DAC/AMP Combo Recommendations - Headfonia Reviews

On this page, you’ll find our best DAC/AMP Combo recommendations of this moment. This is an ever-evolving list and the units are ranked from cheap to expensive.


Portable DAC/AMP

Moondrop Dawn [Added 09/08/2022]

After Moonriver 2, Kato, and Variations, I had big expectations and it is quite pleasing to say that my expectations were met. The Dawn offers excellent sound quality, and great build and design. It has a compact and portable form factor and has enough juice to drive almost anything you’d need on the go.

The Dawn deserved every last bit of this recommendation. If you are looking for a solid DAC up to $150 USD, be sure to give this one a try. It will surprise you!

$69 from Moondrop

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/moondrop-dawn-review/

iFi Audio Uno Award

iFi Audio Uno [Added 29/01/2023]

Let’s make it short: for the price, the iFi Uno is a very compelling device. Build quality is nice, form-factor is great and the sound is impressive. Top that with a complete I/O thanks to 3.5 + RCA and USB-C, and it can virtually work with everything you own, as a DAC/Amp or a pure DAC

If you’re new to the audiophile game and just want something powerful, affordable, and small enough to drive your desktop headphone, the Uno can be an excellent solution. Its versatility is gold and most of all, it’s almost chi-fi cheap, and pocket tiny so you can fit it almost anywhere on your deck. Big kudos. To our list of Recommended DAC/AMP combos it goes, where we list our Best DAC/AMPs.

$79 from iFi Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ifi-audio-uno-review/

FiiO E10K TC [Added 12/09/2021]

The new FiiO E10K TC is a nice release from FiiO as it shows they’re still believing their legendary product in terms of performance. For just 82$, you get great output power and a neutral sound signature with great detail, resolution, and transparency. This is an unbeatable performance for the price.

If you are looking for a tiny device to drive your full-size headphones, I don’t know whether there’s a cheaper option than the E10K TC.

$82,99 from FiiO

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-e10k-tc-review/

ddHifi TC44B

ddHifi TC44B [Added 28/12/2020]

The market of compact DAC/AMP modules is getting stronger and better each month. ddHifi with all of their units, and especially this TC44B, prove they are one of the most important players when it comes to high price/performance ratios in miniature-sized portable units.

For $89 USD you get a pocketable and surprisingly well-performing DAC/AMP which you can use with both your laptop as well as your smartphone. At this price level, I really don’t have anything in my portable collections that come close to the performance of the ddHifi TC44B. It’s an easily recommended buy at this price. Well done ddHifi.

€89 from ddHifi

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ddhifi-tc44b-review/

E1DA 9038D

E1DA 9038D [Added 07/09/2021]

In my opinion, Ivan’s 9038D is an engineering marvel. It is a great achievement to be able to squeeze such a high-performance device into such a small chassis, which not only performs well on paper but also in real life.

The E1DA deserves maybe 2, maybe 3 times the price tag and if you’re looking for a DAC to carry with you, you should absolutely check it out. It is easy-to-use, practical and multifunctional. I had trouble finding anything negative about it!

$99 from E1DA

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/e1da-9038d-review/


AFUL SnowyNight [Added 05/03/2023]

The SnowyNight is a great DAC AMP that can rival the dongles that are above its price bracket. This is the main reason why I believe the SN offers excellent value. It is an immensely clean and resolving DAC AMP that can dish out an impressive amount of juice. I recommend giving it a try, and you’ll be surprised.

$109 from AFUL

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/aful-snowynight-review/


iBasso DC04PRO [Added 15/03/2023]

If it was not clear already, iBasso is back in the game! If I liked the DC03Pro, I LOVED the DC04PRO, and this new model is simply better on every level!

So, let’s make it short: for the price, the iBasso DC04Pro is my new champion, in the sub-$150 category: build quality is exquisite, power is impressive, sound is superb – but linear – and the dual output is more than welcome. For the price, this is a no-brainer – unless you’re really, really, tight on budget. Add to that, the fact that it draws less power than before, plus the physical volume control, and this DAC/Amp ticks all the right boxes.

So yes, this DAC/AMP goes directly in my recommendation list, and if you’re out for a dongle DAC , you should definitely try this one first, or at least add it to your list. 

$129 from iBasso

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ibasso-dc04pro-review/

Fiio KA17

FiiO KA17 [Added 28/02/2024]

Let’s be simple: the FiiO KA17 is the best dongle-sized DAC/Amp that the brand has to offer nowadays.

Sound-wise, it’s better on every level, polishing the previous formula with various enhancements like tougher lows, a wider soundstage, and a desktop mode that unlocks a level of power usually found on… desktop devices. And if the sound prowess were not enough already, you can top that with praise-worthy build quality, an Oled screen that truly works, and a conception design that makes it the perfect companion for any of your digital sources – my Steam deck loves it.

A fantastic device that truly feels like an upgrade compared to the KA13 and KA5, making it the perfect addition to your portable setup. A must-have going directly onto my recommended list!

$149 from FiiO

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-ka17-review/

iFi Audio hip-dac 3 [Added: 11/01/2024]

The iFi Audio hip-dac 3 successfully builds upon its predecessor’s strengths, offering an improved sound experience in a portable form factor. With its engaging sound signature and enhanced design, it confidently earns its place as a recommended DAC/Amp combo for on-the-go music enthusiasts.

Beyond its sonic prowess, the hip-dac 3 prioritizes user convenience, offering plug-and-play functionality and thoughtful features like IEMatch and PowerMatch switches. While the xBass feature might not resonate with everyone, its inclusion adds versatility to cater to varied music preferences.

199 $ from iFi Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ifi-audio-hip-dac-3-review/

EarMen Sparrow

EarMen Sparrow [Added 19/07/2020]

EarMen with the Sparrow promised a lot but they also delivered in all possible ways. For only $199 you get a US/EU product with a single-ended as well as a balanced output, and especially the latter one is magical. The Sparrow is an affordable and tiny device that you can carry around with you at all times. Just hook it up to your phone or laptop and be amazed at how good it sounds.

The Sparrow is a very easy product to recommend at this price point, and it joins the best of the best on our Recommended DAC/AMP buy list. If you want a small, portable DAC/AMP with a balanced output, there’s no doubt at all about which one to get.

