A digital to analog converter can be a real lifesaver when your device doesn’t have a good DAC. Even if you buy a pair of high-quality headphones, you’re still not getting the best possible sound because of the inferior DAC in your device. What matters here is the quality of the DAC, not the quality of the headphones.
If that’s your current problem, then you need to get yourself a good digital to analog converter USB DAC. There are quite a few USB DACs to choose from, but if they are on the pricey side for you, the following budget USB DACs could be the ones you’ve been looking for. They are all available on Amazon and they won’t set you back for than $200.
Top 6 Best Digital to Analog Audio Converter USB DAC Under $200
Some excellent USB DACs are very pricey, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good USB DAC in your budget. If you are looking for some very good quality USB DACs under $200, we have got you covered. In this article, you’ll find top 6 best digital to analog converter USB DACs under $200.
1. Fiio Alpen-E17 Digital to Analog Audio Converter
- Standard mini USB interface: Connect to your PC for digital audio transfer and/or charge of the 1500 mAh internal battery
- 3.5 mm stereo headphone output: Suitable for 16-150 ohm headphones; MAX output current > 80 mA; THD <0.003%@1KHz
- 3.5mm SPDIF input (optical, coaxial) digital connector to receive PCM signals up to 24-bit/192kHz
- 3.5mm Analog Line-In for use with other audio sources, 18-Pin multi-functional interface to connect FiiO's L7 and E9 docks
- Digital Bass, Treble, Gain, Volume Controls
The Fiio Alpen-E17 is a pocket-sized USB DAC you can get at Amazon for $179.99 and it’s one of the popular USB DACs with the best reviews as well. This is one of the higher ends models and features interchangeable adapters. These adapters allow you to connect various audio inputs with ease.
The Fiio Alpen-E17 also comes with an easy to use LCD screen that gives you access to the DACs features without having to deal with large knobs.
You’ll also enjoy a standard USB interface, 1500 mAh internal battery, 3.5mm stereo headphone output, 18-pin multi-functional interface that allows you to connect Fiio’s L7 and E9 docks.
The DAC won’t make the sound any louder and it can’t be used for monitoring mixes. It will only improve the audio but not make your device increase the sound capability.
2. Fiio E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
- PORTABLE DESIGN - A sleek, brushed aluminum shell and chassis allow for durable, portable use.
- LOW NOISE FLOOR - The unit has an optimized low-pass filter and selectable bass boost circuit that are designed for a low noise floor in all states.
- DAC Chip-The Internal DAC chip is a PCM102 and can handle PCM files up to 24-bit/96 kHz while improving audio quality via a linear filter, reduced delay and internal silence on changing tracks, and no phase shifts.
- CONNECTION VARIETY - The variety of connections include a front-panel 1/8" headphone jack, a rear-panel 1/8" line output, and a rear-panel coaxial digital output, which allows you to send your digital audio to another destination.
- USB CONNECTION - Connects to your laptop via its micro USB connection, which also provides it with power.
If you’re looking for a UDB DAC on the affordable side, then you might want to look into the Fiio E10K USB Dac. It also features a portable design, but it will only set you back $75.99. You can either get the DAC in black or titanium, and you can also charge it through your computer thanks to the USB connection.
The USB DAC also offers a variety of connections you can use. For example, it counts with a front-panel 1/8″ headphone jack, a rear-panel coaxial digital output, a rear-panel 1/8 line output. Thanks to the coaxial digital output you can use your audio files somewhere else whenever you.
The Fiio E10K also comes with a PCM102 DAC chip that can easily support PCM files up to 24-bit/96 kHz while it also improves the sound through the linear filter. It can also cut down inner silence and delay on changing tracks. You also won’t have to deal with phase shifts either since the USB DAC has that covered as well.
You’ll also like that the set up is also easy since all you have to do is connect it, set the device sample rate to 2 channel 24 bit 48000 Hz quality and you’re done! This is great news if you’re not very tech-savvy and can’t count on a tech friend for help. Get this USB DAC here.
3. Meridian Explorer2 USB DAC
- Extended-range 0-100dB volume control that allows for finer adjustments
- Increased DSP power
- Trademark apodizing filter
- Combination USB DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amplifier with exceptional 24-bit/192kHz resolution
- Asynchronous USB, a six-layer circuit board with audiophile-grade components, an auto-sensing headphone input, and 192kHz-derived analog outputs
If you want a USB DAC that’s even easier to carry than the previously mentioned models, the Meridian Explorer2 USB DAC is a great option. It features an extended-range of 0-100dB volume control which makes the fine adjustments possible and it also has a great design too.
You can also count on an increased DSP power, a trademark apodizing filter, asynchronous USB, an auto-sensing headphone input, a six-layer circuit board with audiophile USB, and a 192kHz-derived analog output.
