Looking for the best DAC for iPhone? We’ve curated a list of some of the best portable DACs you can use to amp up your iPhone’s audio output. Check them out!
I know exactly what’s going through your mind right now: what’s the point of buying a DAC when my headphones and iPhone already produce Hi-Fi music?
Well, the best DACs (Digital to Analog Converters) can make a world of difference to the way you experience music. Whatever you play through a DAC connected to your iPhone sounds clear and crisp with astounding bass – pretty much just the way music was meant to be heard.
Although your iPhone comes with a dedicated amp that’s built in to the device, having a portable dedicated amp helps improve the overall audio quality drastically. DACs are available in all shapes and sizes, ranging from pocket friendly DACs for iPhones to convenient models that feature wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth.
Here are the top 6 best DAC for iPhone you can buy online.
- FiiO Q1 Mark II
- iFi Hip-DAC for iPhone
- Chord Mojo 2
- Audiolab M-DAC Nano
- AudioQuest DragonFly DAC Bundle
- iFi Go Blu DAC for iPhone
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Which is the best DAC for iPhone?
The best portable DAC for iPhone’s in 2022 is the Chord Mojo 2. It’s equipped with multiple input options and comes with two 3.5mm output ports so two people can listen in simultaneously. The Chord Mojo 2 is known for it’s impressive sound and capabilities, but unfortunately it does not come equipped with Bluetooth so there’s no wireless functionality that’s offered.
What to consider when buying a DAC for iPhone
DACs come in many shapes and sizes, from ultra small USB DACs to large external ones – all of which offer different advantages and disadvantages.
Firstly, you’re going to need to check if the one you want will suit your needs best. If you need something that works with minimal setup and offers a lot of connectivity like 3.5mm ports for headphones and external speakers, then a USB DAC might be more suitable to use. These are big and generally require their own power source.
Compact DACs also connect nicely to iPhones and they’re more portable at a reasonable price as well as being readily available. They are often designed to be pocket-friendly and can run either on battery power or by being plugged in via USB.
Remember not all DACs come equipped with what it takes to play certain file formats like high bit-rate audio files so keep this mind if your main listening format is 320kbps MP3s for example .
Top Rated DACs for iPhone
|Best Headphone DAC for iPhones||Best for|
|FiiO Q1 Mark II||Best MiFi Certified DAC for iPhone|
|iFi Hip-DAC for iPhone||Best for Balanced Audio|
|Chord Mojo 2||Overall Best DAC for iPhone|
|Audiolab M-DAC Nano||Best for Wireless Portability|
|AudioQuest DragonFly DAC Bundle||Best USB DAC Bundle for iPhone|
|iFi Go Blu DAC for iPhone||Best Compact DAC for iPhone|
Recommended Read: Best DAC under $500
Best DAC For iPhone
FiiO Q1 Mark 2
The FiiO Q1 Mark II Slim Portable High Resolution Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is MiFi certified, so you can use it with your compatible iPhone or iPad device. The front of this DAC is made from aluminum to protect it from electromagnetic interference when using your iPhone or iPad.
This DAC easily pairs with your iPhone or iPad via an included lightning connector cable – making it one of the most innovative pieces for enjoying music on a portable digital player as compared to other options currently available on the market.
- This DAC will automatically determine the kind of device it’s connected to and you will not have to manually switch between input modes.
- There are two additional switches that help you adjust the gain and fine-tune the bass levels.
- It also features exceptional DAC and amplifier components; the DAC uses the AKM AK4452, the Headphone Amp uses the OPA926 while the Low-pass filter uses Texas Instruments OPA1662.
- With the Q1 Mark 2 you will get lightning to micro-USB cable so there’s no need to buy an additional lightning cable to connect with the DAC.
- Designed for iPhones
- Offers electromagnetic interference protection
- Supports lightning to micro-USB
Rating – 5/5
The iFi Hip-DAC is a delight to use and offers top quality sound at a great price. It’s especially useful if you’re just picking up on the world of hi-res audio as it makes all your music sounds better without any complicated set ups or tinkering with equalizers – just plug and play!
And it’s small enough to carry around with you everywhere, making it the perfect travel companion.
That said, its non-Bluetooth connection means that Android users aren’t able to take advantage of it as easily as other DACs on the market, plus those with an Apple device will have to head back to the drawing board for an additional purchase if they want to be able to use the headset.
- The iFi Hip-DAC comes with an in-built amplifier that is capable of delivering up to 400W max power. This device once connected to your headphones or IEMs will produce impeccable sound making it one of the best DACs for iPhones.
