Best Portable DAC/Amp Combo 2022

An amp is a device that boosts the power of an electric signal or audio signal in order to increase its volume. In the 1920s, radio stations would send amplitude-modulated sound waves through telephone lines in order to be broadcasted from remote locations. The signal was then amplified when it reached the receiving station.

In the modern-day, amplifiers are found in different forms such as stereo receivers and portable digital audio players for listening to your favorite music or watching a movie with your friends without any loss in quality.

The best amps for portable audio players can be classified into a couple of general categories. First, you have analog amplifiers that use vacuum tubes to amplify your digital or analog signals. Secondly, you have solid-state amplifiers that use transistors to convert your digital or analog signals into an electric signal that can then be amplified by itself.

Buying Guide

Sound signature differences are subtle to most listeners, but DACs and amps go hand in hand. DACs convert digital audio signals to analog so you can get the quality of an audiophile-grade sound through your device, while an amp increases the volume of what you’re listening to. We’ll offer a few key pointers on choosing the best portable DAC/amp combo for music lovers just looking for solutions that will improve their digital music experience.

1. Portability

The best portable DAC/amp combos should be large enough to fit in your bag, but not so bulky that it’s difficult to carry around the room. Additionally, these units should have good battery life and a small form factor. They’ll definitely need a carrying case for protection from any bumps or drops, and will also require a power outlet for charging during use.

2. Sound quality

  • The noise floor is the total power level of all the noise in your system, and it’s best not to have too much of a noise floor when it comes to music.
  • Dynamic range is measure in two ways: how much volume can be produced before distortion? And how accurately does that volume represent the music actually being played?
  • When you’re talking about sound quality, dynamics are simply described as ‘the ability to change volume and tone dynamically’.

3. Bluetooth

If you are looking for a pair of portable DAC/amp combo, we suggest that you think about the type of Bluetooth functionality it has. One good thing about Bluetooth is that you can listen to your favorite music even when there is no Internet connection.

5 Best Portable DAC/Amp Combo Reviewed

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter

AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter
  • Native Resolution up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • DAC Chip ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound
  • Plays All Music Files: MP3 to MQA and Hi-Res
  • Compatible with iOS Mobile Devices (requires Apple Lightning-to-USB adaptor) and Android Mobile Devices (requires USB adaptor)
  • Dimensions: 57mm (l) x 19mm (w) x 12mm (h)

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The AudioQuest Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter is a product designed for high-resolution audio transfers.

Pros:

  • Transparent sound quality
  • Convenient and portable, with no need for power supply
  • Works natively with Mac and Windows computers and most audio interfaces
  • Works at sample rates up to 192kHz, 24bit/44.1kHz
  • New enough that it’s one of the last USB DACs to be released in 2017!

Cons:

  • Subpar sound
  • Can’t drive a headphone amp without a power supply

2. Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier

Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier
  • Authentic Chord Mojo that is entirely designed and manufactured in Great Britain. All Mojo devices come with a 12 month warranty by Chord Electronics...
  • Mojo, the ultimate DAC/Headphone Amplifier for your smartphone, iPhone or Android. Simply connect Mojo to your iPhone, Android phone, PC, or Mac, plug...
  • Inside Mojo is a massively powerful headphone amplifier that will deliver crystal clear audio whether you use in-ear buds or large studio cans, it...
  • Mojo plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz and even DSD 256. With two 3.5mm analogue outputs you and a friend can listen too! Mojo is fully automatic...
  • You may think that good quality headphones are the be all and end all, but they are just the beginning. By using Mojo between your smartphone and...

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A DAC (digital-to-analog converter) is the backbone of the DAP (digital audio player) device, which in turn is one of the most important components for high-resolution HiFi. Modern DACs are able to offer much higher resolution than conventional CD players and MP3 players, but this comes at a cost. A DAC can be costly to build because it requires more power than other types of devices.

Pros:

  • Extraordinary detail and clarity
  • Immersive and three-dimensional soundstage
  • Outstanding dynamics and microdetail retrieval
  • Seamless, natural, effortless, relaxed presentation that is also capable of delivering solid power when needed.

Cons:

  • The Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier is an impressive piece of equipment, but it’s not without its flaws.
  • There are a few things to be aware of before you purchase the unit, so that you know what to expect and what to avoid.

