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Giant List of sub-$200 portable DACs w/ their chips & price

  1. money4me247 Contributor
    hey, I recently went through the trouble to look up the DAC chips & prices of quite a few sub-$200 DACs. Fricking manufacturers often do not disclose their DAC chip on their product specs. (kinda shady imo lol) Not sure if this list would be helpful to anyone, but I figured I'd post it. Please add on additional portable DACs (chip/price)! :) Knowledge is power after all. Edit: if someone wants to add on a higher price-range list of portable DACs w/ chip+price, feel freeee! :)
    Note: Products are ordered by DAC chip # and some items are actually dac/amps. All products here should be portable (aka USB-powered). Pricing as of 12/22/13.
    Wolfson WM8740: FiiO E70k ($89) vs E17 ($120) vs iBasso D-Zero ($100) - dac/amp combos
    FiiO E7 ($70: WM8740)
    E10 ($60-75: Wolfson WM8740 DAC chip)
    Headstage USB DAC Cable ($100: WM8740)
    Fiio E18 dac/amp ($159: PCM1795)
    Musiland Dragon USB Sound Card ASIO ($140: PCM1798)
    HRT Music Streamer II ($140-170: PCM1792)
    GoVibeMini ($55ish: PCM2702)
    Muse X5 HiFi vs Muse USB dac (both PCM2704: $19-30)
    Nuforce Icon UDAC2 Amp/Dac ($90: PCM2706 or ESS Sabre 9022?)
    Nuforce Icon UDAC3 ($125 - look at above)
    Go-Vibe Petite dac/amp ($150-195: PCM2702)
    Styleaudio carat ud-1 ($58: PCM 2704)
    Headstage Lyrix ($169: PCM2704)
    Musical Fidelity V-DAC ($150-200: PCM2706)
    HeadRoom Total BitHead ($149-159, but D/C: PCM2900E)
    Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface ($30: PCM2902)
    Stoner Acoustic UD 110v2 ($49: PCM5102A) -> same dac found in the woo audio's W7 firefly
    M2Tech hiFace DAC ($200: PCM5102A)
    Hifimediy usb dac ($35-60: ES9023 sabre) -> same dac as in resonessence labs concero & peachtree audio DAC•iT
    Audioquest Dragonfly ($99-150: ESS dac chip)
    Firestone Black Key ($75ish: CS4344)
    Firestone Audio Fireye II Dac/amp ($79: CS4344)
    HeadRoom Microdac (sub-$200 D/C: CS4398)
    DAC707 USB ($91: CS4398)
    Leckerton Audio UHA-4 ($169-200 dac/amp: CS8422 ASRC)
    VMV SMSL MAGIC USB DAC ($100-$150: CM6631A/AK4390) -> same dac as in the schitt modi
    Cakewalk UA-1G ($90 or less: AK4556)
    Audioengine D3 DAC ($189: AKM4369)
    Creative E-Mu 0204 USB 2.0 ($129: AK4396)
    ASUS Xonar U3 Sound Card ($40: ASUS UA100)
    Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Go! Pro ($24: prob some Creative dac)
    DAC Destroyer ($45.99: AD1955 chip)
    M-Audio Transit ($80, but D/C)
    Edit: In red are the current flagship DACs that I found from my research.
    AKM: AK4399: (http://www.musicalparadise.ca/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=56)
    Citrus Logic: CS4398 (http://www.cirrus.com/en/products/d-a_converters.html)
    ESS: ES9102A SABRE32: (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110712006671/en/ESS-Technology-Introduces-Flagship-SABRE32-Reference-ADC#.UsNQifRDuqs)
    TI (Burr Brown): the PCM51xx is TI's flagship line: (http://hifiduino.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/texas-instrument-audio-guide/)
    Wolfson: WM8741: (http://www.poppulse.com.hk/productview.asp?proid=10)
  2. Sapientiam
    Nice work! From this we can see at a glance there's not yet any USB powered multibit DAC offering sub $200. A market opportunity I see....
  3. RonaldDumsfeld
    Some readers might like to know that rather than buy a basic audiophile stereo in, stereo out DAC they can get a fully fledged ro audio interface for less than ~$200.
    Some recommended examples include;-
    Native Instruments Audio 2 - 95 EUR
    Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 - 115 EUR
    EMU 0204 - 115 EUR
    Steinberg UR22 - 130 EUR
    EMU 0404 - 150 EUR
    Focusrite Scarlet 2i4 - 160 EUR
    Native Instruments Audio 6 - 190 EUR
    bigx5murf likes this.
  4. money4me247 Contributor
    hey! Thanks for the additions. Yea, my list is only for portable budget dacs. Good to have another list of desktop options! :)

  5. RonaldDumsfeld
    Mmmh. I think you wll find the options I gave are classed as portable.
    They are designed to be used on the road with laptops or tablets. The Audio 2 is smaller than a cigaraette packet and the others are not much larger.  Some can be independently powered but they all have a USB power option which is what you specified as the def. of portable in the OP.
  6. money4me247 Contributor
    oh awesome! I didn't realize it. that's pretty amazing! can't believe I didn't find those options on during my search.
  7. jarrett
    What's in the HRT microStreamer? [​IMG]
  8. money4me247 Contributor
    the HRT microStreamer appears to have a PCM1744 dac chip vs the HRT Music Streamer II w/ the PCM1792 vs HRT Music Streamer II+ w/ a PCM1794.
    Hope that was helpful
  9. money4me247 Contributor
    Cool update from Hifimediy. Their $69 desktop HiFimeDIY Sabre USB DAC 2 (with external PSU) now comes with a headphone amp!! Seems to be called version UAE23+. Looks to me to be as fully-featured as many high-end desktop dac/amps without the hefty price tag. Has the Sabre ES9023 dac chip, RCA & coax output, external power supply. http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=62&product_id=87
    If anyone can find an cheaper or similarly priced alternative desktop combo at this price, I would love to know about it!!! :)
  10. Don Lehrer
    Great work, thanks for sharing
  11. Lohb
    Excellent. Thanks for compiling this list.
    I'm still a big fan of the U2 Sabre DAC.... about as small as it gets for that price range.
  12. asdfvtn
    I gotta ask- does having the asynchronous mode really have much of an effect on music? Like, is it worth the extra ~$20-30?
    Also I've been checking out T-PEOS "WAPA". No mention of internals, but I've emailed them and hopefully will be able to update.
  13. Lohb

    Well at the price difference, if you can get the U2 vs Sabre with no async...better safe than worry about what you are missing.It is not a big difference in price vs other product line price jumps....
    I had both (gave Sabre to a friend) and I also bought the USB isolator from them, so I know any noise coming in would not be coming off the USB connection for whatever reason.
  14. jarrett
    I think one of the whole points of running a USB DAC is for asynchronous mode
  15. money4me247 Contributor

    that's not true. point of a DAC is to "upgrade your sound card." there are a lot of dacs out there without asynch mode (aka not a standard feature).
    More Info about Asynch Mode:
    More Info about Digital Jitter:
    lol, I probably don't have the best grasp on all this, but it seems like asynch mode is simply way to prevent the dac from being a possible source for jitter. there are a lot of different things that can attribute to jitter (such as cables). I personally have never "heard" jitter when listening to music & I never had a cable improving my music, so personally as of now, I would think that I would not be able to heard the difference between the same product with and withouth asynch mode. Only way to test that though is to do a direct comparison. Whether eliminating jitter is worth $X, is up to you :)

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