DAC amp combos come with multiple benefits. For one, they’re way more flexible than standalone units. Since they usually come with a number of connectivity options, they can be used in a variety of situations. Plus, their compact size makes them easy to carry around.
Entry-level DAC amps don’t offer the same amount of power as their separate counterparts, which is why some users aren’t willing to trade flexibility and portability for sound quality. But with the right equipment, you’ll be surprised by the power a DAC amp can pack.
There are hundreds of DAC amps in the market. With so many options on the table, it can be quite challenging to find the right product that best suits your needs.
To help you find the best DAC amp combo for your rig, we’ve put together this comprehensive top-five list. Each product was chosen based on its quality, performance, and functionality, so you can’t go wrong with any of them!
What Is a DAC Amp Combo?
As the name suggests, a DAC amp combo is a device that combines a digital-to-analog converter with an amplifier or stereo booster.
Most audiophiles steer clear of DAC amp combos because they believe they won’t sound as good as separate systems. But this isn’t always the case. Some systems offer high-quality components that improve your listening experience just as it would a separate setup.
Moreover, a DAC/amp combo usually provides additional features that aren’t typically available in separate systems, like virtual surround sound, spatial sound, and others.
Top 5 DAC Amp Combos Worth Your Attention
Throughout the dozens of DAC amps we’ve looked at, only five were qualified by our selection criteria. Here are some of the best DAC amp combos money can buy!
Topping DX7 Pro – Best Overall
The Topping DX7 Pro is a technological masterpiece, designed to impress even the pickiest audiophile.
Featuring an ES9038Pro 32-bit HyperStream DAC chip, the DX7 pro offers top-notch sound performance, superior decoding capabilities, and a dynamic range of up to 126dB.
Equipped with the new and improved 5.0 Bluetooth connectivity, this DAC amp comes with eight times the bandwidth, four times the range, and twice the speed of older Topping models. With the LDAC codec, the DX7 Pro allows you to stream high-resolution audio of up to 24bit/96kHz and PCM support of up to 32bit/768kHz.
The DX7 Pro doesn’t disappoint in sound, either. “It’s the best sounding DAC I’ve ever experienced,” Drake said, “it sounds just like you expect it to—consistent and clear.”
This is further backed with a comment from Tony, stating that, with the DX7 Pro, his headphones sounded better than ever before.
One of the biggest disadvantages of this product is its above-average price. If you’re searching for a budget DAC amp, you might want to skip this one. With price comes class-leading performance, however, so if money isn’t an issue, you’ll absolutely love the DX7 Pro.
- Solid build
- Impressive resolution and transparency levels
- Wide soundstage
- Brilliant sound quality
- Above-average cost
- High output impedance, particularly on the headphone outs
Sound BlasterX G6 – Runner Up
- UPGRADE YOUR GAMES ON PS4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH, AND PC | Get immediate increased enjoyment over basic motherboard and controller audio! Apart from incredible audio quality, the Sound BlasterX G6 boasts gaming-centric features such as Sidetone volume control and easy-to-reach profile buttons
- INDUSTRY-LEADING AUDIO PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY | Enjoy full audio customization and enhanced audio realism with immersive 7.1 surround virtualization, accurate cues, bass boost and in-game voice communication enhancements. It also has Scout Mode than enhances in-game audio cues, letting you hear your enemies before they hear you
- 7.1 VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND AND DOLBY DIGITAL | Enjoy the latest in immersion technology with Dolby Digital decoding or Sound Blaster’s proprietary surround sound perfect for games and movies
- DISCRETE HEADPHONE AMP | Custom-designed Xamp headphone amplifier features discrete components through all stages of amplification in a bi-amp design. Each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver a whole new level of pristine audio fidelity in an authentic, unaltered lossless model. The ultra-low 1 Ohm output impedance perfectly drives performance-grade sensitive 8W in-ear monitors all the way to studio-grade 600W headphones
- 130dB DNR, 32-bit 384kHz DAC Advanced 32-bit oversampled multi-bit modulator with mismatch shaping technology eliminates distortion, ensuring audio is streamed with the highest level of detail and fidelity
The Sound BlasterX G6 is among the most powerful DAC amp combos on the market. It has a signal-to-noise ratio of 130dB and a DAC function that can go all the way up to 32-bit/384 kHz. Additionally, it comes with two G6-exclusive features including the X-amp headphone amplifier and the Dolby Digital Decoding.
The G6 comes with a 7.1 virtual surround sound function that amplifies your gaming and movie-watching experience. It also has a multi-bit modulator that eliminates sound distortion and background noise, ensuring your audio is streamed with the highest possible level of fidelity.