3. FiiO BTR5-384K/32Bit Native DSD256 Hi-Res CSR8675 Bluetooth5.0 Receiver/USB DAC/DSD Headphone Amp with LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC (3.5mm Unbalanced&2.5mm Balanced Output, Black)

FiiO BTR5-384K/32Bit Native DSD256 Hi-Res CSR8675 Bluetooth5.0 Receiver/USB DAC/DSD Headphone Amp...
  • Including Hi-fi DACs(ES9218P*2) for extremely detailed reproduction of sound and Independent control chip Xmos XUF208 for the ultimate in decoding...
  • CSR8675 Bluetooth 5.0 receiver designed to deliver studio-quality sound through your ears WIRELESS - using your existing wired headphones, earphones...
  • For greater power and detail resolution,the BTR5 features both balanced 2.5mm and single-ended 3.5mm outpts.
  • Can be remotely controlled via FiiO Music app to swtich channel balance,8 different DAC lowpass filter and 10-band EQ
  • FPGA precision clock management+OLED Displaying+9 hours battery life+2 microphones with cVC 8.0 noise cancellation

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The FiiO BTR5-384K is a Bluetooth receiver/USB DAC hybrid that allows you to stream music from your phone right to your headphones. It is also compatible with wireless and wired headphones and can even be used with speakers too!

Pros:

  • DSD256 native hi-res
  • LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC
  • Multiple inputs and outputs: 3.5mm headphone output/output jack, 2.5mm mobile phone output/headphone out jack for LDAC connection

Cons:

  • No remote
  • Not much bass

4. FiiO Q5S High Resolution DAC and Headphone Amplifier

FiiO Q5S High Resolution DAC and Headphone Amplifier
  • FiiO Q5S high resolution DAC and headphone amplifier

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

FiiO Q5S is a high-quality and portable USB DAC and headphone amplifier. It supports many popular types of digital audio formats such as DSD 128, FLAC, ALAC 256, PCM 32/384/768 kHz, AAC 32/96kHz, and Apple AAC 192kHz.

Pros:

  • Compact and portable
  • Plenty of amplification power
  • Built in battery for mobility and portability

Cons:

  • Cost
  • Smaller amount of power on offer

5. iFi Audio Hip-dac Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier Compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android Phones Bundle with USB Wall Adapter, and 3-FT USB 2.0 Type-A Extension Cable

iFi Audio Hip-dac Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier Compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android...
  • IMPROVES THE SOUND QUALITY FROM YOUR PHONE OR PC - The iFi hip-dac supports hi-res PCM and DXD of up to 384kHz, DSD256, and MQA. It replaces your...
  • DELIVERS CLEARER MUSIC - The balanced, analog audio circuits reduce noise, crosstalk, and signal interference. hip-dac's S-Balanced circuit provides...
  • OFFERS A MORE ACCURATE AUDIO REPRODUCTION - PowerMatch allows you to adjust the input sensitivity to match your headphone's impedance. Plus, the XBass...
  • OFFERS EFFICIENT BATTERY LIFE - You can listen to high-quality sounds for up to 12 hours thanks to iFi hip-dac's 2200mAh battery.
  • INCLUDES - iFi Audio hip-dac Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier; USB-A Male to Female Cable; OTG USB-C Cable for Android; USB Charging Cable; 4 Silicone...

Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

iFi Audio has always been a go-to brand for audiophiles and music lovers. To meet the needs of an ever-changing market, iFi just released their latest creation: the Hip-dac portable DAC headphone amplifier. This device integrates so many features that it’s hard to believe it’s only $99.

Pros:

  • Thin, sleek design
  • Compatible with up to 24-bit/48kHz PCM files
  • Clean, clear output sound

Cons:

  • USB extension cable not provided

Conclusion

There are many choices of portable DACs and amps for your phones on the market, but few can match the capabilities of portable Deltaco products like UDOO UD-10. A popular choice among audiophiles, this product comes with a whopping great 10W audio amplifier that can easily power up to four pairs of speakers.

FAQ:

Q: How to choose a DAC for home or portable audio?

A: Compatibility: When buying a DAC it’s important to ensure that the model you choose features connections compatible with your specific input and output devices. Sound adjustments. : Everybody has a different expectation from the DAC they buy. … Size and portability: In this context,DACs are categorized as either portable or desktop devices. …

Q: Is a DAC and AMP worth it?

A: Your DAC is an extremely important stop on the good train audiophile. A headphone amp is a relatively low-powered amplifier that raises the low-voltage audio signal from a source device (be it a turntable, PC, or smartphone) to a sufficient level such that it can be converted (or transduced) into sound waves by the speakers inside your headphones.

Q: What is the difference between DAC, sound card and AMP?

A: Quality of the electronic parts like Capacitors,Transistors and the D/A Chip itself,which has a strong impact to audio quality (like Jitter and other interferences) Layout of the electronic circut in terms of signal processing and interferences Features like sampling rate,error correction,DSP etc. Connectivity like USB,XLR,Bluetooth etc.

Q: Do you need a DAC with a headphone amp?

A: No. Do not buy a DAC for Bluetooth headphones, as they will already have a DAC chip inside to handle converting the digital signal to an analog one to send to the headphone’s drivers. A second DAC would be redundant. I have a Project turntable, a 40 year old Pioneer integrated amp and 50 year old KLH speakers.