Best Desktop DAC/Amps | PC & MAC 2022

The best desktop DAC/amps are about more than just power or compatibility with your laptop. A DAC/amp can make all the difference in rediscovering your music library, and it might be the missing link to finally fulfilling your audiophile dreams.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of detailed reviews of the top 25 best desktop DACs and amps for 2022. From budget-friendly models that will allow you to listen to your music library on your laptop, to some of the best solid-state desktop amps for a truly satisfying listening experience.

For a more in-depth look at all these models, click on the links above to learn more. And remember, it’s not just about price or power, look for a desktop amp or DAC that can deliver high/low power and low noise into your computer’s audio jack. Because no matter what kind of music you listen to or where you listen to it, we can all agree that we just want more volume and better sound.

Buying Guide

The DAC/AMP is a must-have piece of equipment for any audiophile. In this article, we will take a look at what’s on the market and which one we believe is the best.

An Analog-to-Digital Converter, commonly known as an ADC, does exactly what it’s name suggests. The ADC takes electrical currents in the form of sounds and converts it into a digital signal. It essentially does the reverse function of a DAC; it translates an analog signal into a digital one. An amplifier is a device that increases the power or amplitude of a signal. It is also known as an “Amplifier” or “Amp”.

As you can see above, there are many factors to take into account when choosing your ideal DAC/AMP. These factors include

1. Technical Rating

This is a measure of the best components and sound quality. A higher technical rating allows for more accuracy and better signal transfer. The DAC/Amp you choose should be at least 80 points (0dBFS) to ensure as much as possible of your audio data passes through without loss. If an amplifier does not have a high enough technical rating, then it will become unstable and will damage your audio data as it travels to your speakers or headphones.

2. Weighting

This is a measure of volume or volume levels. The volume levels can be uneven due to the way in which they are plotted on a graph. The perfect weighting is RMS (Root Mean Square) – a measure that compensates for the uneven signal transfer in decibels. A DAC/AMP with a higher RMS rating will have a better sound quality and be more efficient in transferring audio data from the source to your headphones or speakers.

3. Performance

This is a measure of sound quality and dynamic range. The greater your performance, the better your audio quality will be. There is also a direct correlation between performance and cost.

5 Best Desktop DAC/Amps Reviewed

Last update on 2022-04-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. Burson Audio Conductor 3X Headphone Amplifier System with Fully Balanced XLR USB DAC, 7.5W

Burson Audio Conductor 3X Headphone Amplifier System with Fully Balanced XLR USB DAC, 7.5W
  • Conductor 3X Headphone Amplifier - Remote Control - RCA Cable - Power Cable - USB Cable - 24V Power Unit - USB-A to USB-C Cable and OTG Adapter - Fuse...
  • 7.5W Class A XLR / 3.75W SE
  • ESS9038 DAC x 2
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • XMOS USB DSD512

Last update on 2022-04-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Burson Audio Conductor 3X headphone amplifier system is one of the most versatile models on the market. It is also one of the few models to offer a fully balanced XLR USB DAC for professional connections.

Pros:

  • -Burson Audio Conductor 3X headphone amp system is an audiophile-grade device delivering the most detailed sound possible
  • -The triode tube amplifier has a very warm, organic sound with no perceptible distortion and is designed to work with headphones as low as 8 ohms

Cons:

  • It’s expensive- It’s bulky
  • It has to be plugged in

2. iFi Pro iDSD 4.4mm Desktop DAC/Tube/Solid State/Headphone Amplifier/Wireless Audio Streamer/USB/SPDIF/Optical Inputs

iFi Pro iDSD Desktop DAC/Tube/Solid State/Headphone Amplifier/Wireless Audio...
  • HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - Play any high-res file natively with the Quad Dual Core Burr-Brown DAC chipset, which means media file formats and information...
  • WiFi STREAMING - All controlled from the palm of your hand via an app, choose a wireless connection to stream your favorite tunes from Tidal, Spotify,...
  • POWERFUL - Our balanced headphone amp outputs up to 4 Watts of power and will drive a wide range of headphones. Connections for 6.3mm (1/4"), 3.5mm...
  • MUSIC YOUR WAY - Options include the ability to listen in solid-state, tube or tube+. We have also added digital filters to add flavor to your...
  • MULTIPLE CONNECTIONS - All inputs (including USB) are galvanically isolated and the USB input is self-powered, femto precision clock, S/PDIF Toslink...

Last update on 2022-04-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The new iFi Pro iDSD is a USB DAC and headphone amplifier which has features and functionality not found in most other amplifiers. It has an extremely low input impedance of 2.2K ohms, it can run from a power supply as low as 5 volts, and at 50 watts it will give you noise-free sound that only the best headphones on the market will be able to match.

