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“Listening Room” to Go

A new generation of advanced portable music players picks up where the iPod left off

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PonoMusic PonoPlayers
FiiO X1 music player
HiFiMan HM901s music player

After a decade and a half of forcing the world to think about music in new ways, the iPod is gradually being retired. Last year Apple discontinued the iPod Classic, the closest available product to the original player launched in 2001. You can still purchase the Nano, Touch and Shuffle models, but the line has lost its tab on Apple’s homepage. Most people use a smartphone or tablet as their portable music player, so they don’t need an iPod.

But with the decline of the iPod has come the rise of something much better: the high-resolution portable music player. These devices combine a music player, a digital-to-analog converter with high-resolution playback capability, and a high-quality headphone amplifier. Perhaps the best known is Neil Young’s PonoPlayer, introduced to great fanfare (but mixed reviews) earlier this year. Yet audiophiles caught on to high-res players long before Pono arrived, via brands including Astell & Kern, Calyx, Cowon, FiiO, HiFiMan, iBasso, Sony and TEAC.

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Originally Published