The Best Portable Headphone Amp with Built-In DAC for 2023

Experience clear and high-quality sounds to allow you to listen to enjoyable music.

Portable Headphone Amp with Built-In DAC

Nowadays, there are numerous options for entertainment, one of which is listening to music. However, it is impossible to enjoy music if you do not have access to the right tools. In this case, numerous people would opt for portable headphone amps with built-in DACs since they create smooth, clear, and amplified audio.

While learning how a headphone amp with a built-in DAC can be complicated, so is the process of identifying the best one. Unfortunately, due to the numerous sources and options, it can be a bit overwhelming, and you may end up opting for the model. In this case, the following guide will take you through some of the most effective and durable headphones amp/DAC so you can listen to music using high-quality and amplified audio.

How We Picked

  • Portability and Size

    There is nothing more exciting than having a transportable and small headphone amp/DAC since it can allow you to listen to music while on the go. Therefore, consider choosing a lightweight and compact design.

  • Port Type

    Different devices contain different headphone port sizes and types. For this reason, always check what kind of port your device has, then compare it with your headphones for easier compatibility.

  • Audio Quality

    The purpose of using a headphone amp/DAC is to improve the quality of your audio.
    For this reason, it is essential to have a headphone that can provide loud and clear signals, which, as a result, enhances your music experience.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

    Depending on your budget, you can opt for a costly or cheap option. Even though this option is available, it can be risky if you choose faulty headphones. Therefore, check for quality sound as well as the warranty, especially if you decide to go for the cheaper options.

Our Top Picks

Best Pick

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

Enjoy amplified and enhanced audio.

It features a Bluetooth connectivity function, which allows you to use your favorite devices wirelessly.

Buy Now for $109.99

To enable use on your favorite devices, like desktops or mobile phones, this headphone amp and DAC combo has a Bluetooth connectivity feature. The Bluetooth function can support high resolutions, so you can receive improved and high-quality sound. Apart from this function, this device can also improve the received signal to eradicate jitter. As a result, it helps prevent the clock from ticking at random lengths of time.

Runner Up

iFi Hip-dac2 - Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

iFi Hip-dac2 – Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

The powerful amplifier can generate a high-power output that enhances audio.

The lightweight and tiny design make it easy to carry whenever you travel.

Buy Now for $189.00

If you want to listen to music while on the go, then the iFi DAC headphone amp is the best option for you. It includes a pocket-sized and lightweight construction to enable simple carry. Moreover, you receive clear sound all thanks to the MQA feature. This way, you can connect your favorite device and listen to music from any app you prefer.

Most Cost-Effective

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

Can consume very low levels of power to save on expensive electricity bills.

The three different tuning styles allow you to choose your preferred audio quality.

Buy Now for $69.99

Thanks to their small size, you can easily transport these headphones and use them while on the go. Moreover, it includes MQA technology that allows you to receive high-quality audio from various music apps. And on top of that, you can choose between three diverse tuning settings to meet your listening needs. Overall, Hidizs' headphone amplifier with DAC is the best investment if you need to benefit from premium sounds while saving on costs.

Everything We Recommend

Best Pick

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

Enjoy amplified and enhanced audio.

$109.99

Buy Now

Runner Up

iFi Hip-dac2 - Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

iFi Hip-dac2 – Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

The powerful amplifier can generate a high-power output that enhances audio.

$189.00

Buy Now

Most Cost-Effective

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

Can consume very low levels of power to save on expensive electricity bills.

$69.99

Buy Now

Who This Is For

A headphone amp with a DAC is perfect for music enthusiasts since it can create clear audio for improved listening experiences. As a result, you earn the benefit of listening to music just like how music creators or studios intended to.

What is a portable headphone amp for?

A portable headphone amplifier is a device that can amplify sound from a DAC, and in return, it helps enhance the sound generated from your headphones. Moreover, a headphone amp will eliminate the need to keep using different sound volumes in your device since it can automatically make the audio loud.

Even though a headphone amplifier will not provide clear sound like a DAC, it can allow you to experience closer sounds, just like how studios intended.

Do I really need one?

Even though a portable headphone amp can improve the sound of your audio, it is sometimes not necessary to have one. Therefore, the choice to include one in your sound setup will only depend on your situation.

For this reason, you should always check for impedance or sensitivity. Impedance can allow you to know the amount of power that your headphone requires, which means that having a low impedance does not require you to use a headphone amplifier. On the other hand, the sensitivity feature will help you figure out the loudness of your headphones, so having high sensitivity means that it isn’t necessary to use a headphone amp.

What is a built-in DAC?

A DAC is simply an acronym since it is commonly referred to as a Digital converter.” The process of converting digital information to sound is usually possible due to playback equipment.

