Top 12 Best DAC AMP Combo Reviews in 2020
Being in a world without music would be quite depressing. However, interferences and poor sound quality ruining your experience with the beautiful melodies is not desirable either.
Many people can be satisfied with the default sound card put inside our electronic systems like computers and gaming consoles. But the true audiophiles know the value of an uninterrupted flow of crystal clear music.
In the age of innovative audio experiences like ASMR, being stuck with a mediocre audio system is not worthwhile at all. That is why it must get a makeover!
Fear not, this will not cost you a fortune! Just look for a decent combination of an external DAC and an amplifier. Together, they can revolutionize music, dialogues, audiobooks, ASMR videos and more such experiences for your ears.
Join us in looking for the best DAC AMP combo here and find the most suitable one for you!
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Things to consider before buying DAC AMP Combo
Before we dive into the chosen DAC/AMP combos, let’s get to know what we are really looking for in them. This list will help you to get your priorities in check and make smarter choices during purchase.
In this day and age, it is unwise to invest in an electronic product with just one input. So choose a hybrid amplifier with multiple inputs so that you can enjoy several audio formats with this one device. For instance, you can switch between amplified sound on the headphone and similar enhanced audio on the computer.
The typical inputs found on a modern DAC/AMP combo include 3.5mm jack, RCA stereo, USB, coaxial S/PDIF and optical or Toslink cables.
Sampling rate means the speed at which a device can take samples from the digital audio. A CD, for example, can have 44.1 kHz which means the device takes its digital sample 44,100 times every second to create the analog signal.
The modern DACs usually support much higher sampling rates to work with latest audio devices. It can go as far as 768 kHz in sampling audio files which helps to produce crystal clear sound.
The term impedance mainly refers to the resistance felt by electricity on AC circuits. In the case of headphones, impedance tells you how much power it will need to deliver high-quality audio or what amount of electricity can disrupt it.
Usually, headphones with higher impedance are favored since they are safer from accidentally overloading their circuits. For the same reason, you can easily use such headphones with a wider range of complementary components.
There are many DAC/amp combos that can support headphones with impedance as high as 600 ohms! This simultaneously makes the whole setup safer and the delivered sound clearer.
None of our daily lives is limited to just one or two electronic devices anymore. We all spend a considerable time every day with the TV, laptop, headphones and more such appliances. So you would obviously want the best DAC AMP combo to work with as many devices as possible.
That is why compatibility plays a vital role in deciding the final product. Go for the one which can support all the gadgets you use frequently. This list can also include CD/DVD players and AV receivers.
There are many DAC/amp combos available in the market which come very handy. Along with having a compact size, some of them also offer a rechargeable battery that can function for hours when charged fully once. Getting one of these will make it easier for you to enjoy its high-quality sound while running errands.
Besides, you will appreciate this investment even more if you don’t have to leave behind every time you have to go out or are on the road. It will replace any boring time with entertainment and superior music experience.
The budget is always an important factor in any purchase. Especially in the case of DAC/amp combos, there are all kinds of price points available. Some even cost less than just $50! However, there are also average to high-end choices available at a few hundred dollars. It all depends on how much you are willing to invest.
Our Top 12 Best DAC AMP Combo in 2020
1. FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
The brand of FiiO specializes in portable music products that combine technological advancements and customer conveniences. Since their inception in 2007, they have focused on this motto which led them to win multiple awards over the years.
This DAC amplifier serves their brand motto adequately by bringing multiple noteworthy features to the table simultaneously.
First of all, it can make your audio quality better using a linear filter. It also enhances the experience by reducing delay and internal silence when you need to go from one track to another. Since it removes phase shifts, you don’t have to struggle to keep up with the original audio.
Its internal DAC chip is capable of converting PCM files storing up to 24-bit digital audio at 65 kHz frequency. Such high resolution enables the device to deliver better output quality every time.
No matter what state the device is in, it can measure the signal accurately with its low noise floor. The low-pass filter is optimized to handle this kind of situation like a pro. Its selectable bass boost circuit will amplify the provided signal aptly so that you have no trouble enjoying the music.
