The 9 Best Budget MP3 Players of 2019

Access your favorite tunes for less

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sony NWE395

Sony NWE394
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.1

With an impressive 35 hours of audio playback (four hours for video) battery life, Sony’s NWE395 MP3 player is an exceptional option for commuters and travelers. The 16GB of onboard memory offers more than enough space for thousands of songs and even space for video. The 1.77-inch display might not feel like a large video screen in today’s tablet-heavy world, but for quick video clips and some photos, it’s a nice addition to have without all the bells and whistles of distracted smartphone life. Fortunately, you’ll have excellent audio quality, thanks to the inclusion of a dynamic normalizer, which balances the volume levels between songs.

Like most non-Apple MP3 players, Sony offers support for all lossless music formats and offers easy content transfer with drag and drop through a file explorer on Windows. Creating playlists from your PC through Sony’s dedicated software offers easy transfer right back to the E395 for immediate use. The design itself is typical Sony quality and minimal with just the necessary buttons on the front in a format that’s easy to memorize for on-the-go use.

Best for Exercise: AGPTEK A01T

AGPTEK A01T
 Courtesy of Walmart
3.2

Next to Apple devices, MP3 players have a habit of looking pretty dated, but the AGPTEK A01T holds its own when it comes to design. It’s sleek and slim, designed with six touch buttons and a 1.8-inch color TFT display. Its body is metal and comes in a subtle gold color.

With an intelligent digital noise reduction chip, it reduces noise to let you focus on the music. With a built-in pedometer, it’s also a great option for athletes and the Bluetooth 4.0 functionality means you won’t have to put up with tangled cables. The AGPTEK A01T has 8GB of storage, with support for up to 128GB with a microSD card, and can deliver up to 45 hours of music-playing or 16 hours of video-playing on a 1.5-hour charge.

Best Budget: MYMAHDI MP3/MP4 Music Player

3.7

What’s the best thing about the MYMAHDI MP3 player? It’s cheap. That makes it perfect for the person who might not be the most, how shall we say, responsible when it comes to their gadgets, but still wants to listen to music on the go. It has 8GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB via a microSD card. Music is easy to add via drag and drop when connected to your computer, and it supports a variety of formats, including MP3, WMA, FLAC, APE, AAC and more.

The body is made of metal and for its compact size, it's fairly heavy (78 grams), but that makes it all the more durable. With a speaker on the back, it also doubles as a voice recorder with a convenient A-B playback button.

Best Audio Quality: Sony Walkman NW-A35

3.7

If you’re in the market for an MP3 player, it’s most likely stellar audio that you’re after. Look no farther than the Sony NW-A35, which produces better-than-CD audio quality. Its S-Master HX digital amp cuts distortion and noise across a wide range of frequencies, while the DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Experience) HX feature upgrades music to high-resolution.

And not only does this MP3 player sound good, but it looks good, too. Its simple, minimalist design reflects how easy it is to use, thanks to its 3.1-inch intuitive touch-screen. You’ll also bask in up to 45 hours of playback time and smooth Bluetooth connectivity.

Best Controls: AGPTEK A29

AGPTEK A29 8GB MP3 Player

 Walmart

3.7

With 55 hours of playback on a two-hour charge, the AGPTEK A29 MP3 player offers strong battery life. The device measures 90mm long and 10mm thick, weighing in at less than half a pound. The design is reminiscent of the iPod Nano from the early 2000s with its tall, narrow frame and the classic “click-wheel” controls.

While the AGPTEK A29 doesn’t include many special features, it does support lossless audio, which is a major bonus for audiophiles everywhere. It also comes equipped with FM radio, an e-book reader (txt format only), and a voice recorder for memos and other sound files. The A29 holds 8GB of memory, which can be expanded to 128GB with a microSD card. 

Best Compact: AGPTEK Clip MP3 Player

Measuring 2.1 x 1.3 x 0.5 inches and weighing only four ounces, the AGPTEK Clip is a compact MP3 player at a budget price. AGPTEK sells a slew of budget MP3 players, but unlike other devices by the company, the Clip is smaller and shaped more like an iPod Shuffle. It has all the features of a solid MP3 player in a tiny package.

