If you are an audiophile, or lover of all things sound and music like me, then you will know how important it is to optimize your listening experience for the best sound quality available.
However, not everyone knows that there are ways to improve your audio and sound quality yourself, without breaking the bank.
You can purchase a small, USB DAC to elevate your sound quality and feed your listening needs. Never heard of it? No problem, I will let you in on the sound sphere’s best secret.
A DAC is a handy contraption that sends converted signals to an amplifier for greater sound quality. DAC actually stands for digital to analog converter.
These are generally quite small, portable devices that you can plug into your computer, or other devices in order to improve the level of sound that it produces.
As DACs convert digital files into sound, you may be surprised to know that your smartphone will have a DAC inside.
This will work to convert files from streaming systems like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music so that you can play through the phone and hear the music.
However, you may require a more powerful DAC system in order to really feel the music and enjoy the quality of some of your favorite songs.
I love using USB DACs as they are super portable, easy to use and can improve the quality of your audio by a mile.You may be wondering, if it can do all of that, then it must be expensive. But do not worry, I have you covered!
I have created a list of the best USB DACs for under $100 so that you can get a better quality of sound without worrying about your bank balance.
My Top Pick
With so many different types of USB DACs on the market, it can be hard to find the right one just for you. Luckily, my guide covers some of the best USB DACs available, and for under $100.
If you do not have time to read the whole post, and simply just want answers, then my top pick of the best USB DAC for under $100 is the FiiO E10K USB DAC.
This USB DAC is the best I could find for just under $100. Despite its lower price tag, it is a fully capable and impressive DAC system.
The FiiO E10K is one of the most popular DACs at the moment. It is a useful, small and compact DAC that is perfect for on the go listening and portable enough to take anywhere you want to!
The FiiO USB DAC is constructed with a durable brushed aluminum shell for long lasting use and a product that you can rely one. This model comes in either a smart titanium color or the choice of black for your own preference.
However, the great thing about this USB DAC is its innovative and advanced DAC chip, the PCM102. This chip can handle a maximum file of 24 bit or 96kHz for improved sound quality and audio listening.
You can connect this device to your TV, headphones, computer, consoles and so much more!
In addition, the FiiO E10K USB DAC features a linear filter that can improve the sound, whilst completely eliminating any white noise or distortion when listening.
With a USB power cable, and full compatibility with a variety of devices, you can take your listening experience to the next level with this USB DAC.
For the best available, portable USB DAC under 100 dollars, you are going to want to try the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.
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MY TOP PICK
If you are looking for the best USB DAC for under a $100, then you cannot go far wrong than with the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.
I love this handy little device because it is completely portable, with a small compact design and brushed aluminum shell for durable use.
This USB DAC comes in either black or a sleek titanium color for your personal preference.
It is constructed with one of the most advanced and high quality DAC chips, the PCM102. This can therefore handle a maximum file of 24 bit or 96kHz.
With its impressive linear filter, this DAC can output a highly improved and quality audio file whilst eliminating any irritating distortion or background noise.
The FiiO DAC utilizes a USB for connection and power, whilst making it fully compatible with a multitude of various devices including a headphone jack to improve your sound performance.
- Improved sound
- USB connection
- Linear filter
- Durable design
- Aluminum shell
- PCM102 chip
- Comes in 2 colors
- Not long lasting
When looking for a portable USB DAC for under $100, you will come across the Fosi Audio Mini Stereo USB DAC.
I really like this DAC because it is small, compact, and reliable when it comes to sound.
This DAC is easy to set up, without any specialist knowledge or software, you can simply plug and play and you are ready to go.
With a USB, optical and coaxial input, you can fit it with most audio systems, or connect it to an amplifier!
With a built in Hi-Fi headphone amp chip, this DAC can drive most 16ohm to 200 ohm headphones.
This product also has bass and treble control, and can be used as a preamp or volume controller for your PC, Mac, Computer or other devices.
What I love about this DAC is that it is so compatible, you can use it with any playback source with a USB, TV, satellite receiver, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray players or even a gaming console!
With volume control, and an output frequency of 24 bit or 192kHz, this is the perfect USB DAC to improve your listening experience greatly.
- Comes in 2 colors
- USB cable, optical and coaxial input
- Volume control
- Built in Hi-Fi
- Output frequency of 24 bit or 192 kHz
- Works with a variety of devices
- 18 month warranty included
- Headphone jack is loose
Trying to find a USB DAC for under $100 is quite a difficult task.
There are so many available, and you want to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for.
What makes the FX-Audio Mini USB DAC stand out for me is that it has a power adapter for much more extensive and longer use.
This USB DAC is sleek and stylish with its black coloring and durable housing for the product.
The design is compact and adaptable, able to connect to active speakers via RCA to improve the sound quality greatly. On the other hand, you can use this DAC as a powerful headphone amplifier.
With a variety of input modes, you can use this DAC with USB, optical fiber, coaxial inputs, connect it to your TV, DVD or console for amplified sound and quality.
This FX-Audio DAC works with a strong chipset to provide ultra tone input and output, with no distortion.
In addition, this USB DAC works with 24 bit or 96 kHz sound quality.