Pros:

  • iFi Pro is a 4.4mm Desktop DAC/Tube/Solid State Audio Player/Headphone Amplifier with USB input, SPDIF input and optical input
  • iFi Pro provides the facilities of two headphone amps into one chassis
  • A 24 bit lossless wireless audio streamer that connects to any Bluetooth device like an Xbox with apt-X or AAC codecs, in addition to any AirPlay enabled device

Cons:

  • Limited source for power
  • Higher price

3. RME ADI2 DAC FS 2-Channel Digital-to-Analog Converter with SteadyClock FS, Extreme Power Headphone Output, Super Low Noise IEM Output, AutoDark Feature, and Remote Control

RME ADI2DACFS Ultra-fidelity PCM/DSD 768 kHz 2-Channel DA Converter
171 Reviews
RME ADI2DACFS Ultra-fidelity PCM/DSD 768 kHz 2-Channel DA Converter
  • The most versatile DAC available, the ADI2DACFS provides balanced/unbalanced analog I/Os, extreme power headphone output, a low noise in-ear-monitor...
  • Developed by RME engineers, the updated ADI-2 DAC uses ESS's ES9028Q2M in a particular circuit variant that allows the chip to perform with...
  • The ADI-2 DAC FS allows those who use in-ear-monitors to receive the full dynamic range on playback, and its ground noise floor is 10dB lower than the...
  • When AutoDark is activated, the display, function keys, volume knob, and the standby button go off after 10 seconds of no user operation while...
  • Included is a new extended multi-remote support that has clearly labeled buttons for accessibility in any lighting situation

Last update on 2022-04-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The RME ADI2 DAC FS is a high-quality digital audio converter, which provides an excellent sound in your home studio or at your live performances. With the ADI2 DAC FS, you can easily exchange audio signals in virtually any format. Its super low noise design makes it an ideal partner for nearly any headphone type. The DAC has a SteadyClock FS for incredibly accurate timing to ensure the best possible sound quality.

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • AutoDark feature
  • Compatible with Android and iOS

Cons:

  • The price tag of $5,000 might be hard to swallow
  • Extensive knowledge of technical specs is required for this DAC
  • It’s not portable like most DACs (giant and heavy)

4. Sabaj D5 110V Hi-Res Audio Digital to Analog Converter Balance HiFi Headphones Amplifier DAC Chip ES9038PRO ES9311 32bit/768kHz DSD512 w Preamplifier Remote Control

Sabaj D5 110V Hi-Res Audio Digital to Analog Converter Balance HiFi Headphones Amplifier DAC Chip...
  • The top performance D/A chip ES9038PRO from ESS Technology. and high-performance power supply chip ES9311, the noise of ES9311 is lower than 1uVrms,...
  • XMOS XU-208, true 32bit audio processing, support DoP and Native DSD, and reaches 32bit/768kHz and DSD512.
  • Ultra-low phase noise NDK Japan crystal oscillator and high-speed CPLD is used for clock processing, to achieve very low Clock jitter. All inputs...
  • Special design of discrete components high current headphones amplifier for higher damping factor.Built-in high efficiency and low vibration...
  • This D5 with 110V voltage,please adjust it to 220V if you will use it in 220V Countries! You can set the voltage selector which covered by label.

Last update on 2022-04-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sabaj D5 110V Hi-Res Audio Digital to Analog Converter is an ES9038PRO and ES9311 high-resolution audio receiver with headphone amplifier and external DAC chip. It is the best digital to analog converter with DSD512 sound quality, 32bit/768kHz digital input, auxiliary preamplifier function, and built-in remote control.

Pros:

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Wide frequency response
  • Turbo charge signal processor

Cons:

  • low quality sound.

5. Topping DX7 Pro ES9038Pro DAC Bluetooth 5.0 32Bit/768kHz DSD1024 LDAC Hi-Res Decoder Headphone Amplifier (Black)

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The Topping DX7 Pro is the most affordable DAC in the DX7 series, with an ultra-low-power ESS ES9038Pro digital-to-analog converter chip, Bluetooth 5.0, and LDAC connectivity, USB input with 32Bit/768kHz support for DSD1024 playback formats. It is also compatible with the computer’s line output for added flexibility.

Pros:

  • 32-bit High performance DAC featuring MX980 high resolution D/A converter and LDAC
  • DAC supports Hi-Res Audio’s LAB and native DSD up to DSD64 Bit, 2.8224 MHz
  • Disc playback supported through Full range Amplifier, RS232 included for external control

Cons:

  • Pairing is necessary for initial setup
  • Bluetooth may disconnect randomly
  • Turntable sounds are not as good as it could be
  • No display on the amp to view what you are playing or change settings without pulling out your phone or tablet

Conclusion

We hope that this guide has helped you find the best desktop DAC/Amps for your needs. If you have any feedback about the article, please leave it in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

FAQ:

Q: What is the difference between a DAC and an amp?

A: – Shorter signal chain and circuit, faster processing. – Easier to operate. – Can be used with more devices than just USB compatible ones. – Easy to upgrade with various systems. – Closer to the end of the signal chain.

Q: Can I connect DAC directly to AMP?

A: You can connect it directly to an integrated amplifier which has pre or control amp and power amp sections in one box. But unless your DAC has a volume control, connecting the DAC directly to separate power amplifier can be problematic.

Q: Is AMP and DAC worth it?

A: Most external DAC is ‘specialized’ for stereo channel audio, so yeah you’d lose any hardware (DSP) surround. You can still use software surround tho. In short, an external DAC/amp might very well be not ‘worth it’ if you got no problems with your current system.

Q: Do you need a DAC with an amp?

A: You don’t need an external DAC along with an amp. Amps and DACs come included with each other to the extent that the included part will function decently. Specialty DAC/Amp combos are also available in compact packages to maximize your audio experiences.