Best DAC 2022: Our Expert Opinion and Review
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DAC stands for Digital to Analog Converter. Any device that produces digital sound, such as a Blu-ray player, portable music player, Laptop, or even a smartphone, needs a DAC to convert the digital audio to an analog signal before sending it into headphones and speakers. DACs are critical to making digital music worthwhile, because, without DACs, your digital music library is nothing, but a large collection of “0s and 1s” that can only make sense in the digital domain.
Hence, it is really essential to choose the best DACs in the market. To help you out, we’ve listed a detailed review of some best DACs 2022 available in the market.
Best DACs of 2022 – Our Reviews
The Dethonray Honey H1, with a high-quality USB DAC, is a versatile high-end headphone amplifier. The high-end metal materials that have been used in the amplifier are finely polished and finished, and give you the ultimate sense of luxury. Honey H1 aspires to provide the best listening experience possible. It’s an exceptionally well-designed piece of hardware, both internally and externally, that’s made to the greatest standards. Besides, it’s undeniably one of the best-sounding DACs in recent times; with so much power, it can even surpass the desktop amplifier.
- The Dethonray Honey H1 DAC uses a superior AK4497 DAC chip.
- With a 32-bit 2-channel new generation DAC using VELVET SOUND technology, the DAC achieves the industry’s best low distortion and broad dynamic range levels.
- The Honey H1 has native decoding capabilities for PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD128.
- The maximum power output for a single end is 6Vrms and for balanced output is 6.2Vrms.
- It has a 5300 mAH battery with a battery life of 8 to 10 hours.
What Do We Like About Dethonray Honey H1 DAC
Considering the performance and sound quality, this is one of the best DACs that you can get in 2022. A very powerful DAC, the Dethonray Honey H1 has a single-ended headphone out with a power of 6Vrms (32Ohm) and a balanced headphone out with a power of 6.2Vrms to offer the best listening experience. This is the feature that we liked the best. Besides, the sound intensity of the product is exceptional making each output flawless. Besides, the DAC has an elegant design with a blue chassis that is built using a high-precision CNC machining technique and golden-colored volume knobs. This DAC can power a wide range of IEMs, even the most sensitive ones to the ones with the highest impedance.
What We Don’t Like About Dethonray
The product has only a few drawbacks such as lack of mac support, low gip to the volume dial, etc.
AudioQuest’s new DAC, the DragonFly Cobalt, brings out naturally beautiful, seductive sound, just as music lovers need it, and removes fuzz and fog that were hardly discernible before Cobalt. This much-awaited DAC from AudioQuest has a robust volt output to drive practically any headphone and uses bit-perfect digital volume control for an amazing signal-to-noise ratio, to allow seamless compatibility to both Apple and Android devices.
- DragonFly Cobalt comes with a 32-bit ESS Sabre ES9038Q2M DAC chip which has a minimum-phase filter to bring out a nuanced, dynamic sound experience.
- Compared to Dragonfly red, Cobalt DAC has 33% more processing speed, and to ensure extremely low power draw, a high-efficiency microcontroller too.
- MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files can be rendered with this DAC and it also has a stream length protocol for better sound quality.
- Compatible with windows, android, and ios devices.
- It has a 3.5mm stereo minijack with 64-step, bit-perfect digital volume control, and variable line-level output for driving powered speakers.
- The DAC has a headphone amplifier of high-performance ESS Sabre 9601 and supports up to 96kHz native resolution PCM.
What Do We Like About Cobalt DAC
There are not so many DACs with high-end audio as accessible and simple as Audioquest’s original Dragonfly Cobalt. The sound quality is fantastic, with a low-noise presentation. However, the greatest highlight is its efficiency, as it can power all of your audio devices even with its small size. You can even slip this device into your pocket or bag and still, it can decode exceptionally high-resolution music files with up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. Another feature that we like about the Cobalt is its high processing speed and stunning ESS ES9038Q2M DAC feature that can offer high-quality, clear sound output.
Finally, the device has an appealing design and its improved filtering reduces unnecessary background disturbances, which means hear, you’ll hear every tiny detail in the music from speakers or headphones.
