The 7 Best USB DAC Under $200 | 2021 Budget DAC Guide

Are you one of those people who like to organize their music playlist from their computer to the apps like Windows Media player and iTunes to the music or stereo system, and looking for a USB DAC, under a budget of $200? Well, let us make your research time short and bring you some of the best in the market under this price range.

If you don’t have an idea about what USB DAC is, just give us a minute, and we will make you know every possible information about it.

What is a USB DAC?

DAC is the abbreviation of Digital to Analog converter. This device converts the digital information in the computer into analog sounds, which we can hear from our ears.

How does USB DAC work? 

You may have gotten an idea of it’s working by the name Digital to Analog converter. So, let’s make it clear, USB DAC converts the signal of Digital audio from the computer and sends them to stereo and speakers, as an analog signal. The soundcard present in computers can also convert them into analog signals and give output, but for a superior result, you can use USB DAC and can give better quality. 

USB DACs are available in the market in different price ranges, from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In the 2010 CES Las Vegas High-End audio exhibition, presented with a USB DAC of $37000, it was hand-crafted.

Our picks for the 7 best USB DAC under $200 in 2021

When it comes to USB DAC, $200 isn’t a modest budget. You can get many high-end USB DAC under this budget. If you are willing to pay an amount of $200 for DAC, you will be wanting a top-notch performance under this price range, well we have covered this for you. We have brought you some high rating USB DAC which will be worth the money you buy.

We have brought you USB DAC for computers as well as headphones because we don’t want any of our readers to feel left out, Everyone has their preference of device to use for music, so why not in external devices you add on, to make your listening experience on another level. 

We haven’t ranked the products on our list because we have brought every possible piece in every price segment under $200.  Each product which is listed here is having a rating of 4 stars or higher, which means you will be getting well known and well-rated products. You can say we have brought you the best USB DAC in 2021 under a budget of $200.

1. DROP + Grace Design Standard DAC Balanced

Pros

  • USB 2.0/1.0 B
  • AKM AK4452 DAC chip.

Cons

  • Little bit heavy
  • Mid tones could have been better

Grace designs are famous for their innovative, good-looking, highly respected audio gears in the market. Grace is appreciated for delivering a combination of extremely detailed sound, reliability, and performance. 

Grace is popular for its transparent gear which is accurate, and this DAC doesn’t disappoint too, it is based on SDAC which is single-ended. Its main objective is to perform. It is boosted by a plug and plays feature and some more advanced features. It supports a sample rate up to 384kHz and DSD256 in USB 2.0 mode.

Talking about its advanced features it comes with SDAC-B which is equipped with an AKM AK4452 digital-to-analog conversion chip. On the back there are balanced outputs, it has 3 pin XLR, balanced output, and a SPDIF coaxial input, which is digital. The digital input provides the ability to interface with single-ended amplifiers and balanced amplifiers at the same time.

Overview:  Let’s be honest with it, although there is a bit of a lack in the mid-tones, it’s really easy to recommend because of its durable and top-notch performance. Rather than features it has a customer rating of 4.5 stars.

 

2. FiiO BTR5

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Bluetooth audio format support.
  • Clear sound even at 102 DB sensitivity

Cons

  • Awkward Audio jack performance
  • It has a separate music app
  • Plastic clips are not easy to detach.

FiiO BTR5 is an exceptional looking USB DAC, it comes in a glossy jet black color. It has buttons and ports on the side of the device. On the internet, some people claim that BTR5 is as good as Sennheiser HD600. According to the specs sheet the BTR5 gives 80mW on single-ended and 240mW on Balanced. It produces 1.6V and 2.8V according to single-ended and balanced 24ohms. 

Coming on sound quality, it has an average sound quality, it is not better or worse. The different sound filters option in the device gives no noticeable change. It has an Eq control as well. 

It has 2.5D glass on both sides. It looks like a power bank at first sight. It looks good and has a nice in-hand feel as well. It seems tough and has a good scratch resistance body. BTR5 has dual SDAC  which can give  220mW at 32ohms and 76Vpp at 300ohms.

It has two different outputs: a 3.5mm phone connector and a 2.5mm balanced output. It has a battery life of 9hours, it comes with a 550mAh battery capacity with1.5 hrs of charging time.

Overview: FiiO BTR5 comes at a reasonable price with feature-packed products with good build quality. It has a customer review of 4 stars on Amazon as well.

 

3. Apogee GROOVE

Pros

  • Smooth audio quality
  • Good details and dynamics
  • Simple to operate

Cons

  • Response timing could have been better

Groove has an eye-catching appearance, it is less than 10 cm long and weighs approx 9g –  it may look fragile, but it isn’t. It has a black matte look on the front with a groove printed on it. It has a volume up and down button in the front. It has an aux port at the bottom. 

With an experience of more than 30 years of producing music types of equipment, you can expect that it will provide a good quality of sound. The grove gets along with every genre of songs you play, it doesn’t disappoint you at any turn.