“With this device, I can now confidently master my tracks and harmony to a much greater depth,” Amit said. “I especially like the level of sensitivity it comes with.”
The G6 comes with its fair share of disadvantages, however.
For one, the device gets pretty hot after several hours of consecutive use. Moreover, the build quality is decent but not exceptional. The housing itself is made of plastic rather than metal or aluminum, making it susceptible to damage. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re not planning to carry it around, though.
- Impressive surround sound
- Excellent rhythm, pace, and timing
- Removes headphone noise, static, and distortion
- Intuitive EQ
- Not the most durable
iFi Hip-Dac Amplifier – Best Portable DAC Amp Combo
- ✅ PORTABLE DESIGN - Your music will never stop with up to 6 hrs of battery life and a slim, lightweight design perfect for carrying in your pocket wherever life takes you
- ✅ HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - From Spotify to Tidal MQA to MP3 and beyond, play any high res audio format with native digital to analog conversion so you can listen to any song the way the original recording was intended
- ✅ POWERFUL AMPLIFIER - Suited to your style, listen to in ear monitors or drive over the ear headphones with 400 mW max power output from the on-board amplifier
- ✅ EASY CONNECTIVITY – Connects directly to your smartphone with the USB Input, and works with balanced 4.4mm or S-Bal 3.5mm headphone plugs for ultimate convenience and versatility
- ✅ HIGH TECH – Power Match and XBass offer adjustable analog enhancements to customize your listening experience without compromising the digital conversion
If you’re searching for a small but powerful DAC amp combo, look no further than the iFi Hip-Dac Amplifier. Measuring at only 4 x 2.75 x 0.55 inches, this hip flask-shaped device provides high-quality sound while on the go.
Performance-wise, the iFi Hip-Dac works with most DSD256 files and can take on 32-bit/384kHz PCM devices with ease. It delivers balanced sounds that are free of harsh edges. Its bass cuts through background sound with purpose, and its lows are rich and powerful.
“I can’t recommend the Hip-Dac enough,” Shella comments. “For such a good value package, it offers an incredible sound quality. It lets me hear my favorite songs as I’ve never heard before!”
Most users agree that the Hip-Dac’s tonal quality is a bit too smooth, but that just makes it less critical of source and recording quality. It never sounds out of its depth nor does it ever sound “too much.”
- Easy-going sound quality
- Compact build
- Multiple inputs and outputs
- Powerful amplifier (400MW)
- Limited battery life of only six hours
- Fosi Audio Q4 – Best Budget Pick
The Fosi Audio Q4 is a budget-friendly gaming DAC and headphone amplifier that impresses not only in price but also in performance.
Designed to give its users an amplified audio experience, the Fosi Audio Q4 is a no-frills plug-and-play DAC amp combo. Since it doesn’t require the installation of specialized software, driver, or app, this product is super easy to set up. Plug it in and it’s ready to go.
The Fosi Audio Q4 comes with a built-in Hi-Fi headphone amp chip that can handle most 16 to 200-ohm devices. Moreover, it’s equipped with three usable inputs—USB, optical, and coaxial—allowing you to hook all of your audio sources into the unit.
User John recommends the Fosi Audio Q4 to anyone who wants to casually increase their listening enjoyment on your PC or gaming system. “It really brought my speaker to life,” he said, “the bass, volume, and treble controls work extremely well.”
He also notes that the Q4 feels quite solid and premium. We definitely agree with this statement.
Most users agree that the Fosi Audio Q4 isn’t as powerful as premium DAC amps. Unfortunately, the difference is quite obvious, especially to an audiophile. However, it’s no secret that it’s the best unit under $100.
- Compact size fits any table
- Gets rid of ground loop feedback and electromagnetic interference
- Easy to use
- Decent bass and treble
- Durable aluminum metal housing
- Not the most powerful
- Requires two USBs to work (one for data, one for power)
EPOS Sennheiser GSX 1000 Amplifier – Best Gaming DAC Amp Combo
- Binaural Rendering Engine With 7.1 Surround - The Proprietary High-Tech Audio Engine Delivers Exceptional Spatial Awareness And Positional Game Audio. Delivers The Game Audio Details And Positional Audio Cues.