$199 from EarMen

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/earmen-sparrow-review/

Violectric Chronos [Added 28/11/2021]

Violectric Chronos is the best USB dongle I’ve ever listened to. As the first-ever portable product from Violectric, this is quite a success. The Chronos has excellent build quality, simple operation, and a minimalistic design with elegance.

The sound quality is excellent and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a tiny laptop/smartphone DAC/Amp companion on the go. The price is a bit steep compared to other USB dongles, but I’m sure you’ll be surprised by the sound when you try it with your phone/PC.

If you don’t like to carry an additional DAP with you, you can get the Chronos and have an almost entry-level DAP performance in a miniature chassis.

199 from Violectric

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/violectric-chronos-review/


Cayin RU7

Cayin Audio RU7 [Added 01/07/2023]

The Cayin RU7 has a tuning which is more to the neutral side, but with its full body and powerful, controlled bass impact, it is a very musical and engaging DAC/AMP dongle.

You get the lovely precision and clarity from the 1-Bit Resistor Ladder DAC, combined with an excellent technical level and great dynamics. The Cayin RU7 delivers a precise and immersive sound, with a wonderful timbre and lovely harmonics. Cayin has managed to deliver a small, well-designed and top-performing DAC/AMP dongle, using the popular 1-Bit tech. As this technology and the advantages it has, is super popular for the moment, I am sure we will see many more 1-Bit and R2R dongles in the near future. The question will be if they can reach the RU7’s performance and quality, as Cayin has certainly set the bar very high.

The only downside I can see is the power delivery for full-sized headphones, so do take that into account.

$289,99 USD from Cayin Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/cayin-ru7-review/

Topping g5 [Added 21/02/2022]

I think Topping has done an incredibly good job with the G5, with the best price-performance ratio I’ve seen in a while. It is built well, it has LDAC and it sounds fantastic. It can drive ninety percent of the headphones that is available on the market and it provides a hiss-free experience for IEMs. It offers a decent battery life and is priced competitively. The G5 is Topping’s ticket to the portable market and I believe they have made a prestigious entry. I absolutely recommend trying it. You’re in for a treat.

$299 from Topping

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/topping-g5-review/

AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt

Now does all this mean you need to upgrade to the Cobalt? No, not really as the RED still is really good as well and sells for a very fair price. Yes, as the DragonFly Cobalt is better, more natural. And if you like technicalities, you’ll for sure prefer the latest version. Some on the other hand will prefer the typical tuning of the RED over that of the new Cobalt.

If you don’t have a DragonFly yet, I would recommend going for the Cobalt for sure as it’s the best of the trio. The RED still is a really nice alternative if you’re on a lower budget or if you prefer RED’s tuning, of course.

$299 from AudioQuest

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/audioquest-dragonfly-cobalt-review/

Luxury&Precision W2 (12)

Luxury & Precision W2 [Added 26/10/2021]

The Luxury & Precision W2 is one of the better USB DAC/AMP dongles I have tried and the price/quality ratio is very nice. It also offers a whole lot of tuning options and it has a nice little screen on top of it. If you like a full-bodied sound with a high level of technicalities as well as bigger bass and easy treble, and that is delivered in a smoother and warmer way, then the L&P W2 dongle will be perfect for you.

$299.99 from L&P

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/luxury-precision-w2-review/

EarMen Colibri

EarMen Colibri  [Added 28/04/2022]

I have really enjoyed using the EarMen Colibri. I was a bit afraid of its size but in reality, it’s still small and it doesn’t bother you at all when on the go.

Sound-wise the Colibri with the ESS DAC chip performs well with a full presence and a natural and musical delivery. Not only does the Colibri sound good, but you also have a battery inside. This means you get a super clear sound, and it also doesn’t draw power from your source’s battery. On top of that you can control the volume via the device and engage a bass boost when needed.

Good sound, double outputs, volume control, bass boost and MQA. The EarMen Colibri has it all and as a result it receives our Recommended Buy award.

$333 from EarMen

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/earmen-colibri-review/


Shanling H5  [Added 17/09/2023]

For $369, the Shanling H5 is a no-brainer: powerful, versatile, perfectly built, this DAC/AMP is a perfect addition to the brand’s line-up. A shoehorned version of the H7, lighter, shorter and, quite honestly, almost as good as long as you don’t push it to its limit, truly a mesmerizing device.

Pair it with a good set of headphones (Meze or Beyer) or some nice IEMs (like the Svanar, or the lovely S12 Pro) and you’ll be set up for years! A no-brainer, outperforming almost every DAC/Amp available in the $200/$400 at the time of writing, giving you the perfect setup on a go! So yes, this DAC/AMP goes directly in our recommendation list, and if you’re out for a high-end amp, for mid-end prices, you should definitely try this one first, or at least add it to your list.

$369 from Shanling

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/shanling-h5-review/


FiiO Q15  [Added 23/11/2023]

Another day, another FiiO, another killer device. FiiO did what they did best once more: take their flagship, and downsize it to a more “regular” factor, while keeping almost all of what made the TOTL model… a TOTL one. So, long story short: the FiiO Q15 sounds great, has more than enough power that you might (ever) need, and features options that are even absent from the Q7 (PEQ or mobile mode) making it the best DAC/AMP I actually own, in the sub-$500 territory. Sure, the Q7 is better, but if you don’t own a Focal Utopia or a Meze Empyrean, the Q15 will do equally good on most headphones, for half of that price.

Sure, it’s more trans-portable than really portable. Yes, battery life is shorter than I expected but nothing comes close to it in terms of versatility and performance at the moment (I still hope xDuoo will prove me wrong though). A no-brainer, outperforming many, equally or more expensive, DAC/Amp available at the time of writing. So yes, this DAC/AMP goes directly in my recommendation list, and if you’re out for a solid DAC/Amp you should definitely try this one first, or at least add it to your list. 

$399 from FiiO

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-q15-review/

Dethonray Pegasus SG1 [Added 03/11/2022]

I’ve never been a fan of wireless ”audiophile” products. I always think that there should be some kind of a drawback with the sound quality. This is the first time that I think about actually using a wireless DAC at work or when commuting. The ease of use is hard to overlook, and you actually get a killer sound quality from a BT device.

If you absolutely need the portability without the cable mess, then it might be the best possible solution from a pure sound quality perspective. For pure sound quality, the SG1 is much better than many other BT DACs I’ve tried.