- It will connect directly to your smartphone with the help of a USB input and works with either a balanced 4.4mm or S-Balanced 3.5mm headphone plugs assuring ultimate convenience and versatility.
- You can customize your listening experience thanks to the additional analog enhancements such as, XBass and Power Match.
- Designed well
- Supports popular Hi-Res codecs
- Offers balanced and unbalanced sound
- Does not offer wireless connectivity
Rating – 5/5
Chord Mojo 2
The Chord Mojo 2 hasn’t been out for long but it’s already highly popular thanks to its brilliant sound quality and easy-to-use interface. However, there are some drawbacks like it’s bulky, doesn’t have any wireless connectivity options and, compared with what cheaper rivals offer at similar prices, it lacks features such as optical and coaxial outputs.
But in terms of pure performance this DAC gets a high mark from us because of its overall excellent credentials. What’s more, it’s reassuringly well made and very musical.
- It features a large and powerful amplifier that is capable of decoding almost any audio formats and supports from 32kHz up to 768kHz / 32-bit and Quad DSD 256.
- The battery in the Mojo 2 uses the latest Li-Po technology allowing you to receive over 8-10 hours of use on a single 4 hour charge.
- It comes with two 3.5mm analog outputs so two people can listen to the same track simultaneously.
- This fully automatic device is built to remember your last used settings so there’s no need of configuring it multiple times.
- Sounds great at all volume levels
- Loads of analog input options to choose from
- Can power two headphones simultaneously
- Slightly bulky and heavy
- No Bluetooth
Rating – 5/5
Audiolab M-DAC Nano
Don’t let its small size fool you, the M-DAC Nano is a powerful pocket-sized portable amplifier and DAC. Offering high resolution audio via aptX, aptX Low Latency, and AAC codecs (up to 384 kHz / 32 bit), it’s an ideal way to take your music with you wherever you go.
It features Bluetooth 4.2 with multi-connection functionality and Low Energy mode, which streamlines the pairing process for the ultimate convenience when on the move. Its convenient 8-hour rechargeable design makes this amazing little device the perfect companion for you to have around during leisure time activities such as travel and at work too.
- The M-DAC Nano features an impressive 8 hour battery life with a charge-out function thanks to the massive 4000mAh built-in battery..
- It even offers multi-device compatibility and is capable of working with Mac, Windows operating systems.
- Easy to use, plug and play design
- Makes wired headphones wireless
- Mediocre battery life
- Is not versatile
Rating – 4.5/5Z
AudioQuest DragonFly DAC Bundle
The AudioQuest Dragonfly has been one of the most portable DACs and headphone amps in the market for a while and it’s highly effective in the process of converting digital audio into analog stereo.
The Dragonfly has been designed specifically for those who are looking to have an amped up experience on the go and will easily fit within your pocket.
It’s one of the best DAC Amp combos under $300 and is powered by a 24-bit ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a minimum-phase roll-off filter capable of delivering natural sounding music.
- The Dragonfly can convert any device such as a computer, tablet, smartphone or iPhone into a true Hi-Fi player. You’re able to connect the DAC to a set of headphones or if you’re looking to go big then you’re even able to patch in large audio systems.
- It plays all forms of audio files and can even play MP3 audio files in High resolution.
- It has a 2.1v output making it compatible with a wide range of headphones including those low-efficiency models.
- This pen-drive sized USB DAC is equipped with Microchip PIC32MX micro-controller that uses extremely low power and minimizes the sound-degrading effect of high-frequency interference.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Highly versatile and can connect with almost all devices
- Supports numerous codecs
- Has a built in Sabre DAC chip
- Can easily get lost
- Gets damaged easily
Rating – 4.5/5
iFi Go Blu
The iFi Go Blu is a great DAC for iPhone’s. While it does not offer the appropriate lightning or USB ports to connect your iPhone, the built-in Bluetooth capabilities will help do the trick. The Go Blu is rather small but is quite the powerhouse and can deliver some pretty amazing sounding audio.
Simply turn on the Go Blu and pair it with your iPhone for an instant theater grade experience. It’s a tad expensive, but considering you get 5.1 surround sound audio and support for a number of Codecs make it worth every penny.
- It uses the latest Qualcomm 5100 series Bluetooth chip that supports Bluetooth 5.1 and can play formats like AAC, aptX, LDAC and HWA codecs.