Now, these systems are normally found in most of our devices, like computers, smartphones, or Bluetooth speakers, but the sound generated from these devices may not be of premium quality like the ones found in portable headphones and DACs.

With that said, a headphone amp/DAC will usually improve the sound, which allows you to hear what recorded music sounds like while playing. This usually happens after the DAC creates clear and smooth signals that later transform the quality of your audio.

Why You Should Trust Us

We figured that the capabilities of a portable headphone amp with a built-in DAC are sometimes underestimated. For this reason, we picked up credible information that allows you to know the good and bad of different headphone amps/DAC.

How We Picked

After going through thorough research, we decided to pick the best products depending on their different abilities to enhance the quality of sound.

We chose only compact and lightweight designs, which allow you to listen to high-quality audio from any preferred place or while on the go. The port type of the products also matters since most devices contain different ports that allow you to connect your other devices.

In this case, our choices contain different types of USB ports, which allow you to connect any device of your preference.

Moreover, we searched the web to ensure that our picks contained a lightweight, portable, and modern design.

Besides, a stylish headphone amp/DAC will allow you to look classy while walking down the street while listening to high-quality music. When it comes to the price of our picks, we ensured that our reviews revolved around costs that fit your budget.

Aside from that, we also picked a product with a warranty offer to help you keep peace of mind while using it. This comes in handy, especially if you can only afford cheap headphones since you can easily get a refund or replacement in case of defects.

For the amplifier’s power, we ensured that it lies within a level at which most people find the loudness level best suited to their tastes. Furthermore, we ensured that there was balanced output in every product reviewed below to help you figure out impedance and sensitivity levels. On a more exciting note, we made sure that our picks are easy to plug in and play without having to fiddle around when using them.

Conclusively, if you need to save money while using high-quality headphones, then our picks are certainly the right choice for you. This is because the included batteries can last longer, with the maximum lifeline being more than 5 years. Apart from that, the charging speed is also commendable, so you can listen to music whenever you need to.

Our Picks For You

Best Pick - FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

Best Pick

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

FiiO BTR5-2021 Headphone Amps Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver

Enjoy amplified and enhanced audio.

It features a Bluetooth connectivity function, which allows you to use your favorite devices wirelessly.

Buy Now for $109.99

Who It's For

The FiiO BTR5 Amplifier supports MQA Renderer, which provides you with enhanced sound so you can use it on your favorite devices, like a phone. Get this if you want to receive studio-quality sound from anywhere you desire.

Why It's Great

This headphone amplifier can generate detailed and strong sound, thereby making it a high-performance device. It also supports wireless connections, thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity function. In this case, you get to listen to your favorite music on various devices. With an audio-capable and powerful Bluetooth chip, this headphone amp with DAC can withstand every Bluetooth decoding purpose easily. Bluetooth version 5.0 can support immense resolution formats like AAC, SBC, aptX Low Latency, LDAC, and more, so you get a transportable and improved sound setup to use with your devices. Moreover, these headphones' DACs can support MQA, which allows use on your phone by enabling premium sound in small-sized files. It is therefore ideal for use on music apps.

Potential Flaws

Even though the Bluetooth connectivity function allows you to listen to music from your favorite devices, some previous customers noticed that the connectivity range should be between 10 and 15 feet, which can be a small distance, especially for people who live in large spaces.

Other Features

Due to the compact design of this device, there is no need to struggle while transporting it to different destinations. Therefore, this allows you to listen to music while on the go or from any preferred area. It also features an FPGA feature to enable the transmission of USB digital sound signals and Bluetooth. To be precise, whenever the Bluetooth signal gets processed by the FPGA, it helps reduce jitter and enhance audio stability, thereby preventing different clock rates from complicating the signals received. For clear audio production, it includes autonomous dual crystal oscillators, which deliver better signals during USB and Bluetooth decoding.

Runner Up - iFi Hip-dac2 – Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

Runner Up

iFi Hip-dac2 - Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

iFi Hip-dac2 – Portable Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

The powerful amplifier can generate a high-power output that enhances audio.

The lightweight and tiny design make it easy to carry whenever you travel.

Buy Now for $189.00

Who It's For

This headphone amp with DAC includes a lightweight and pocket-sized design to allow simple carry. It is therefore ideal for anyone who enjoys listening to music while on the go.

Why It's Great

Due to its ability to generate high-resolution audio, you can use this device to enhance any music from Spotify, Tidal MQA, MP3s, and more. Due to the high-resolution formats, you can enjoy listening to music just like it was intended by studios. Moreover, it includes a strong amplifier that can meet all your listening needs. The amplifier has a power output of 400 mW, which enables you to listen to in-ear drives or monitors with high-quality sound. You can also easily connect your smartphone to this headphone using the included USB input. This allows you to listen to your favorite music from your playlist or through streaming from different music apps. Moreover, it operates perfectly with S-Bal 3.5mm or balanced 4.4mm headphone plugs for multiple uses.