$399 from Dethonray

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/dethonray-pegasus-sg1-review/


xDuoo XD05 BAL

The xDuoo XD-05 BAL is a brilliant DAC/AMP, taking advantage of all the features introduced in previous generations: versatile design, complete I/O, excellent sound.

Once again, the brand didn’t reinvent the wheel and took all the good points found in the basic and plus version, and polished them. Balanced circuit with a 4.4mm output, Bluetooth chipset, no more channel imbalance, and the same sound signature. Add a mind-blowing bundle with an excellent price/performance ratio.

$429 from xDuoo

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/xduoo-xd-05-bal-review/

Chord Electronics Mojo 2

Chord Electronics Mojo 2

I was really curious what to expect from the Mojo 2, but after multiple weeks of listening I can say I really love what Chord Electronics has done with it.

With the Mojo 2 Chord Electronics has an awesome and small all-in-one package that will please a lot of personal audio fans. The DSP functions and tuning options are impressive, but even without those activated, the Mojo 2 sounds absolutely impressive.

I am sure the Mojo 2 will quickly convince you when get the chance to listen to it. It in all ways is an excellent successor to the Mojo and it replaces the original Mojo on our recommended DAC/AMP combo list where we “honor” all the best buys.

£449 from Chord Electronics

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/chord-electronics-mojo-2-review/

iBasso DC-ELITE [Added 07/04/2024]

In terms of sound quality, the DC-Elite offers a performance far beyond the ”dongle” level. It is successful in many categories, such as instrument positioning, articulation, soundstage, separation, and layering. It can easily trade blows with its competitors, such as Mojo 2. Despite its quirks, I believe it is only logical to award it with our HFN Recommended Award.

$449 from iBasso Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ibasso-dc-elite-review/

iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon [Added 24/02/2022]

A feature-packed, sturdy and perfectly pocketable device, iFi xDSD Gryphon is once again a great device from iFi. I think with the iDSD Signature, this is the best product they’ve come up with lately. I especially loved the new screen feature and improved build quality. It’s also a very flexible device to use. It just works beautifully.

It almost has the same size as a cigarette box, but packs a great amount of driving power and most importantly, it sounds very good. If you’re looking for a desktop DAC/Amp I recommend you to choose the iDSD Signature, but if you want the best portability in a DAC/Amp with high-grade sound quality with good power, the xDSD Gryphon is exactly for you.

$599 from iFİ Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ifi-audio-xdsd-gryphon-review

iFi Audio Micro iDSD Signature [Added 31/12/2020]

The iFi Micro iDSD Signature is surely a special unit. It is an excellent performer with a premium build, design, and internal components. It’s also very versatile with outputs and features. If you need something more out of a DAC/Amp then I don’t know what else would fulfill that. When it comes to sound, iFi always delivers and the Signature is no exception.

The original Black Label was already an awesome unit itself, and the Signature follows suit with the MQA certification, 4.4mm BAL output, additional S-Balanced feature for the 3.5mm output, and improved internal components.

$699 from iFi Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/ifi-micro-idsd-signature-review/

CEntrance HiFi-M8 V2

CEntrance HiFi-M8 V2 [Added 04/03/2021]

As I remember how good and special it was back in 2013, I was expecting a lot from this 20th anniversary V2 version of the CEntrance HiFi-M8. And to be honest, it has delivered.

No, it’s probably not the best measuring unit in the world, but the HiFi-M8 is a neutrally tuned, highly dynamic, and musical DAC/AMP combo. It to me technically performs well and it offers a lot of connectivity and output options. Sound-wise the HiFi-M8 V2 is natural, exciting, balanced, and musical. What’s not to like?

There is a lot of good to great portable DAC/AMP units on the market but they don’t offer the same and multiple outputs and connection options the HiFi-M8 V2 offers. Looking at its price and performance, mixed with a bit of nostalgia, I can only recommend this unit to anyone who is in the market for one of these devices.

$750 from CEntrance

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/centrance-hifi-m8-v2-review/

EarMen Angel

EarMen Angel [Added 25/10/2022]

What a nice little unit the Angel is! EarMen promised a lot but in this case they absolutely delivered.

The EarMen Angel DAC/AMP/Pre isn’t the cheapest unit on the market but the sound quality you get from it, is seriously good. It’s so impressive that I even switched back to it from a full sized desktop amp, because it sounded so much better.

If you want reference quality sound from a transportable unit, the Angel now is one of the main units to look at. It plays (more than) well with everything I hooked up to it, and it does so without a sweat!

$799 from EarMen


Fiio Q7 [Added 04/12/2022]

Let me be straight: if you want an M17, for left than half the price, and don’t need the android part, get the FiiO Q7.

I assume that everyone of you already have a smartphone – you may even be reading that review with one – which mean that you have a very potent source in your hand. Give this source the gift of a (short) lifetime, and pair a FiiO Q7 with it/him/her, it’ll be worth every penny.

Sure, it’s more trans-portable than really nomad. Sure it gets way hotter than you’d ever expect a player could do. But, once you’ve plugged your ears/headphone, everything becomes insignificant, erased by the sound’s prowess of the DAC.

A no-brainer, outperforming many, if not every, DAC/Amp available at the time of writing. And, if I still have a personal affection for the xDuoo XD-05 Plus, for many, the FiiO Q7 will be the one and only to get.

$799 from Fiio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-q7-review/

Shanling H7

Shanling H7 [Added 02/02/2022]

Mark my word: with the H7, Shanling provides us one, if not the, best sub $1000 portable DAC/AMPs.

Sound performances are exquisite, versatility is almost unrivalled – it’s both a DAC, a DAC/AMP, AND a DAP! And, if not as powerful as the FiiO Q7, it’s also twice as lighter which makes it infinitely easier to carry on a daily basis.

Pair it with a good set of headphones (Meze or Beyer) or some nice IEMs (those yummy GE800) and you’ll be set up for years! A no-brainer, outperforming almost every DAC/Amp available at the time of writing, giving you the perfect setup on a go!

So yes, this DAC/AMP goes directly in our recommendation list, and if you’re out for a TOTL on the cheap, you should definitely try this one first, or at least add it to your list.

