7 Best DACs Under 200 – [ Top Budget USB Picks – 2022 ]
Like everything else around us, sound and music have also been treated with the advancements in technology. We have headphones, wireless speakers, and even some peripherals that enhance the sound quality when attached to the headphones or other music playback devices. Another similar technology that has been introduced to improve the sound coming from the headphones is DAC. It is a digital to analog converter. DACs are in a variety of price ranges but these best DACs under 200 are preferred by people as they are under most people’s budget.
Many companies are producing DACs as they gain more and more popularity due to their convenience. But, not all have great quality, and keeping this in mind following is a list of 7 companies that make DACs that are below the price tag of 200 which might help you choose one.
Best DACs Under 200 In 2022
1. Best Overall: Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC
- Converts 24 Bit sound into high quality up to 196kHz
- Simple plug and play
- Easy front volume control
- Works with any computer or headphones.
Audioengine is a well-known company that has been into headphones and speakers manufacturing since 2005. They are an award-winning company and their products are considered one of the best in the market. Their product Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC is a great converter under the price range of 200$.
The front side of the DAC is pretty plain with a headphone jack and a knob to control music and also a light that lets you know that the device has been powered on. On the back, there are premium gold plated connectors which are perfect for receiving digital audio from different sources. It is very easy to use once you’ve connected it to the source and the speakers. Additionally, it reviewed very well and is known to enhance the sound to a level normal source can never reach.
- It has a high audio conversion rate
- It is just plugged and play via a USB input so there is no hassle for extra wires or anything
- It is very easy to operate because it does not require any drivers to be installed instead you just plug in necessary cables and you are good to go
- The connectors used are very premium quality as they are gold plated
- Volume control is easy as it is on the front panel of the DAC and is very easy to rotate
- It is known to have a shorter life span sometimes
- The sound does not get that high as compared to some others in a similar price range
- Customer service can be a headache if you get any faulty part
2. Best USB: XtremPro X1-1 High-Performance DAC
- It converts MP3 sounds to 24-Bit/96kHz
- It has a 64 position analog sound control
- Has a Sabre DAC chip used in Blu-ray players
- It has a small size of a pen drive.
This product, the XtremPro takes a different take on the DAC technology. It is very different from the other DACs as it is not a proper machine it is just an OTG, which is on the go meaning you can take it anywhere and anytime. Portability is the main thing you are getting here as it is the size of a normal USB that everyone uses.
- It has a very small size which makes it portable and very easy to carry around even in your pocket.
- Enhances the sound of a normal laptop input via headphones
- It drives the headphones directly, no software required
- The conversion chip found in it is found in some bigger and more expensive products
- It comes with 1-year replaceable warranty
- It has a very affordable price
- It only has a headphone jack which limits the connectivity.
- The sound conversion rate is quite less compared to proper DACs
- It does not have any volume knob so you have to use your laptop or headphones to control the volume
- Overall the product does not have many cons and is a very good option for most people.
It boosts the sound quality from a normal size which is extremely convenient looking at its size. On top of that it has a chip for the conversion of sound signals which is more commonly found in CD players and Blu-ray players which is very remarkable and they require an external power input whereas the XtremPro does not require any external source. It supports quite a few forms of signals and if the computer’s software detects it, it will provide you with a great sound experience.
3. Best Budget: PROZOR 192KHz Digital to Analog Converter
- It has a high-quality RTOS decoder chip
- It has a solid build quality with gold plated connectors
- Its starting time is just 3 seconds
- Supports Sampling Rate at 32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 96KHz, 192KHz; 24bit S/ PDIF Incoming Bit Stream on Left and Right Channels
This DAC claims to be a professional, high quality, and cost-effective product. It converts the signals from the source and amplifies them to an analog signal which is then sent to the speaker which enhances the sound quality considerably.
- It comes with a very affordable price tag
- It can work with consoles like the Ps4 and the Ps3
- It has a good construction which is of aluminum
- It has very low to no distortion due to gold plated connectors
- It has a very quick working speed of just 3s
- It requires no drivers and has a simple micro USB power connection
- It does not seem to work with certain television manufacturing companies
- It does not have any volume knob so you will have to use your laptop to control the volume
- Has poor company policy as you can’t return it in case of a faulty product
This PROZOR DAC is made of aluminum as compared to others in a similar price range which are made of ABS plastic material which lacks durability and can break easily. It has gold plated connectors that are used to reduce distortion while amplifying sound and produce better sampling rates. Also, it can be used in family gatherings, schools, and public places to enjoy Dolby experience as it claims to produce an immersive sound experience
4. Best Portable: EarStudio ES100 MK2-24bit DAC
This is an even more advanced form of DAC technology. Like normal DAC, it uses a wire to transmit signals and convert them into amplified analog signals. This DAC is a wireless solution for that, it transmits the audio through the air with the help of Bluetooth. It not only acts as a DAC, but it also makes normal headphones wireless because of its Bluetooth signal transmission. This property makes them one of the best DAC under 200.
This is a revolutionary device because it frees you from the hassle of using wires and even then produces a crisp and clear sound like other DACs. It is operated using an application that is available on the mobile app store. There are many controls that you can have access to using the application. Lastly, it is highly portable as well weighing at just 20 grams and can be easily carried around in the pocket and offers a good battery life which is rechargeable.
