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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Everything You Need For A Mobile Audiophile Setup

If you’re ready to upgrade from the freebie headphones that came with your latest phone to a serious setup, you’ll need to invest in some high-quality hi-fi. The following mobile audiophile gear is a great place to start.

Audiophiles are a notoriously spendy bunch—even within the relatively thrifty realm of mobile-only music, you could easily spend enough on high-end gear to buy an economy car! That being the case, we’ve made selections for beginners that are both easy-to-use and (relatively) easy on your wallet. They won’t beat the best audio hardware on the planet, but they’ll blow the average iPhone or Android phone out of the water, all without needing to be tethered to a wall outlet. Even better, many of these components work great as high-quality recommendations all on their own; consider our picks for digital audio players, headphones, and earbuds good gift picks for pretty much anyone.

Digital Audio Player: FiiO M7 ($200)

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Your smartphone is a jack of all trades, and a master of none—especially if it’s a newer model that unaccountably lacks a headphone port. If you’re serious about quality sound on the go, you’ll want to upgrade to a dedicated music device.

This mid-range model from mobile audio specialist FiiO offers a full touchscreen for its Android operating system, something that’s not a given for this price point, but don’t mistake it for a phone—there’s no Wi-Fi or cellular connection in this thing. Instead, you get a dedicated, long-lasting music-only device that can handle lossless audio playback, with a heavy-duty DAC (digital-to-audio converter) to make the most out of your headphones.

The player comes with only 2GB of local storage, but you can add up to 512GB with a MicroSD card, and it also supports playback via USB-C-equipped audio devices and Bluetooth with Sony’s upgraded LDAC high-quality wireless. Other features include a 20-hour battery life (40 hours of standby) and built-in FM radio support. Oh, and it charges from the latest USB-C cables—a nice extra. Note that despite the Android OS, this device does not have access to the Google Play Store or its selection of music apps.

Portable Amplifier: TOPPING NX4 DSD ($160)

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If you’d rather stick with your phone for music, but you want to be able to max out the quality and power of your high-end headphones, you’ll want an amplifier. Portable amplifiers work on the same principles as their media center and desktop PC cousins, only with an internal battery, a pocket-friendly size, and a selection of ports picked for on-the-go listening.

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