$829 from Shanling

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/shanling-h7-review/

Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11 Topaz

The WA11 is one of the rare portable products that really knows how to handle the more complex to drive cans. It brings a performance to the table that’s in the class of desktop gear. Headphones like the Diana Phi or Empyrean I enjoy most when driven by the WA11. It just makes them sound stunning. It is impressive what kind of quality Woo Audio has achieved with the WA11.

The topaz is an impressive DAC/Amp that has been a pleasure to explore. If you’re in the market for an excellent transportable solution that drives any headphones under the sun, you have to give the WA11 serious consideration. If you can, go to your closest dealer and try it for yourself and let it convince you.

1,399$ from Woo Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/woo-audio-wa11-review

Chord Electronics Hugo 2

The original Hugo was regarded as a landmark in portable audio, and I think its offspring will follow in its footsteps. You get real desktop-class sound quality in a transportable package. It sounds really good with all ears and headphones I have used it with, and I am very much looking forward to trying out many more in the future.

If you are in the game for a high-end DAC that appears to also be used on the go with your smartphone or DAP, the Hugo 2 is definitely worth serious consideration. The Hugo quickly won me over and has become my main DAC/amp at the office and my desktop DAC at home – it simply is that good. A recommended buy? How the hell could it not?!

$2195 from Chord Electronics

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/review-chord-hugo-2-ruler-of-sound/

Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse

The Woo WA8 is tube-powered and it was chosen as the best DAC/AMP of 2016 here on Headfonia.com. The WA8 can handle sensitive monitors, high impedance dynamic headphones, and current hungry orthodynamics. The WA8 delivers a whole lot of detail and the sound is clear, clean, and fast. While it often is the case that the amplifier section in AMP/DAC combos is better than the DAC section, the WA8 actually sounds its best as a combo. Oh and it’s so pretty.

$1799 from Woo Audio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/review-woo-audio-wa8-eclipse-new-transportable-king/


Desktop DAC/AMP


Topping DX3 Pro+

Topping DX3 Pro + [Added 21/02/2022]

Considering the current market conditions, the DX3 Pro+ comes out as a very competitive and well-priced device. It offers an incredible price-performance ratio, especially compared to past years, with many good features combined in a small package and affordable price. If you are a beginner to the hobby and want to buy a DAC & AMP, this product should be one of your first choices. If you have been in the hobby for a long time, I would definitely recommend listening to this product to see how much equipment under 200 dollars has improved. 

$199 from Topping

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/topping-dx3pro-plus-review/

Fiio K7 [Added 28/11/2022]

When we look at the device’s features, material quality, and the components underlying its chassis, we can easily say that the K7 is a very competitive, price-performance-focused DAC & AMP. Especially the use of dual 4493SEQ DAC chips and dual THX 788+ amp modules is almost miraculous at this price point. I am confident that the K7 will further cement FiiO’s place in the desktop market. After making a big mark on the premium level with the K9 Pro ESS, FiiO ensured that they won’t be leaving the budget market for the taking.

I really like the K7 and I congratulate FiiO for their amazing job. If you need a solid, powerful DAC & AMP for your headphones and you are on a budget, the K7 can make you very happy.

$199 from FiiO

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-k7-review/

JDS Labs Atom 2 Stack [Added 17/03/2024]

In an era of ever-increasing prices, JDS Labs’ determination to maintain a reasonable price point is truly remarkable. This demonstrates a customer-first approach that resonates with fans of JDS Labs as well as audiophiles on a budget. The Atom 2 series delivers exceptional sonic performance that can easily compete with devices well above its price range. The new all-aluminum design ensures improved aesthetics and long-term durability, while updated audio boards enhance what was already great about the Atom range. 

If you’re looking for a versatile, high-performance DAC/amplifier solution that seamlessly drives IEMs, active monitors, and headphones without breaking the bank, JDS Labs deserves serious consideration. It is now on the HFN Recommendation List, where it is in good company.

$258 from JDS Labs

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/jds-labs-atom-2-stack-review/

SMSL SU-6 & SH-6

SMSL SU-6 & SH-6 [Added 23/01/2022]

SMSL got off to a pretty quick start to the year with this combo. I didn’t think I’d be awarding the first product they launched in 2022, but this industry is full of surprises. The stack offers excellent build quality and stands out in terms of ease of use. 

The SU-6 & SH-6 stack offers excellent performance for the money and outperforms its rivals in the sub-300 price bracket, therefore, we found it fair to award the stack with the HFN Recommendation. The stack offers a complete package for those who want to own a solid DAC & AMP combo that can also offer high-quality wireless sound.

$288 from SMSL

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/smsl-su6-sh6-review/


Topping DX5 [Added 03/05/2022]

Topping is, well, utterly unstoppable at this point. I can say that DX5 offers one of the most beautiful designs among high-performance DACs. Topping’s decision to renew and update design lines and packaging was quite appropriate. Frankly, I think that a company that produces such successful products should have aesthetic concerns. The DX5 is a step in the right direction. If you need a capable, technically advanced all-in-one device, you can go for the DX5 with peace of mind. 

It replaces EX5 with its great design, very good performance, and extensive feature list, earning the HFN Recommendation Award from us!

$449 from Topping

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/topping-dx5-review/


FiiO K9  AKM [Added 1604/2024]

The FiiO K9 AKM, retailing at $529.99, is an example of a successful continuation and evolution of the K9 series, offering a sound investment for both new and seasoned audiophiles. It combines quality construction with cutting-edge technology to provide a versatile, all-in-one audio solution. Ideal for those who prefer a neutral-warm DAC/AMP, the K9 AKM showcases FiiO’s expertise in the competitive mid-range DAC/AMP market.

If you’re in the market for a feature-rich desktop DAC & AMP around the $500 range, I highly recommend giving the FiiO K9 AKM a try. It’s well worth it.

$529 from FiiO

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-k9-akm-review/

smsl su-8s sh-8s

SMSL SU-8s & SH-8s Combo  [Added 20/06/2021]

SMSL has been designing incredible devices since the last year and they have achieved a marvelous success rate. I hope they will continue their success streak and continue to bring us products with a great price to performance ratios. The SMSL SU-8s & SH-8s stack performs above my expectations and it is definitely not a stripped version of the SU-9 & SH-9. SMSL designed them from the ground up and they did a great job too. 

They outperform their price tag and they deserve the HFN recommendation award, without any doubts. Be sure to try them if you are looking to upgrade your desktop rig. You won’t be disappointed.

