Our 2020 Top DACs Under $500

Read our 2020 Top DACs Under $500: http://bit.ly/2XStXrG | | Chat with us online: https://www.audioadvice.com | Call for sales and support: 888.899.8776 |

In this video, we’ve compiled our 2019 Top DACs Under $500. If you are in the market for a Digital to Analog Converter, DAC for short, you probably understand there is a lot of room for improvement for the DAC’s that come in our smartphones and computers. In this video, we’ll go over some of the best DACs under $500 to help you make the best DAC purchasing decision. But first, if you’re unfamiliar with a DAC, here’s the quick download:

The DAC is the magic part on the inside of almost all consumer electronic gear that translates the digital audio signal of 1’s and 0’s back into music for our ears to enjoy. Hence why it’s called a Digital to Analog Converter.

When you use an outboard DAC in your system, the inexpensive DAC inside your computer or smartphone is totally bypassed, letting your music come through a lot closer to the original source.

You’ll hear improvements in DACs as you move up in quality due to several factors. First, there is the quality of the DAC chipset. Second, the design of the supporting electronics for the DAC and finally, how well the DAC deals with timing. Reassembling all the 1’s and 0’s is already a tough task, but putting them all back together with the same timing they were recorded with is even tougher.

We’ve picked a handful of DACs that we think do a remarkable job for under $500. Most of these have a simple way to connect to your smartphone for improving sound on the go, and all of them can be used in your home audio system.

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50 Comments

  1. Erik Knudsen on February 1, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    My LG v40 DAC is pretty awesome. I’m wondering if a dragonfly cobalt is even an upgrade – anyone have experience?



  2. dinozaur pickupline on February 1, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    what is the model for mojo



  3. zigzigf*ck on February 1, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Mojo : excessive price …



  4. leadfoot foot on February 1, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    You whiffed on one of the best DACs, namely the Schiit Bifrost!



  5. ThePapabear2012 on February 1, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    These ain’t Schiit.



  6. advsoft on February 1, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Ultra rubbish! Under 500$? Pff under 50 is the best price



  7. Gordon2Freeman on February 1, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Top DAC unter 500$? Thats easy… Khadas Toneboard with a Case from audiophonics.fr without any doubt. Youre welcome. Check the measurements at audiosciencereview 🙂



  8. dlrgroup on February 1, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve tried all three Dragons.
    Why no Schit? Why? I own two the Modi Multibit and the Bifrost Multibit.
    The science behind these two fat outweighs everything seen here. Please explain.



  9. Salvador Ramirez on February 1, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Dac magic sounds amazing with the xlr balance outputs



  10. Fred Johnson on February 1, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    Sounds like none of these is a stand-alone DAC. They all have headphone amps or pre-amps built in. How about doing a video on stand-alone DACs?



  11. J N on February 1, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    Topping 70 blows yours away for 499



  12. Andrew Turner on February 1, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    Talking without moving your hands. Try it.



  13. ThePapabear2012 on February 1, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    My DAC is Schiit



  14. Rick S on February 1, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    Khadas Tone Board and a case are less than $120 and will likely equal or better any of these here. I have owned the Modi 3, Modi 2 Uber, and two Modi Multibits and none of them sound better than the Khadas TB! The board itself is $99 (You will need a case, can make your own, can run it board only, or install it in your PC case if you don’t mind a dremel) and will likely stun most who hear it, the only thing is it is a no-frills DAC. USB-C powered (it has a USB-A to USB-C cable that it comes with), only Analog L and R and Digital Coax Inputs, but it is the best DAC I have yet heard. Once I got it, I sold my Modi 3 and Modi Multibit, that should tell you something. The Modi 3 is not as rich and "darker", and the Modi Multibit was not impressive for the price, maybe a bit analog sounding but artificial and still not as rich as the Khadas. The Modi DACs color the sound, the Khadas takes the song and plays it like it should be played, adding richness just because of the high quality parts used.



  15. M. on February 1, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Not Dell Xps 15 with Maxxaudio built in it. Made me sell my IFi Xdsd, Dragonfly red and ifi xcan. Not true anymore.



  16. Sandipan Ghosh on February 1, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    Dac magic + is bad. sound very sallow!! Original Dac magic is good. Topping d50 is good with coax and opt input having driver issue with usb(popping sound)



  17. DIMITRIS KALIGERIS on February 1, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    Old wolf(son) Cambridge audio is still the best solution cause the only real preamp and balanced device



  18. Lonely cake on February 1, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Can i put a dragonfly between the chromecaster and amp?

    Also, doesnt the amp include a dac?



  19. Panda Digital Love on February 1, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Sabja D5 reigning champ for under 500$. Proven by scientific charts and measurements by Audioscience.com . chifi of course more bang for the buck.



  20. John Cahill on February 1, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    I am using a Topping D70 A fantastic DAC with a great chip. Very musical I had this up against the Chord Quintest and prefered the D70



  21. Vitor Roma on February 1, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Very weak list. No Topping D50S or Smsl su-8? Also smsl m500.