There are multiple panels on this device with a variety of connections. These include a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the front panel, as well as a 3.5 mm line output and a coaxial digital output on the rear panel.
Together, all these connections enable the transfer of digital audio smoother. However, only the headphone port allows volume control. You can connect it to your laptop using the USB port.
It comes at an affordable price point of under 100$! This portable device looks sleek with the brushed aluminum shell. It is available in three shades of black, K3 black and titanium. You can get it in the regular size, K3 or E10k version as well.
2. AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp
AudioQuest is no stranger to the crazy world of sound systems. From its beginning days in the 1980s, they are well-aware of how to build high-quality audio cables. With the passage of time, they have found one of their most popular products - DragonFly.
This DAC series revolutionized the market when it came in 2012 and instantly became a well-known name among music lovers. Its portability and incredibly compact size equal to just a memory stick impressed all.
Irrespective of the small size, this device could deliver high performance in transforming or maintaining the sound quality. While listening to their music, you will not be overwhelmed by the digitalization. It creates naturally beautiful melodies that soothe your ears instead of overpowering them.
The DragonFly can play almost any kind of audio. You can feed it MP3, MQA or high-resolution music of 24-bit/96kHz without worries. Each audio input will reach your ears with enhanced quality and clarity. At the same time, the associated power consumption will go down.
Along with such a convenient system, the device also offers compatibility with a wide range of devices. You can use it with smartphones, tablets or computers based in Android, Apple or Windows environment. All you will need to pair is a simple USB adapter.
You can get this award-winning DAC at pretty reasonable rates. They come in three charming solid colors of black, cobalt and red. So you can choose the ones most suited to your device or setup.
Remember that they offer different output - 1.2V for black DAC and 2.1V for the other two. Additionally, the blue and red DACs have a digital Bit-Perfect volume control of 64 bits. The black one offers analog volume control only. Regardless of the variations, this is surely the best headphone DAC AMP combo on the market.
3. Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC and Headphone Amplifier
The main goal of Audioengine has always been enhancing the audio experience for masses without making it too complicated. With this motto in mind, the brand came up with this DAC AMP combo which is capable of delivering crisp sound through almost any medium.
Be it desktop devices or portable ones, this DAC can work with any of them. You can add it to the sound system of your computer or television for enjoying higher quality audio while watching the hit movies or playing the popular games. It will improve the syncing between audio and video.
It connects to the computers or laptops through USB. You don’t have to worry about its compatibility since the DAC works with all popular software environments like Mac, Windows and Linux.
Moreover, you can make it work with CD players and DVD players through a TOSLINK optical connection. Connect it to your favorite headphones, stereo or AV receivers and powered speakers for an equally satisfying audio experience. It basically works with any audio system equipped with mini-jack or RCA inputs.
This premium combination of 24-bit DAC and amplifier can successfully bypass the default sound card or headphone output. As a result, you get to enjoy the supreme quality of music, dialogues and news with the improved 24/96 HD audio. It can process such audio up to 192 kHz frequency.
Adjust the volume according to your preference from the front panel control. Each package of this DAC AMP combo comes with a 2 feet long USB cable and a microfiber bag to carry it comfortably.
There is also a setup guide to make installation easier for you. It does not need a separate power supply. Just charge it up through USB connection. Considering the quality, this DAC comes within a very reasonable price range under 200$.
4. Creative Sound BlasterX G5 Portable USB Sound Card with Amp
Hardcore gamers cannot enjoy their gaming experience fully without high-quality audio accompanying the ultra-HD visuals. This is where the Sound BlasterX G5 comes in.
You can rely on this DAC to transform any digital audio into crisp sound which syncs on time with the video. It is built to work with popular standalone gaming consoles like PlayStation 4. Besides, beginners can also try it out by playing on their Windows or Mac devices.
The device looks pretty sleek and stylish with the matte black casing all over. It dons an illuminating red too whose contrast adds more distinction to the whole appearance.
You can enjoy its HD audio with native 7.1 surround sound support anywhere! Its compact size and lightweight structure make it an easily portable choice.