$558 from SMSL

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/smsl-su8s-sh8s-review/


Hifiman EF400

HiFiman EF400 [Added 04/08/2022]

The HiFiman EF400 is a great addition to the vast world of desktop USB-DAC. It’s not a device I expected, and out of the blue, the brand completely shook me out of my chair. 

Sound quality is superb, build quality is very good, I/O is excellent and the conception design makes it the perfect companion for your computer, whether you’re a MacOS or Windows user. And, if your usual source is a DAP or your smartphone, the USB-C port should offer enough versatility for you to connect.

Long story short, for less than $600, this is, plain and simple, one of the best all-in-one DAC/Amp available at the moment. It’s not perfect, but quite honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else this nice to listen to, in this price range. We are adding the EF400 to our Best Buy list for DAC/AMPs. It’s a Recommended Buy Award!


$599,99 from HiFiman

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/hifiman-ef400-review/

Topping E70 & L70 Combo [Added 27/11/2022]

The E70 & L70 are an impressive duo and Topping seems to have thought of everything. With improvements based on user feedback, it’s safe to say that this is a uniquely excellent option in this price range. Versatile enough to serve multiple purposes and fit easily into many setups, this duo delivers the performance we’ve come to expect from Topping in terms of build, design, and sound quality.

When all these great features are combined with perhaps the most powerful amplifier module in this price range, it becomes much easier for me to recommend the E70 & L70.

If you need a solid, versatile DAC and an amplifier, I definitely recommend that you give the this duo a chance. We thought it is only fair to award the E70 and L70 stack with the HFN Recommended Award. So these units are now featured on both the best amplifier and best DAC lists!

Available from Topping for $700

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/topping-e70-l70-review

hifiman ef600

Hifiman EF600 [Added 17/08/2023]

Like the EF400, the Hifiman EF600 is a great addition to the vast world of desktop USB-DAC/AMPs. Sure, $799 remains a steep sum for many newcomers, but for this price I don’t think that you’ll get another desktop DAC/AMP as good as this one. Sound quality is superb, build quality is very good, I/O is excellent and the conception design makes it the perfect companion for every source you may own, even game consoles like the… PS5 (wink, wink). It’s not night and day compared to the EF400, but this new device remains a massive improvement on everything that made the previous model a recommended gear for me. Long story short, for less than $1000, this is, plain and simple, one of the best all-in-one DAC/Amp available at the moment. It’s almost perfect, but quite honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else this nice to listen to, in this price range. We are adding the EF600 to our Best Buy list for DAC/AMPs. It’s a Recommended Buy Award Winner !

$799 from Fiio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/hifiman-ef600-review/


FiiO K9 Pro ESS

Fiio K9 Pro ESS [Added 17/04/2022]

The K9 Pro ESS is a very impressive DAC & AMP and FiiO nailed almost everything about it. I can see many reasons why FiiO has managed to build such a successful device. It is clear that FiiO went through a long and painful R&D process to ensure the success of the device. Every component used has been carefully selected and no expense has been spared. I’m very happy to review this device and if you’re looking for a feature-packed desktop DAC & AMP under the $1000 mark, I highly recommend giving the FiiO K9 Pro a try.

$849 from Fiio

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/fiio-k9-pro-ess-review/


Violectric DHA V590

Violectric DHA V590 [Added 01/04/2021]

The Violectric DHA V590 is a strong all-around performer. In the beginning, I wasn’t too impressed with the internal DAC, but the more I used the unit, the more I used it as a DAC/AMP combo. They’re just made and tuned for each other. Headphone wise the HDA V590 is a great all-around performer as well. No matter the driver technology used in the headphone, the V590 will sound really good to great with at least 90% of the headphones you hook up to it. My absolute favorite being the Audeze LCD-XC.

The DHA V590 also is a great pre-amp and it at the moment is the only pre-amp I am using in my office system. I tried not using it, but I keep getting drawn back to it, as it makes my favorite tunes sound more complete. As is the case very often, you only know what you’re missing when you don’t have it anymore and this perfectly describes how I feel about its preamp function. The Violectric DHA V590 doesn’t come cheap, especially with the upgraded volume control, but it’s an excellent higher-end all-in-one unit and a – dare I say it? Yes, I do – End Game device for many.

€3.281,73 from Violectric

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/violectric-dha-v590-review/

Naim Uniti Atom HE

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition [Added 18/05/2021]

The Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is the first device that’s come along that has genuinely made me believe that the ‘future is here’ when it comes to how we can enjoy listening to headphones. I cannot overstate how impressive the total product experience of this device is, from the first opening of the box to the time that you have to switch it off and say “good night” to it at the end of the day. Naim has absolutely knocked it out of the park in terms of building a one-box solution that provides you with the ability to simply grab a pair of headphones, and start playing music into them from any number of sources – and that’s selling it short.

Calling it a DAC/amp/preamp/streamer doesn’t begin to explain the benefits of the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition – it’s so much more. The day has come where you can genuinely enjoy listening to all your favorite music, without needing a single source device plugged into it, or even a computer – simply add your streaming platform of choice into the Naim app, and you’re off to the races. Add to this the fact that its headphone performance is absolutely terrific, and you have a stone-cold winner on your hands. $3,299 certainly isn’t cheap, but the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition is worth every penny – it rewrites the value equation, and then some. Trust me, you’re not going to want to buy another ‘box’ to park on your desk for a long, long time. An unreserved recommendation, the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition goes straight to our ‘Recommended’ list.

€3.299 from Naim

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/naim-uniti-atom-headphone-edition-review/

Chord Electronics Hugo TT2

Chord Electronics Hugo TT2 [Added 10/08/2020]

Chord’s Hugo TT2 is a wonderful piece of equipment. It’s beautifully finished with superb craftsmanship and its sound is nothing short of spectacular. The only thing I would have liked different is the use of headphone outputs. I know Chord says a balanced output is not needed for their products, but just for the ease of use it would be great to replace the 3.5 and one of the 6.35mm outputs with one 4-pin XLR output. Although for headphones I still stick to my dedicated amplifiers, as they take the TT2’s sound just a bit further. This has been a long journey, but such a great one. Over the last months, I have gotten to know the Hugo TT2 inside and out. From the start, it has made its place at the very top of my DAC list clear. I can absolutely see why people would call it quits after getting the Hugo TT2. Personally, I could be so very happy with just the Hugo TT2 and my Kef LS50 system.