  22. Zoltán Vitális on February 1, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    The best buy,Sound blaster X-fi hd!😉



  23. Byron G on February 1, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    I use a 100w Arcam pre /power amp combo feeding my cherished KEF reference loudspeakers. My system sounds fantastic but for lower volume recordings, I needed to turn the volume knob up to over 80% on the amp to get the loudness I want. I got the DACMagic a few months ago, and now the amp volume never needs to go beyond to 30% which is great. This product represents great value for money and there is a distinct improvement in sound quality with all kinds of music, imho. The function of the volume knob at power up is weirdly designed, but nonetheless I would still highly recommend the DacMagic Plus.



  24. Ray D O Operator on February 1, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Kenwood Ts990s + DACmagic plus + Genelec 8040B’s powered by a homemade 12V 10A fully discrete regulated power supply
    Not too shabby for an HF Comms setup .
    Not everyone uses the DACmagic for music



  25. OspreyBravo18 on February 1, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    Nope.



  26. Bob Marley on February 1, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    "2020" video uploaded on 22 july 2019 stop trying to clickbait people you used carsalesman looking ass



  27. inToit Reviews on February 1, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Your recs are so out-dated. Real top dacs under 500… topping d30/d10, iFi zen dac, centrance dacport hd/dacportable, smsl su-8/m500, topping d70… better than all these… follow my channel if you agree.



  28. shaktipal gondara on February 1, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    have try all that khadas is best .for amp



  29. Alessandro Paladino on February 1, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    Whats a better value the cobalt or the cambridge audio



  30. Jaggs on February 1, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    These products are a lesser kind of Schiit.



  31. Chris Carson on February 1, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    Pretty sure the Music Fidelity V 90 will smoke any of those, for about $299 US.



  32. Rudy Myers on February 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    get a Chinese stand alone DAC like a Topping or Aune for under $500 or a NAD D1050 used. the Cambridge is a old design but still sounds good with the venerable Wolfson 8741 chip.



  33. Ian Canuckistan on February 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    No Ifi or Schiit? Are these recommendations sponsored only products?



  34. D. League on February 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    DACs are used for more than computers. They are also used to replace the older DACs in the CD player. I use them for both, but anything in this price range that isn’t spelled Schiit is a loser.



  35. hifiresearch74 on February 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    MiniDisc as an external DAC – https://youtu.be/GTeNmwlsWdk



  36. Poudre Noire on February 1, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    Sound BlasterX G6 is one of the best USB DAC/Amp one can buy



  37. Amish Gangster on February 1, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Don’t buy Chi fi.



  38. Porkchop's Papi on February 1, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Wanted to watch this but your weird hand gyrations were too distracting.
    Stopped the vid & read the comments. Apparently I didn’t miss anything.



  39. Juan Pedro Ibor Belveze on February 1, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Tiene buena pinta el S2 Digital.



  40. Eric A on February 1, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    I’m betting I could build a robust power supply for the Pro-ject box that would improve the performance. I’ve never built a low-voltage PS before, but anything ought to outperform a wall wart.



  41. Davide Rutigliano on February 1, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    Seriously, the plural of DAC is DACs, not DAC’s. Come on, you’re supposed to be respectable.



  42. Dennis Waske on February 1, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    no schiit?



  43. brojohnmcd on February 1, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Where is the Modi 3?



  44. dude d on February 1, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    con …. its a click bait ad link



  45. nostro1001 on February 1, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    "As close as possible to the original digital file"

    Are you kidding me???

    Nobody would even know what that is or how it sounds other than the engineer & the master recording. How that sounds depends on that gear.

    Chord mojo at home or on the go would be miles away from the original.

    I’m not knocking it as a portable dac; just your choice of words is nothing worse than a stereotypical used car salesman.

    Oh wait.. are you that person in the guise of a hi fi salesman?

    Please refrain from such false advertising. You’d not be allowed to publish that in a magazine/journal, tv etc. So please don’t use this platform to make such false remarks.

    Thank you!



  46. andrew ganley on February 1, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Just bought a Schiit Jotunheim Dac/Headphone amp superb!



  47. Shawn Elliott on February 1, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    DAC Magic, Dragonflys? Come on man lol. DAC Magic is old and outclassed in 2019/2020. It was a decent unit in 2012 when the market had less tech and competition. It wouldn’t make any respectable list now.



  48. Tim genardo on February 1, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    As mentioned by Panda Digital Love, the Sabja D5 has excellent performance. best of both worlds for A dac and headphone amp hybrid! audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-sabaj-d5-dac-amp.8337/



  49. Cass Sanchez on February 1, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    Such a good video. Clean and to the point. Thanks



  50. Chuck Goodwish on February 1, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    You deliberately snubbed SMSL and Topping, which have fantastic DACs . Was it just because they were made in China? I really don’t think you are doing an impartial report. Big thumb down