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Best DACs

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest DACs

Our Recommendations

In a hurry? Here are the best products at a glance.

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How to Choose the Best DAC

If you ever wanted to get better sound from your headphones, laptop, or PC, a DAC is an easy way to do it. But choosing the best DAC depends on what you want to use it for. It can get tricky which is why we spent a lot of time researching a variety of different products. We put together these DAC reviews to help you find the best one for you. First, let’s look at some of the important features.

Best DACs

USB Connection: A USB connection is essential. Why? Because you connect your DAC to the music or sound source using a USB cable. This is where the input comes from. It’s also how some of our picks are powered.

Best DACs

PCM Files: Technically, PCM means “pulse-code modulation.” This is the way that audio is stored on PCs, laptops, CDs, and a bunch of other stuff. Your DAC should be able to convert them in order to be widely versatile.

How to Choose the Best DAC

Pieces: Some of the products we chose include only the DAC itself. Others include a USB cable and/or power cable. DACs are generally pretty simple pieces of equipment so you won’t find a lot of extras with these.

Best DACs

Size: The smaller your DAC is, the more portable it will be. They’re all pretty compact but there are some differences. A few are actually small enough to fit in your pocket while others will fit nicely on your desktop.

Best DACs

Weight: Most of these are pretty lightweight. Even the heaviest ones only weigh slightly more than a pound. Some of them are so lightweight, you won’t even realize they’re in your pocket if you carry them around.

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Warranty: As always, warranties matter. Make sure you know what is covered under your warranty and for how long. You should also look into what isn’t covered, just in case. That way, you won’t have any surprises in case something goes wrong.

Top 10 Products

Now that we covered the important features in our DAC buying guide, let’s get into our reviews. You’ll find a range of items here, from the best budget USB DAC to the right one to tuck into your pocket when you’re on the go. In a hurry? Check out our top and budget picks first. They’re easy to find right at the top of our list. Stick around if you can, all of these products are pretty awesome. Alright, let’s go!

FiiO USB DAC Amplifier

Top Pick
The top pick for best digital to analog converter comes from Fiio. There’s a lot to love about it but the first thing we noticed was the sleek, brushed aluminum shell. Not only does it look great, it’s lightweight and durable, too. The DAC chip performs well, too, improving sound quality and reducing any delays. You can tweak the sound to get it just how you want it. How? By taking advantage of the low-pass filter and selectable bass boost. Oh, and it includes an amp to give it some driving power. We also really like the variety it gives you as far as connections go. There’s a headphone jack in the front plus ?” line output and a coaxial cable output in the back.
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Budget Pick
Our best budget DAC is from PROZOR. One of the things that we like best about it is that it’s easy to install and set up. It’s versatile, too. You can use it with just about anything you can think of, including PS3, PS4, DVD players, Blu-Ray players, and more. You can also use it with external amps with a standard RCA jack or just plug in your headphones. This is a small, compact DAC that’s great for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space to spare. It’s also lightweight so it’s really easy to carry and transport. Included with the converter are a Toslink cable, USB power cable, and a user manual. It’s definitely the best DAC for the money.
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Audioengine Digital-to-Analog Converter

Another option if you’re looking for the best cheap DAC is this one from Audioengine. The company’s been around since 2005 and really raised the bar for performance when they produced this USB DAC preamp. You’ll truly be able to hear the difference. For one thing, it’s versatile. It inputs from both USB and optical sources and has output connections for headphones or a full audio system. Get great sound from your PC but also TV, DVDs, and CDs. Oh, and it’s also our choice for best headphone amp DAC, too. Why? Low distortion and the ability to work with a wide range of headphones make it particularly effective. That’s not all, it’s also really easy to install and setup. Plus, it gets all power through the USB port so there’s no need for an external power supply.
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eSynic DAC Converter