It hurts me a little to say this, but since the Hugo TT2 has been installed as my main two-channel DAC I have somewhat questioned my headphone inventory. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to listen to my full-sized headphones at home, but I deeply enjoy listening to my LS50’s a whole lot more now. The Hugo TT2 has given me a perspective on the speaker set-up that I didn’t think I could get in our small living room in the apartment. Chord’s TT2 has transformed my listening experience at home drastically. The Hugo TT2 is by no means a cheap product, but I don’t regret having spent a single Cent. In fact, it made me very curious to hear what Hugo M Scaler would do to the sound. The chase of the white audio rabbit continues…

5,495 from Chord Electronics

Review: https://www..headfonia.com/chord-electronics-hugo-tt2-review/

Flux Lab Acoustics Atlas

I spend a lot of time listening to gear every single day and my wife accepts that (Best ever! She might be reading this) but I tend to stop listening/working at 9 PM in the evening so we can spend some quality time together. The last few weeks my wife hasn’t always been happy with me though, “You’ve been spending way to much time in your office” is what she says. Well, what can I say… blame Atlas. It’s one of those amps you enjoy so much and listening to your favorite tunes is just pure bliss. I just want to listen to more tracks and turn up the volume because it sounding so good. Atlas might be a bit expensive (and huge) but boy does it sound incredible. You get a high-end, very well-balanced, detailed but musical sound and you’ll fall in love with it right away. It’s no wonder the first batch sold out directly. You better start saving up and don’t forget new, extra-large, furniture. Listed!

$5000 from Flux Lab Acoustics

Review: https://www.headfonia.com/flux-lab-acoustics-atlas-review/


If you haven’t found what you’re looking for, do take a look at the category overview:

Portable Sources: https://www.headfonia.com/category/source/portable-source/

Desktop Sources: https://www.headfonia.com/category/source/desktop-source/



  • Reply January 20, 2012


    Hey Mike,

    Would the ESW-9 do good for Pop and Alternative Rock/Indie or would the P5 be the better choice?  The ESW-9 just has a really nice look to it.  🙂

    • Reply January 21, 2012


      If you still want to play some alt. Rock the ESW-9 would be better. 

      • Reply January 25, 2012


        i have marshall major pairing with ipod classic 6 gen rev.3 (late 2009 edition) i listen ALAC more than mp3..i like alternative and rock..some times pop/jazz…why it sound so bad? pain in my ears especially for the high freq..should i add some cmoy BB amplifier or Fio E10 for make it better?

        • Reply January 26, 2012


          Probably not the fault of the Ipod or the recordings, but rather you need a headphone with less treble amount aka a darker sounding headphone. Try some sennheisers? The PX100-II perhaps.

          • Reply January 26, 2012


            if i forced to use marshall and add Cmoy BB ampli…could i get warmer sounding?

          • Reply December 12, 2021


            Great job with this extense work, congrats!!!

            In you opinion wich is a best choice for a desktop.

            The SMSL SH8S and SU8S stack or the Topping EX5 or Topping D7X Pro. Thank you for your help. Best regards Nuno.

  • Reply January 24, 2012


    Hi mike. I just impress by beats solo hd for its portable use (direct ipod / blackbery), bass impact, and good isolation. Can you recommend me portable headphones which size is similar to solo hd, have a great bass impact, and good isolation (outside noises arenot heard) ? Btw Im considering hd25 adidas, but in jakarta it is 3.4millions rupiah ( the best price i could get), how is the hd25 adidas performance compared to dt1350 in bass and isolation?
    Thanks mike.

    • Reply January 24, 2012


      Btw is it worth to get the solo hd for 2.7millions rupiah or should i get the hd25 adidas?

  • Reply March 20, 2012

    Shakil Shaikh

    Hi Mike!

    I’m looking to replace my original PX100’s and was looking at the PX100-IIs before reading your reviews. In the UK, the PX-IIs are £35, the V-Jays £40 and the Tracks £50. I’m guessing by the love you give them that the Jays is the pick of those three, but I just wanted to make sure that’s still the current reccomendation. Thanks!

    • Reply March 20, 2012


      I still think the V-Jays are a lot of fun.. however there has been some people who’s been using the PX100 who thinks that they still prefer the darker sound of the Sennheiser PX100-II than the Jays. 

      • Reply March 23, 2012

        Shakil Shaikh

        Argh! That’s no help 🙂 Thanks!

        • Reply March 30, 2012


          The Px 100 ii is Excellent. I own Sennheiser hd 201, Sennheiser px90, Sennheiser hd380pro, AKG k518dj, Koss Portapro, and the px100ii that is the favorite of the bunch!

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      Domagoj Tokić

      V-Jays all the way 🙂

  • Reply April 26, 2012


    I think the lists a bit short .

  • Reply September 20, 2012

    Nana Brenu

    Hello Mike, after your analysis of the ATH-m50, i was curious to try it, ordered a pair this week and i must say im pleasantly surprised at how good they sound, so much so that i seem to be reaching for them more than my HD25-1 II which i really love. Would you say they are portable for everyday use running around the city, because they are tempting me to replace my HD25-1 II as my main portables?

    • Reply September 21, 2012


      The M-50 never fails to disappoint. 😉

      I wouldn’t replace the HD25-1 yet though. Give it 1-2 months and see how you like the M-50 for walking around the city.

  • Reply September 23, 2012

    cyborg drackle

    im thinking of buying px100 ii, nd had 1 ques. can i get same quality of bass, or even more in full size ones..-in the same price range? 😛 sennhisers r my first priority as they easily available in india (buying is less time consuming) i listen to metalcore, hard rock nd a little rap, i need bass, as i like the blend of base nd distortion. there r few new models also nd choosing is very confusing. plz do suggest me 1 with open back, either portable or full size, in 40$-70$. ur reply wld b a gr8 help for me mike. thx

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Hi Mike!
    i’m searching for a good headphone with detail Sound.. i have two option: the ATH M50 and the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro. i often listen to metal, rock, alternative, but also Jazz.. what do you recommend?

    • Reply November 29, 2012


      MEtal rock alternative, Beyer COP would be good. Also try the Senn HD25-1 I think it’s better for Metal, Rock and Alt.
      Jazz, ATH M50.

