The Best DAC Amp Combo Your Money Can Buy in 2019
Musician? Audio-enthusiast? Audiophiles? You have come to the right article!
DAC, short for digital to analogue converter, is an essential must-have for audiophiles, or for people enthusiastic and passionate about the performance of their audio devices. It may not be known to many at first, but a DAC plays an important role if you really want to hear high quality music. If you’re thinking about which DAC amplifier combination is ideal for your audio needs, this article will provide some fundamental information on the topic.
Getting to Know DAC
Before getting down with the list, way back in the early 2000s, DAC had not yet created a scene in the sound industry, but quickly grew in popularity when audio enthusiasts came to realize the audio potential of DAC devices. Of course, a DAC is not the only sound equipment you’ll be needing. There are different factors to consider when trying to craft the best possible sound. Some of these include:
- Audio track production standards & mastering
- File formats
- Amplifier units
- Output device (Hi-Res Headphones & Audiophile Grade Speakers)
Options: Best DAC Amplifier Combo
- Pro: Best overall headphone amplifier
- Con: Large wall wart, and may require a separate DAC
For unfamiliar individuals with an interest in getting a DAC amplifier, the price may seem expensive, but trust me, it’s your cheapest option out there. Yes, even at that price, it is one of the most affordable options. And by cheap, we mean affordable; the quality of the audio is no way reflected by the lower price, and the device performs well. With this amp, even beginners will be able to experience a top-notch music experience that will lead them to exploring more of the audio industry.
Schiit’s Magni has had multiple updates over the years, like the complicated Magni 2, but they have managed to maintain a reasonable price without compromising the audio quality. Even if you own the most expensive headphones, or a thrift-store bought pair of earphones, with Schiit’s Magni 3, you will be able to hear the quality difference.
- Pro: Similar to Schiit Magni 3
- Con: Bass could be heavier
The difference between the Burson Audio PLAY and Schiit Magni 3, aside from the massive price difference, is its ability to straddle the gap between beginners and pros. No matter who you are, you won’t encounter any problems using this DAC, which makes it one of the best DAC amp combos for this year.
For a newbie or novice audio aspirant, you can just plug-in your headphones, switch on the device, and begin to enjoy the lush sound that will envelope your eardrums. If you want to tune it up a few notches, there’s a turnkey you can adjust to personalize the sound.
- Pro: Convenient size with great quality
- Con: Lacks power
The AudioQuest Dragonfly Red is probably the best portable DAC amp on the list. Many customers wonder if the smaller size of this DAC option is indicative of the audio quality, but this is not the case. The AudioQuest Dragonfly Red meets and exceeds the standards of any high quality DAC amp option. Yes, it does its job very well, and its compact size makes it perfect for anyone who would want to connect to the device on the go.
- Pro: Stylish look, incredible sound
- Con: It’s a stock tube type
Stock tubes aren’t really that famous when discussing powerful DAC amps, but what makes it part of the best DAC amp combo is due to the combination of appealing aesthetic and functionality. It is also packed with powerhouse features including a full DAC and useful USB input port. It has a Class A system, which is known for minimizing distortion and noise.
- Pro: Best solid-state headphone amp
- Con: Very expensive and is a rare find
I know we’ve been discussing DAC amps with expensive prices, and if you’re wondering about how expensive these devices can get, the answer is indefinite. But the Sony TA-ZH1ES, as shown in its physical appearance, has a wide range of connections, including one for the Sony Walkman.
Not sure if it’s worth the price, but the sound quality is the catch here. Sony has been known for producing products with great sound quality, and you can expect the same with their DAC amplifier. It has incredible amp circuity that helps produce audio with almost zero distortion.
- Pro: Absurd levels of power and quality
- Con: Absurd price tag
If you thought that Sony’s price was crazy, well, you haven’t seen crazy just yet. What more can you expect from an intensely expensive DAC amp? Of course, it pays off with massive power! The big, classic, black box houses a dual-mono output, riding a ton of Class A power with full AC purifiers and even dedicated polarity controls. Its power is enough for a house party, and quality of course is top-notch. For an insanely expensive DAC, you may partner it with an equally expensive set of headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800 S.
- Pro: Amp module swapping
- Con: Too expensive for the target market
Perhaps a bit pricey for its kind, the Chinese company FiiO has regardless made an impact in the industry by creating excellent quality amps and DACs. Their Q5 is as classy and chic as you can imagine, plus it is Bluetooth capable. You just have to stick it with your phone, get your headphones, and that’s it. The selling point is its amp modules, which you can swap if you want a custom or personalized sound. As I said before, it’s a bit overpriced compared to its level competitors like the Dragonfly Red and the Bluewave GET, but there are still features that makes it worthy to be in the best DAC amp combo list.
- Pro: Unique features like twin headphone jacks
- Con: Not the best option for tube rolling
Aside from the price, the sound quality will also blow your mind on this DAC device. According to themasterswitch.com, it is probably the only amp that allows you to dial in the exact amount of tube sound and stereo spread through its Feedback knob and Focus knob, respectively. Although it requires some skills to fully experience its greatness, it’s a must try item. Its setup lets you tweak the amp’s settings for each song you listen to. The Hafler HA75 is extremely customizable, allowing you to produce the sounds that you have been craving.
- Pro: Compatible with any headphone
- Con: Comparable to Woo Audio WA7 but more expensive
Pathos is a unique amp including a classic remix that will bring you back to the 60s. It’s also composed of Class A stage and twin tubes, which give it a warm, bouncy sound. It also creates flattering sound no matter how expensive or budget-friendly your earphones are. It is really a DAC deal breaker, being just a bit more expensive than the Woo Audio WA7. Regardless, the quality of this DAC amp combo is top-tier.
- Pro: Detailed sound
- Con: Tricky, complicated design
The Auris HA2 SE is a deskbound giant with a huge power supply, a full complement of tubes, and a sound for the ages. The output it produces is so amazing that it can reach into your brain, perfect for audio files or podcasts that you want to dive into fully. Its downfall could be its size, which takes up a lot of space. If you come across this device, be sure to give it a try, as it is extremely rare and hard to find in the audio industry.
Conclusion: DAC Amp Combos
There are still several additional DAC amp combos perfect for stepping up your 2019 audio listening experience, but check out these options, as they will definitely meet your audio requirements.
Which DAC amp combo was most appealing to your audio tastes or preferences?