as an iPod.

It isn’t simply luxurious appears, both: These units function excessive-finish audio processors and help for extremely-excessive-high quality music information. Consider them as 4K TVs on your ears.

Pono Participant – $four hundred

Luxury MP3 Players Take Aim at Fans of Digital AudioPono Music

The brainchild of Neil Younger and a few enterprising audio engineers, the Pono Participant was first seen in 2012. The standard of digital music, Younger claimed, was shockingly dangerous — poorly mastered, and missing within the nuances audible on CDs and data. The Pono Participant wouldn’t solely help excessive-definition audio tracks, however would launch along side a particular retailer devoted to that format.

The uniquely-formed participant lastly appeared late in 2014, and whereas its playback high quality has been praised, some query the excessive worth of the audio downloads — which value roughly twice what songs do elsewhere.

Sony TWZ2 – $1120

Luxury MP3 Players Take Aim at Fans of Digital AudioSony

Final yr, Sony determined that its flagship Walkman would not be a ubiquitous mass-market merchandise, like its tape-enjoying 1979 namesake, however would as an alternative be a juiced-up luxurious gadget. The NW-ZX2, unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, is the subsequent evolution of the ZX1: extra good-looking, extra spectacular — and costlier.

The participant’s strong aluminum physique resembles that of a excessive-finish telephone, and the ZX2 does run Android, however the similarities finish there. Sony has modified the ZX2’s software program and hardware to offer superior sound for wired and wi-fi audio system, in addition to headphones.

Astell&Kern AK240 – $2500

Luxury MP3 Players Take Aim at Fans of Digital AudioAstell&Kern

This new sub-model from Korean gadget-maker iRiver has solely existed for a pair years, however its merchandise have already made an impression on audiophiles — and their wallets. But it is troublesome to not be tempted by the AK240’s beautiful design, tactile controls, and laundry record of options like twin digital-to-audio converters, balanced-output headphone amplification, and the power to make use of it as an exterior audio processor on your PC or different gamers.

The AK240 is not even Astell&Kern’s costliest choice — that might be the protected-like AK500N. Is nice sound actually value $12,000? Watch out: in case you give it a pay attention, you may begin to assume so.

— Devin Coldewey

First revealed January thirteen 2015, 1:forty eight PM