*Review best according to redakciey. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective in nature, is not an advertisement, and does not serve as a guide to purchase. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
Music lovers acquire a large number of audio equipment. They can’t just use speakers and headphones, and they’ll also have other devices that work with audio at their disposal. In particular, digital-to-analog converters are in high demand in online stores. Such devices are used for competent conversion of digital audio to analog-believe me, not all equipment solves this problem perfectly. The DAC can be either compact or stationary — we will tell you about both of them.
Rating of the best digital-to-analog converters
|Best compact digital-to-analog converters||1||M-Audio Super DAC||17 150 ₽|
|2||Arcam miniBlink||11 990 ₽|
|3||FiiO DO3K Taishan||2 320 ₽|
|4||ORIENT DAC0202N||1 213 ₽|
|Best stationary digital-to-analog converters||1||Audio Note UK DAC 5 Fifth Element||10 000 000 ₽|
|2||Boulder 2120 DAC||7 390 000 ₽|
|3||Audiolab M-DAC||35 150 ₽|
|4||Atoll DAC 100SE||28 800 ₽|
Best compact digital-to-analog converters
M-Audio Super DAC
This representative of our rating works in one direction, like many other DACs. That is, it can turn a “digital” signal into an analog signal that headphones or speakers need. The “analog” entry is possible, but only through — through-the signal will not be digitized. This feature is useful when connecting large speakers to your smartphone — in this case, the DAC will act as a preamp.
The M-Audio Super DAC is extremely compact in size. On its upper panel there is a mechanical regulator. Most often, it will be used to select the sampling rate — by the way, 192 kHz is supported as much as possible, which not all portable digital-to-analog converters can boast.
The signal-to-noise ratio here is 117 dB. At least, this figure is stated in the technical specifications. The C-Media CM6631A chip is used as the processor. It should be noted that it supports ASIO drivers.
Despite its tiny size, the device received not only a standard 3.5 mm, but also a full-size audio Jack. At the same time, you can simultaneously connect speakers and headphones — using the above-mentioned switch, it will not be difficult to turn off the signal in the speakers. It should be noted that the main power is derived precisely on the 6.3-mm connector — in the acoustics connected via the “mini-Jack”, the sound will be quieter. Please note that the 3.5 mm input is duplicated here. This means that you don’t need to search for an adapter to connect speakers and headphones with a mini-Jack at the same time.
On the back of the device are the RCA line outputs. There is also a place for digital outputs — optical and coaxial. In short, it is unlikely that the buyer will not have enough of some kind of connector. There is also a socket for connecting the power supply.
The Converter comes with an RCA-to-RCA cable that fits most existing speakers. If you want to use the digital audio output — you will need your own cable.
We can safely say that the company M-Audio turned out to be an excellent DAC, which has an amplifier for headphones. It is relatively inexpensive, especially in comparison with stationary models. Well, the support of ASIO drivers indicates that this model will be used even by professionals who earn money by writing electronic music.
- The dimensions are 9x9x3 cm;
- Supports 192 kHz frequency;
- Based on a high-quality DAC chip;
- There are two 3.5 mm and one 6.3 mm connectors available;
- The headphone jacks have a built-in amplifier;
- There is support for ASIO drivers.
- Some features are still missing.
Another digital-to-analog Converter in our rating that belongs to the portable form factor. This device measures 6x3x7. 5 cm. In short, it turned out to be quite tiny. The manufacturer gave it a rounded shape. On the one hand, it made him quite likable. On the other hand, the Converter can not be called stable — accidentally dropping it on the floor will not be difficult.
Unlike the model discussed above, the Arcam miniBlink can be considered a wireless digital-to-analog Converter. It receives an audio signal exclusively via Bluetooth. This means that you will not be able to transmit sound to it via a cable — there are simply no corresponding connectors for this purpose. If your TV does not have a Bluetooth module, it is better to choose some other external DAC. However, the owners of smartphones most often look in the direction of this model. It is not without reason that it is portable!
I am glad that the device is supplemented with support for the aptX digital codec. If the audio source also understands it, then the music will be transmitted without any serious losses. The sound quality in this case will depend on the headphones or speakers, the signal to which is output through the usual 3.5 mm audio Jack. However, do not count on the ideal result. The built-in PCM5105 chip is not the limit of what you want. But most buyers are quite satisfied with the characteristics of this chip. The harmonic distortion here does not exceed 0.002%, and the signal-to-noise ratio is approximately 106 dB.
With this DAC, you will definitely stop listening to MP3 tracks. When using high-quality acoustics, you will immediately notice “shoals” of this format. Yes, lossless files take up more memory space, but they will allow you to squeeze the maximum out of the digital-to-analog Converter. This, of course, is provided that you have a smartphone with aptX support (without this codec, the sound will be transmitted in a fairly compressed form in any case).