Potential Flaws

It does not support the use of Bluetooth connectivity, so in return, you’d have to carry a USB cable whenever you travel.

Other Features

Using iFi DAC headphones allows you to listen to audio from wherever you prefer. This is all thanks to the portable design, with a lightweight and slim construction that perfectly fits in your pocket. Moreover, the built-in battery can last for about six to eight hours, thereby enabling longer use. However, this period will be based on how you use your DAC headphones. Conclusively, due to the upgraded design, you can enjoy more exciting features that improve your listening experience. With that said, the MQA decoder can allow you to use it on your mobile phone by supporting small-sized files. Moreover, it includes an improved GMT clock, which reduces the disruption of sound and signals.

Most Cost-Effective - HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

Most Cost-Effective

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

HIDIZS S3 PRO Ultra-Portable Hi-Res DAC Dongle

Can consume very low levels of power to save on expensive electricity bills.

The three different tuning styles allow you to choose your preferred audio quality.

Buy Now for $69.99

Who It's For

If you are looking for a cost-efficient DAC headphone amplifier, then this is the choice for you. This is because it requires a lot of power to operate, thereby enabling you to cut costly electricity bills.

Why It's Great

With the help of 8x MQA technology, you can receive the overwhelming sound quality that allows you to listen to audio just like how studios intended. However, ensure that the music services you use are installed on playback gadgets, including Hi-By, Tidal, and more. Furthermore, the four Panasonic capacitors can improve your listening needs without causing much distortion. This headphone DAC and amplifier also allow you to control the tuning settings. With that said, you can choose from 3 different tuning styles: transparent treble, bright, clean, detailed, and transparent. The second choice is tonal balance with a pure and pleasing sound, while the third tuning option is a more prominent bass with phenomenal depth and elasticity. This way, you get to choose the desired audio quality.

Potential Flaws

Even though this headphone amp is compatible with most devices, some previous users have complained that it does not recognize other modern devices like the iPad Pro.

Other Features

Due to the small size of this headphone amplifier with DAC, you can easily transport it to any preferred destination to use while on the go. Moreover, the included silver wires make it an even better choice since it creates a clean and bright sound while the 2 OFC wires create a smooth and gentle work. It can also support pause/playback, phone calls, volume, and more — all without having to detach the headphones from your mobile phone. When you need to attach this headphone amplifier to your devices, you will be pleased to know that it is compatible with most devices, including Mac OS, iPad OS, Android, Windows, and iOS. And for your peace of mind, this headphone is Hi-Res, JAS, and CEA certified.

Almost Made The Cut - Chord Hugo 2 Transportable DAC Headphone Amplifier

Almost Made The Cut

Chord Hugo 2 Transportable DAC Headphone Amplifier

Chord Hugo 2 Transportable DAC Headphone Amplifier

Enjoy clear and smooth signals and controllable audio that helps meet your listening needs.

Multiple input/output options together with outstanding controls allow versatile use.

Buy Now for $1,799.00

Who It's For

Chord's Hugo 2 headphone amplifier is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. You can either use it together with a compatible audio system or headphones.

Why It's Great

Featuring FPGAs and Watts Transient Alignment features, the Chord Hugo 2 is one of the best amplifiers with a built-in DAC. The FPGAs are essential since they allow digital to analog conversion so that you can get clear and smooth signals. Moreover, this model will provide you with multiple output and input options to increase versatility. These include 4 digital inputs for coaxial, optical, extended-range Bluetooth, and HD USB, while the outputs include headphone outputs and 2x RCA. moreover, the four spherical control buttons can help bring clear signals using color-coded information. Aside from all this, Chord Hugo 2 is also small enough to allow use while on the go.

Due to the included remote control function, you can easily adjust the audio to your desired effect. In return, this function adds flexibility to desktop and full-size systems. For a more user-friendly device, the Chord Hugo 2 consists of a four-function switch that allows you to select either soft, warm, transparent, or incisive filters. On top of that, it also features a digital crossfeed function consisting of three different operation modes, thereby providing more user-friendly controls as well as flexibility. With that said, Chord Hugo 2 can easily imitate the sounds produced in studios so that you can receive high-quality audio.

Potential Flaws

Using Chord Hugo 2 is complicated, as suggested by most customers. This is usually due to the unintuitive controls, which require you to first understand how they work before using this DAC. Moreover, other customers stated that the USB ports are easily damaged after continuous use. Furthermore, due to the interior hardware used, the Chord Hugo 2 can be an expensive device for most customers.