Want to know which digital audio converter is the best under $500? These comprehensive details can be found here.
An analog-to-digital converter is abbreviated as DAC. This device converts analog signals into digital signals. Digital content can thus be streamed to analog devices, for example, headphones. Many people cannot afford DAC because of its high price.
Studying this topic thoroughly enabled us to find price-quality correlations that were optimal. Seven of the 40 models we tested were ultimately chosen. Here are the best DACs under 500 dollars.
Best DAC Under $500 2023
S.M.S.L M500 DAC Headphone Amp Supports MQA decoding ES9038PRO D/A chip USB Uses XMOS XU-216 with Remote Control (Black)
This DAC under 500 offers seven selectable filters so you can adjust the sound to suit your preferences. Furthermore, DSD512 data at 32bit/768kHz is played back without conversion.
- A PCM file (between 32 and 768 kHz) and a DSD file (up to DSD512) can be played back on this device. It has gold-plated input and output jacks, which are of high quality.
- In SMSL M500, there are three input signal channels: USB, optical, and coaxial.
- It has both balanced (XLR) and RCA outputs. Playback of DSD64 is supported on optical and coaxial inputs.
As the MQA format is a lossless format, the appliance can playback MQA files and provides tracks that match the original recordings. Among other features, the M500 supports headphones up to 300 ohms, features a one-click amplification, and can switch preamps automatically.
A total of seven different digital filters are available in the device’s settings for PCM recording. A chip called ES9311 is used in the model’s power supply. With the XMOS XU216 chip for the USB input and the OPA1612 operating amplifiers for the output, the output stage is equipped with shallow noise indicators.
The Cobalt also features a high-quality signal-to-noise ratio digital volume control, Bluetooth compatibility, and a built-in MQA record decoder.
As opposed to its predecessor, this DAC is firmly in the top tier of DACs under 500 dollars. Several improvements led to the accomplishment of the results:
- A minimum-phase filter is built into the ECC ES90 ESQ38Q2M DAC chip from Cobalt to enhance sound quality. Red and Black models use much cheaper batteries;
- As a result, the flagship model uses 33 percent less current and can process commands 33 percent faster than previous models;
With improved power filtering, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interference, as well as cellular network noise, are better protected;
The package comes with a DragonTail USB-A to USB-C cable of excellent quality.
- To communicate with the Cobalt, Gordon Rankin developed the StreamLength code. MonoClock technology, proposed by him, provides ESS ES9038Q2M DAC functionality as well as microcontroller functionality.
- A multi-oscillator DAC cannot provide as much detail and clarity as a DragonFly Cobalt.
In comparison to the Red models, the DragonFly Cobalt can be used with low-sensitivity headphones because its 2.1 V output voltage allows it to operate with maximum tuning clarity, a wide dynamic range, and excellent signal-to-noise ratios.
The most technologically advanced satellite radio device on the market today is this high-end digital music player, according to a number of experts.
- Q5S is a stylish, compact tabletop receiver with a metal chassis. Within the amplifier section, you’ll find five digitally functioning equalizer channels, a variable-frequency drive system, and a phase-shift linear control.
- The audio system is claimed to have premium sound quality thanks to its Excite Digital Technology.
- Even complex features can be programmed into the FiiO Q5S remote control. Both handsets can be used when the FiiO Q5S is connected to your laptop.
Soundavo HP-DAC1 Digital to Analog Converter / Headphone Preamp DAC with S/PDIF, Line, USB Input for PC/Laptop
Soundavo’s HP-DAC1 is one of the most innovative products in its category, and it is one of the first digital to analog converters of high-quality sound. Utilizing the easy-to-use interface of the Soundavo HP-DAC1, you will be able to convert analog signals into digital.
- Utilizing patented Waveform Control Technology, Soundavo’s High-Performance Analog to Digital (HP-DAC) technology converts tapes into digital audio.
- Powerful subwoofers are mated to an array of high-performance 12-inch drivers with a precision-tuned dual amplifier configuration on the front of the HP-DAC1.
- You can connect a laptop or another digital source to an optical audio input to listen to your favorite music. Integrated speakers make it easy to monitor and control your home theater system.
Your stereo system can be connected to an appropriate device through a high-quality digital output.
S.M.S.L M300 MKII HiFi Audio DAC, AKM4497EQ Apt-X USB DAC Decoder, Hi-Res Bluetooth 5.0 32bit/768kHz DSD512, Full Balanced Output, 6 Digital Filter Modes/3 Sound Color, New Edition (Black)
A unique advantage of the M300 MKII is its RCA connection. It is highly compatible and reliable, but due to it being older than mobile radio providers such as Vodafone, the RCA connection may seem dated today.
- With the RCA connection, you won’t have to worry that your equipment won’t work reliably no matter where it goes: at the office, at home, or even at the club.
- It can transmit data and voice at speeds of over 300MB/s with the SMSL M300 MKII.
In addition, RCA cables, electrical adapters, an external rechargeable battery, a microSD card, and a compact digital video recorder are included. Cables like these allow transferring files from one computer to another and connecting different electronic devices.
Under $500 DACs: What should you look for?
Portability & size
Prepare your device by considering its location and usage. The size of a DAC is of utmost importance if you want to listen to music on the go for under 500 dollars. Select a portable model when choosing a model. Consider other functions and capabilities when buying a device for your home.
Optimal audio resolution
Our list includes models with high-quality audio starting at 192kH/24-bit. Despite not being compressed, the files retain their original quality. Audio fidelity can be improved for users of various audiophile streaming services (like TIDAL). The compressed audio can also be further improved using upsampling technology.
DACs that have USB ports are compatible with computers and mobile devices. The RCA inputs can be used to connect phones, tablets, TV sets, or CD players as well. In some DACs, headphone amplifiers are integrated components. You should purchase this component if your DAC lacks it.
The best DAC under 500 USD might not have an amplifier, so you have to boost sound with earphones or speakers. Therefore, some headphones and speakers are powered by batteries instead. A modern DAC design includes an amplifier to address this drawback. It only needs to be connected to the headphone jack in order to deliver the desired sound quality.
After learning about the best DACs under 500 and starting planning for 2023, you may be ready to start investing. There is something unique and wonderful about each product we have selected, and most likely you will get the satisfaction you expect from them. These DACs must be carefully studied and analyzed before they are implemented.
You should look for factors such as electrical output power, portable nature, connectivity features, weight, warranty, etc. By understanding these factors, you can find the ideal DAC.