  • Reply November 18, 2012


    Hi Mike,

    you reviewed the fidelio L1 in March. I was looking at the lower range but similar downtown and uptown primarily as the L1 is out of my current Budget. have you ever tried out these portables? What is your view on their strengths and weaknesses? Thanks for your help.

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    Hi mike, I’m from Brazil and want to buy a very nice headphones for my iPhone. I usually use it at the gym (a quiet gym) or on the go, and usually listen to pop rock. I’m in doubt about the px210bt – U$160, hd25 – U$200, dt 1350 – U$250 and the P5 – U$340. What is the best one? I like a good bass, not as beats, but good. Thank you very much

    • Reply November 28, 2012


      I’d pick the HD25 out of those choices. But if you do treadmills in the gym, maybe consider IEM / earbuds with ear hook instead. For non gym activity, Vmoda M80 is also good sounding with bass.

      • Reply November 28, 2012


        I already have some IEM =)
        Do you prefer the M80 – U$160 over the HD25 – U$200? Thank’s

        Enviado via iPhone

        Em 27/11/2012, às 23:06, “Disqus” escreveu:

        • Reply November 28, 2012


          I’ve owned the M80 and have demo the HD25 also. Both are good headphones. But I think the HD25 with the split headband can stay in your head better while working out at the gym compared to the M80. So it’s more of a functionality preference rather than sound preference.

          • Reply November 28, 2012


            Last question, promise: what about the sound?

            Enviado via iPad

            Em 28/11/2012, às 01:16, “Disqus” escreveu:

            • Reply November 28, 2012


              Both offers different traits, but more to modern music recordings. If you like agressive sound, but not in a Grado fashion, the HD25 is best. I think it’s also respond to a broader range of music genre than the M80. But if you like a more balanced, a bit laid back, and a bit airy sound, the M80 is for you. Though I’ve found the M80 did not quite match my taste in rock music. Other than that, I love the M80 more.

              • Reply November 28, 2012


                About IEM (here I come again), there are 2 on sale. The Monster Turbine Pro Gold Audiophile In Ear Speaker with ControlTalk for U$150 and the Klipsch Image X10 Noise-Isolating Earphone for U$85. Do you know any of them?
                Enviado via iPhone

                Em 28/11/2012, às 02:39, “Disqus” escreveu:

                • Reply November 28, 2012


                  I’ve never tried any of those. Sorry.

                  • Reply November 28, 2012


                    damm, you are fast! thank you very much

                    2012/11/28 Disqus

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • Reply November 29, 2012


                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

              • Reply November 29, 2012


                Good comment there by Gorboman.

          • Reply November 29, 2012


            Good point there on the split headband.

            Nothing works as good as an IEM though for Gym sessions.

  • Reply December 1, 2013

    Ahmad Parapat

    i think this recommend list need to upgrade….

    • Reply December 16, 2013


      Yes, definitely

  • Reply June 4, 2014

    Alton Britt

    Help me decide for general music-listening on Onkyo 629 and Ipod Touch-5th; also watching movies via home theater: Koss DJ Pro 200 or Logitech UE 6000? Much appreciated!!

  • Reply June 7, 2014

    Chris Allen

    Great recommendations! The Audio-Technica ESW-9 has to be my favorite out of of this list of recommendations with the Bowers & Wilkins P5 coming in close second. I do see these Marshall headphones receiving some talk lately and even my local Best Buy has started carrying some. I’ll have to try them out sometime. Great list once again!

    Chris A.

    • Reply June 7, 2014


      I have the ESW9a which is my wife’s favorite, but I also have the Thinksound ON1 which is at least as good sonically, but has many advantages in comfort, portability and durability.

      • Reply June 8, 2014

        Chris Allen

        I’ve yet to see and know little-to-no information on the Think sound ON1, dalethorn. I will keep a look out for it though. Thanks. 🙂

  • Reply July 14, 2014

    Amirhossein Mohammadi


    I own a Sennheiser RS220 and i’m very pleased with it , I’m looking for a headphone for outdoor use and have $250 budget . What do you recommend with comfort in first priority ?!

    I got my eyes on :

    Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
    Yamaha HPH-PRO300
    AKG K271 MKII
    Sennheiser HD 558
    Sennheiser MOMENTUM On Ear

    • Reply July 14, 2014


      Beyerdynamic DT 770 32 or AE
      Beyer T51P
      NAD Viso HP50
      B&0 H6
      Philips L2

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Muhammad Osama Khann

    The most beatifull earbuds experience. Now read all about earpiece in-details for first-rate headsets here at bestearbudreviews. We give all the analysis of some of the best earbuds available in the sound-system market. Read some of the latest and edifying earbud reviews here.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Robert Madison

    Here is an extremely creditable review about the Creative Sound Blaster E3. Check it out!

    Review: http://www.toptengamer.com/creative-sound-blaster-e3-dac-review/

  • Reply February 11, 2015


    Hi guys!

    I’m thinking of buying a pair of portable headphones and a DAP – right now I’m deciding between a B&W P7 or a BD DT1350 to go with either a DX90 or AK120 II. Any thoughts on what the best combination would be out of those options? Any other suggestions are also most welcome!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply February 11, 2015


      I’d get the T51P for on ear but the DT770 for overear. DX90 and AK120ii are both really good, it depends what you want to spend. the DX90 does have more drive power than the AK

      • Reply February 11, 2015


        Thanks for the advice! So I take it that even though DX90 has more drive power the AK120 II will have no problem driving the T51p?

  • Reply February 13, 2015

    Yavor Moskov

    Hi. I just bought KEF M500 which by my opinion sounded pretty amazing and while still highly tuned, sounded more natural and relaxing than Bowers and Wilkins P7. The vocals are more pronounced and forward than both BW P7 and Bang and Olufsen H6. Also, I do not know how but the soundstage feels bigger than it should be, considering the fact these are on ear closed headphones. Only small issue, not very stable on the head and can fell off, if you are too active. I like it a lot as a portable, easy to drive headphone (really easy), for people who wear glasses like me. They are super comfortable. Maybe same level as B&O H6. Check it out.

