What's the best small mp3 player out there?
December 31, 2018 12:25 PM   Subscribe

What's the best small mp3 player out there?

My beloved iPod shuffle finally kicked the bucket after 8 years of constant abuse. I used it almost exclusively as a source of music for running, and I want to replace it with something that's substantially similar, in that it is:

- Very small and lightweight
- Corded (I have no interest in wireless headphones)
- Relatively watertight, such that I don't have to worry about my sweat destroying it
- Has a decent battery life
- Is rechargeable
- Has as few features as possible (I loved that the Shuffle didn't even have a screen)
- Will work well enough with iTunes that I won't have to rejigger my whole music setup on my desktop just to make it work
- Isn't very expensive

Does such a machine exist? Do you have one that you love? Did you buy one that you hate and want to warn the world away from? Am I completely unrealistic in my expectations here? Please help me get my running jams back!
posted by saladin to Technology (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The answer is probably a lightly-used iPod shuffle.
posted by holgate at 12:41 PM on December 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: A couple years ago, the Sandisk Sansa Clip was the answer here, for me. I need to replace mine but it's now discontinued, so I've been looking at the similar models like the Sansa Clip Sport or the Sansa Clip Jam.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:50 PM on December 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

If it weren't for the second point, I'd strongly recommend an older model Apple Watch - that sort of seems to be the design goal for them, just a small amount of music you can have on a minimalistic runner's getup along with the fitness tracking and heart rate wotsits.

Buuuut, that second point is a doozy, I admit.
posted by Kyol at 1:41 PM on December 31, 2018

SanDisk's products and their copycats.
posted by twoplussix at 1:58 PM on December 31, 2018

I use a SanDisk Clip Jam. User interface is a bit clunky, e.g. it gives you an annoying warning before you can turn the volume up high. Otherwise it's fine: small, light, easy to attach, expandable storage with a card. I use it for running pretty regularly, only have to charge it every couple of weeks.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:01 PM on December 31, 2018

Realistically, unless you want to explore the murky and confusing world of chi-fi (chinese hifi products), the sansa clip line is the only alternative.

Other players are cheap no name crap, or stupidly expensive no name crap with quality that may or may not exist.
posted by smoke at 2:05 PM on December 31, 2018

Here's a used, thoroughly checked out Nano. I know it's not a Shuffle, but check back on the Powermax site.
posted by jgirl at 3:01 PM on December 31, 2018

SanDisk used to offer a nice sized player called the Fuze. It does not seem to have anything like it any more. All you see in its product line are various forms of the Clip. A very good player, but a very tiny screen that makes search and select a bit of a difficulty.

I suggest looking for a used Fuze or Creative Zen (another discontinued product) on eBay.
posted by megatherium at 3:11 PM on December 31, 2018

I will chime in to say you can run 3rd-party firmware on many SanDisk (and other manufacturers') players. Rockbox is the one I've always used and it improves usability and capability of the old Sansa Clip by such an insane amount that it turns a decent device into an almost unbelievable device.
posted by glonous keming at 3:18 PM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would consider not just the device but also the software (if any) that you will need to run to manage what's on it. If you are cool just managing the music on there via the filesystem, that's one thing, but if you want to manage it via iTunes or something iTunes-like, you might just want to get another iPod (perhaps used). That might depend on whether you frequently change the music on the device or have complex playlists that you regularly update and want to sync.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:54 PM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’m a Clip Sport user. It’s fine for my needs but it has a few annoying quirks: it’s a real pain to skip through a long audio file (ie, a DJ mix or podcast) and there’s no search function to speak of, so navigating your library can be very fiddly.

But, it’s cheap, tiny, the battery lasts ages and it’s tough.
posted by Ted Maul at 12:54 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

IPod. I am still using my original iPod mini from 2008. The screen has a spot on it, but it works perfectly. ITunes is a shitty program but other than that, it's a good setup for me. Used iPods are super cheap.
posted by agregoli at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks folks! Sounds like in the future a Sansa is the way to go, but a MeFite came through with a used iPod Shuffle for me so I'm gonna stick with the devil I know for now.
posted by saladin at 6:22 AM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

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