The 5 Best DAC under $500 with Reviews

One of the best ways to relax either publicly or privately is by listening to music. It is so crucial that many people refer to music as the food for the soul. With technology advancements, music is readily available in many platforms, mostly in soft wares. The best ways to convert the music into readily available music is by the use of Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC). A DAC is a device that translates digitally stored information from a laptop, iPod or other such device into the analogue sound. Here are the best DAC under $500 available in the market, their properties, cons and why you should get one of them.

RankDACPriceQualityEditor Rating
1Apogee GROOVE Portable USB DAC$$A+
2AudioQuest - DragonFly Black USB DAC$A+
3Cambridge Audio DacMagic$$A
4Micca OriGen+ High Resolution USB DAC$A
5SMSL Sanskrit 6th 32bit/192kHz USB$A+

1. Apogee GROOVE Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

This is by far the best DAC device available in the market right now. It comes with USB 2.0 connection that is compatible to Mac and PC. With up to 24 bit/ 192kHz audio, it enhances your iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, Pandora or other music software into quality sound on your analogue gadgets. With ESS Sabre Hyper stream DAC technology, it offers unequaled dynamic range, ultra-low distortion, and unmatched audio clarity. The Apogee DAC comes with a sleek design and weighs just 0.3 ounces, making it easily
portable. It also comes with beautiful LED lighting for easy use in dark rooms.

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  • Powerful Headphone amp compatible with both MAC and PC
  • Cool and sleek design
  • Easy to use with up to 24 bit / 192kHz audio
  • Different LED colors for different functions.
  • Quad Sum DAC , 4 DACs per channel for highest dynamic range and lowest distortion
  • Made of an aluminum coat for durability and portability.

2. AudioQuest – DragonFly USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier

The Audio Quest is another DAC device worth getting if you are looking for an analogue sound amplifier. According to many reviews, it produces the best sound quality for an amplifier within a similar price range. As a 32-bit ESS 9010 Sabre DAC and 24-bit/96kHz, the Audio Quest offers enhanced sound, higher value, and lower power consumption. With a simple adapter, it works easily with both android and apple phones and tablets. It weighs 3.5 ounces, making it easily portable.

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  • Works with Apple and Android phones and tablets when paired with a simple adapter
  • Offers tremendously enhanced and high quality sound
  • Comes as a 32-bit ESS 9010 Sabre DAC for the best sound out-put
  • Plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files

3. Cambridge Audio Dac Magic 100

If you are looking for a powerful DAC converter that is not necessarily portable but with an array of features to choose from, then this is what to go for. The Cambridge DAC is by far the best in the list for having many features. It is compatible with all your analogue gadgets including; Mac or PC, TV, Audio System, squeeze box and PlayStation. It comes with 1USB port, 2Coaxial Digital and 1Optical Input. With 20Hz to 20 kHz (+/-0.1dB) 24-bit frequency, the sound out-put is high quality and powerful. It weighs 1.1 pounds making it less portable like the other devices on the list.

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  • Very powerful out-put with 20Hz to 20 kHz (+/-0.1dB) 24-bit frequency
  • Compatible with almost all devices including; Mac, PC, TV, PlayStation and many mor
  • Comes with different ports; 1 x USB, 2 x Coaxial Digital, and 1 x Optical Input
  • Well designed with good quality exterior for durability.

4. Micca OriGen+ High Resolution USB DAC and Pre-amplifier

This is another DAC device that is worth considering when looking for a quality amplifier that will enhance the quality of sound on all your devices. With up to 24-bit/192kHz frequency and DSD64 audio, the device supports high resolution audio. It weighs 6.1 ounces making it an easily portable device for use on your portable devices. It is also constructed with an aluminum finishing for durability.

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  • Supports high resolution PCM audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD64 audio
  • Powerful built-in headphone amp supports 16-600 headphones
  • USB 2.0 High Speed 480Mbps audio controller
  • Cirrus Logic CS4392 stereo D/A converter
  • Advanced audio stream interface supports different out-put modes
  • Aluminum finishing for durability

5. SMSL Sanskrit USB/Optical/Coaxial to Analog Audio Decoder

This is undoubtedly the most outstanding DAC converter available in the market and within that price range. The SMSL comes with an array of useful features meant to improve the quality of sound to your analogue devices. It is easily converts USB/Optical/Coaxial signal into Analog signal. It is compatible with phones, PC, MAC, TV and other analogue devices. This DAC comes with an optical input support of up to 24 bit/192kHz and USB input support of up to 32 bit/192kHz for quality sound. It weighs 1.5 pounds making it best applicable on non-portable devices mostly.

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  • Compatible with almost all devices including; Mac, PC, TV, PlayStation, phones and many more
  • Convert USB, Optical, Coaxial signal into analog signal
  • Supports high resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and USB input support 32bit/192kHz
  • Advanced audio stream interface supports different out-put modes
  • Update version of Sanskrit. Support Android/Apple phone input.

Final Words

The best DAC gadgets not only come with quality sound, they are also easily connected to various music devices like TVs, Laptops, Audio Players and many more. There are many factors that should be considered when purchasing a quality DAC gadget. These include; sound quality, size, durability and compatibility with your other devices.

The above are the five best DAC under $500 in the market. The sound quality and compatibility with different analogue devices make them the best choices when looking for a good DAC. They are easily portable and durable to serve you for long period of time.

Disclaimer: We check & update the list every month. Some product prices may have changed since our latest update. Last Date of Update: 1st May, 2018

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