The list of features keeps going with a headphone amplifier with a 24-bit/192kHz resolution, combination USB DAC, and a preamplifier. To connect the DAC to your computer, you will need a short USB Type-B cable, and it can also indicate what type of file is being played.
For example, if the first light lights up, it’s playing a 44KhZ/48kHz file, blue/green lights for MQA files, second light for 88kHz files, third light is for 176kHz or 192khZ files. The size makes it easy to carry, even if you do keep in your back pants pocket.
The USB DAC is compatible with Mac 1.6 or later, Windows, and you can even use it on your Linux computer. You will need to have Linux kernel 2.6.37 or later and ALSA version 1.0.32 or later. If at any time an update for the DAC should become available, it will be done via USB. Buy this USB DAC here.
4. Cambridge DACMagic 100
- Works with Any Mac or PC or virtually any device with a digital audio output
- 1 x USB, 2 x Coaxial Digital, and 1 x Optical Input
- Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (+/-0.1dB)
- D-A Converters: Wolfson WM8742 24-bit DAC
The Cambridge DACMagic is available on Amazon for $199.99. It’s only available in silver, but the specs it has makes up for the lack of options in colors.
The Cambridge DAC will add depth, detail, and clarity to your audios thanks to the 24-bit/96kHz driverless USB audio 1.0 input. The S/PDIF also play an essential role in improving your audio files.
The USB DAC also features asynchronous USB technology that will decrease timing jitter and give you better sound with computer audio sources. You can even count on an incoming sampling rate indicator that can give you an idea of how good the sound quality you’re getting is.
Ground hum won’t be a problem thanks to the ground lift switch that the DAC features. There is also three digital audio inputs: an optical (Toslink) and two RCA coaxial (S/PDIF).
If you’re going to connect this DAC to your computer, don’t forget to choose PCM output in the audio menu. If the only digital signals you use are Dolby Digital, then this DAC will not work.
The DAC can work with Mac devices right out of the box, but that’s not the case for Windows. You will need to go to the company’s website and download the necessary drivers for it to work properly.
5. AudioQuest DragonFly Black USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier
- 32-bit ESS 9010 Sabre DAC
- Offering tremendously enhanced sound, higher value, and significantly lower power consumption than the original award-winning DragonFly
- Works with Apple and Android phones and tablets when paired with a simple adapter
- This versatile DAC improves everything detail, transparency, immediacy, richness, tone associated with your music
- Plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files
The AudioQuest Dragon USB DAC may be small in size, but it makes up for it with its features it has. You’ll get excellent sound quality thanks to the 32-bit ESS 9010 sabre DAC, and it consumes a low amount of power.
The last thing you probably need to deal with is a massive power bill. If you’re going to use the USB DAC with either your Android or iOS device, you will need a simple adapter.
This AudioQuest DAC will improve things such as richness, transparency, immediacy, and the tone that is associated with your music. The DAC is able to reproduce anything that ranges from MP3 to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files.
If you’re looking for a USB DAC that works but keeps thing simple, this is a great option.
6. Android Bundle for AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC, Preamp, Headphone Amp and Micro OTG USB
- This versatile DAC improves everything - detail, transparency, immediacy, richness, tone
- Micro OTG USB 2.0, 5in - perfect for Android users
- Plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files
- Playing music on your computer, laptop, stereo, smartphone, tablet, or powered speakers becomes exponentially better, more authoritative, and stunningly lifelike with the groundbreaking AudioQuest DragonFly Red DAC/headphone amplifier
- Among the most exciting new audio products in recent memory, DragonFly Red sets new benchmarks for how much performance, portability, and flexibility is possible from an asynchronous USB DAC.
The Android Bundle AudioQuest USB DAC is available on Amazon for $198.75 but its worth every penny. This is a USB thumb-drive that is not only compatible with Android, but with iOS as well. This USB DAC will use the least amount of power as possible thanks to the low-noise high-efficiency microchip microcontroller.
You won’t need any additional drivers to use this DAC and it can play files that range from MP3 to high-resolution files. With the StreamlengthTM asynchronous USB code, you only hear audios with low jitter, minimal packet errors, low resource load, and world-class audio playback. This is a feature that most USB DACs feature, and for a very good reason.
The bit-perfect digital volume control guarantees maximum resolution despite the volume setting. Once you have the DAC connected to either your mobile device or computer, modifying the main device’s volume will also change the DF Red’s onboard volume. Buy this USB DAC from here.
The Pro Review from TechReviewPro
Whether you are listening to your favorite songs or an important audio, you want the best audio possible. With the help of any one of the DACs listed above, you’ll be able to enjoy the best possible sound out there at a great price.
As you can see, they come in different shapes and sizes, that way you can find the one that’s a perfect fit for you. Which USB DAC do you think that you’re going to try out? Leave a comment below and let me know.