Best USB DAC Under $200


In today’s world, people love all of the digital devices that can be used to watch videos and listen to music. Whether you use a smartphone, a laptop, a tablet, or an MP3 player, you may not always get the best sound from the devices. Perhaps you own all of these devices and love using them, but would also love to be able to get greater sound from them. Through a USB, DAC you can.

What Is A USB DAC?

There are so many little gadgets available now that can improve upon the performance we can achieve with our digital devices and electronics. Take a charger for our cell phones that we can use in our vehicles for example. It makes it so easy to keep our phones charged up while we are driving. A USB DAC is another one of those gadgets, but it is used for better sound quality in all kinds of electronic and digital devices.
The acronym DAC stands for digital to analog converter. Simply put, it is a small device that translates digitally stored information from devices like iPods, computers, stereo systems, laptops, MP3 players, or other such items and converts it into analog sound that we can hear.

Why Do You Need To Convert The Signal?

When analog sound is made by our favorite musicians, it has to be converted into digital sound so we can store it in digital formats such as MP3, Apple Lossless, or FLAC. These types of digital signals can not be understood by people, but they are completely understood by computerized products. Headphones and speakers can not understand the digital signals either, so for them to interpret the sound, the signal must be converted back to analog once again before we listen through the headphones or speakers.

Even though devices like laptops and music players all have their own built-in DAC, they are often not very good quality. After all, the DAC included in devices is only a small part of what functions they perform, so they are often not as good in quality as they could be. When a DAC is of great quality, then you are going to get a much better sound. Using a separate, better quality DAC with headphones or other devices can give you that greater Hi-Fi sound you crave.

Why Are DACs Different Sizes?

Like most things we buy, a DAC can come in several different sizes and can cost different amounts of money. The size you will need will depend on how you intend to use it. If you want to use a DAC with your home stereo system, you might wish to invest in a larger, premium quality DAC because it will likely be staying in one location. If you want to use a DAC with your home computer or laptop, you might get a mid-size You might wish to take a laptop along with you somewhere and a mid-range DAC is more portable than a large one.

You will most likely want to invest in a small DAC if you intend to use it with smaller devices, especially the ones you use headphones with. This will ensure you can still have that great Hi-Fi sound wherever you may be. When you invest in a small DAC for your portable music devices, you want to be sure that it has a headphone amp built-in. There are even DACs that are specifically designed to plug your headphone straight into and connects to your device through the USB port.

The list below will provide you with many different USB DACs that sell for under $200:

Audioquest Dragonfly V1.5

This 32- bit ESS 9010 Sabre DAC sells for $99.95 and offers clear and enhanced sound. It has a low consumption of power than some other leading DAC products. It will work with Android and Apple smartphones and tablets when you pair it with a simple adapter. It will improve every aspect of your music! It can play anything from MP3s to any 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files.

Buy it here.

Ear Studio ES100

This is the MK2-24 bit high resolution Bluetooth receiver. It sells for $99.99. It is USB/DAC with a headphone amp that includes LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC. It is 3.5mm unbalanced and 2.5mm balanced output. It’s very lightweight and perfect for use with your headphones.

Buy it here.

Audioengine D1

The D1 is a great 24-bit DAC and headphone amplifier for your desktop or laptop that sells for $169.00. It allows you to bypass your computer’s sound card or headphone output to send the audio through the USB or optical ports. It can be used with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and there is no driver to install. It will Plug and Play with USB. Use with any TOSLINK optical connection from your Tv, Cd or DVD players, and more like powered stereo speakers, stereo and AV receivers, and headphones. Items included are a D1 24-bit DAC/Headphone amp, a 2 foot USB cable, the setup guide, and a microfiber bag.

Buy it here.

Audioengine B1

This Bluetooth enabled music receiver sells for $189.00. It has a 5.0 extended range and high fidelity 24 bit DAC and Optical. If you want premium, high definition wireless audio to your home music system, phone, computer, tablet, or other device, then this product might be for you. You can stream from any Bluetooth enabled device. There is no need to use a special app or software. It sets up easily in auto pair mode.

Buy it here.

Soundavo HP-DAC1

If you are specifically looking for a DAC that works well with your laptop or home computer, then this unit sells for $129.99. Make your headphones sing with its built-in high-performance amplifier to deliver deeper bass and much richer sound. It has easy Plug and Play operation for Windows 10, Mac OS, game consoles, or any other audio source player. No additional driver downloads are needed. However, it currently only supports IOS 12 version software or below for iPhone or Ipad devices.


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