A dedicated music player is the only way to get the very best from your high-resolution music files. Anything else is just a jack of all trades…

In recognition of the increasing popularity of high-resolution music, the 2017 What Hi-Fi? Awards sees the portable music player category increase in size from one to three Best Buys. Whatever your budget, one of these will get your hi-res tunes truly singing.

Three of the best

Cowon's impressive Plenue D (£200, top) flies the flag at the more affordable end of the market. This little unit will sit easily in your pocket alongside a smartphone – but it will make your music sound a whole load better. Equipped with a touchscreen and easy-to-use interface, the Plenue D has an open, insightful sound – and up to 100 hours of playback. In other words, a great first step on the hi-res music ladder.

The remaining two Best Buys are claimed by Astell & Kern, with its superb AK70 MkII (£600) and stunning £900 Kann (above) cleaning up in their respective categories.

The AK70 MkII introduces a 'dual-DAC' design and, as well as its portable music playing capabilities, can double up as a USB DAC to improve the sound quality coming from your computer or laptop.

The Kann has chunkiness and heft to merit its serious hi-fi price, but it justifies its not inconsiderable expense with a sound and features that excel, even in this market. 

MORE: Awards 2017: portable music players

MORE: All our Awards 2017