The 10 Best USB DACs

USB Key

An awfully poor audio signal from your computer is an issue you may encounter every once in a while. This usually is attributed to defects on your audio card. A digital audio converter comes as somewhat a solution to such challenges, in that, upon using a DAC, you’ll no longer have to worry about such poor signals ever again.

Your computer’s amplification and audio performance can never get better than it does with the inception of a DAC. Infusing itself on your system’s amplifier unit, a DAC can boost your dynamics. It, therefore, goes without saying that in every way that your computer’s equipment is not, DACs draw more impression in their output circuitry including the power supply, without forgetting their conversion chips.

Price range, especially for audiophile equipment may get you wondering. But you don’t have to since this is but their common nature. There is always one little difference of equipment from another that will strike the range. However, this doesn’t change the fact that even an entry-level DAC can blow your mind with an experience like none other.

Dual functions DACs are typical, and these give you options to choose from; usually, whether you’d like the output through headphones or a monitor. While this may affect a price change, whatever you’re comfortable with both in functionality and finances shall suffice.

How We Choose

Understanding the need for quality techs, we have sampled up some of the best converters you can find out there. Ensuring that their functionality is nothing less of blue-chip and guaranteeing you your money’s worth, we present to you our top picks based on factors like the build quality and connectivity among others. The categories in which we’ve sampled them include but are not limited to Best Overall, Best Budget, and Best Portable.

Audioengine D1 24-bit Digital-to-Analog Converter

Sale
Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC, Premium Desktop Digital...
680 Reviews
Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC, Premium Desktop Digital...
  • The D1 is a premium 24-bit DAC and headphone amplifier for your computer, TV,...
  • FEATURES High-performance DAC and headphone amp, USB and optical inputs, stream...
  • WORKS WITH Mac, Windows, and Linux Computers—plug-and-play with USB. Any TOSLINK...

Headphone users have finally found their glamor in this Audioengine D-1. Specially designed with an outstanding headphone output, it sears excellent quality of low distortion, especially in high-end DACs. Perhaps the fact that it’s a plug-and-play blasts its demand with a supported USB input and the optical S/PDIF. Its HD stream, 24/96, with low jitter and also low signal-to-noise ratio makes it all the more astounding!

With its bypass feature, the Audioengine D1 can convert a low-quality sound from your computer’s output into a high definition sound, fed directly into either your headphones or speaker. You can already imagine how good the final output will sound.

I was surprised to see how many good reviews this Audioengine D1 converter has on Amazon.

Conclusion: supporting several devices like your computer, Apple or Smart TV among several more, the Audioengine D1 can deliver high definition sounds. It’s a portable headphone amplifier which supports both optical and USB inputs and can output to any audio system.

Pros

+ It amplifies high definition sounds

+ It has an elegant design

+ It’s solid-built

+ It’s compact

Cons

– It has no volume maker

Optoma NuForce uDAC5 High-Resolution Mobile DAC

Optoma NuForce uDAC5 High-Resolution Mobile DAC
26 Reviews
Optoma NuForce uDAC5 High-Resolution Mobile DAC
  • ESS SABRE Hyper stream DAC for the best file conversion
  • High performance 140mWat32 Ohm headphone amplifier
  • Supports virtually all file formats including DSD256 and up to 24bit/384kHz PCM

Specially designed from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Optoma NuForce DAC comes in a portable size and weight with a Hi-resolution DSD DAC. The amplifier is extensive in its supported formats and goes ahead to blow your mind with its able functionality without the need for an external power supply. Available for Mac and Windows, it was best suited and recommended for lovers of music, movies or games.

Enjoy Hi-resolution sounds at the comfort of your home or workplace, while all you need is a headphone and this amplifier! With the ability to play several file formats, and its Windows and Mac support, you can play enhanced sounds without hitches that would have been otherwise, with a full experience of the massive total base and open highs.

I was surprised at how many good reviews the Optoma NuForce converter has on the listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: With its extensive file format support, Optoma NuForce uDAC5 boasts of being uniquely able to blast into magnificent sounds, the DSD256 format. Furthermore, it ably couples up functionalities of a USB DSD DAC and a headphone amp while at the same time, it can act as an audio controller.

Pros

+ It can maintain a good balance between vocals and music

+ It has a dynamic rhythm

+ It has an authoritative bass

+ It is of great build

Cons

– Its user manual needs improvement

Yamaha A-S801SL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier

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Yamaha A-S801SL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo...
412 Reviews
Yamaha A-S801SL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo...
  • 100 W + 100 W (20 Hz 20 kHz, 0.019% THD)
  • USB DAC function: DSD (2.8 MHz / 5.6 MHz), PCM (384 kHz / 32 bit), WAV / FLAC
  • Gold plated digital coax input/TOSLINK optical input

The Yamaha A-S801SL Stereo Amplifier boasts of its 32-bit processor for both audio and D/A converter. Its operation and D/A conversions are enabled by its DSD 5.6 MHz which come with a PCM of 384 kHz.