This eSynic converter is the best audiophile DAC that we found. It’s super compact and will really fit just about anywhere thanks to the small footprint. Plus, the high-grade aluminum alloy case is really durable and keeps it exceptionally lightweight. Exactly how lightweight? How about 6.4 ounces? The aluminum case also provides shielding without any signal interference. That’s not all. As for output, it has a headphone jack as well as a place for an RCA connection. We really like how versatile it is as far as compatibility goes. Setup is easy, too. You really just plug it in and you’re ready to go. No drivers to install, nothing technical to set up. One more thing. It comes complete with an 18 month warranty.
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AudioQuest USB DAC Amplifier

This is by far the best USB DAC amp we found in our research. It’s so small and so lightweight that we were blown away by how good it sounds. Plus, it does it all with significantly low power consumption. Something that’s really cool about this one is all you need to do to use it with your iOS or Android phone or tablet is get a simple adapter. That’s something you don’t find a lot of when it comes to equipment like this and just one reason why this is such an awesome, versatile DAC. You can also use it with your laptop, PC, or stereo. That’s not all. It’s also our pick for best headphone amp DAC combo and comes with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee.
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Signstek USB to Coaxial DAC

The Signstek DAC is a great choice if you’re looking for an external DAC for PC. It’s packed with features. It supports analog, coaxial/optical digital, and headphone output. One thing that we couldn’t believe about this one is its size. Not only is it really compact, it’s also the lightest DAC we found in our research. Get this. It only weighs 0.32 ounces. Don’t let that fool you, though! Just because it’s lightweight doesn’t mean it’s cheap or flimsy. There’s nothing to install and no batteries or power cord to worry about, either. Just use the USB port to connect it to your PC or other device and you’re ready to go. It’s plug and play and can’t get much simpler.
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FiiO D3 DAC Converter

With the FiiO D3, you get our best DAC headphone amp. It works with a lot of other sources, too, including digital TVs, CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray players, plus a wide range of game consoles and amplifiers. One of the best things about this DAC is how simple and straightforward it is. It comes with a USB cable and a power block. That’s it. We were really happy with the sound quality, too. It definitely makes for a more natural sound without requiring much from the user. This is a small piece of equipment that will fit just about anywhere. Plus, it weighs less than 2 ounces so it’s likely you won’t even realize you’re carrying it. One more thing, it comes with a 1 year warranty.
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FX Audio DAC-X6 Amplifier

Next up is the FX Audio DAC-X6 Amplifier, a DAC and amp combo that a great choice if you’re looking for something to use as a desktop unit. It’s by no means heavy but it is much heavier than some of the other products we found. It has a larger footprint, too, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking for something to do an awesome job while staying put. Use it with your PC or headphones and you’ll be happy. On the front of this DAC, you’ll find a volume dial that gives you smooth and precise control. The back of the unit has inputs for optical, coaxial, and USB plus an RCA signal output. One more thing, it comes with a power cable and a 5-foot USB cable.
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Anyone looking to get a better sound out of their PC should take a closer look at this DAC from SMSL. One thing we have to mention is it just looks really cool and sleek. Why do we say that? The cover is actually precision-machined from a block of solid aluminum. This also adds less weight and makes for a really durable chassis. It’s pretty compact, too, so it won’t take up a lot of room whenever you place it. It’s set up to support USB input along with optical and headphone jack output. And the sound? Well, it’s pretty great. There’s little to no background noise and it’s really powerful. It comes with a power cord and USB cord. Oh, and you also get a 1-year warranty.
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ONKYO Headphone Amplifier

Looking for the perfect headphone amp that will fit right in your pocket? Check out this DAC from ONKYO. Get this, it can be used with iOS and Android devices. So, no matter which one you prefer, you’ll get a lot of use out of this DAC. And the sound? It’s great: bright, clear, and solid. If you don’t want to use it with your smartphone or portable device, no worries! You can easily use it with your PC, too. Set up is east. Basically, it’s plug and play. All you have to do is choose the correct input and adjust the volume and you’re ready to go. This is a simple, effective option if you want something that will enhance your music when you’re out and about.
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Review and Buying Guide GeekWrapped