The 5 Best DACs Under $1000 in 2022

Alex | Last Updated On May 10th, 2022 | This post may contain affiliate links.

Finding the right digital-to-analog converter for your high end AV setup can take a bit of time. However, with advances in technology over the years, it’s becoming somewhat easier to find the exact DAC that can meet or exceed your expectations.

Most standard DACs will work with basic formats and only have a few codecs, but higher end DACs can cover all current formats, will have multiple codecs, use multiple high end chips, and offer a dozen or more independent inputs and outputs.

Whether you are looking for a DAC to use with your professional AV setup, or simply want a reliable and high quality converter for your home theater or stereo system, there is a unit out there for you. Let’s take a closer look at some of the higher end DACs on the market and see how they compare.

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Comparison of the Best DAC Under $1000

photo of the Marantz<br> HD-DAC1Marantz
HD-DAC1
Best Overall Professional DAC Under $1000See On Amazon
photo of the NAD<br> D 3045NAD
D 3045
Best Compact DAC Under $1000See On Amazon
photo of the Chord<br> MojoChord
Mojo
Best Portable DAC Under $1000See On Amazon
photo of the Sony<br> UDA1/BSony
UDA1/B
Best Name Brand DAC Under $1000See On Amazon
photo of the PS Audio<br> Sprout100PS Audio
Sprout100
Best Retro Style DAC Under $1000See On Amazon

Reviews of the Best DAC Under $1000

High quality sampling rate and variety of input connections that give you a professional level of audio conversion.

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  • Chip
    • CS4398 chip for 192 kHz
  • Size
    • 10 inches x 10 inches
  • Features
    • Six total input including USB and analog
    • Variety of adjustment options for signal levels
    • Has a retro style exterior

Said to be one of the best digital-to-analog converters on the market today, the Marantz HD-DAC1 is a superb choice for audiophiles that have a very discerning taste in audio quality. This DAC is made from thick aluminum to give it a durable yet stylish exterior.

You’ll find a series of knobs as well to give you quick and easy access to volume adjustment, signal switches, and more. The front panel will display information in an easy to read and understand comprehensive way.

It holds multiple front and back input connections including single USB, a single coaxial, two optical, and an analog stereo. For outputs, you’ll find two RCAs with both a fixed signal level and an adjustable level. With the USB input, this converter can easily be connected to an iPad or iPhone for convenient use with your favorite devices.

What We Like

Has two master oscillators installed

Prevents crosstalk with isolated circuits

High quality components inside and out

Know Before Buying

Champagne bi-color can be distracting

DSD reproduction can be lacking

Lacks line input on RCA jacks

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Professional level digital-to-analog converter that makes use of class D amplifiers to give you a robust return on sound and overall audio quality.

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  • Chip
    • AK4490 chip for 384 khz
  • Size
    • 10.44 inches x 9.31 inches
  • Features
    • Touch screen display for certain options
    • Includes a small remote control for easy control
    • Has a bass equalization switch on the rear panel

This compact Class D digital-to-analog converter is made in an upright vertical presentation so you can easily slide it between multiple devices and keep it tucked in discreetly. It features a range of input options including RCA’s with phono stage grounds, a 1/8th inch auxiliary connection, and more.

You’ll find a built-in Bluetooth module as well which is aptX enabled to give you easy connection to multiple wireless devices. In addition, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a subwoofer connector on the front panels.

What We Like

Compact size for discreet setups

Does not overheat even with multiple devices

Great option for small to midsize speakers

Know Before Buying

Not powerful enough for large speakers

Will need to download additional driver for USB

Touch screen sensor can be difficult to use

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This small and portable combination DAC and amplifier is a great option for audio professionals, musicians, vocalists, and audiophiles.

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  • Chip
    • Artix 7 chip for 768 kHz
  • Size
    • 3.23 inches x 2.36 inches
  • Features
    • Color changing volume controls
    • Outstanding interior and exterior workmanship
    • Can handle quad DSD files up to 11.2

If you are looking for a truly portable digital-to-analog converter that also doubles as a headphone amplifier, look no further than the Mojo Chord. This pocket-sized DAC is a great option for audiophiles, stage performers, and more. Whether you are looking for a DAC to handle professional applications, or simply want to take your music enjoyment to the next level, this extremely compact combination DAC/Amp can do it.

This DAC is battery powered and offers a wide range of input and output connections including micro USB, USB, coaxial, and optical. You’ll also be able to charge via USB, and have two 3.5mm jacks for output. This portable DAC will give you around 8 hours of battery life on a 10 hour charge, but that’s even with volume maxed out throughout the playtime.