Of course, not everyone will have enough features of this device. We have already mentioned the lack of a function for receiving a signal over the wire. Another limitation is only one audio output — you can’t connect both speakers and headphones at the same time. Finally, there is a complete lack of any configuration, which is also somewhat upsetting. But the sampling rate has been increased to 384 kHz! Another distinctive feature of the DAC is its low cost — it is unlikely that for 11 thousand rubles you will find a more functional Converter (if we talk about products from well-known companies).
- High sampling rate;
- Low harmonic ratio;
- Audio reception via Bluetooth is possible (there is aptX support);
- Miniature sizes;
- Accepts power via USB interface;
- Not a very high cost.
- Glossy plastic successfully collects dust;
- Only one audio output, and only analog;
- No ability to receive audio over the wire;
- There are no settings.
FiiO DO3K Taishan
One of the most affordable digital-to-analog converters in our rating. For this crumb they ask only 2-3 thousand rubles. Of course, you should not expect impressive performance from such a small and cheap device. This is indicated at least by the sampling rate, which here is limited to the standard 192 kHz. Also, some people will be upset by the lack of a Bluetooth module. This means that a wireless connection is not possible — this device is not intended to be paired with a smartphone at all.
In fact, the Converter is a modest black box, on the opposite ends of which there are certain connectors. The device does not support any settings, so the top panel is a haven only for the logo and two LEDs.
So, what kind of connectors does FiiO DO3K Taishan have? Here you will find a pleasant surprise. Despite the low cost, the device received both coaxial and optical inputs. In other words, the user will receive both currently popular digital audio inputs! The device cannot accept analog audio — there is no corresponding connector here. This is what prevents you from using FiiO DO3K Taishan in conjunction with a smartphone, a player, or some other similar gadget.
As for the outputs, they are, of course, exclusively analog. To connect the speakers, RCA connectors will be used, while the wire from the headphones can be inserted into the usual 3.5 mm Jack.
Interestingly, the digital-to-analog Converter still has one control. And it’s not about the power button! At the bottom of the device, you can find a tiny switch that lets you know whether the input is currently being processed — coaxial or optical.
You can power the Converter using any network adapter. It is connected via a USB interface, so it is unlikely that you will have any problems. In short, the device turned out to be as simplified as possible in all senses. But the sound it produces is not the most saturated. The average user will definitely not make any complaints about it, but the music lover will want more.
- Easy to use;
- Minimum price tag;
- Both digital audio inputs are present;
- There is not only a 3.5 mm mini-Jack, but also RCA connectors;
- Power is supplied via the mini-USB interface.
- No analog audio inputs or digital audio outputs;
- Low sampling rate;
- The sound quality won’t suit your music lover;
- Any settings are missing.
This digital-to-analog Converter can also be described as extremely compact. A small box easily fits in your pocket, and in a woman’s bag or backpack, the product can even get lost. In Russian stores, for such a miniature device, they ask for only 1300 rubles. It is clear that for such money you can hardly expect to get a wide-functional device. The lack of serious features is also hinted at by the minimum number of connectors. However, reading our rating, you may have noticed that some digital-to-analog converters may have a smaller number of sockets. But there is no Bluetooth support here, so you couldn’t do without digital inputs.
This box receives an audio signal via optical and coaxial connectors. Next to them is the Converter operation indicator. It will light up red if you have powered up the device. Unfortunately, there is no USB socket on the case. Instead, a round connector is used, to which the power supply is connected. However, this does not seem to be a big problem.
Well, what about the audio outputs? The device converts a digital signal to an analog signal without any problems. This uses a sampling rate of 192 kHz. Only RCA connectors are used for audio output. Most often, it is through such sockets that speakers are connected. And even if this is not your case, finding the right cable will not be difficult. But with the connection of the earphones can be difficult. You will need either the appropriate wire or an adapter. However, it should be noted that most often digital-to-analog converters are needed to connect speakers. For example, owners of PlayStation 4 and low-cost speakers make Their choice in favor of ORIENT DAC0202N. As you know, budget speakers receive a signal only via RCA connectors, while a game console outputs it via an optical output — that’s why you can’t do without a Converter in this case. Buying an expensive model doesn’t make much sense — inexpensive speakers simply won’t unlock the potential of a top-end DAC.
And what else can please this baby? Unfortunately, nothing else. It does not offer any settings, working strictly according to the algorithm conceived by the manufacturer. The signal-to-noise ratio is 120 dB, which is not an ideal result. However, all this does not prevent the device from performing the role discussed above. That is why the device does not have negative reviews.
