6 Best DAC For iPhone 2021

by Editor

Looking for an external DAC for an iPhone? We curated a list of the best DAC for iPhone for you. Check it 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.

If you’re interested in picking up a DAC for your iPhone, you can check out these models

Best DAC for iPhoneSpecificationsLink
FiiO Q1 Mark IIAudio Decoding: 384 kHz / 32-bit PCM
Power Output: 16~100Ω(PO)16~150Ω(BAL)
Battery Capacity: 1800mAh
Check it out on Amazon
iFi Hip-DACAudio Decoding: PCM(384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz)
Power Output: BAL: 400mW@32 Ohm ; S-BAL(SE): 280mW@32 Ohm; BAL: 6.3V@600 Ohm ; S-BAL (SE): 3.2V@600 Ohm
Battery Capacity: 2200mAh
Check it out on Amazon
Chord MojoAudio Decoding: 32kHz up to 768kHz / 32-bit and Quad DSD 256
Power Output: 75m Ohms
Battery Capacity: 8-12 hours
Check it out on Amazon
RHA Dacamp L1DSP: ESS SABRE ES9018K2M
Power Output: 28mW
Battery Capacity: 4000mAh
Check it out on Amazon
AudioQuest DragonFly DACDSP: 32-bit ESS 9016
Power Output: 2.1 V
Battery Capacity: N/A
Check it out on Amazon
Cyrus Soundkey DACSample Rate: Up to 24bit/96kHz
Audio Output: 1 x 3.5mm Headphone out
Check it out on Amazon

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
  • Chord Mojo
  • RHA Dacamp L1
  • 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

Best DAC For iPhone

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

Click here to buy it on Amazon

FiiO Q1 Mark 2

Best DAC For iPhone

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.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • 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.

Specifications

Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)384 kHz / 32-bit PCM
Audio InputMicro USB/3.5mm Audio Jack
Battery Capacity1800mAh
Battery Life>20h(AUX IN)>10h(USB IN)
Recommended Headphone Impedance16~100Ω(PO)16~150Ω(BAL)

Check it out on Amazon

iFi Hip-DAC

Best DAC For iPhone

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.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • 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.

Specifications

Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)PCM(384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz)
Audio InputUSB 3.0 type ’A’ High-Speed Asynchronous USB 2.0, (32bit/384kHz)
Battery Capacity2200mAh
Battery Life8 – 12 Hours
Recommended Headphone ImpedanceBAL: 400mW@32 Ohm ; S-BAL(SE): 280mW@32 Ohm; BAL: 6.3V@600 Ohm ; S-BAL (SE): 3.2V@600 Ohm

Check it out on Amazon

Chord Mojo

Best DAC For iPhone

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.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • 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.

Specifications

Audio Decoding (USB-DAC)32kHz up to 768kHz / 32-bit and Quad DSD 256
Audio Input
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 Power1kHz – 600Ω 35mW;
1kHz – 8Ω 720mW
Battery Life8 – 120Hours
Output Impedance75m Ohms

Check it out on Amazon

RHA Dacamp L1

Best DAC For iPhone

One of the most versatile iPhone DACs is the Dacamp L1. It’s capable of bypassing your mobiles sound processor to deliver high-quality audio and crystal clear sound at all times.

This DAC delivers high-resolution audio and includes physical bass, treble and gain dials so you can easily alter the way your music is played.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • The Dacamp L1 features an impressive 10 hour battery life with a charge-out function thanks to the massive 4000mAh built-in battery allowing you to power a set of headphones with a range of 12-600ohms.
  • It’s encased in machined aluminum that gives it a premium feel and uses an intuitive interface that prevents the dials from accidentally getting readjusted.
  • This DAC uses dual ESS SABRE digital to analogue converters and class AB amplifiers offering a fully balanced circuit configuration.
  • It even offers multi-device compatibility and is capable of working with Mac, Windows operating systems.

Specifications

DSPESS SABRE ES9018K2M
Audio Input3.5mm line in, USB A, USB micro-B, mini-TOSLINK Optical
Output Power28mW
Sample Rates44.1 – 384kHz, 16 / 24 / 32-bit
Battery Capacity4,000 mAh

AudioQuest DragonFly DAC Bundle

Best DAC For iPhone

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.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • 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. 

Specifications

DSP32-bit ESS 9016
Audio InputDigital Input: 1 x USB Type-A; male
Output Power2.1 V
Sample Rates44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz
Volume Control64-bit digital control

Check it out on Amazon

Cyrus Soundkey DAC

Best DAC For iPhone

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.

Best DAC For iPhone

Features

  • 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

Specifications

Audio Sample RateUp to 24bit/96kHz
Audio InputDigital Input: 1 x USB Type-A; male
Audio Output1 x 3.5mm Headphone out
Compatible Audio FormatsMP3, AAC, FLAC
Size & Weight5.4cm x 2.3cm x 0.8cm; 18 grams

Check it out on Amazon

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.

Conclusion

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.

Also Read:

You may also like

Leave a Comment