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 best DACs for iPhones you can buy online.
- FiiO Q1 Mark II
- iFi Hip-DAC
- Chord Mojo
- AudioQuest DragonFly DAC
- Cyrus Soundkey DAC
Best DAC For iPhone
iPhones are known for their crisp and clear audio playback thanks to their in-built Amp/DAC. Adding an external DAC will enhance your listening experience by improving sound quality, bass reflex and ultimately you’ll be able to hear the high’s and low’s with absolutely no latency or crackle.
A DAC is ideal for your iPhone especially when you’re planning to host a party as it plays a large role in making your digital music experience worthwhile.
While there is a wide range of DACs in the market for a variety of purposes and devices, there are hardly a handful that come compatible with iPhones. See, the thing about the newer models of iPhone is that they don’t have a 3.5mm audio port, so connecting a DAC will be tough.
However, Apple and other third-party companies have developed 3.5mm to MIDi cables that can act as a connector between your iPhone and DAC allowing you to have the time of your life. Apart from this you’re even able to connect your iPhone to a DAC via Bluetooth (if the DAC supports wireless connections)
So before we get into the list of DACs for iPhones, let’s take a look at where we can buy the Phone to MIDI connector for the iPhone from.
Aoiutrn iPhone to MIDI Cable
The Aoiutrn USB MIDI cable 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 1.5 meters and can be used at home, office or in a sound studio.
This OTG MIDI adapter is ideal for the following iPhone models:
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 7, 7 Plus
- iPhone 8, 8 Plus
- iPhone X, XR, XS, XS Max
- iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
If you’re interested in picking up a DAC for your iPhone, you can check out these models
FiiO Q1 Mark 2
The FiiO Q1 Mark 2 is a native DSD DAC and amplifier for iPhones that supports decoding of multiple audio formats with impressive performance. It comes equipped with XMOS and is capable of decoding up to 384 kHZ/32-bit PCM.
- The Q1 Mark 2 comes Apple MFi certified which means that this DAC is compatible with all models and versions of iPhones.
- It supports multiple types of connections, from iPhones to Walkman players and computers.
- 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.
|Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)||384 kHz / 32-bit PCM|
|Audio Input||Micro USB/3.5mm Audio Jack|
|Battery Life||＞20h（AUX IN）＞10h（USB IN）|
|Recommended Headphone Impedance||16~100Ω(PO)16~150Ω(BAL)|
This portable DAC supports up to 12 hours of playback on a single charge and is designed to be slim and lightweight, easy to be carried around in your pocket.
With the iFi Hip-DAC you can play any audio format in high resolution by using a native in-built form of digital to analog conversion.
- 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.
|Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)||PCM(384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz)|
|Audio Input||USB 3.0 type ’A’ High-Speed Asynchronous USB 2.0, (32bit/384kHz)|
|Battery Life||8 – 12 Hours|
|Recommended Headphone Impedance||BAL: 400mW@32 Ohm ; S-BAL(SE): 280mW@32 Ohm; BAL: 6.3V@600 Ohm ; S-BAL (SE): 3.2V@600 Ohm|
The Chord Mojo is a plug and play DAC/Amp for iPhones that lets you experience crystal clear audio, quite similar to how music will sound in a recording studio. This is a powerful device that is compatible with headphones or large speakers depending on how you want to use it.
- 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 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.
|Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)||32kHz up to 768kHz / 32-bit and Quad DSD 256|
1x Micro USB 768kHz/32-bit Capable Input; 1x 3.5mm Jack Coaxial 768kHz/32-bit Capable Input; 1x Optical TOSLINK 96kHz/24-bit Capable Input; 1x 1amp Micro USB Charging Port Input
|Output Power||1kHz – 600Ω 35mW;|
1kHz – 8Ω 720mW
|Battery Life||8 – 120Hours|
|Output Impedance||75m Ohms|
AudioQuest DragonFly DAC Bundle
If you’re looking for a portable DAC with all the features like 2.1v headphone output, an MQA render and something with bit-perfect volume control then you can try out AudioQuest’s range of DACs such as the Dragonfly.
This bundle includes a lightning to USB 3 adapter making the Dragonfly compatible with certain iPhone models.
- 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.
- This DAC comes with an improved 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips which employ minimum-phase filtering for naturally detailed, more authentic sound.
- 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.
|DSP||32-bit ESS 9016|
|Audio Input||Digital Input: 1 x USB Type-A; male|
|Output Power||2.1 V|
|Sample Rates||44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz|
|Volume Control||64-bit digital control|
Cyrus Soundkey DAC
The Soundkey is a super compact DAC and Headphone amplifier for iPhones that helps enhance your gaming and music experience. It automatically upgrades the audio output from your iPhone and produces enhanced charity, precision and tonal neutrality.
- It is equipped with a 3.5mm socket for headphones whereas the other end of the DAC houses a micro-USB port that can be connected to an iPhone or other devices.
- While listening to quieter music, the Soundkey will allot your tunes a certain amount of space so nothing sounds cluttered.
- Quite similar to the Dragonfly, it weighs hardly 16 grams and supports a native bit rate of 24bit/96kHz PCM
|Audio Sample Rate||Up to 24bit/96kHz|
|Audio Input||Digital Input: 1 x USB Type-A; male|
|Audio Output||1 x 3.5mm Headphone out|
|Compatible Audio Formats||MP3, AAC, FLAC|
|Size & Weight||5.4cm x 2.3cm x 0.8cm; 18 grams|
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.