- It does what a normal DAC does but does it wirelessly and makes the headphones wireless
- It has a premium build quality that is of metal and a good quality power button
- It is very portable therefore can be easily carried anywhere
- It has an application through which countless functionalities are possible and you can completely customize your listening experience
- It does not have a very long life as it becomes faulty after a few months of usage
- Can be a problem if you need it and it is discharged
- Multiple connections can be a problem
- If you use it with a wire that has a mic on it the adapter won’t work it only works with simple audio cables
5. SMSL M100 USB DAC AK4452
- It has a 2nd gen XMOS chip which accounts for greater signaling
- Has a sampling rate of USB: 44.1 kHz~768 kHz; DSD64、DSD128、DSD256、DSD512
- It uses 1.2 watts of power
- It has high compatibility with all major software
SMSL is a company famous for making these DACs. It is a very successful company that makes good audio products. The SMSL M100 DAC is a very elegant looking audio DAC. It can be hooked up to mobile phones as well as it has an OTG input available to it as well.
It has a high audio input and supports up to 32 Bit/768kHz. And claims to have very low distortion. It is very simple to use and has ample connectivity options and is compatible with all major software including windows 7/8/9/and 10 as well as Mac OS and Linux engine. Lastly, it is still an affordable option under 150.
- It has a very good form factor and is very compact
- It covers all basic software so there is no chance of bad connectivity
- It has a very good range of sound signals through which it operates
- It has a beautiful design with a digital display on the front
- It requires drivers to work at its full potential which is difficult to install
- Sometimes sounds that are below 96 kHz are distorted
6. EPOS Sennheiser GSX 1000 PRO
- Has a binaural audio engine that helps in better quality
- It has an onboard screen which lets you customize its various modes
- Provides a virtual 7.1 sound experience
- It has customizable audio settings
- Has a sound tone system which lets you control your own volume of sound
Sennheiser is considered one of the best if not the best in making audio peripherals. They are a premium brand and offer a premium listening experience. They promise top quality and generally, therefore, their prices are quite high compared to other brands. The Sennheiser GSX 1000 pro is one of the best DACs available in the market and is a very premium offering from Sennheiser and therefore it comes at a cost as well which is not meant for everybody. I is one the best DAC under 200 that available to buy.
Unlike all other DACs, the Sennheiser delivers a 7.1 surround sound experience thanks to its binaural rendering engine. You get specially tuned sound modes and equalizer on the DAC itself which has a touch-sensitive screen that shows its various modes and the volume. The onboard screen of the DAC also enables the mic controls with a dedicated sound tone mode that lets you control your own volume of speaking and is powered by a USB c cable which commonly powers or charges the mobile phones.
- The sound quality is really good when the DAC is working
- The onboard screen is really intuitive and provides a great user experience
- It lets you control all sound settings as well as equalizer without leaving the screen you are on with the touch of just a single button on the screen of the module
- Provides Dolby surround 7.1 sound which provides a very immersive experience to the user
- Has separate controls for chatting, gaming audio which is very convenient
- It has a USB C type power pin which is very easily available
- It is very expensive as compared to many other DACs
- It shows connectivity issues when the computer is turned on it does not restart, the cable of the headphones needs to be removed and then plugged again to get it to work
- It does not support some gaming consoles like the Xbox
7. FiiO E10K USB DAC
- The PCMS chip inside can convert files up to 24/ 96 kHz
- It clears the sound quality by using a linear filter
- Provides a variety of connections on the backside with a headphone jack or a 3.5 mm jack on the front
- It can connect to laptops using a micro USB connection through which it can also be powered
- It has a portable form factor that is made up of sturdy material
- It has a very good form factor and is very compact
- It is very economically priced
- It has good connectivity options
- Due to being very compact, it is very easy to carry around
- It has a solid build quality which is made of brushed metal unlike its competitors in similar price that are made of ABS plastic
- It also has a bass button on the front which lets you turn on and off the bass
- It is very expensive as compared to many other DACs
- The company support is not good. There is no quality advice or instructions that you get in case of any mishap
- Sound quality is not that good it is almost average or below average unlike the company claims
- It does not provide with the cable that connects it to mobile phones
The FiiO E10K is a DAC that has been specially designed to be used with laptops. It has a PCMS 102 DAC chip that boosts the audio source coming from the laptop into a crystal clear experience. The conversion rate is up to 24 kHz/96 kHz. Also, it claims to have a filter and along with a chip, it allows you to customize the sound however you like it to be.
Types Of DACs
There are many types of best DAC under 200 that are commercially available. Following are the types:
Full sized DACs
These DACs are generally abit bigger in size and have a lot of ports and connectivity and don’t cut much corners
These DACS are very small in size and can be carried around in the pockets, but due to smaller size they have less ports so lesser connectivity
These DACs use the technology of Bluetooth and do all the conversion wirelessly
What is a DAC?
A DAC is a product that converts the digital signals coming from a source into analog signals by amplifying the sound and making it better quality when it is listened through the speakers or the headphones. Lastly, if you are looking for a combo then have a look at the best DAC/AMP combo guide.
Can the DAC be used with mobile phones?
If the DAC comes with the necessary ports and wires then yes, it can connect to mobile phones. Although not all DACs can connect to mobiles
Does the DAC boost audio quality?
Yes, it boosts audio quality as well as the bass. Some DACs can even be used to improve microphone quality
Does a DAC work just by plugging in or does it require any software?
Some DACs don’t require any softwares or drivers but some do require you to download them
These were some great options that can be considered when buying a DAC along with the necessary questions . As discussed earlier there are many companies other than these that are making them and this was a guide to 7 different products that may be considered when buying the best DAC under 200.