Regardless of its pocket-sized structure, this DAC provides audio quality of superior performance. It has an impressive capability to process 24-bit audio at 192 kHz frequency.
You can use this as an external sound card equipped with a built-in SB-Axx1 multi-core chipset. This enables the hardware to accelerate the audio. As a result, even the basic motherboard of your keyboard will be able to produce 3D virtual surround sound.
Along with its immersive 3D gaming audio, the headphone amplifier makes the experience even more worthwhile for all the audiophiles. Each detail of the gaming soundtrack will reach your ears which will help you to mark the enemies more accurately.
Having a low output impedance, it can drive headphones of as much as 600-ohm. They also exhibit such capabilities through the modern sensitive in-ear monitors.
Connect this DAC-AMP device to your Xbox One through the optical digital output port for the finest results. However, remember that its optical link will not support voice communications.
5. Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 Tube Multi-Hybrid Headphone Amplifier
Just like their name, Bravo Audio is brave in continuously developing the quality of its products. They mainly focus on manufacturing audio systems of multiple variations. This DAC Amp combo model named V2 is one of their top sellers.
It looks a little different from the usual DACs. A transparent frame stores the delicate arrangement of wires and other miniature electrical components inside. From distance, it almost looks like a souvenir showpiece resembling some famous architecture.
Even though this package seems small, it can actually deliver very powerful sound. The open design promotes safety by enabling the components to cool down. It contains two LEDs of red and blue colors. They light up to dictate the active status of its amplifier.
Like most tube amplifiers, this one too is built to accompany high-end audio setups. However, it does not demand much from the consumer since this DAC is set at a very affordable price point. In other words, you are getting the high-end sonic experience well within your budget.
To create such an impressive audio system, this hybrid amplifier makes use of one Shu Guang 12AU7 tube. Groove to the dynamic sound it can produce with Apple devices, headphones, Playstation and CD players. It blends the trebles, upper midrange well enough to create an overall satisfying experience.
Although this DAC manages to refine the original audio quite a bit, there are a couple of areas where it misses the beat. If you get it close to smartphones, routers and similar electronic devices, the amplifier tends to create a static noise. This can get infuriating for many over time.
Besides, it can get very hot if you keep it on for too long. So you would need to shorten your gaming time or movie sessions while using this hybrid amplifier.
6. Syba Sonic USB DAC Headphone Amplifier
The clever name of Syba represents their main goal - suit your business anticipation. Over a decade, they have been designing and manufacturing computer components for establishing better connections. One of them is the DAC plus stereo headphone amplifier made to work via USB 2.0.
You will not need to install a separate driver or software altogether to make this device work. Just plug it in with the USB and start playing!
Its interface has multiple input and output options. First of all, there is a mini USB port that works with version 1.1 or 2.0. Besides, it has a 3.5mm input for analog microphones, a 3.5mm mini stereo headphone jack and a 6.3 mm stereo headphone jack.
The analog line-in stereo can deal with up to 24-bit/96kHz rate. Enjoy the crisp audio in any of the media available here. You can manipulate the associated volume with the easily accessible output control placed on top.
Your ears don’t have to suffer from unnecessary power up and shut down noises anymore. The credit for this goes to the integrated de-pop circuitry which suppresses those pop noises.
It is an easily portable device that can fit in your hands comfortably. The contrasting palette of white and black makes it even easier to operate.
Each package of this DAC amplifier combo comes with a 38-inch USB cable, 58-inch RCA cable, S/PDIF driver CD and a user manual. So you will have everything you need to set up the audio system properly.
The greatest part is that all these come at an incredibly affordable price point. As a result, you can get yourself some top-notch audio quality without compromising the monthly budget.
7. FX Audio DAC-X6 Digital Audio Amplifier Decoder
The Chinese tech company of Shenzhen Feixiang specializes in developing hi-fi amplifiers. Since 2011, they have produced many successful devices and components in this area. Especially, their brand of FX-Audio has proved to be quite valuable for the customers.
This particular DAC offers great audio services at a very affordable price point. It costs only one-third of any high-end device offering similar functionalities. As a result, if you are running on a tight budget and need a DAC amplifier, this can be your ideal choice.
