Best Portable and Headphone DAC Amp

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Whether you’re looking to get the most accurate reproduction of your digital music or get the best performance out of your headphones, portable digital to analog converters, or DAC’s for short, are just what you’re looking for! These devices can be a game changer for the width, depth, clarity and dynamics of the sound you hear out of your music playing device.

Below I’ve consolidated a list of some of the best portable DAC’s/headphone amps available on the market.

Chord Mojo

Best Sounding
Oppo - HA2 SE

Best Quality for Price
Audio Quest - Dragonfly Red

Simplest Solution
FiiO - Q1


Least Expensive
Price (approx) $530 $310 $195 $55
Max Resolution 768 kHz, 32-bit 384 kHz, 32-bit 96kHz, 24-bit 96kHz, 24-bit
Inputs Micro USB, 3.5 mm jack, optical USB 2.0, 3.5 mm jack USB Micro USB, 3.5 mm jack
Outputs 2 x 3.5 mm jack 3.5 mm jack 3.5 mm jack 3.5 mm jack
DAC Chip Chord Custom - FPGA ESS Sabre - ES9028-Q2M ESS 9016 TI- PCM5102
Battery 10 hour 13 hour Passive - no battery 30 hour
Where to buy? Amazon $529
eBay $400 (used)
Amazon $309
eBay $250 (used)
Amazon $195
eBay $150 (used)
Amazon $55
eBay $70 (new)

Chord Mojo: Best Overall

While you likely wont be playing audio files at 768kHz / 32 bit… Chord’s Mojo offers top-of-theline custom DAC chips featuring programmable processors. Chord is noted in the hifi world as some of the best sounding convertors available. Nothing to disappoint here.

Pros: Best sounding portable solution for your audiophile needs
Cons: The unit can get a bit hot when plugged in for extended periods of time

Oppo - HA2 SE: Best Bang for your Buck

As a more practically priced solution to your DAC needs, Oppo HA2 SE offers a sleek design with no compromise for sound quality. The design fits comfortably alongside any smart phone and you can even charge it! Additionally, its battery offers 13 hours of analog playback.

Pros: Excellent quality sound, sleek design, charging options
Cons: Unnecessary bass boost feature

AudioQuest - Dragonfly RED: Simple, Quality Solution

Certainly the most simple and most compact DAC on the list. The Red comes in a USB “thumb drive” enclosure making it super easy to plug and play via computers. People on-the-go will need to find an adaptor, like Apple’s camera kit adaptor or Android/OTG adaptor to connect to your phone or portable music player. Also available is the Black version which has less power amplification output for roughly half the cost.

Pros: No battery to charge, simple, small, and portable
Cons: Requires adaptor for portable devices 

FiiO Q1: Affordable DAC

Certainly the most simple and most compact DAC on the list. The Red comes in a USB “thumb drive” enclosure making it super easy to plug and play via computers. People on-the-go will need to find an adaptor, like Apple’s camera kit adaptor or Android/OTG adaptor to connect to your phone or portable music player. Also available is the Black version which has less power amplification output for roughly half the cost.

Pros: No battery to charge, simple, small, and portable
Cons: Requires adaptor for portable devices 

Author: Sean Nielsen