The Yamaha A-S801SL Stereo Amplifier has a bypass feature which, during the direct amplification, ensures that the signal remains strong by shortening the circuit and ensuring there’s no interference with the signal. The output, therefore, retains a characteristic sound which in this case, is typical deep bass and defined highs.

The Yamaha A-S801SL, as well as other Yamaha models, can be found is on Amazon.

Conclusion: Through its enhanced sound control, the Yamaha A-S801 allows you to make manual adjustments to the loudness of your high-quality effects. The quality is retained where it is, having gone through the direct amplification for its enhancement; the controls help you get a separate adjustment for volume and the effects of your choice.

Pros

+ It has a variable loudness control

+ It has an excellent sound performance

+ Crystal clear sound

+ It has a smart design

Cons

– There’re remote switching issues

TEAC NT-503 Dual-Monaural USB DAC/Network Player

TEAC NT-503 Dual-Monaural USB DAC/Network Player...
9 Reviews
TEAC NT-503 Dual-Monaural USB DAC/Network Player...
  • High-quality Audio Circuits render the fine texture of music
  • High-precision 44.1kHz and 48kHz On-board Internal Clocks, and 10MHz External Clock...
  • PCM/DSD Filters Provide a Multifaceted Personality from a Single Unit

Here is a portable amplifier you would want to have for your headphones. Perhaps its discreetness is what you don’t come around so often, and so are these: A Coaxial input and output, both of 500mW. Its powered by OLED, cutting down its power consumption and allowing for automatic power saving. It also comes with a superb display and a body which due to its metallic state can take care of exogenous noise.

You can view the TEAC NT-503 spefications on it’s listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: Just through a USB cable, you can play high definition TEAC NT-503 audio sounds from your PC. This Dual-Monaural USB DAC/Network Player comes with a dual circuit. It can be regarded as one of the top-notch DACs in performance, simplicity, and output.

Pros

+ It has great sound quality

+ It has a stable network

+ Musical tube sounding

Cons

– The user interface needs improvement

FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
3,258 Reviews
FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
  • DAC Chip¡ªThe Internal DAC chip is a PCM102 and can handle PCM files up to...
  • LOW NOISE FLOOR ¡ª The unit has an optimized low-pass filter and selectable bass...
  • CONNECTION VARIETY ¡ª The variety of connections include a front-panel 1/8¡±...

A laptop’s audio quality is known to change over time. Most times, it doesn’t change but is just not good enough. Here comes the FiiO E10K DAC amplifier for your headphones with the purpose of taking care of your defect by improving your degrading quality. To do this, it’s powered by a PCM5102 DAC chip. Its specialty is with PCM files, with which it takes care of at a processing capacity of 24-bit and resolution, 96 kHz. Many people like tuning effects to their preferences and this particular DAC allow you to do full customization of your sounds and effects depending on those preferences.

Connections are made through a Micro USB cable which is plugged into the PC, both powering and charging the device. There are various connections available for this DAC, and they include but are not limited to: a headphone jack, and rear-panel digital and line outputs. They’re all available at 1/8\”.

I was very surprised to find how afford this portable DAC can bought on it’s listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: The FiiO E10K USB DAC is not only portable but also very efficient. Its processing speed is commendable, and so is the high resolution of 96 kHz. It allows you to change sounds and effects according to your preference and goes a long way to ease its functionality by enabling you to both uses and charge it by directly plugging it to your PC.

Pros

+ It’s portable

+ Good sound quality

+ Audiophile quality

+ It’s small and compact

+ It’s easy to set up

Cons

– It is lightweight (could be a good factor depending on what you want)

Marantz HD-DAC1 HD USB DAC or Headphone Amp

Marantz HD-DAC1 - Reference Quality Headphone...
77 Reviews
Marantz HD-DAC1 - Reference Quality Headphone...
  • This multi-dimensional premium amplifying device exceeds all your music listening...
  • DEDICATED HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER – Borrows powerful technologies from the Reference...
  • VERSATILE CONNECTIONS – Plug in any audio source (CD player, gaming console or...

New in the market with distinctive features, the Marantz DAC is one of the most recommended USB DAC that will boost your PC’s audio experience by a great deal. Dedicated to the delivery of quality, the Marantz DAC1 uses amplification technologies to amplify sounds and deliver high definition output audios.

The functionality of the Marantz is so advanced that you can make direct connections to amplifiers; power amplifiers and even speakers yet still get delivery of excellently high definition sounds.

Although this DAC is a little more expensive than the other it has great positive feedbacks and reviews that can be found on it’s listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: With the Marantz DCA1, you can stream directly from your PC without having to make any extra connections. All this is possible through its optical inputs and USB-B port. The quality of sounds that are emitted through amplification by the Marantz is nothing less of excellent.

