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The iPod touch is the most popular MP3 player on the market even today. With this, you can listen to digital music all you want. But, it’s more than just a mere MP3.
The iPod touch also doubles as a web-surfing device, a portable game system, a communications tool, as well as a video player. This is all because it runs iOS. It’s essentially an iPhone but without cellular connectivity.
Both devices have similar hardware and software. Albeit the iPod touch isn’t updated as frequently as the iPhone, therefore the closest equivalent to the most recent iPod touch is the slightly older iPhone 6 series.
However, for others, the iPod touch isn’t worth buying anymore. In spite of its entry-level price point of around $199, the device uses a chip that’s already nearly half a decade old. Also, it has weak cameras, and it can’t record videos in 4K. It also lacks Face ID, opting instead for Touch ID.
That said, the iPod touch might not be the one for you too. Luckily, the market has several other options for you to choose from that can offer even better features. Here are some of them.
A&norma SR25 is the newest addition to Astell&Kern’s extensive line of innovative portable audio products. It’s the cheapest Digital Audio Players (DAP) in the A&K series, which starts at $699.00 and goes all the way up to $3499. Despite this, the A&norma SR25 offers a wide range of capabilities in a tiny, portable package. It can play almost any audio format, has a bright, vivid display, and supports a variety of headphones or IEMs. Although it is not a cheap device, it has one of the greatest sounding DAPs. In terms of design, the A&norma SR25 from Astell&Kern is a gem. It’s made of aluminum, with silver accents on the front and sides and a back with a black carbon fiber pattern. On the right side, there’s volume control, and on the top, there’s a power switch and balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs. There are pause or play, forward, and back buttons on the left side. There is also a USB C socket on the bottom for charging and connecting to a computer and a MicroSD slot that can hold up to 1 TB of data. The internal storage of the A&norma SR25 is 64 GB. Its volume control could have been better, and it could also use a more powerful amp. The amplifier’s power is insufficient to drive some of the more expensive, difficult-to-drive planar headphones, but most of these won’t be used in a portable context anyhow.
The KANN line’s purpose has always been to deliver ultra-high-power output capable of driving any headphones or IEM. The Alpha, like the previous KANN Cube, is a powerhouse, having similar specs to the Cube but with a few, noticeable differences. The KANN Alpha has a lot of power, but it’s at the expense of weight. The Alpha’s screen is fantastic. It’s quick and fast, and the graphics are crisp and clear thanks to the 720p resolution. In terms of screen size, the 4.1-inch model has hit the sweet spot. Thus, it feels more manageable and easy to palm. On the right side of the gadget, Astell&Kern keeps the trademark large-format volume knob. Although this is one of the AK DAP’s shallower knobs, it still offers a nice tactile click when rotated. The Alpha music player’s power output and new 4.4 mm balanced headphone jack are the show-stoppers. Using micro relays, the 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm outputs of the KANN Alpha have been physically isolated. Because each signal is not properly blocked, noise interference occurs when 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm structures are connected exclusively to the mute circuit. Astell&Kern has developed an independent structure that prevents outside noise by blocking interference from outputs that are not in use. Overall, it’s a fantastic concept. The downside, though, is its price (Astell & Kern Kann Alpha retails for about $1,099). Its price could have been more worthwhile if its system was kept up to date.
The Astell&Kern (AK) A&futura SE200 is the second Digital Audio Player in the A&futura line from the South Korean manufacturer (DAPs). The A&futura line, which sits between the entry-level A&norma and the cutting-edge A&ultima lines, is a premium line with sophisticated features that bring the brand’s original performance to life. The SE200 is inspired by the Roman god Janus and features two-way components. On the top of the device, there are two independent pairs of 2.5 mm balanced and 3.5 mm single-end audio output jacks. Apart from that, it has a divided volume wheel design that unites two symmetrical curves, and two distinct sound signatures defined by a single AK4499EQ from Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) and a pair of ES9068AS from ESS Technology (ESS). The volume wheel is embedded on the right, with an LED ring at the base providing music playback information such as volume range, bit-rate of the currently playing track, and current DAC setup. The four physical buttons on the left are the power button, followed by playback controls for Previous Track / Rewind, Play / Pause, and Next Track / Forward, in that order. Finally, there’s a USB-C port for charging and data at the bottom, as well as a microSD card slot for uploading music files from an external device or utilizing the DAP as a USB-DAC. Overall, it offers a perfect design and fantastic sounds. However, its firmware was quite hard to use. Nevertheless, the Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 remains one of the best iPod touch alternatives.
