People whose interest in audio systems doesn’t extend farther than the bare essentials may not be aware of Digital-to-Analog Converters (DACs). DACs devices convert music source, which is nothing more than a series of ones and zeros, into digital formats, such as music files, CDs, and streamed music, like Spotify.

This Speakers Daily blog will walk you through the best external DACs for your personal devices.

Portable vs. Non-Portable DACs

Every device that has sound has an internal DAC chip. You wouldn’t be able to hear a thing on your cellphone were it not for the DAC. However, you can boost your current sound quality with an eternal DAC. Lucky for you, DACs don’t always require a cable connection to perform their function.

While you have more options with a static DAC, you can also find a few Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-based DACs. The iFi Zen DAC V2 is the perfect desktop DAC because it offers you the best bass at just under $200. 

On the other hand, portable DACs fare surprisingly well despite being on the low end. At just $130, you can just slip a FiiO BTR5 into your pocket after connecting it with your phone via Bluetooth or wireless internet.

A DAC Attached to a Home Audio System

Selecting Your Music Source

You can buy the best DAC out there, and the resolution will still fall short if you pair it with a subpar music source. For instance, Spotify is praised for its convenience, loading time, and directory, but some of its packages are criticized for lacking high-quality sound.

While you can usually tell how audio’s going to sound by the size of the file, you can also make the most of your investment by getting a premium subscription to music streaming services.

Here are some home audio systems that could use a high-res DAC.

· Music Streaming Services

Music streaming services use different file formats. For instance, Tidal uses a FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), which is smaller but still manages to sound great because of its compressing abilities. Ogg Vorbis (OV) is used by Spotify and offers up uncompressed music that’s usually of a lower quality than the original version. Finally, ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), which Apple Music uses, is all over the place in its music quality. It’s inconsistent and only slightly better than OV.


DSD gets on with all DACs like a house on fire. It offers up as close to the original sound quality as possible. Its files are usually on the larger end, but that’s not a problem if you have the software. DSD-compatible DACs are few and far between, but they’re fast gaining traction.

· CD

CDs are pretty obsolete in the digital age because they don’t stay intact forever and offer an average audio experience.

DACs are fairly easy to find, provided you’re looking for them online. The best ones can cost around a couple of thousand dollars, but you can get them at a more affordable rate. Browse the 7 Best DACs Under 500 on Speakers Daily and buy them on Amazon, where they’re available across several price ranges.

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