- Very small dimensions;
- Consistently converts “digital” to ” analog»;
- Both optical and coaxial connectors are available;
- Very easy to use;
- Extremely low price tag.
- High signal-to-noise ratio;
- There are no settings;
- Someone may not have enough 3.5 mm audio output.
Best stationary digital-to-analog converters
Audio Note UK DAC 5 Fifth Element
A unique product. And not only because of its title, which mentions the famous film from Luc Besson. This is a professional product that will suit even concert organizers of well-known rock and pop artists. But the most striking thing is not even the characteristics of the DAC, but its cost. We haven’t checked, but it’s unlikely that we’ve ever considered such an expensive product. In Russian online stores, they ask for 10 million rubles for this “box”! What do you get for a device priced in a good apartment in Moscow?
Inside this device is an Analog Devices AD1865N chip. Also, under the case, a lamp configuration is used. It provides the warmest tube sound. At the same time, the manufacturer got rid of the main drawback of previously existing tube amplifiers — the performance of components will continue for many years. It is possible to disable a particular lamp only, probably, by dropping this device from a great height. However, even in this case, it will not be difficult to make a replacement by ordering a lamp from a British manufacturer.
The high cost of this device is also associated with the internal wiring made on silver wires. This ensures that there is no audio loss at all. You can also find expensive black Gate wkz, NX, and n capacitors inside the DAC. It is also necessary to note the presence of carbon-film resistors Audio Note. In short, here you will find a complete stuffing! Although an untrained person, opening the case, will think that there is too much free space present here. Indeed, all the components could be placed in a smaller device. But in this case, they could negatively affect each other, and the device would no longer look expensive.
It is easy to guess that such a product did without any Amateur connectors. 3.5 mm Jack? What are you talking about? There is not even a full-size 6.3 mm “Jack” here. Instead, silver XLR connectors are used. And this is correct, since such sockets are used to connect professional acoustics used in organizing concerts. There is also an RCA output, but if the buyer uses it, it is only to check the device for operability. As for the input, the usual S/PDIF is built in here.
It remains to add that this digital-to-analog Converter has dimensions of 560x260x540 mm. The weight is 20 kg. You can find on sale a device not only with a silver, but also with a black case. However, the second option is less common.
- Lamp accessories;
- All the most necessary connectors are present;
- Maximum clear and high-quality sound;
- A large number of adjustments are available;
- Connectors and wiring are silver.
- A lot of weight;
- Astronomical price tag.
Boulder 2120 DAC
Another representative of our rating, which is unlikely to be affordable for most readers. However, many visitors to our site are still interested in finding out what a device worth €44500 has to offer. If you think about it, then for such money you can buy about 40 top smartphones with the maximum amount of memory. By the way, this DAC can really be compared with modern phones, because there is also a full-fledged LCD display. Yes, this is a digital-to-analog Converter with a screen, and even with a 12.3-inch one! It is used for selecting music tracks and working with settings. However, huge money is not asked for the display.
The device can receive absolutely any digital audio signals. Maximum declared support for a 32-bit signal with a sampling rate of 284 kHz. Is it necessary to say that something like this is implemented only at concerts and other significant events? Also, such a device is useful in the Studio where sound recording is carried out. DSD128 support is also implemented here.
Boulder is known to some professionals for its power amplifiers. It has long proved that its specialists know a lot about audio technology. The Boulder 2120 DAC is another example of how to make a reference signal Converter as high-quality as possible. The manufacturer even put the power supply unit in a separate case so that it does not affect the incoming or outgoing signal in any way! There is also a built-in preamp. By the way, although it is called this way, in some cases you can do without a power amplifier in the form of a separate device.
In this case, the signal will be transmitted to the left and right channels independently. This also excludes the possibility of at least some influence on each other. All this allows you to get a physically felt sound, which should be on the concert stage.
Well, what can you say about the connectors? It has everything you might need. The device can receive a digital signal in almost any modern way. There is even an HDMI interface, which usually only receivers can boast of! The display is also useful when connecting a USB flash drive, when reading data from this media. It is also possible to stream videos from popular online services such as YouTube or Netflix — the aforementioned HDMI interface is used to get the image. In short, the manufacturer has thought through absolutely everything! He did not forget about the convenient remote control.
In short, this is a smart device that some professionals can only dream of. And Yes, this is a professional technique, so all analog connectors here belong to the XLR type! No more “jacks” or “mini-jacks”!
- Four isolated from each other corps;
- You can receive a digital signal on a completely different connectors;
- Built-in high-quality pre-amplifier;
- There is a large LCD display;
- A huge number of digital audio formats are supported;
- It is possible to control via IP and a complete remote control;
- Implemented support for 384 kHz and 32-bit audio;
- At the output, you can achieve a perfect sound.