- Quick Setting Changes – Save Up To 4 Customized Sound Settings On The Led Touch Panel That Allows One-Touch Mode Switch, Also Between Headphone And Speaker Listening And Make Fast Adjustments With A Large Aluminum Volume Ring
- Eq Settings – Get Precise Control Of Your Game Audio With A Dedicated Dac Chip And Eq Presets. Specially Attuned Audio Presets For Competitive Gaming Focus And Balance Sound Frequencies Where They Are Needed
- Sidetone- Sidetone Control Lets You Adjust The Loudness Of Your Own Voice In Your Headset: You Know What You Are Saying, Tune In To Your Teammates.
Marketed towards gamers, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 is a powerful DAC amp combo that offers a surprising amount of versatility.
Equipped with a 7.1 surround sound software and a binaural rendering engine, the GSX 1000 delivers exceptional positional game audio and spatial awareness. These two features allow you to fully immerse yourself while gaming.
Paired with especially attuned audio presets—music, esports, story, and neutral—you can fully control the focus and balance of sound frequencies depending on the game you’re playing.
Ruben states that he’s yet to find a DSP unit that matches the performance found in the GSX 1000, especially at the price it comes with. “Its binaural technology is no joke,” he mentions, “it truly amplifies the atmosphere of the game you’re playing. It’s definitely a gamer’s must-have!”
Despite the premium sound it offers, the GSX 1000 comes with one disadvantage: lackluster microphone quality. It works well for in-game communication, but not so much during recording.
With that said, the GSX 1000 does have a built-in noise reduction function. As long as you adjust your microphone settings on your PC, your recording quality shouldn’t be impacted.
- Delivers crisp and clean sound
- Phenomenal binaural virtual surround
- Impressively built
- UI needs a bit of getting used to
- Not the best microphone quality
Factors and Features to Consider When Buying a DAC Amp Combo
There are hundreds of DAC amp combos on the market. To help you choose the right one for you, consider the following:
When buying a DAC amp, make sure it comes with all the right connections. It must be functional with your headset and audio plug, so it should come with a 3.5mm and/or a 4.5mm plug.
Likewise, the unit must accommodate a number of incoming sources such as USB, optical, and coaxial inputs.
When buying a DAC amp combo, make sure it’s compatible with your headphones. Not all headphones benefit from a DAC amp combo. If you have high-impedance headphones, you need a DAC amp with a matching or higher impedance output or it won’t make much of a difference in sound.
When buying a DAC amp, make sure it adds clarity and neutral emphasis to the sound of your headphones. Find a unit that adds subtle depth to your device’s sound quality. Plus points if it removes background noise and headphone distortions and echoes.
One of the biggest advantages of a DAC amp is its size. It’s much smaller than standalone units, making them ideal for individuals with limited table space or those who just want to keep their equipment compact.
If you’re planning to carry the unit around, search for a device small enough to fit your pocket or backpack. Even if space isn’t a concern, it’s still worth getting a portable unit that doesn’t take up much space in your room.
Each product comes with its own unique set of specs and features that matches user preference.
For instance, the GSX 1000 comes with separate audio and chat controls, making it supremely helpful for communicating or strategizing with teammates online. The Sound BlasterX G6, on the other hand, comes with a Dolby Digital Decoding and an X-amp headphone amplifier.
Some DAC amp combos also allow you to control the loudness of your voice through sidetone options. Others come with gaming-centric features like easy-to-reach profile buttons and volume controls.
Advantages of Owning a DAC Amp Combo
DAC amps are rising in popularity for a number of reasons, including the following:
One of the key advantages of owning a DAC amp combo is portability. After all, a DAC amp combines two separate units in one compact device. It not only takes up less desk space but also makes it super easy to carry around in your pocket or backpack.
DAC amp combos are packed with features that aren’t typically available in individual units. This makes DAC amp combos a better value for your money.
For instance, the Topping DX7 Pro is a 4-in-1 device that comes with a DAC, a preamp, a headphone amp, and a BT receiver. You won’t see all four of these features on a separate DAC or amp.
DAC amp combos are well-loved for their convenience. Most require little to no drivers, making them easy to set up and use. Their plug-and-play nature makes them highly convenient for individuals just entering the audiophile scene.
DAC amp combos are not only cost-effective but also take up a lot less space in your audio setup. Due to their compact nature, they’re way more portable and convenient than standalone units.
When buying a DAC amp combo, make sure it’s compatible with your sound equipment. Thoroughly test the sound quality before committing to it and make sure that the extra features are something you’re actually going to use.
Our top choice for the best DAC amp combos is hands-down the Topping DX7 Pro. It has everything you need in a standalone DAC and amp unit. Moreover, it delivers impressive levels of resolution and transparency, a deep bass, a clear mid-range, and top-notch sound. It’s a professional, sleek-looking device any audiophile will be proud of!