If you want the best sound quality from a music player, you'll need to use a lossless audio format and some decent headphones.
Cowon's iAudio 7 offers support for the FLAC audio format and boasts a terrific audio chip to boot, so those lossless files sound exceptionally good. It also has expandable memory and stunning battery life, not to mention being pretty cute.
Of course, Apple's iPod classic gets a mention, though it supports Apple's proprietary Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) and you'll need to use iTunes to manage these files. Still, it's a superb player with significantly better sound quality than its predecessor.
Creative's Zen doesn't support lossless compression but it will play uncompressed WAV files for untouched lossless quality. Its audio decoder is excellent and even without SD card expansion, the most recent model can hold 32GB of music and video.
Finally, Cowon's iAudio D2 was a nominee for our prestigious Editors' Choice award in 2007. It supports FLAC audio and like the iAudio 7, rocks a stunning audio chip for terrific sound reproduction. As an added bonus, its 16GB maximum capacity is expandable with SD cards.
Cowon's iAudio 7 is an excellent MP3 player. Sound quality and the support for loads of file formats is a big plus. With 60 hours of battery life this is going to keep pumping music for longer than you'll be able to listen at one stretch. The one disappointment is the screen, but as a music player it rocks Read more
Reviewed on 10 July 2007
Apple has not only exceeded our expectations, it's exceeded ones we didn't even have. The iPod classic is a superb audio player with a huge wealth of well-integrated features and intuitive navigation. Our only real concern is that menus can be laggy. Apart from that, outstanding Read more
Reviewed on 17 September 2007
The Creative Zen looks great, sounds great and produces great video. It's a full-featured player with plenty of options for customisation. Although the SD card slot is a huge bonus, its contents are not included in the player's main menu, limiting its usefulness Read more
Reviewed on 12 October 2007
If you can get on board with the Cowon D2's PDA-like touchscreen interface, the reward is great-sounding audio, a smorgasbord of features and a fantastic battery life Read more
Reviewed on 27 February 2007