Best DACs under 500 $ in 2019 [Must read]

Best DACs under 500
Best DACs under 500

After days of researching, we are finally giving you a complete list of the best DACs under 500 $. Generally, you use a DAC to get the best audio quality out of your sound device. DAC is an acronym for the digital-to-analog converter. It simply converts digital audio signals into analog audio signals. With advancements of technology, there are multiple DACs with different prices in the market. In this article, we will discuss how each type of DAC differs from each other and what makes them best in business. Each of your audio devices has a built-in DAC. Cheaply implemented DACs sometimes pick electrical noises from inside your audio source.

It generally results in hissing, crackling and static interferences. If you are experiencing these things or weird sounding audio or weak quality sound you definitely need a DAC. We are seeing a lot of improvement in Motherboard audio systems in recent years. Still, there are some audio files which do require an external DAC to open up their real sound quality. If you want to explore the high-end world of audio and music you definitely need a DAC. There are different types of DACs available in the market. Some are best for headphones, while others work perfectly with home stereos. Many DACs are built keeping the flexibility of uses in mind.

 

Best DACs under 500

 

Product NameImageDimensionWeightPrice
Audioengine D1 24-bit DAC1.5 x 1.4 x 0.4 inches1 pounds Check Price
CHORD Electronics Mojo5.1 x 4.1 x 1.9 inches9.4 ounces
Check Price
Creative Sound Blaster X710.6 x 7.8 x 9.5 inches4.82 pounds
Check Price
Oppo HA-22.7 x 0.5 x 5.4 inches1.15 pounds
Check Price
FiiO E12A Mont Blanc IEM4.9 x 2.6 x 0.6 inches5.9 ounces
Check Price
Apogee GROOVE3.7 x 1.2 x 0.6 inches0.32 ounces
Check Price
Nero-XD 200W HiFi DAC12.4 x 9.1 x 3.2 inches
4.03 pounds
Check Price
SMSL Sanskrit 6th 32bit5.8 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches
1.49 pounds
Check Price
Cayin Spark C5 DAC7.2 x 4.7 x 2.1 inches
1.05 pounds
Check Price
Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus7.5 x 8.5 x 2 inches
2.65 pounds
Check Price

 

Audioengine D1 24-bit DAC


Audioengine D1 24-bit is our top choice in the list of the best DACs under 500 $. It is a standalone DAC with a headphone amplifier. The unit is a USB powered device without any battery backup. To use it you have to hook it to the computer with USB then plug your headphones. It is also capable of using an optical connection. The unit comes in a plain box which is designed to protect its contents. It can be used with PC and Mac both. You can use it with headphones, speakers, TV as well as sound systems.

The TV needs to have an optical out and sound systems need to have 3.5 or RCA input. It also covers a 3-year warranty which is pretty good. Audioengine D1 uses the AK4396 DAC, which generates 24-bit 96 kHz via USB or 24-bit 192 kHz via optical. It is very easy to set up and requires no software. This makes it the true plug-and-play solution for all your audiophile needs. You will find the unit compatible with a long range of headphones. The most demanding headphones satisfaction makes it an ideal choice for music lovers.

 

Pros

  • Refined.
  • Well-balanced.
  • Informative sound.
Cons
  • Lacks a touch of precision.

 

CHORD Electronics Mojo


If you can cross the line little Chord Mojo is our second choice in the list of the best DACs under 500 $. The chord mojo gives you a lot of experience of chord Hugo at a fraction of its price. Mojo is a short form of ‘Mobile joy’. It truly justifies the name when it comes to user experience. The unit is designed differently from traditional DACs. Instead of using off-the-shelf DAC chips like its competitors the unit utilizes a powerful processor with proprietary software. You will find it the size equivalent to a credit card. This makes it truly portable.

The unit has minimum control buttons. There are three ball-shaped buttons which control power and audio. Another great feature of this unit is an indication of input signals by lighting colors on buttons. These colors and frequencies are detailed in the side of the box in which the unit comes. Chord has designed it beautifully to fit a lot of connections and options. There are options for micro USB, optical and coax, and a charging USB. It takes around 10 hours to get fully charged in first use. Once charged it lasts for around 8 hours. After that, it only takes 4 hours to get fully charged.

 

Pros

  • Informative, subtle and dynamic sound.
  • Fine rhythmic drive.
  • Solid build and good finish.
  • Portable.
Cons
  • Runs warm and gets hot when charging the battery.