Despite being cheap at cost, it comes in a pretty sturdy case of black or silver. It has been finished well maintaining a heavy and stout structure. You will be able to control the volume from its notches.
It welcomes a variety of inputs including USB, coaxial S/PDIF and optical or Toslink cables. Select the one you need from the convenient toggle switches. To deliver the processed inputs, there are two analog outputs of an RCA and a 6.35mm headphone jack.
None of them will demand too much power which ensures a higher level of safety. You will only need to provide a minimal supply of just 50 milliamps for its operation.
You can make this work with a variety of common devices. It is compatible with smartphones, tablets and computers. The chipset includes five components covering both DAC and headphone amplifiers. Its package also has a 12V 1A power adapter so that you don’t need to spend more.
8. Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming Audio Amplifier
Sennheiser is a globally renowned brand in developing futuristic audio systems and components. After a long tenure of 70 years in this industry, it has certainly perfected implementing the most desirable features into its devices.
This particular amplifier of the GSX 1000 model is aimed at satisfying hardcore gamers. Individuals who love playing for hours on their personal computer or Mac devices will benefit from incorporating this amplifier into their gaming setup.
It comes with the binaural rendering engine manufactured by Sennheiser. This engine mainly makes use of their groundbreaking algorithm to deliver 7.1 virtual surround sound. Professional gamers can make the most of it since they can now experience even more realistic audio during each session.
You can completely immerse yourself in the gaming universe with its dedicated DAC chip. It does not require the installation of separate drivers. The DAC chip gives you precision on controlling the sound of both games and communication separately. That is why each of them has its own USB input.
Its EQ settings have an impressive range that caters to all major sound categories like music, esports, stories and more. You can also manipulate reverberation levels for more realistic feels during a game or movie session.
The design of this amplifier combines style and convenience at the same time. Its intuitive touch panel comes with LED lights of red and blue color to easily differentiate among the displayed symbols. This touch panel along with the aluminum volume ring allows gamers to fix or change any setting on the fly!
As a result, you don’t have to pause and ruin your momentum in the game anymore. Just a touch will be enough.
The price is quite reasonable coming at just under 300$! To make things even easier, this amplifier allows you to save as many as four settings for faster access and setup.
9. CHORD Electronics Mojo Ultimate DAC/Headphone Amplifier
If you are an ambitious audiophile with an exceptional interest in the latest sound technologies, this DAC amp combo from Chord Electronics will surely quench your thirst.
As you may know, the British brand of Chord is famous for delivering high-end amplifiers to big names like BBC and Sony Music. So it comes as no surprise that this particular product of the Mojo series is also set at a very high price point. It costs about four times more than the average cost of amplifiers.
But all that extra expense seems absolutely worth it considering the fact that this DAC/amplifier comes with the most advanced audio technologies in the world! It has implemented the cutting-edge FPGA DAC technology which improves the quality of streamed audio much higher through more accurate filtering.
Besides, it brings in the Li-Po technology for faster charging. Because of this, you can charge the device fully within just four hours! Now don’t think it will drain out as fast as it got filled up. Once fully charged, the Mojo can function continuously for 8 to 10 hours!
It can play almost any audio file with sampling rates of 32 kHz to 768 kHz, as well as DSD 256. All of them produce crystal clear sound on both headphones and large stereo speakers. Share the great audio quality with your friends with its two 3.5mm analog outputs.
You can carry this hybrid amplifier anywhere since it can fit comfortably inside a pocket. Along with high portability, it also has high compatibility with a range of devices including smartphones, computers, tablets, music players and gaming consoles. Both Android and Apple environments go with this amp.
The contrasting design of a black casing and three vibrant buttons makes this compact device both highly convenient and impeccably stylish. It is certainly an understandable choice for the good quality DAC AMP combo of our list.
10. Micca OriGen G2 High-Resolution USB DAC and Preamplifier
Micca brings in many convenient features into one device with this DAC amp combo. The OriGen+ is an audio playback device capable of delivering professional performance.
