Best DACs under 100 $ [buyer’s guide 2018]

Best DACs under 100 $
Best DACs under 100 $

If you are looking for Best DACs under 100 $ you are at the right place. A DAC generally takes digital data and converts it into an analog signal. The analog signal passes to an amplifier. Whenever you are hearing an audio on your mobile or any digital device, it’s an analog audio. As most of the things DACs come in different shapes, sizes and quality. Devices like your smartphone have the basic DAC which are good enough to fulfill your basic needs. In old times the storage medium of music mainly recorded. When those records were placed under needles an electric analog signal was created. Those electric analog signals then go to amplifiers. And from there to speakers to finally become sound to meet the ear.

At those times we never needed DACs, but with advancements of technology, there were changes in the sound industry as well. Now storage medium of music is digital. Though it has made the process of storing and portability easy, at first came with its own challenges. DAC is the solution to those challenges. The first thing which comes to your mind after knowing about DAC is whether its presence in your existing device or not. Yes, you already have a DAC in your device. So, why do you need another DAC is the second question. Since in most of the cases the existing DAC is pretty basic, you need an outbound DAC for better sound quality. In this article, we will discuss the best DACs under 100 $ and how to buy the perfect one for you.

 

Best DACs under 100$ Comparison Table

Product NameImageDimensionWeightPrice
FiiO E10K USB DAC3.1 x 0.8 x 1.9 inches2.72 ounces Check Price
Creative Sound Blaster E34.1 x 1.9 x 5.5 inches4.8 ounces Check Price
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD9 x 6.3 x 2.4 inches1.12 pounds Check Price
AudioQuest - DragonFly2.4 x 0.8 x 1.2 inches2.08 ounces Check Price
SMSL SD793-II PCM1793 DIR9001 DAC8.9 x 6.7 x 2.5 inches14.4 ounces Check Price
Fiio E17K ALPEN 2 USB DAC4.1 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches3.84 ounces Check Price
FiiO Q1 Portable USB DAC3.8 x 2.2 x 0.5 inches3.52 ounces Check Price
Fiio K1 Portable Headphone Amplifier & DAC2 x 0.3 x 2 inches12.8 ounces Check Price
FX Audio DAC-X6 24BIT/192 Optical/Coaxial/USB DAC5.8 x 3.8 x 1.3 inches1.2 pounds Check Price
Syba SD-DAC63094 USB 2.0 24 bit 96KHz DAC6.8 x 3.8 x 1.5 inches8 ounces Check Price

 

FiiO E10K USB DAC


FiiO E10K is one of the best DACs under 100 $ which comes with a portable design. The sleek rectangular aluminum shell makes the unit rugged and durable. An optimized low-pass filter in combination with a selectable bass boost circuit ensures a low noise floor. The best part of this unit is its volume knob. It is connected to a bright LED indicator which can be easily viewed in daylight. The volume knob generates a click when it is turned on. It has a PCM102 internal DAC chip which can handle PCM files up to 24-bit/96kHz.

You will get multiple connectivity options in the device. There is a 1/8″ front-panel headphone jack, a 1/8″ rear-panel line output, and a rear-panel coaxial digital output. These options allow you to send your audio to the desired destination. You can also connect it to your laptop with the micro USB slot which is also used to provide it power. The unit is an improvised version of FiiO E10, hence it inherits a lot of features from it. You will get a FiiO E10K DAC, a USB cable, rubber feet, a manual and a warranty card with the unit. You will also get a 1-year warranty for the product.

 

Pros
  • Small Size.
  • Versatile.
  • Low noise floor.
Cons
  • None.

 

Creative Sound Blaster E3


Creative Sound Blaster E3 is one of the best DACs under 100 $ with a matte finished body case. You will get a 3.28 ft micro USB-to USB cable, 2.62 ft 4-pole analog cable and on-the-go cable with the unit. The unit is compact which makes it easy for you to carry around. The best part of the unit is it’s Bluetooth connectivity which makes it really mobile. Now you can throw the mobile in your bag and still enjoy the high-quality music with your earphone. It also allows you to answer your phone over Bluetooth.

There are some complaints about the connectivity of Bluetooth time though. It comes with a powerful clip which allows you to hook it anywhere without worries of getting it lost. There is Bluetooth/power button, play/pause/answer button on one side and forward/backward, volume up/down on another. These buttons provide you ease of use. You will find the unit generous in outbound connectivity as well. There are two headphones out jack, micro USB port and a 3.5 mm line-in jack to increase your outbound connectivity.

 

Pros
  • Lightweight.
  • Good Performance.
  • Charging cable can transmit audio from your computer.
Cons
  • Doesn’t work so well as a headset for making calls.