 

Creative Sound Blaster X7

Creative Sound Blaster X7 is one of the best DACs under 500 $, especially for gamers. The unit comes in a unique triangular prism shape. It works with most of the current operating systems like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It supports 24-bit 192 kHz high-resolution audio which enables you to extract great sound quality from games, movies, and music. The Burr-Brown PCM1794 127dB DAC is backed by a built-in Dolby Digital decoder to give you true cinematic experience. Most satisfying fact is it comes with seven different types of power cords.

Seems the company wanted to make sure you can use it all around the globe. Apart from that it also includes a micro USB cable, a headphone stand, and two RCA cables. You are also going to love the front design of the unit. It contains a large metallic volume knob which can also be pressed to mute and unmute. Below that there is a Power/Bluetooth button, a Dolby Digital indicator and an SBX button. There is also a mic-in jack, a 6.3 mm and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

 

Pros

  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Agile sound.
  • Distinctive appearance.
  • Adjustability provided by app.
Cons
  • Price puts it up against some tough competition.
  • Lack of sonic insight and dynamic thrust.

 

Oppo HA-2

OPPO HA-2 is a beautifully designed DAC packed in an aluminum and leather casing. It is the best DAC under 500 $ designed for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. You will get input for USB and mini USB along with two headphone jacks for optimal matching. The unit is similar to a slim mobile in size and is pretty lightweight. The best part is its multipurpose uses. You can use it as a DAC as well as a mobile power bank. It gets fully charged in 90 minutes and gives you 7 to 13 hours of battery life. The unit comes with a 5 mm interconnect, OTG cable for Android, USB cable of iOS and micro B charging cable with charger.

The right side of the unit has 4 LED lights which show the remaining charge. It also has a button to activate the LEDs and two switches to toggle low/high gain and bass boost. On the top of the device, there is a volume knob. The knob also acts as a power on/off switch. The unit has a saber ES 9018-K2M DAC chip with an AB amplifier. With its help, the unit produces a very clean and detailed sound. It also supports a wide range of files and sampling frequencies. The slim and lightweight design allows you to strap it with any mobile.

 

Pros

  • Well balanced.
  • Dynamically sensitive.
  • Portable and widely compatible.
Cons
  • Design won’t be to everybody’s taste.

 

FiiO E12A Mont Blanc IEM

FiiO E12A is another gem in the list of best DACs under 500 $. The chassis of the unit is made up of aluminum alloy which is quite durable and fancy altogether. There is a USB point for charging on one side of the DAC. On top of it, there is a charging indicator which blinks according to the time taken to charge. it can be charged fully via a laptop in 3 hours. On side of the charging point, there is a bass boost switch. The most important dial is the combination of on/off switch and volume. Next to the volume dial is Gain switch.

It increases the voltage and volume level depending on the headphone. This allows you to use the volume dial with more precision. Next, to the Gain switch, the headphone output and Line-in input are located. The unit comes with a USB charging cable and a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm connection cable. There is also 2 rubber bands and a soft carry pouch with the unit. The rubber bands are supposed to help you in stacking the unit with your desired audio player. The best part of the unit is its battery capabilities. First, it gets charged in maximum 3 hours and once charged it lasts over 20 hours.

 

Pros

  • Fuller sound for IEM’s.
  • Great bass boost.
  • Portable.
  • Great battery life.
Cons
  • Could be thinner.

 

Buyer’s Guide

A DACs performance doesn’t only rely on “The Chip”. It also depends on engineers sum of experience, design, PCB layout, grounding and component selection. A DAC transforms digital signals into audible analog signals. The major difference between an internal inbuilt and external DAC is precision and quality. To choose the best DAC under 500 $ there are couple things you need to keep in mind. The first thing which comes in our mind before shopping is budget. Since you already have finalized it you should look into below points for making the best judgment. If you want to lower your budget you can have a look at our analysis of best DACs under 100 $.

Portability

DACs come in different shapes and sizes. While choosing the one you have to keep in mind where you are going to use it. A small and lightweight DAC can be used with your mobile, headphone as well as your computer.

Connectivity

Another major point which should not be missed while buying the DAC is its connectivity. You will have to check which mode of available connectivity you are compatible with. Today DACs support USB, wireless, traditional methods of connectivity, etc.

Compatibility

Although most of the brands support all major operating systems and devices. Still, there are some units which are built keeping specific OS like iOS in mind. So it’s always advised to double check the compatible devices and OS before purchase.

Power Source

When looking for portable DACs one major issue we face is the power source. Not all DACs run on battery and some DACs even work as a power bank. So pick your portion carefully.

Conclusion

We at best10lab has provided you a detailed analysis of best DACs under 500 $. With the help of detailed analysis and buyer’s guide, we are sure you can make the right decision. Happy Shopping.

 

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