Best headphone amp with USB DAC to buy [2020 Guide]


Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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Heaphone amplifier portable

Got yourself a shinny new pair of headphones but not feeling the difference in sound quality compared to your old mid-range ones? Most of the modern laptops and smartphones offer the traditional headphone jack with a sound card that works to an extent.

To make the most out of your high-end headphones, you can use a headphone amp with USB DAC. These small devices can offer additional amplification, making you appreciate the quality of your new headphones.

In this article, we have listed the best headphone amps with USB DAC that work with your computer. If you want to use it with your smartphone, you have to use Micro USB / Type-C to USB-A adapter.

Go through the list and pick the headphone amp that meets your budget and the requirements.

Note: Deals are subject to change. Keep in mind that the price tag often varies. We recommend going on the vendor’s website to check the price. Some of the products may be out of stock by the time you’ve made your purchasing decision. So, hurry up and hit the buy button.

What are the best headphone amps with USB DAC?

1

AudioQuest - DragonFly

Headphone amp with USB DAC

Combining award-winning performance and exceptional value, AudioQuest DragonFly is a compact USB sized headphone with USB DAC that connects to a computer, smartphone, and tablets to offer clean, clear and natural sound.

Although DragonFly natively supports resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz, it is fully capable of playing any MP3 file and other high-resolution files. To connect the device with your smartphone or tablet, you need to use an OTG cable.

Pros:

  • Excellent headphone amp with USB DAC offering clean and clear sound
  • Can play all the MP3 and another high-resolution file
  • 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC with minimum-phase filter
  • Works with all the headphones with a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Cons:

  • Drains the battery faster

Check price

2

FiiO K1 Portable 

Headphone amp with USB DAC

If you are looking for a budget DAC with a headphone amplifier, check out FiiO K1. It is an extremely portable device with a significantly low price tag than the DragonFly.

While FiiO K1 is may not be on par with DragonFly, it still offers clear three-dimension sound. If you are not an audiophile, you probably won’t even notice the difference between the two.

If you like numbers, the FiiO K1 supports TI PCM5102 DAC with support for 24-bit/96kHz sampling rate. The device connects via the USB-A port to any computer. Unfortunately, FiiO K1 does not work with smartphones or other smart devices, unlike the DragonFly.

Pros:

  • Ultra-portable headphone amp with USB DAC for a reasonable price
  • Decodes audio over USB and supports TI PCM5102 DAC with support for 24-bi sampling rate
  • Compatible with Windows computer with USB Type-A port.

Cons:

  •  Does not work with smartphones

Check price

3

EarStudio ES100 MK2

Headphone amp with USB DAC

EarStudio makes some truly excellent amps and DACs and the ES100MK2 is their latest product for the audiophiles. It is a portable high-resolution USB headphone amp with USB DAC for a reasonable price.

The unique aspect of EarStudio ES100 MK2 is that it works with USB input as well as Bluetooth connection. The Bluetooth receiver is designed to deliver studio-quality sound to wireless headphones. It also comes with a built-in battery offering up to 14 hours of Playback.

Pros:

  • Portable headphone amp with USB DAC and 24-bit Bluetooth receiver for wireless connectivity
  •  Includes 2 independent Hi-fi DACs and amplifiers for sing-ended and full-differential outputs
  • Built-in battery with up to 14 hours of playback

Cons:

  • Does not work with headphones that have a microphone

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4

FiiO E10K

Headphone amp with USB DAC

What we like about the FiiO E10K is that it has found a middle ground between the cheap headphone amp with USB DAC and the above $100 headphone amps. It is a portable amp with an internal DAC chip capable of handling PCM files up to 24-bit/96kHz.

FiiO E10K comes with an optimized low-pass filter and selectable bass boost circuit that are designed to offer low noise floor at all the levels. You can easily connect the device to your laptop using the Micros USB connector.

Pros:

  • Portable headphone amp with USB DAC with built-in Internal DAC chip
  • Low noise floor with optimized filter and selectable bass boost circuit
  • Connects to the laptop using the Micro USB cable

Cons:

  • Not as portable as DragonFly

Check price

Final thoughts on headphone amps with USB DAC

The external amp for headphones allows you to make the most out of your premium headphones by reducing noise and offering clean and clear sound. Go through the list and find the right amp with USB DAC that meets your requirements.