It is pretty surprising that they managed to do so at such an affordable price point. Nevertheless, this is great news for those audiophiles who prefer keeping their ambitious expenses within realistic limits.
Being a master-grade device, the Origen+ performs exceptionally well for high resolution PCM audio. It can work with sampling rates of up to 24-bit/192kHz as well as DSD64 through native and DoP support.
The backbone of this digital finesse is a VIA USB 2.0 audio controller capable of dealing with high-speed audio at 480Mbps rate. Besides, the Cirrus Logic stereo D/A converter also helps by converting and decoding the original PCM or DSD64 audio.
Its interface can stream audio from both USB and optical S/PDIF digital inputs. In the case of outputs, it can switch between headphone and line-level. The two outputs have gains of 5.6Vrms and 1.7Vrms while maintaining a low impedance of only 0.5ohm.
This converted sound brings enhanced quality by providing better signal strength, low interference and low noise. You can expect long years of service from it since the well-built structure supports high durability. Especially the aluminum volume knob and TOCOS sealed potentiometer ensure a long life for this device.
It comes in an unusual but sturdy shape of an elongated box made entirely with metal. Several LED lights are set on its front so that you can read the current sample rate easily. This range includes 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176 and 192 kHz. Connect it with Windows, Linux and Mac computers to begin your journey!
11. Oppo HA-2 Portable Headphone Amplifier & DAC
Although the brand of Oppo is mostly known for its smartphones, there are many top-notch digital accessories also made from this label. Especially this DAC/AMP is one of their luxury items which have grabbed the attention of audiophiles over the years.
Oppo released this back in 2015 to support the new slew of smartphone users in their sonic adventures. It contains one Sabre mobile DAC which helps in decoding sampling rates of up to 32/384 kHz PCM as well as DSD256 audio saved on your phone.
The processed sound on output maintains the high resolution along with the correct transients, which get lost in other cheaper alternatives. As a result, you can enjoy every detail in the audio.
At first glance at the compact pocket-sized structure, it becomes quite obvious that the developers expect you to use the DAC/AMP with your smartphone. Both devices share the same shape and structure to complement each other. All you need to make this hybrid amplifier work is a cable with USB micro on both ends.
There are two digital inputs on one end including a USB micro jack for Android phones and a standard USB one for iPhones. On the other end, there are two 3.5mm stereo jacks for headphone and line-out respectively. You will find the volume control on the extreme left side of this end.
Although they were built keeping smartphones in mind, you can also use them with computers if they have a USB OTG feature. You will get to know the battery charge left on the device by checking the LED lights. Just press the button to see its current value.
If the value is low, you can charge it up on the go since the built-in 3000 mAh lithium polymer battery allows recharging instead of investing in a new pair.
12. iFi Nano iDSD Black Label Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
The award-winning brand of iFi focuses on building audio components with advanced technologies so that you can enjoy each beat of your favorite music better. This particular DAC/AMP combo brings in a lot of energy for any user since it claims to be six times more powerful than iPhone’s amplifier.
You can use it with a wide range of devices including headphones, smartphones, tablets, computers, speakers and portable audio players.
No matter what medium you select, this amplifier manages to improve the quality. It can erase noise, hiss and any kind of distortion from the original sound. As a result, your ears will only hear the clean audio recorded in studio.
It works the best with headphones which can reach their maximum potential with this amplifier. You can play almost every kind of high-resolution audio format including PCM 384 kHz, MQA, DSD 256 and DXD 384.
Connect it to your headphones using the 3.5mm jack. The device comes with two cables supporting USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 for using at home or office as well. Establish the connection easily using the 3.5mm lineout jack on their speakers or amplifiers.
Listen to your favorite tracks with this high-quality audio on the go. Charging it just once to the maximum will let you play it for up to 10 hours continuously! It comes in a compact box painted with a stylish black matte finish. The contrasting orange and light green marks over this box make it easy for you to find them at a glance.
The sleek appearance makes iFi Nano the best DAC AMP combo for classy people. The case also boasts durability with its aircraft-grade aluminum body. This enables the DAC/Amp to deal with electromagnetic and radio frequency interferences.