- Astronomical cost.
Of course, stationary digital-to-analog converters aren’t necessarily Studio monsters. Our rating also includes such a relatively simple model as Audiolab M-DAC. Its cost, which does not exceed 40 thousand rubles, allows an ordinary music lover who does not write music on a professional basis and does not organize concerts to get hold of the device. At the same time, it is unlikely that this model will not suit him in any way.
Here, too, there is a display, but not the one that can display graphics. This screen displays only various settings, of which there are very few. The device does not support super-frequency, it is limited to the usual 192 kHz. The chip used here is ESS ES9018. Not ideal, but you can’t expect a more professional solution for that kind of money.
Unlike many other digital-to-analog converters, the headphone connection is great here. The manufacturer has put the corresponding socket on the front panel, so the process does not take any time. There is also a setup knob and five buttons, one of which is responsible for turning on the device.
Please note that the headphone Jack is 6.3 mm! If you are using a simple headset, you may need an adapter! Its purchase does not cause much difficulty.
As for the connectors for acoustics and digital signal reception, they are all located on the back panel. If you look at it, it immediately becomes clear that Audiolab M-DAC can be used as a receiver. But only if all your devices produce digital audio, because there is no way to receive an analog signal here. It is noteworthy that the two optical inputs are duplicated here with the same number of coaxial connectors.
There are even more exits here! Let’s start with the fact that there are coaxial and optical outputs. It is completely unclear whether they will be useful to the user. However, what if the buyer ever has excellent acoustics that perfectly process the digital signal? There are also XLR connectors designed to output analog audio to the left and right speakers. There are also balanced outputs. In short, it is unlikely that the buyer may need any more nests.
The Audiolab M-DAC can be easily connected to a computer using the same USB connector found on printers and MFPs. Using a computer, you can not only test the device, but also manage it. However, it is much easier to use the controller and buttons on the front panel, or a complete remote control.
What can you find fault with? To the signal-to-noise ratio of 122 dB? It seems that this is a normal value for equipment of this class. The harmonic ratio is also not annoying — it is 0.0008%. But the lack of RCA connectors will frighten someone. But this suggests that we are no longer looking at an Amateur Converter. You may also be confused by the lack of a regular USB port for a flash drive. This means that you still need to connect an external sound source.
- Low harmonic ratio;
- Fast connection of headphones;
- Built-in two coaxial and optical inputs;
- It is possible to output a digital signal;
- Linear and balanced outputs are available;
- It is also possible to control the remote control using a computer.
- Someone could use the ability to connect a flash drive;
- The price tag may seem too high;
- There is no possibility to output audio via RCA connectors.
Atoll DAC 100SE
Completing our rating is a digital-to-analog Converter from a French manufacturer. Unlike the model discussed earlier, it supports only 24-bit audio. The sampling rate cannot exceed 192 kHz, which is quite predictable. Another simplification is the absence of at least some kind of LCD display. That is why the number of controls is kept to a minimum. But they are not completely lost — on the front panel you can find not only the power button, but also three more buttons. There are also light indicators that indicate that there is a connection to certain connectors.
This model traditionally can work in the mode of the preamplifier. In this case, you will need a coaxial or optical output — both of them are on the back panel. But much more often, such a device is used to convert digital audio into an analog signal — in this case, the speakers are connected to RCA jacks. Unfortunately, there are no other options. And if only a professional will remember about XLR jacks (this DAC is clearly not for him), then the headphone Jack would definitely not hurt.
Well, what about the entrances? You can easily guess their number by counting the number of LEDs on the front panel. Yes, the manufacturer has built in three optical and coaxial inputs each. You can also see a USB interface on the back panel, but it is used for connecting to a PC. By the way, the DAC also has an infrared receiver that recognizes signals from the remote control.
Here, perhaps, is all that can be told about this model. The Atoll DAC 100SE is not something out of the ordinary. This is a simple digital-to-analog Converter that belongs to the stationary type. It uses TI/Burr-Brown PCM1796 as a chip.
- Not very high cost;
- Large number of coaxial and optical inputs;
- Can be used as a preamp;
- Easy to use.
- No XLR connectors;
- You won’t be able to connect your headphones without any tricks;
- LEDs can be annoying for someone.
Now you know which digital-to-analog converters are the best. Connect them to a wide variety of devices. For example, some people use a DAC paired with an LCD TV. It is known that TVs that do not belong to the top price segment do not convert sound to “analog” in the best way. That is why some users prefer to output audio to the speakers using an external DAC. Well, portable converters help you enjoy music that is currently playing on your smartphone.
Attention! This rating is subjective in nature, is not an advertisement, and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.