Whether you’re recording a song or having a long gaming session, sound quality is important. Having a good DAC and amp system will allow you to configure the sound to your liking.
But there’s a myriad of sound systems out there, which can be confusing for new shoppers. That’s where we come in!
In this guide, we’ll show the top 3 best DAC amp combo that’s currently available. Each of these sound systems is designed for utility and functionality. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge to make a conscious decision.
|Best DAC AMP Combo||Model||Expert Rating||Price|
|FiiO E10K USB|
DAC AMP Combo
|Sound BlasterX G6|
|FiiO K5 Pro|
What to Look for in the Best DAC AMP Combo
Impedance is measured in ohms and is used to measure the amount of power your headphones need. This is useful because the headphones need more power than your phone or computer can supply. This, meaning that they’ll need an amp.
In other scenarios, headphones might benefit from the extra power from the amp. But it has a low impedance, so it doesn’t need amps to work properly. If the headphones don’t receive enough power, it will not only sound very quiet, but the sounds won’t be present.
If headphones have an 80-ohm range or more, they will need an amp. For an impedance rating that’s more than 32 ohms, your headphones probably sound good without the need for one.
Headphone vs. Stereo Amps
The amp you purchase will depend on how you want to listen to audio. For instance, there are different amps designed for stereo speakers and headphones listening, so you should make a purchase according to this rule.
However, some studio amps allow you to power headphones. In fact, some of them have headphone amps included. All you have to do is plug in the headphone jack and slightly reduce the power.
Thus, killing two birds with one stone. If you want to get the highest sound quality possible, consider spending more on a dedicated headphone amp.
The physical size of your DAC amp combo needs to be taken into consideration. Go for a compact device if you’re traveling or have a mobile studio. But for those that need a stable sound system, having a bulkier DAC amp combo is better.
For instance, you can use the FiiO K5 for travel due to its compact size. It weighs only 15.4 ounces, making it small enough to fit in your backpack. Either way, it is important to know the size of your DAC/AMP sound system so you can fully make the most out of it.
Power output measures how long your amp can pump out music. The larger the room or speakers, the more power you’ll have (much to your roommates and neighbor’s dismay!).
However, you don’t need as much power as you’d expect. In general, you can use a 10W system for average listening, while 100W is enough to sound good at parties.
Hint: Check out the speaker sensitivity, as this is a large effect.
3 Best DAC AMP Combo:
- Output Wattage: 10 Watts
- PCM102 DAC Chip
- Bass Boost and Low Pass Filter
- Low Noise Floor
- Rear-panel coaxial digital output
The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier are suited for high-end sound. You’ll notice that the device is compact enough to fit on your palms. It has an outer casing crafted out of brushed aluminum. For added connectivity, it has a headphone jack and USB input and outputs, giving you the ability to connect with ease.
Speaking of outputs, this DAC system consists of a 1/8-inch output and a coaxial output. There are no rear inputs, so users cannot use the E10K as a preamp. However, you can feed this DAC device to another preamp if needed.
In fact, there is a headphone output in the front of the E10K. You can fit headphones (standard and entry-level) that fit within a 16 – 150 ohm range. While you can use headphones with a high impedance, they won’t achieve maximum performance with the FiiO E10K.
Audiophiles will recognize the E10K bass boost. While purists will argue that bass boost features should not be included in a best DAC amp combo, the FiiO E10K was created for a different audience. The E10K was built for the average customer who is wanting to enjoy a fun product.
For volume control, this device comes with a rotary knob system. The knob ranges from 0-8 and an “OFF” setting past zero. This setting has a nice weight when turned and gives the user smooth controls.
The FiiO E10K is great for improving the sounds of PCs and laptops effectively and easily. With its plug-and-play setup, new users will have no difficulty using this product.
It has a PCM5102 DAC chip that reduces delay while improving linearity. An internal audio filter is used, which reduces the silence when changing tracks and eliminates phase shifts.
Ergonomically speaking, this device will perform beyond your expectations. It operates quietly and has a low noise floor when used. You won’t hear any white noise or audio ambiance, giving you a distortionless and natural sound.
Overall, the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier are great for music hobbyists. It’s easy to set up, has good sound quality, and doesn’t make too much noise while in use. Consider getting this if you want a fun DAC/Amp combo when listening to your favorite music.
- Discrete headphone amp
- 130 dB DNR
- Dolby Digital Surround Sound
- Scout/SBX Mode
- LED Light Included
The Sound BlasterX G6 is designed for gaming. You’re getting a DAC, a sound card, and an amplifier all wrapped in one with this device. In fact, the device is versatile enough to work with the Playstation 5, Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Users experience an immediate audio boost when using the G6. Thanks to the Scout Mode technology, ambient noises are enhanced. This adds more character to your game and helps users determine a course of action. Footsteps and voices will sound louder, giving you a tactical advantage when hiding or ambushing enemies. All of this can be done without increasing the volume!