Benefits Of Using DAC AMP Combo
HD Audio Quality
Adding an external DAC as well as an amplifier will do wonders for your sonic experience. The default DAC or sound card on your device is unable to deliver the finest quality of audio.
There are many factors the sound quality depends on including bit rate, digital filters and more. A DAC can bypass the default inferior audio decoding present on your computer or smartphone. As a result, the output sound brings in more precision to the original audio.
So the main reason for getting a DAC/AMP combo is enjoying superior audio every time you listen to music, watch a video or play a high-end game.
This combo is not meant for only smartphones and computers. It can work with a wide range of devices including CD players, DVD players, AV receivers and almost any kind of audio system incorporating a USB drive. So you can utilize a single device of DAC/amp combo to make any sonic experience better.
Having this combo will make it easier for you to control the volume and other aspects of any audio. You can fine-tune the original audio on multiple levels and customize it exactly to your liking.
Along with frequency, some devices also allow controlling the bass, treble and more! Undoubtedly, this will be a great gift for someone who loves having control on their music experience.
If you are not familiar with the term “jitter”, it represents the shaky effect on digital pulses which messes with their timing. Of course, no one wants such jitters while enjoying their favorite tracks or playing an HD game.
DACs alone are capable of reducing these shaky effects. Adding amplifiers will enhance the overall sound quality even further, producing the perfect audio.
Compared to other audio components, a DAC/amp combo can come at a much more reasonable price. You can get a decent combo like this at just $50. Besides, many of the high-end options also cost less than $200. So even if you are not okay with breaking the bank, you can get yourself one of these.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do More Powerful Amplifiers Sound Better?
Answer: Yes, typically more powerful amplifiers do in fact sound better. Without amps, you may not get the expected clarity while playing the audio at high volumes. The original sound can be a victim of clipping or distortion making the whole ordeal quite dissatisfying.
One way to solve this problem is to get an amplifier with more power. It can reduce the jitters and make the sound clearer. However, if the speaker itself is bad, an amplifier will not be able to change that.
How Do You Hook Up A DAC To An Amp?
Answer: First, you will need to connect the DAC to thet USB port of your computer or a similar device and power up the computer. Now log into it as an administrator.
Using an RCA or stereo cable, connect DAC to amp or headphones respectively. Set up the DAC by inserting the DAC driver installation CD into computer.
Is DAC Better Than A Sound Card?
Answer: There is hardly any case where a sound card provides the same quality as a DAC. The default sound card is incapable of producing crystal clear audio and is also a regular victim of interferences. Having a DAC will improve the whole experience by getting rid of these issues on a daily basis.
What Is The Low Noise Floor?
Answer: Noise floor in general represents the total measure of all the noises disrupting a signal. A low noise floor refers to the audio devices which can keep these noises to the minimum.
For DAC/amp combo, the processed sound as output tends to have a low noise floor by eliminating noisy elements present in the original sound.
How Does The DAC/Amp Combo Work?
Answer: DAC is short for digital-to-analog converter. So its main job is to convert the digital audio of 0s and 1s into the melodious analog signal which reaches your ears.
Once it is done making the small analog signal, an amplifier receives it and transforms it into a bigger one. This makes it easier for audio devices to play or broadcast the signals better.
Can Speakers Damage The Amplifier?
Answer: Typically, a standard speaker cannot damage amplifiers since the latter can handle heavy enough loads. However, there are some power amplifiers which are not designed properly. They can break down or burst while working with high volumes on speakers.
Now that all your curiosities are fulfilled, which one do you think will be the best DAC AMP combo for your setup?
We suggest keeping your main purpose for getting one of these in mind at first. For instance, the choice of a pro gamer will definitely be different from a music lover. So you need to prioritize your requirements appropriately before setting other aspects straight.
Once it is delivered in your hands, you can make each audio experience more gratifying than ever before! You will be able to truly appreciate the beats and grooves of your previously favorite tracks.
Watch the movies without any trouble of understanding the dialogues. Don’t struggle with immersing into the mood of any game anymore. Having this DAC/amp combo by your side will erase all those problems.