Overview: There is not much downside of Apogee Grove, rather than if you start finding, you will not able to find more than we told about it previously. If it could have that some extra touches of dynamic and timing it could have been unbeatable, yet it gives tough competition to the products in these price segments. It has a 4-star rating on Amazon.

4. Qudelix-5K Bluetooth USB DAC AMP

Pros

  • Good quality of BT receiver
  • Solid build and small.
  • Reliable power output.
  • Nice battery life.

Cons

  • Non-removable clip
  • Average Design
  • Buttons are awkwardly placed

Qudelix is an American company, is started by the former engineers of Earstudio ES100. Talking about its build quality, it’s made of dark and hard plastic, with screws and clips made of metal. It’s solid and light at the same time. Although it doesn’t look that premium because of plastic. In a practice to make it lighter, they have made it look average. 

The device has 4 buttons in total, 2 on each side. It has light indicators too, which is customizable, as per the preferences. The rating for buttons will be 8/10.  Coming on sound quality, it has a very good quality, especially when it comes to Bluetooth speakers.  

The battery life of the device is good for such a small gadget. Better than compared to BTR5 and UP4. It claims 6 – 10 hour battery life, which depends upon the volume and power mode you use.

Overviews:  Qudelix 5x is an awesome device. With a great sound, build, and battery life, it is one of the top-notch devices in this price range. It has a 4.5-star rating on amazon and justifies its price.

 

5. Gigabyte GP-Jody 

Pros

  • Powerful processor
  • Separate routing for L and R

Cons

  • Quite fragile

Here is an exceptional premium looking USB DAC, the gigabyte GP-Jody comes with a premium glass and matte look. It’s sleek and lightweight, with good quality alloy and plastic, although it’s a bit fragile. 

It’s an exceptional USB DAC with a wide frequency range from 20~40,000 Hz, the lows and highs of the devices are clear. It has premium WIMA audio capacitors. 

It comes with a high-density Interconnect layer of PCB which separates the Left and Right routing. It has precise components and ESS SABRE HiFi.

 Overview: If you want a premium and classy looking USD DAC with excellent sound quality, this one is for you. There are no noticeable flaws in the device too. With a rating of 4.5 stars, it’s one of the best in the market.

6. NextDrive Spectra Portable USB DAC

Pros

  • Sturdy
  • Good sound quality

Cons

  • High tones are a bit harsh and glitchy

Spectra’s next drive is an entertainment saver, since Apple has decided to remove the headphone jacks, well there are many more options available in the market, but people claim it to be best on the internet. 

The build quality is exceptionally good, even though it is small and simple. It gives a premium look too. The body is barrel-shaped and has an audio jack of 3.5mm at the bottom. It justifies the plug-and-play feature as it is really easy to use.

Coming on sound quality, when played in low-quality form, everything is clear and detailed. The bass is excellent and punchy and has a nice depth. Overall the sound quality of Spectra is outstanding. It is detailed and clear as well.

Overview: The Spectra is one of the best UBS DAC out there. It has a 4-star rating on Amazon.  The build quality and sound quality is on par. It has the potential to give an unmatched experience if you use a headphone or an earphone.

 

7. AudioQuestDragonFly Red USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier

Pros

  • Solid, and subtle sound
  • Convenient
  • Smartphone compatible

Cons

  • Red finishing seems a bit chipped

While launching this USB DAC, Audioquest challenged themselves by giving it a price tag of under $200, as it doesn’t seem too sturdy and premium. Although it retains the limitation by being affordable and having good sound quality.

The sound isn’t the best but not worst even, the mid-low and mid-tones are perfect, you may hear a bit of hissing on highs at high volume, but if you will keep the volume between low-mid, everything will be sorted.

Even after having some noticeable flaws it gives you a power-packed performance, they are even nicely compatible and optimized for Android.

Overview: You are getting a reliable and durable USB DAC if you choose this as your preference. It has 4 stars on Amazon too.

 

Conclusion

So here is the list of the 7 Best USB DAC under $200 in 2021, which will not only lessen your research time for a perfect USB DAC, but you will also consider buying them. Just remember that you will not get everything, on every device, so you need to take a step back in your preferences. 

There are many other options available from the manufacturers mentioned before, you can check them too. But giving a surety of performance, appearance, and reliability these are the best ones in the market under the budget of $200.

FAQ

1. What is the need for DAC?

Digital to Analog converters are the device which makes your sound listening experience better, whether you use a stereo, speaker, headphones, and earphones. It boosts your sound quality which comes from your primary device.

2. How DAC works?

DAC converts Digital signals from computers or smartphones into Analog Signals that come out from speakers. They increase the output limitation and gives you a different hearing experience. 

3. What is Jitter?

Jitter is referred to as the phenomenon when the clock in DAC doesn’t work well, as it tells it when to sample. When the sample isn’t happening there is a change in pitch for a short period which causes fluctuation and thus jitter happens.

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