15 of the best personal audio tech for your listening pleasure

Is there anything better than carrying the complete musical works of Coldplay in your pocket? Or Taylor Swift? Or Cher?

Whatever your choice of music, every year yields a plethora of new tech to help you squeeze every nuance and as many decibels as possible out of your music collection, not to mention carry it all on your person.

For purists, developments in high-resolution audio – digital music that is produced in such a way so as to be more authentic to the original recording – means you can now enjoy the warmth and clarity you do in a record, from a small, digital device.

A smart alternative

With a dedicated Digital Audio Player (DAP), there's no need to load your music collection onto your smartphone or rely on a data connection to keep your ears happy.

About the size of a deck of cards, modern DAPs contain an array of cutting-edge technology; such as high-performance processors to convert digital signals to analogue, and power amplifiers that allow you to enjoy your music on reference-class headphones.

Sure, it can be convenient to have your music and smart services available on the one device, but many smartphones will not come anywhere near the specifications and features offered by a DAP. Why sacrifice the quality of your music simply for the sake of convenience?

If you're also one of the growing legion who long for a little disconnection from the world, a DAP will let you take your music off the radar without being interrupted by an email from work.

Got a mountain to climb? Take a DAP.

Get high

At the moment, the term 'high-resolution audio' is a catch-all meaning 'high-quality audio'. Many companies will use the term in their features list, but when you look at the specs, the numbers can vary widely.


So, what does this mean for you, dear music fan? Well, once you overcome the Gruen effect of the marketing language, a device that supports high-resolution audio is designed to give you a richer music experience by delivering as much audio 'information' from the original recording as possible.

To give you an idea, a CD-quality audio track is around seven times the information found in an MP3 track; while a high-resolution track contains close to 30 times the information of an MP3. You literally hear everything.

Imagine donning a pair of headphones on the train to work as you hit play on your DAP; the hairs on the back of your neck rise as you hear the warm, deep vocals harmonise with the electric piano melody and you mouth the word, "Jitterbug!" Passengers around you may be left to wonder why you're clicking your fingers, but lovers of high-resolution audio know you're listening to Wham! as if you were actually in the recording studio.

Bear in mind, enjoying the fruits of high-resolution audio will require every link in the chain to support the format: so, the actual music source, the DAP and your headphones.

With the advent of more powerful Bluetooth technology, wirelessly streaming high-resolution audio is also now possible. Again, ensure that both your wireless headphones and your music source are capable of the appropriate connectivity.

Take a browse through the gallery above to get a little inspiration for your next audio endeavour.