Pros

+ It has clean power

+ It has excellent connectivity

+ It has plenty of connections options

Cons

– Cheap fake wood sides

iFi Micro iDAC2 DSD DAC – Digital Analogue Converter with USB Input

iFi Micro iDAC2 DSD DAC - Digital Analogue...
21 Reviews
iFi Micro iDAC2 DSD DAC - Digital Analogue...
  • UPGRADE YOUR SYSTEM - With this state of the art compact Digital Analogue Converter /...
  • EASY CONNECTIVITY - Outputs include S/PDIF optical, Toslink or coaxial (only PCM up...
  • HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - Hear familiar songs in a whole new light with rich detail and...

Home and office desktop/laptop users are now graced with the iFi Micro iDAC2 DSD DAC, a unique design because of its USB2.0 compatibility. Using this primarily at home or in the comfort of your desktop is hitting quite an upgrade since this DAC works well with all audiophiles. This means, therefore, that blasting music through your speakers with this amplification will give you the experience of a Millennium!

The iFi Micro iDAC2 has a 5 star review and can be found with all it’s specification on Amazon.

Conclusion: The iFi DAC chipset is powered by an amplifier of 350mW. Furthermore, its USB compatibility gives users more options and simplifies the DAC’s use and thus cuts off complications.

Pros

+ It has excellent DSD

+ Immaculate sound

+ It supports wide digital formats

Cons

– It has nothing special

CHORD Electronics Mojo, ultimate DAC or Headphone Amplifier

Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier
239 Reviews
Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier
  • Authentic Chord Mojo that is entirely designed and manufactured in Great Britain. All...
  • Mojo, the ultimate DAC/Headphone Amplifier for your smartphone, iPhone or Android....
  • Inside Mojo is a massively powerful headphone amplifier that will deliver crystal...

Of England build and design, the CHORD Electronics Mojo DAC comes with one of the most admirable amplifiers. Its ability to play just about any audio format is mind-blowing, and so is the fact about its power. The CHORD charges for 4 hours only, but its continued use can span to up to twice that and even more.

Using the Mojo is quite easy since all you have to do is plug it into either your PC, phone or headphones and enjoy an experience like none other. Charging it is also easy, and all you have to do is long-press the power button for a few seconds before it shuts down. After that, plug it in a charger, but remember to ensure the current is maintained at 1A.

The CHORD Electronics Mojo has a 4 star rating that can be found on it’s listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: The Mojo is the ultimate amplifier for all your devices, ensuring you quality high definition sounds; you wouldn’t even believe that you’re hearing them!

Pros

+ Great sound

+ It’s easy to use

+ It has clean amplification

+ It has a good battery life

Cons

– Poor ergonomics

Meridian – Explorer2 USB DAC

Meridian - Explorer2 USB DAC
136 Reviews
Meridian - Explorer2 USB DAC
  • Extended-range 0-100dB volume control that allows for finer adjustments
  • Increased DSP power
  • Trademark apodizing filter

The Meridian Explorer 2 DAC is your high-resolution audios’ expert. With a customized control to allow you balance audio sounds and a detailed sound, the Explorer 2 ensures its delivery is memorable. It has a new upgrade, 0-100dB which comes with an inclusionary control for fine adjustments.

The Explorer 2 comes with a unique automatic sensor along with other amazing features like the asynchronous USB among others. Its power alone will make you think twice about getting something different for your headphones. This is precisely what you need to complete your musical experience.

The Meridian – Explorer2 USB DAC with all it’s specifications can be found on the listing on Amazon.

Conclusion: Perhaps this is the clearest amplifier you will ever come about. Its sounds are smooth and rich; you could hear clearer than you do with regular headphones. It would be right to say that regular headphones give you a fantastic idea of what music sounds like; the Explorer 2 actualizes this.

Pros

+ Great sound

+ It has full-range sound

+ It has smooth highs

+ It has great details

Cons

– Needs laptop or desktop to connect to

Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS v2 USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS Portable USB Digital...
34 Reviews
Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS Portable USB Digital...
  • UPGRADE YOUR SOUND - Cambridge Audio’s DacMagic XS changes the way you hear sound...
  • HUGE POWER, TINY DEVICE – The DacMagic XS delivers up to 10 times more power than...
  • ASYNCHRONOUS USB CLOCKING – Cambridge has built the Dacmagic XS to bypass your...

The Cambridge DacMagic XS USB DAC beats all computer sound upgrades of all time. The ease in connection makes its enticement all the more unbearable! The Cambridge DacMagic can be up and running in no time, and giving you the experience of a lifetime!

This DAC can beat the performance of your PC’s sound card, ten times and over. It’s powerful and comes with a 105 mW output.

I was surprised to find how inexpensive the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS is on Amazon.

Conclusion:  This article presents the best solutions to you; solutions that will not boost your experience, but rather blast them in a deep and fine-tune of upgradable DACs! The Digital to Analog Converters reads digital signals and converts them into analog in which case is sound, and therefore, you can hear! And not just listen, you can feel the words, live through them and even visualize!

Pros

+ Portable

+ Good audio quality

+ sturdy with aluminum casing

Cons

– better alternatives