The SBX mode is another fan favorite. It gives a surround sound feeling between your ears and works to improve your audio experience. This mode helps amplify the original sound while adding spatial audio enhancements to create a wider soundstage.
Most gamers want a sound system that’s both reliable and durable. Fortunately, the G6 has a rubberized bottom, making it slip-resistant. The Sound BlasterX logo allows you to select from over 16.8 million colors if you love LED lighting.
The G6 needs a consistent stream of power when in use; a USB is provided to keep it fully charged. You’ll notice an SBX button, a Direct/Scout mode button, LEDs headphone indicators, and a headphone gain switch on one edge. All of these features allow you to control sound at your fingertips.
Nevertheless, the Sound BlasterX G6 is an acquired taste. The algorithms are good, but they are unable to fix different sounds individually. For example, your character might be quiet in a game, and a sudden surge of music jolts your ears once something dramatic occurs. While this isn’t Creative’s fault, some additional work is needed.
Also, the G6 uses a DAC that has a dynamic range of 130 dB and a 32-bit/384kHz playback. Both sound channels are amplified, which is great for gaming. Plus, the left and right channels are used to process different audio loads.
The Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res 130dB 32bit/384kHz Gaming DAC is best suited for streamers and gamers alike. It will dramatically boost the original sound, which is useful for online gameplay.
- Gain switches
- RGB simple rate indicator
- AK4493 DAC Chip
- ADC Volume Control
- Coaxial Input Included
The FiiO K5 Pro AK4493EQ has a unique power supply with a 15-volt output. On the AC side of the device, it has three-pin round holes which are similar to laptops. This gives great power delivery to the headphone output.
Also, the K5 Pro comes with a sturdy aluminum housing, an incremental (0.5 dB) digital volume control, and a metallic knob with a backlight. This gives you the power to play with its sound settings while remaining durable.
When using the RCI outputs, they bypass the gain switches. The preamp has good volume control and still works at higher volumes. We recommend that you disconnect using your headphones at this setting to prevent damage because of the loss of the gain functionality.
The K5 Pro has a clean sound signature due to the amplifying circuit. It provides a bit of smoothness and warmness in the lower frequencies, added with a punching power that’s strong and deep. The mid-treble sounds smooth because it’s not configured for pseudo clarity.
Specifically, the K5 Pro has a multi-level audio circuit that has a low-pass filter. The volume adjustment feature uses chipsets that have current drive amplification and voltage amplification. This allows you to control the volume and make the most out of your sound.
When it comes to accessories, the K5 Pro is filled with them! For example, it has a USB cable, 3.5-6.3mm convertor, and rubber pads. You’ll also find the 15V power input, which generates a better sound output than competing products.
The overall sound separation and resolution are great for their price. It has a good treble extension that prevents it from sounding compressed. Thus, giving you a more rich, fulfilling sound when the DAC is in use.
Basically, the FiiO K5 Pro AK4493EQ is a powerful tool for sound creation. It features AK4493 DAC chips that support sound that is 768kHz/32bit and a native DSD. Thus, giving you a choice to maximize audio opportunities when it’s in use.
Should I Use a Standalone DAC?
While all devices and computers use an in-built DAC, you could use a standalone DAC with the AMP for a clearer and high-quality sound. The benefit won’t work if there’s no detachable distortion, but a standalone DAC will fix this.
Remember, your main goal is maximizing your sound quality. Using a standalone DAC will be helpful if you have a home studio and want the best sound possible.
How Do DACS Work Logically?
DACs (Digital Analog Converters) are audio devices that can convert digital sound to an analog system. It takes the weights, binary input bits and combines them all together.
Because of this, DACs are used to reduce noise floor problems and sound quality issues. As a result, DACs can utilize that digital data to create high-quality sound once it reaches the analog signal.
Recommended: What Is DAC and Why Do You Need It?
When Should I Use a DAC?
If you have a good pair of speakers and headphones, then you can use them as long as the music files are in a high-quality format.
On the other hand, if the music has an uncompressed format, such as FLAC or WAV, then you should get a DAC to help improve the sound quality.
Devices such as computers, smartphones, and televisions have audio outputs that will pass on digital speakers. If the headphones or speakers are connected to a digital output, then you’ll need a DAC.
Is DACs Worth It?
While there are many that like the sound their headphones or digital speakers produce, there’s a reason why DAC software is popular with audiophiles. If you want the best sound possible, then you should invest in a DAC.
If you want the most bang for your buck, go for DACs that have inputs and outputs. For instance, using an external DAC will help you listen with two headphones and play signals to your home studio system.
Conclusively, the top 3 best DAC amp combo will improve your sound opportunities. Look for the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier for general sound improvement and the FiiO K5 Pro AK4493EQ.
To take your gaming to the next level, use the Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res 130dB 32bit/384kHz Gaming DAC. By doing this, you’ll have a sound system that helps you enjoy every song you listen to!