- While listening to quieter music, the iFi Go Blu will allot your tunes a certain amount of space so nothing sounds cluttered.
- The S-Balanced circuitry cuts distortion by 50% with single ended headphone connections.
- Pocket-friendly design
- Lightweight and compact
- Helps boost iPhone audio quality even through Bluetooth
- Built-in microphone
Rating – 5/5
MeloAudio iPhone to MIDI Cable
The MeloAudio USB 2.0 Cable Type B to Midi Cable OTG Cable Compatible with iOS Devices costs $16.99 and is designed for you to connect your iPhone to any DAC that features a USB-B input. This cable adopts an aluminum alloy interface and TPE body allowing it to be extra durable and tangle-proof.
It features an Apple original chip and uses a pure oxygen free copper core to deliver Hi-Fi audio output. The MIDI cord measures in approx 5-feet and can be used at home, office or in a sound studio.
*Please make sure that your iOS devices is updated at least IOS 10.3.2.
What is a DAC?
A Digital to Analog converter or DAC as they are more commonly called are in all electronic devices that act as a source of digital sound, they are built into most modern devices like smartphones, tablets, CD or Blu ray players, digital TV boxes and game consoles are a few.
Some time ago we never needed DACs because in a recording studio the microphone would capture and store sound as analogue signals, generally on reel or tape. Those signals were then imprinted on records which created grooves, when you played a record the needle sensed those groves and created an electric signal which would be read by the preamp and finally speakers.
Today things are very different, studio engineers convert an analogue signal to a bit stream, which is a series of numbers, and to listen to it, it has to be converted back to analogue.
Speakers and our ears are not able to interpret digital information, it has to be converted to an analogue waveform, and simply put digital music is nothing but a lot of 0s and 1s. So when you listen to digital recordings of your favorite artist, you would actually be listening to an analogue signal that was converted from digital by the DAC.
A DAC fetches the digital data from the device and transforms it into an analogue signal, that analogue signal is sent to an amplifier which then gives the output to your speakers or headphones so that the sound is produced by the drivers.
Like most other electronics particularly audio related equipment, one device can always be better or worse than another, To explain, a tablet or a laptop will have a very basic DAC installed, this will produce sound which is good but since such devices are designed for all round function it’s not the most important part unlike use specific audio equipment.
So choosing the right one for your needs is important.
Benefits Of An External DAC.
One of the biggest reasons to get a new DAC is because the current basic DACs in systems like computers, smartphones and tablets are not the best and will produce noticeable noise and distortion or will not be able to handle the bit rate of high quality digital audio.
- The function of the DAC is to take digital samples which make up a complete recording and turn that back into a continuous analogue signal, for this to happen it needs to convert the bits of data from digital files into an analogue electric signal at set rates of thousands per second, these are known as samples.
- An external DAC can reduce jitter, which is the result of inaccurate signals from the clock that tells the DAC when to convert each sample. When sample points do not get converted when they should, it will lead to a change in pitch for short periods of time, the higher the note gets as its being reproduced, the greater the pitch error.
- Another region where an external DAC will help is to give you get a better, more vivid experience of the mastering process of the music itself.
- Mastering is one of the last steps in post-production and is one of the most important parts of the audio making process as well. During this process editing of the frequency range, adjustments to audio levels of each instrument and other things like compression are adjusted.
- Having an external DAC can help you listen to and give you a better understanding of how an artist and producer mastered the audio and you will not just be able to enjoy your music further but will be able gauge all the different sounds better, resulting in smoother, way more clear music.
Can I use a DAC with iPhone?
Yes, you can use a DAC with your iPhone if you want to improve your listening experience. In order to stream in Hi-Res lossless audio then you will need a DAC and a wired pair of headphones.
Is is mandatory to use a DAC with iPhone?
No, the iPhone delivers clear and crisp sounding audio, however if you want a heightened and better experience then it’s best to use a DAC with your iPhone
A good DAC will take you a long way especially with how you experience music on a daily basis. Unfortunately, iPhones are not compatible with most of the DACs in the market unless you have a lightning to MIDI cable or a lightning to USB-A cable.
The DAC’s listed have been rated as some of the best in the world, simply because they deliver astounding sound and are quite compact.
Since most of the DACs listed in this article have similar features, the only way to break it down is based on the price. As a recommendation, the FiiO Q1 Mark 2 is a remarkable device which is both powerful and affordable.
In the end, you will have to decide for yourself which DAC you’d like to pick up for your iPhone.