The SanDisk 8GB Clip Jam MP3 Player is almost flawless in terms of design. It’s super compact and lightweight as it only measures 0.63 x 1.6 x 2.6 inches. It also comes in five different colors. On the inside, as its name suggests, the device holds up to 8GB. But you can expand it, thanks to its built-in micro SD card slot. In terms of the audio, the quality may depend on the earbuds you use. You can set its volume as high as you want it to be. However, note that you can’t lock its screen or volume. Hence, it’s not the best iPod alternative for young children. The SanDisk 8GB Clip Jam MP3 Player also comes with an FM radio. However, the tuning depends on the headphones you use. So, make sure to use the ones that are only made of high-quality if you want a better tuning. As for the menu, SanDisk 8GB Clip Jam MP3 Player offers an intuitive, easy-to-use menu. Its screen is bright and doesn’t get pixelated. It doesn’t pause when you select an item either. Hence, it’s definitely a huge win. What makes the device’s design superb is its clip. It is very useful when you’re mowing your lawn, running, or even doing chores. The downside, though, is that its case is thin, so it might not be as durable as other players.
Mighty Vibe, or simply the ‘Mighty,’ is a compact, portable, and lightweight audio player that can sync with Amazon Music and Spotify to allow you to download and carry music with you on the go without even needing to have your phone with you. As for its design, a push-button is in the center of the round control ring. Between tracks, the ring’s left and right positions move forward and backward. The middle button also switches the Mighty Vibe on and off, in addition to the play/pause functionality. The little LED in the upper-right corner indicates whether the player is charging or turning on. A little button adjacent to the LED can be used to switch playlists or enable shuffle mode. Another thing that makes it great is that it’s so easy to set it up. However, charging the player and syncing it with your Spotify playlists takes over an hour as its OS operates slowly. Additionally, Mighty Vibe is missing a power supply. Instead, the player includes a 10-inch charging cable with a male USB-A connector on one end and a 3.5 mm audio socket on the other. The rechargeable battery can be charged with a regular phone/tablet charger. The first charge takes around an hour, and once the LED goes solid white, you can begin syncing your playlists to the gadget. All in all, Mighty Vibe isn’t a bad substitute for the iPod touch. You’ll adore the Mighty Vibe if you want to listen to your Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, or Amazon Prime Music playlists without having to use your phone or tablet. Yes, it’s small, but it allows you to listen to music wirelessly. You won’t have to worry about losing or harming your phone or tablet while working out or running.
COWON Plenue D3 features a Cirrus Logic CS43131 Dual DAC, 2.5 mm Balanced output, and aptX Jet Effect, which allows for user tweaking through Bluetooth transfer, in addition to BBE+ and other amazing built-in tuning profiles. Slow/high-speed playback and A-B repetition are two additional features that are particularly useful for language or instrument learners. The Plenue D3 can output up to 4Vrms on Balanced with such a small package, unlike other older entry or mid-level Cowon players. As expected from Cowon, the form factor looks fantastic. In terms of design, the Plenue D3 combines metallic materials, analog user control, and a strong, seamless body design in an aesthetic way. During playback, a rim of light appears beneath the knurled 140-step digital volume control knob, and it will light up every few seconds. When the screen is turned off, the edge of the screen is hardly visible. You’ll see a simple UI running on Cowon’s own SoC infrastructure, which is reminiscent of prior versions. On the right side of the machine, you’ll find the on/off button and playback control, as well as a USB-C connector for charging and file transmission. Without a doubt, you can manage the Plenue D3 by yourself and effortlessly slide it into any pocket. The Plenue D3 is around 3″ in diameter, with a 2.8″ touch-capable LCD panel on top. Additionally, its resolution isn’t too high, which is likely to reduce system load and increase playback hours, but higher pixel density will be desirable when competitors’ players have full HD panels.
Another great creation from Astell&Kern is the A&ultima SP2000T. It may have an uninspired name, but its features are great for a music player. The A&ultima SP2000T high-resolution digital audio player from Astell&Kern is packed with features that make it a dream item for audiophiles. Its music reproduction is superb, and its build quality is outstanding. The gadget can run apps for a variety of streaming services and download music for local storage. Astell&Kern has you covered if you use Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud, Qobuz, SiriusXM, Tune-In, myTuner, Bandcamp, or Deezer. A dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi adaptor is built into the gadget. Moreover, its finely crafted volume wheel harkens back to a time when all hi-fi audio gear was designed with form as well as function in mind. The tube is placed at the top of the machine, with a glass pane that facilitates wireless communication (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) while also providing a color-coded light that indicates the bit level of the track you’re playing at a glance. You can use 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm, or 4.4 mm headphone jacks. However, it is quite large and heavy compared to its competitors, so you might find it a bit hard to carry around, especially when you’re running or working out. But, considering its features and performance, it sure is one great alternative for the iPod touch.
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