If you want to buy an MP3 player, then it depends how much you value sound quality. Some cheap players support WAV or FLAC as well as MP3, but people who are fussy enough to use uncompressed sound files are often fussy enough to want a better playback device, and correspondingly high-quality headphones. You need all three links in the chain to get hi-fi sound.
If you're on a budget, the Sansa Clip/Clip+ and Cowan iAudio ranges are popular choices for playing FLAC files, and they are well regarded for their sound quality. Choose one that has an expandable microSD or microSDHC memory card slot and you can carry all your music on 16GB or larger memory cards. The 8GB SanDisk Clip Zip costs £43.99 at
Three hi-fi players that meet your needs for file format support are the 16GB
The Colorfly C3 is an established model that supports the WAV, FLAC, and lossless APE formats, as well as MP3 and WMA. It only has 8GB of storage but you can add up to 64GB on a microSD card. The FiiO X3 is a newer device – I'd not heard of it – with outstanding file format support: WAV, FLAC, APE, WMA Lossless, Apple Lossless, MP3, AAC, WMA, and OGG. It also has bass and treble controls, and works as a sound recorder.
The Colorfly C3 has a TI PCM1770 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), while the FiiO X3 has a (probably cheaper) Wolfson WM8740. Those who care can compare the specs.
If you're really serious, you could have a look at the 32GB Colorfly C4 Pro Pocket Hi-Fi Music Player (£548.99), which has an old fashioned walnut case, and iRiver's space-age Astell and Kern AK100 Ultimate (£569). The latter is very highly rated and also uses a Wolfson WM8740 DAC.
Finally, and alternatively, there's Rockbox. In 2001, some people who were unhappy about early MP3 players decided to develop their own open source software to replace the stuff provided by the manufacturer (originally,
To sum up, if you want to stick to playing WAV files, then you should look at the
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