What is great about this USB DAC is that it is mini sized, and perfect for connecting to your computer or console for fantastic musical sound or audio for gaming. To change the way you listen, try this FX-Audio Mini DAC.
- Plug in power source
- Portable and lightweight
- Durable design
- USB, coaxial and optical input
- Can be connected to USB and variety of devices
- Powerful chipset
- 24 bit/ 96 kHz
- Long life
- Not as high quality sound as competitors
If you are looking for one of the cheapest yet capable USB DACs on the market, then I have got you covered.
The Syba Sonic USB DAC is the perfect solution for all of your audio requirements.
Fully equipped with a CM6533 intelligent noise reduction chip filter, this DAC reduces any noise, distortion and background white noise, so that your sound quality is fully restored.
With a sound quality of up to 24 bit or 96 kHz, you can enjoy the quality of this DAC and upgrade your listening experience for your inner audiophile.
What is great about this USB DAC is that it fits USB connections, stereo, headphones and many more.
This compact, portable DAC can even fit a microphone to solve the problem of computer and sound card damage all for under 100 dollars!
- Equipped with CM6533 chip
- Sound quality of up to 24 bit/ 96 kHz
- Multiple connections including USB
- Microphone input
- Resolves sound card damage
- Improves audio quality
- Difficult to set up and connect
When reviewing the best USB DACs available on the market for under $100, I simply could not leave out the Signstek Mini USB DAC.
This product is small, but mighty.
In addition, the Signstek HiFi Mini USB DAC was the cheapest one that I could find currently on the market.
However, this DAC is no lesser than its more expensive competitors.
This mini USB DAC comes equipped with analog output, optical digital output, headphone output and coaxial output.
With a small, mini, compact design, this USB DAC can be taken anywhere, and can fit wherever you need it to.
With a DV709 digital filter, this small USB DAC offers more pure sound, with an impressive chip that supports up to 16 bit so that you can appreciate your music better.
It is easy to use, utilizes a USB cable for power, and provides high quality audio that never fades.
This cost efficient option still has a durable design with a high quality, aluminum shell material and a variety of connectable options.
- Aluminum shell
- Durable design
- Mini sized
- Uses coaxial, USB and optical output
- Digital filter for pure sound
- Improves sound quality
- Headphone output
- Not as high quality sound as other competitors
- Not long lasting
Best USB DAC For Under 100 Buying Guide
When looking for the best USB DAC for under $100, there are a few things that you should consider before making a purchase.
You will first have to think about what you want to connect your DAC to. There are so many different versions of DACs that it is hard to keep track of what they can connect to.
You can buy portable USB DACs, wireless DACs, headphone DACs, desktop DACs and even some to improve the sound quality of your iPhone.
With a USB DAC you will be able to connect it to a multitude of devices for your convenience.
In addition, most DACs will feature a few ports to connect USB, headphones or other devices to make them more useful and versatile.
With a USB DAC you can then connect to earphones, computers, USB, and smartphones or other devices.
You will also need to find a DAC that is easily portable and compact enough to carry around with you. This can be so beneficial as you can improve sound and audio when you are on the go.
The best USB DACs will need to be durable enough and long lasting to withstand extensive use, or audio playing on the go.
With a good design and construction, you can rely on your DAC, knowing you can take it anywhere without risking serious damage.
You may also benefit from a USB DAC that is easy to power. Most will be able to charge and power up by plugging in to your computer with the USB adapter, however, some will have power adapters that you can use for much longer periods of time.
When searching for the best USB DAC, it is important to remember that you can find some amazing products for under $100. Although on the cheaper end of the scale, these DACs are no less capable than their more expensive counterparts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a USB DAC
DAC stands for digital to analog converter. A USB DAC can convert digital audio signals from your computer or devices, and will change them into analog signals in order to amplify the sound through speakers.
A USB DAC can provide ultimate and far superior sound quality and conversion than regular speakers.
Does DAC improve sound quality?
A DAC will amplify your sound and music. By purchasing a DAC, you will be able to listen to a more quality sound that is superior to the output that your devices will produce.
With stronger sound quality, you will have a better listening and audio experience.
How do I externally power my USB DAC?
When your USB DAC is plugged into your computer or other devices, you may notice that there is not a lot of power to drive your DAC.
To counteract this, you can use a powered USB hub. This will keep you connected for longer, and will make sure that you have ultra sound quality.
How do I use a USB DAC for my computer?
For the majority of modern computers and laptops, you will need to use a USB DAC to improve the sound and volume quality.
To do this, all you will need to do is connect a USB cable to an available port on your computer. Then, you can connect the cable to the input on your USB DAC device. You can either play through the DAC or add headphones to hear real quality audio.
Do you need a DAC for music or sound production?
A DAC system will be highly beneficial if you want to record audio digitally.
As we have stated, DAC improves the sound quality massively, and if you are recording or producing music, then you will want the best quality possible.
What is the cheapest USB DAC available?
If you are looking to get into using a USB DAC, then you will not want to invest in the best straight away.
I recommend that you try using one of the cheapest available on the market to get used to a DAC and how to use one.
My favorite cheapest USB DAC at the moment is the Signstek Mini USB DAC to help get you started.