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Best DACs & Headphone Amps 2020: USB, Portable, Desktop

"Whether you want to use them with your TV, computer, laptop, smartphone or hifi system. We've gathered our picks for the best DACs and headphone amplifiers that you can buy!"

Our pick of the Best DAC and Headphone Amplifier for all budgets and uses:

Not to be overlooked, a good quality DAC and amp can do wonders to any setup. We have seen huge growth in interest towards DACs and amps, so it makes sense that we put together our favourite headphone amplifiers and DACs to help make that decision easier.

Whether you want to use them with your TV, computer, laptop, smartphone or hifi system. We've gathered our picks for the best DACs and headphone amplifiers that you can buy!

 

BEST DAC / AMP UNDER £100

1. Shanling UP2 - £79.99

shanling up2 Shanling UP2

The Shanling UP2 is the perfect way to bring added power and audio quality to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Using Bluetooth, the UP2 will connect wirelessly to your phone – or any Bluetooth compatible audio device – and thanks to the on board dedicated headphone amplifier and high quality Sabre DAC chip – you’ll be able to get high fidelity audio wherever you go.

READ MORE: Shanling UP2 Portable Bluetooth DAC & Headphone Amplifier Review

 

BEST DAC / AMP UNDER £200

2. JDS Labs Atom - £129.99

jds atom JDS Labs Atom

JDS Labs has mastered the art of making high quality amplifiers and DACs at affordable prices – and the Atom is their most impressive yet. For just over £100, the Atom desktop headphone amplifier will drive any headphone you throw at it and will bring improved soundstage, depth and dynamics to your setup. All in a neat and tidy desktop design.

READ MORE: JDS Labs Atom Desktop Headphone Amplifier Review

 

3. Periodic Audio Ni (Nickel) - £199

periodic audio nickel Periodic Audio Nickel

This one’s for the purists out there. On the outside, the Periodic Audio Ni seems like a very simple and basic headphone amplifier – plug it into your source and you’ll soon see that it most definitely isn’t simple or basic. This amp brings added power, punch and improved dynamics to whichever device it gets used with. Those that really appreciate good sound will love the Nickel.

MORE INFO: Periodic Audio Ni (Nickel) Portable Headphone Amplifier Review

 

BEST DAC / AMP UNDER £500

4. iFi Audio xDSD - £399

ifi audio xdsd iFi Audio xDSD

The xDSD from iFi Audio is a portable amplifier and DAC that can connect to your audio source wirelessly. So if you like to use your phone, but want to plug in some high quality headphones – then the xDSD will allow you to get the most from them, without adding more cables. The xDSD will take over the amp and DAC roles, so you will know that you’re getting the best sound no matter the source device.

MORE INFO: iFi Audio xDSD Portable Bluetooth DAC & Headphone Amplifier Review

 

5. JDS Labs Element II - £399

jds labs element ii JDS Labs Element II

If it is a desktop option you need, then the JDS Labs Element II will not only bring an audio upgrade – it will look great too. Beautifully designed with a simple yet striking look – the Element II will fit into any setup. Historically, JDS Labs has been known for their functional design and great sound – now with the Element II, they have shown that they can make great looking equipment too.

 

BEST DAC / AMP UNDER £1000

6. iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL - £599

ifi audio micro idsd bl iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL

For the ultimate amp and DAC solution, look no further. The 2 Burr-Brown DAC chips provide a solid foundation for the custom op-amps, which help to deliver an impressive amount of fidelity and power. Using sensitive IEMs? This amp/DAC handles these superbly, with no noise or distortion. Whether used on a desktop or on the move – the iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL does it all… really well. 

MORE INFO: iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL Portable DAC & Headphone Amplifier

 

Have We Missed Anything Out?

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