    • Reply August 28, 2018

      Gregory Wodark

      I too am a fan of the KEF M500! I generally like KEF speakers, having owned many of their products. I agree they are more comfortable than most other on ear designs, have great build quality, and sound quite satisfying. Especially, with a good portable AMP/DAC ( I use the Oppo HA2).

  • Reply February 14, 2015

    Yavor Moskov

    I want to find now over-ear style headphones for on-the-go and as well to use them at home. I have Momentum over ear but it is a way too uncomfortable for my ears and I just used for no more than 10 hours. I will sell it for sure. I am looking for headphones that can handle complex classical orchestras, jazz, female vocals, chamber music and choirs, new age and celtic music, some rock, pop, funk and instrumental music. So far my list includes:
    Sony MDR -1A
    Bowers and Wilkins P7
    Bang and Olufsen H6
    Philips Fidelio L2

    I can buy MDR-1A and Fidelio L2 for a lot cheaper than in USA, because I have friends in Netherlands and Japan but I never heard how they sound. I read already the interview about L2 on this website http://www.headfonia.com/the-phenomenal-philips-fidelio-l2-feat-fidelio-m1bt-review/ and is highly promising. I never had Sony headphones before and I don’t know. What do you think? Any suggestions or comments?

    • Reply February 14, 2015


      Since you said before that you like the M500 better than the P7, I don’t think the P7 should be on this list – i.e. you should be looking for a better headphone for “around ear”. You do mean “around ear” instead of “over ear”, yes? Because the Momentum “over ear” never did go around the ear properly. I wouldn’t choose the L2 either – maybe the X2.

      • Reply February 14, 2015

        Yavor Moskov

        Yes, I meant “around ear” 🙂

        • Reply February 14, 2015


          The H6 won’t fit around, the L2 is questionable, and the P7 is very, very snug. Sony sometimes has very good sound, but I don’t bother with them for various reasons. You’ll see some in studios, but other than that you’d be best to stick to models that have a good long track record. For home use, and comfort, I’d choose the DT770-32 or the AKG K712 (on a budget), or if money is available, get one of the better planars. Just get something with big earcups – it makes listening so much better.

          BTW, check the individual reviews here so you can read the user comments. That way you can get a better idea of the users’ experiences.

    • Reply April 25, 2015

      Jessica Ruby

      • Reply April 25, 2015


        3 of the 4 headphones that Yavor enquired about are fairly bassy, while most of the competitive AKG’s (ex: K712) are much lighter in the bass.

  • Reply August 28, 2018

    Gregory Wodark

    What? No iFi Micro iDSD BL? Surely, it is in the same ballpark as the Mojo. Maybe, you have not reviewed it yet. From what I have read, it is a virtual “Swiss Army Knife”, of AMP/DACs ( portable or at least transportable). Also, it is said to be at the same level of sound quality as the Chord Mojo.

    Now that I think about it, what about the in-between iFi product? The new iFi XDSD portable. Does it not rate either? I find that hard to believe.

    The own two products on this list, the Audioquest Dragonfly Red, and the Pro-Jet Pre Box S2 Digital. So, I have some experience with how they perform. I suspect the iFi products are superior ( Dragonfly vs. Nano, and S2 vs. iFi Micro). I also have an Oppo HA2, and I wonder how the Nano, or the XDSD might stack up? Any thoughts?

  • Reply March 14, 2019


    Just starting to learn about all this. very newb and novice.

    Right now, I’m using sennheiser 599s and might upgrade to Bower & WIlkins PX and/or a higher end pair of sennheiser 600, 650, etc.

    I’m considering using the Spectra X or iFi Nano iDSD Black.

    Have been testing the Sprecta X for a week or so…seems cool.

    Which of these would be the one to buy?

  • Reply January 20, 2021


    Chord TT2, headphones B&W P9 when using speakers play direct to two Cambridge Audio 851W powers amps to B&W 805 D3 speakers, Chord Epic cables all the way. Job done..!

  • Reply January 20, 2021


    Oh and Hugo2/2go in the back pack when out and about

  • Reply January 23, 2021

    Luis André Ferreira

    What about the PAW S1?
    After reading your review never thought that little thing wouldn’t be in this list…

  • Reply May 15, 2022


    I own the audio technica m50x… Is there good sinergy with Violectric Chronos or do you suggest another DAC for the same (or less) price?

  • Reply September 14, 2022


    What’s a good portable amp and dac combo for Sony-mdrcd900st?
    impedance: 63ohm
    rated input: 300mW

  • Reply November 7, 2022


    Hello everyone, which portable/ desktop dac-amp that can give best sound for my iem Softears RSV? Currently using dongle Shanling UA5

  • Reply March 7, 2023

    Jaime Espinoza

    If we have all the dacs in one list. What is the best option under $200?

    • Reply March 8, 2023


      can’t go wrong with FiiO

  • Reply August 30, 2023

    Ruben E.

    Can’t seem to find anyone who’s listened to Fiio K9 PRO ESS and Hifiman EF600 and I can tell you’ve reviewed both.

    I’m hoping you will share your best pick between the two, as I’m torn between them.

    I’m thinking in terms of sonic capability only. It will be used with HD660S2 primarily, maybe HD800S later.

    Thank you very much for your review of both. Wonderful site!

    • Reply September 6, 2023


      Different reviewers on different continents, sorry

  • Reply October 3, 2023


    what would you recommend for Hardrock /Metal music , in terms of headphones and desktop DAC/AMP , i was considering the Audeze lcd X with Hifiman combo .

    • Reply October 3, 2023


      LCD X and Topping DX7 PRO+ (2022 release) or SMSL DO300EX

  • Reply November 10, 2023


    Shanling H5 and Mojo 2 are both on the recommendation list.

    Which one would you pick as the best in sound quality?

    Shanling would be nice as all-in-one solution because of the bluetooth dac and the storage capacity by sd card. In that regard I don’t have to buy a dedicated streamer (like Wiim Pro) because all my music is stored in wav format.

    But what matters the most is the sound quality of course. Who’s the winner?

  • Reply November 16, 2023


    Hi your website is excellent. My smartphone is Xiaomi Redmi note 8. Is Fiio e10k an upgrade for my smartphone in terms of sound quality? Thanks.

  • Reply February 5, 2024

    Bill Young

    Want to get Sennheiser HD560 ‘phones but holding off because I don’t know what they need to drive them. I have no idea what, if anything, they would need to drive them. Thoughts, anyone?

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