What We Don’t Like About Cobalt DAC
Sometimes it lacks a balanced circuit and has limitations while decoding high-resolution signals.
The Sprout100 combines the information of the past with the technology of the present. It is just a straightforward, classy source of music for listeners seeking high-quality sound without any complications. It represents the vision of a straightforward, tasteful method for playing music at home. It has been designed for those of us who like high-quality sound without the inconveniences that can occasionally accompany it.
- The DAC has a full-featured integrated AMP.
- Built with a 100-watt-per-channel power amplifier that can drive any type of loudspeaker.
- Inputs are DSD through USB, HDMI, Firewire, Coaxial, Optical, and Clock.
- Standard headphone jack, as well as one set of RCA connections and one set of XLR ports, are used as outputs.
- It has an adjustable ALPS potentiometer which can be used to refine the volume controls.
- It can handle different sources such as analog line level, digital via Toslink, vinyl, digital via USB, and wireless Bluetooth.
- A new discrete “zero impedance Z-feedback” circuit is included in the built-in headphone amplifier.
What Do We Like About Sprout100
The simplicity of Sprout100 makes it appealing and accessible to everyone, and that is something that attracted us the most. Sprout100 is geared to drive your loudspeakers and headphones better than ever before, with lucid spatial detail, powerful noise resistance, and acute tone retrieval. The Sprout100 is the only product of its sort in the PS Audio portfolio, measuring just 6.2 inches wide. With an all-metal chassis and a real walnut wood top, it’s both well-designed and well-built.
When it comes to sound quality, both the speaker and headphone amplifiers produce a beautiful sound that appears to be worth more than the asking price. The bass boost on the Sprout100 is one of the more distinctive features, which is done really elegantly, enhancing the low end to the point where you can hear a difference but not in an irritating way.
Finally, it’s the soundstage! The soundstage often extends beyond the speaker’s wide soundstage, and the depth of the soundstage is really appreciable. The imaging is clear all around, and the speakers themselves can boldly tackle the more obscure areas between the centers too.
What We Don’t Like About Sprout100
Volume control could’ve been improved and it doesn’t have more remote control features.
The Pro iDSD from IFI is more than just an amplifier. It’s an all-in-one high-resolution streamer, amplifier, and external DAC. The Pro iDSD is without a doubt iFi Audio’s most complex and technically advanced DAC to date. The DAC comes with powerful headphone output with adjustable gain and a trio of balanced and single-ended headphone outputs to provide you with a complete listening experience. Volume control with remote is also included, allowing for direct DAC-to-amplifier connectivity.
- Upgraded PSB and 4.4mm output. It offers balanced outputs of 4200 MW and single-ended outputs of 1,575 MW.
- Extremely convenient in a way that streaming audio from Tidal, Spotify, etc can be played on Wifi for up to 24 bit/192 kHz high resolution.
- Compatible with a tablet, laptop, digital audio player, Android, or iPhone.
- This DAC has a SPDIF optical Toslink jack that could help you to connect the DVD.
- The audio circuit of the amplifier is completely discrete, fully balanced, and switchable between tube and J-FET inputs.
What Do We Like About IFI Pro IDSD
One of the first and best things that we noticed about the iDSD is that it is built to be at the heart of an audio network, capable of handling any file format, including DSD, MP3, and even MQA. It’s also capable of serving as the “brain” of a two-channel digital audio system and can manage and switch sources as well as adjust volume upstream of other components like a power amplifier.
The Pro iDSD can also be used as a source or playback device. It can play digital music files stored on board through a Micro-SD card. Another feature that we like is the availability of filters. You can choose your favorite preset while listening to music. Besides, you can connect the device wirelessly or the other way to your home network. Considering all these features, this unit would form a nice and capable system when paired with a solid set of active speakers.
What We Don’t Like About the IFI Pro IDSD
It is comparatively expensive. Besides, the output sometimes lacks rhythmic precision.
We’ve given the top DAC options that you can choose from this year. If we have to suggest one, we’ll suggest Dethonray Honey H1. However, if you are a Mac user, you might’ve to go with the other ones. Here’s a tip, do read the specifications carefully and decide accordingly.
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