The Clip is good for exercising because, as the name suggests, you can clip the player onto an armband or a piece of clothing during your workout. You also get Bluetooth, FM radio, and about 30 hours of battery life. As far as storage goes, the Clip provides 8GB of internal memory and up to 64GB with an external SD card. You’ll also get support for lossless files in addition to MP3, WMA, APE, WAV, FLAC, AAC formats.

For its size and sturdiness, the AGPTEK Clip MP3 player is a worthy option for listeners who want something ultra-portable and perfect for workouts.

Best All-in-One: Sony NWZWS613BLK 4 GB Bluetooth Sports Wearable

Sony’s 4GB NWZWS613 all-in-one is a bit different from the others on this list in that it combines an MP3 player and headphones, forgoing the need for a separate base unit and headphone connection. It features a wrap-around design for a light yet secure fit and is even waterproof up to two meters (though it’s not suitable for salt-water use), sweat-proof and dust-proof.

It comes with a wrap-around ring used as a remote control and when paired with your phone, it can take calls on the move. With a quick three-minute charge, you’ll get up to 60 minutes of playback, which is the perfect amount of time for a workout. You can easily load up music by dragging and dropping your favorite songs, albums, and workout playlists from iTunes for Mac or Windows.

Best for Running: SanDisk Clip Sport Plus

If you’re in the market for a dedicated music player to listen to while you run, the SanDisk Sport Plus is a great pick. At only 1.28 ounces and 0.7 x 1.7 x 2.6 inches, it's ultra-compact. But it's just big enough to still include a screen so you can navigate between folders and songs (unlike an iPod Shuffle).

For runners, the clip on the back of the player is a convenient way to make sure it doesn’t fall off your body while exercising. It’s also IPX5 water resistant, meaning that it should still work even during a rainy day or a sweaty workout. With 20 hours of battery life from a single charge, long runs shouldn’t be a problem either.

Other perks for runners include a built-in FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to use a pair of wireless headphones with the device. With 16GB of storage, SanDisk says you’ll be able to store up to 4,000 songs in a variety of file formats like MP3, AAC, WAV, and FLAC. There are also options for 8GB and 4GB of storage.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best workout music players article.

Best for Lossless Audio: Berennis Bluetooth MP3 Player

Most lossless audio players can cost you at least $100, which is why you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal than this one. True audiophiles swear by the premium quality of lossless sound, which maintains the integrity of an uncompressed, professionally-made audio file. Typical MP3 formats compress data to reduce the file size, sacrificing quality in the process. If you have lossless files and want to take your music-listening experience to a new level, then the Berennis MP3 player offers a reasonably-priced way to hear your music at its full quality.

This device has an output sampling rate of 44.1kHZ and a signal-to-noise ratio of 110dB. It supports all major audio formats, including MP3, WAV, FLAC, WMA, and APE. The device holds 16GB storage, but supports up to 128GB with a TF card and delivers 30 hours of playback on a single charge. It has Bluetooth 4.2, and transmits a strong wireless signal to your wireless earbuds or speakers, without draining your battery.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought five top-rated budget MP3 players that our reviewers tested for 130 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these MP3 players, from their storage space to their sound quality. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Budget MP3 Player

Size - Because they have fewer features than smartphones, MP3 players tend to be lighter and more compact. If you’re using yours to power your workout, you’ll likely want something as small as possible.

Storage - Do you listen to the same song on repeat or are your musical tastes a bit more varied? If you fall into the latter category, you’ll need an MP3 player with lots of storage. Most options out there provide 2GB to 8GB of space, which holds about 1,000 to 2,000 songs, but many also have an expandable storage option so you don’t have to pick favorites.

Platform - Before buying an MP3 player, you have to look at where most of your music lives. If it’s in iTunes, an iPod is the only way to go. If you own mostly DRM-free music, you have more options.