 

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD

Creative sound blaster X-Fi DAC is another addition in the list of best DACs under 100 $. It is an audiophile grade sound system with gold plated connectivity for your device. The front panel includes headphone and microphone jacks with a volume knob. It has THX TruStudio Pro which gives you same audio experience as in live performances, films and recording studios. The rear panel has an optical I/O, gold-plated stereo RCA I/O and an integrated phono preamp.

Creative media toolbox software allows you to record, playback, cleanup and organize your digital music collection. With help of its audiophile grade components, the unit provides you unsurpassed USB audio quality with a signal-to-noise ratio of 114 dB. The phono preamp with RIAA EQ can convert your vinyl to MP3 easily. The only disadvantage you will find with the product is it’s not returnable. So you may have to think about all expects before making the purchase. This quality DAC is a perfect choice for gamers based on its capabilities. It does lack a 3.5 mm audio jack, which means you may need a .25″ to 3.5 mm adapter.


Pros
  • EAX and X-Fi support.
  • Versatile connections.
  • Crystal Clear Audio.
Cons
  • No Mac OS X support.

 

AudioQuest – DragonFly

AudioQuest Dragonfly fits perfectly in the list of best DACs under 100 $ with its small size. If you want to enter in the world of audiophilia this is your best choice as entry level DAC. This is a 32-bit ESS 9010 saber DAC which can handle up to 96kHz. The dragonfly LED light changes in different colors according to filesize playback. Different colors are green for 44.1kHz, blue for 48kHz, amber for 88.2kHz and magenta for 96kHz. It gives you high-quality sound, higher value and lower power consumption in comparison with other DACs.

The unit can easily work with apple and android phones, tablets, PC and Laptops with help of a simple adapter. Build quality of the unit is pretty good and has an excellent finish. The size is small enough to be mistaken as a pen drive. You can put them in your pocket, bag or even keep attached to the desired devices. The installation of the unit is pretty easy and takes a couple of minutes to set up. While using with PC or Laptop you may have to configure and select it instead of default sound card.

Pros
  • Ultra convenient and Portable.
  • Great build even for such a small piece.
  • Remarkable sound quality.
Cons
  • None.

 

SMSL SD793-II PCM1793 DIR9001 DAC

The SMSL SD793-II is one of the best DACs under 100 $ with Hi-Fi stereo quality. SD793-II decoder uses the top digital receiver chip dir9001. With help of the classic combination of dir9001, pcm1793, and opa2134 it produces high-quality sound. The unit uses high-quality aluminum for the case and custom anti-slipping solid aluminum for the knob. There is a slight channel imbalance in the minimal finish of the dial. That imbalance can be overcome with minimal changes in the configuration while setup.

It is the best option for your Xbox, tv, ps4, music system, etc. The unit has a quarter-inch headphone out, coaxial and optical interface for connectivity. It does lack a USB port which is kind of a disadvantage in terms of connectivity. While buying you will get a choice of colors between black and silver. The setup is pretty easy, you just have to plug in respected lines. The frequency response is between 20Hz to 20kHz, while the dynamic range of the unit is 105dB.

 

Pros
  • Has inbuilt 12v 1A power adapter.
  • Zero noise distortion.
  • Greater frequency response.
Cons
  • Delay response.
  • Have no ASIO driver and low latency.

 

Buyer’s guide for Best DACs under 100 $

There are a lot of options available when it comes to best DACs under 100 $. But the price is not the only factor when you are planning to buy a DAC.

Things you must know before buying Best DACs under 100 $

There are multiple things like size, quality, performance which needs to be analyzed before making the purchase. Here we will discuss the above-mentioned factors and some terminologies which you must know as a DAC buyer.

Types of DAC

There is a long list of types, but here we will talk about the main three types based on their uses.

Standalone DACs

Standalone DACs are powerful and bigger version of DACs. They offer more details, better power supply, and way better sound quality in comparison with other DACs. These units are not portable and are meant for serious audiophiles only.

DAC/Headphone amplifiers

These DACs are the miniature version of standalone DACs. They require less power and are quite portable.

Portable DACs

As clear from the name Portable DACs are small sized DACs. You can use them with your laptop, tablets, mobile, and PC as well. They require less power, sometimes battery operated. They generally come with USB connectivity which often is used as a power source as well.

Conclusion

Here at best10lab, we discussed best DACs under 100 $ and their types. Now you have enough knowledge about DACs so that you can choose the best product for you. While choosing the product you must keep in mind for what you are going to use it. If your uses include mobiles and tablets you are advised to go with portable DACs. They are pretty small in size and can be used with almost every device. If you are not planning to move the DACs much you have options to choose from standalone and general DACs based on your budget.

 

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