Test Results: Sony NWE395 (Best Overall)

4.1

What We Like

  • Great sound quality

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • Unattractive design

  • Bulky

  • Heavy

Sony NW-A35 16GB Walkman
Sony 16GB Walkman
Sony NW-A35 Walkman
Sony 16GB Walkman

“This MP3 player’s sound quality is really good,” raved one of our testers. “It’s soothing to the ears and not too strong. Its volume capacity is also very wide-ranging.” Our reviewers also felt it was simple to use, with one noting that “the menu options are really easy to understand.” What needs to improve? “This device was was bulky, its screen resolution could be better, and its front button and lights could be more attractive,” reported one tester.

Test Results: AGPTEK A01T (Best for Exercise)

AGPTEK A01T
 Courtesy of Walmart
3.2

What We Like

  • Attractive design

  • Decent sound quality

  • Generally durable build

What We Don't Like

  • Poor screen quality

  • Not very customizable

AGPTEK A01T 8GB Bluetooth MP3 Player
AGPTEK A01T 8GB
AGPTEK A01T Bluetooth MP3 Player
AGPTEK 8GB Bluetooth MP3 Player
AGPTEK Bluetooth MP3 Player

This MP3 player had solid sound quality and a nice design, according to our testers. One reviewer also thought it was an ideal combination of lightweight and durable. Its screen quality, however, wasn’t up to par, according to one tester: “It’s not sharp at all,” she noted. Our reviewers also wished that the device was more customizable.

Test Results: MYMAHDI MP3/MP4 Music Player (Best Budget)

3.7

What We Like

  • Compact

  • Simple

  • Good overall value

What We Don't Like

  • Poor screen quality

  • Mediocre audio quality

MYMAHDI MP3/MP4 Music Player
MYMAHDI Music Player
MYMAHDI MP3/MP4
MYMAHDI

One of our testers thought that, overall, this device was a good value for the price: “The inclusion of the FM radio and the voice recorder are nice perks,” he noted. It was also compact and simple to use, according to our reviewers. One tester summed up the negatives: “The low-resolution screen, mediocre audio quality, and poorly written instruction manual give away that this is a budget device.”

Test Results: Sony NW-A35 16GB Walkman (Best Audio Quality)

3.7

What We Like

  • Amazing audio

  • Good compatibility

  • Easy navigation

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

  • Feels flimsy

Sony NW-A35 16GB Walkman
Sony NW-A35 Walkman
Sony 16GB Walkman
Sony Walkman
Sony NW-A35

“With a whole slew of algorithms that improve playback, and a solid distortion-free DAC, this is a great player for your lossless audio collection,” raved one of our testers. In addition to the high-quality audio, our reviewers liked its broad compatibility with WAV, AIFF, mp3, and FLAC files and the smooth user interface. In terms of negatives, one of our testers wished for a bit sturdier build. Our reviewers also noted its steep price point, particularly considering the fact that it has no internet capabilities. Bottom line: “If you have a large collection of downloaded music, and a lot of it is lossless, then this is a great vehicle for playing that back,” noted one of our testers.

Test Results: AGPTEK A29 (Best Controls)

 Courtesy of Walmart
3.7

What We Like

  • Inexpensive

  • Durable

  • User-friendly controls

What We Don't Like

  • Somewhat limited compatibility

  • No standout DAC features

“For the price, it would be hard not to recommend this device,” one of our testers said of the AGPTEK A29. Our reviewers were fans of its solid build and “intuitive button system.” One of our testers commented, “With a rigid, brushed aluminum back, not only does this device feel sturdy, but it's less prone to slipping from your hand.” In terms of negatives, one of our reviewers explained, “Without a standout DAC built in, you aren't going to get marquis playback on this media player.” Other complaints from our testers included the lack of AIFF compatibility and a “clumsy” menu. On the other hand, one of our reviewers remarked, “Even though the software UX is a bit unwieldy, the quick, easy-access button system makes navigating it a near breeze.”