What We Like

Very durable exterior can take some abuse

Volume buttons change color as volume is adjusted

Provides an immersive and expansive soundstage

Know Before Buying

Can get very hot when battery is charging

Is built for portability, not long-term stationary use

Combination DAC so is lacking some power

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This DAC is an excellent choice for anyone that wants a large number of input and output options, along with the capabilities of covering most file formats.

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  • Chip
    • CM6632A chip for 192 kHz
  • Size
    • 13.11 inches x 11.73 inches
  • Features
    • Outstanding workmanship inside and out
    • Provides 12 watts per channel at 8 ohms
    • Pairs perfectly well with Sons SS-HA3 speakers

Sony has taken this DAC to the next level. It’s a versatile and extremely durable model that has a number of input connections including USB, coaxial, optical, and RCA analog stereo. You’ll also find output for rear acoustic, headphone jack, and RCA line-out to give you the freedom to enjoy your music on a wide range of IEMs, headphones, or speakers.

While this DAC is smaller than some, it packs a punch with the capabilities of playing all modern file formats including DSD, ATRAC and ATRAC lossless, MP3, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, and many more. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be able to connect this DAC to a PC through may need to install separate drivers which are easily found online.

What We Like

Full support for DSD lossless formats

Extremely versatile DAC in a small package

Includes coaxial and optical inputs

Know Before Buying

TosLink cable restricts 24-bit replayability

May need to use Sony applications for full experience

USB input can feel loose with some units

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If you’re searching for a retro look to compliment your vinyl collection, look no further than the Sprout100 with it’s stylish yet functional design.

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  • Chip
    • Saber 9016 chip for 384 kHz
  • Size
    • 6.2 inches x 8.2 inches
  • Features
    • Stylish retro exterior
    • Class D power amplifier
    • Wide range of input and outputs

For anyone searching for a stylish retro DAC, the Sprout100 is a great option to consider. Not only is it a very versatile and powerful compact DAC, but it features a stainless steel exterior with walnut panels that really bring back that golden oldies feel. Additionally, it includes a modern remote control to save you the hassle of fiddling with the dials and switches to get your fine tuning done quickly and easily.

The DAC itself includes a range of input options including coaxial, optical, USB, RCA and more. For outputs, you’ll find a subwoofer and speaker output, as well as RCA output. This DAC can produce PCM signals up to 384 kHz and DSD to a max of 5.6 MHz to give you an outstanding range of sound from a wide variety of file formats.

What We Like

Compact size yet creates a big sound

Looks great with retro styled speakers

Includes a bass boost function knob

Know Before Buying

Subwoofer produces a loud transient when powered down

Retro look may not work for every AV setup

Remote control can sometimes be stubborn to get working

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Buyers Guide

Things to Consider When Buying a DAC

Audio interface and headphones as modern recording system, mobile and small.

When searching for the right digital-to-analog converter for your needs, there are a large number of considerations to keep in mind. Do you want something that can handle Bluetooth input? Is a standalone DAC good enough for headphone use? Should you look for a portable converter or go with a stand-alone?

All of those questions and more may come up in your search for the right DAC for your needs. What is important to you may not be important to someone else, so in this way, each DAC is not created equal. It’s important to take some time and decide on what is really important to you and your audio/visual room before you jump in and make a purchase.

Wireless Connections

When it comes to digital-to-analog converters, the wireless connotation is slightly different than what you may be thinking. For example, you may be wanting to purchase a DAC for use with wireless headphones or wireless speakers. However, a digital-to-analog converter will not be of use in this case as it lacks the aptX codec Wireless devices normally need.

When mentioning wireless with a DAC, it usually refers to an input source such as Bluetooth or WiFi instead of the standard optical connection, USB or SPDIF. If you are looking for a wireless option for input, there are digital-to-analog converters that have wireless receivers for Bluetooth connections. You can also opt to use an external wireless receiver.

Portable or Stationary

In today’s market you can find both portable DACs as well as stationary models. In most cases, there will not be any sound quality difference between them. The quality comes down to the DAC chip itself which is in charge of the actual conversion process.

The chip itself is responsible for the variations in sound quality, but a portable DAC that shares the same chip as a stationary model will not have any difference in sound. Some of the best sounding digital-to-analog converters are extremely small and very portable.

The biggest benefit to a stationary model is that you will most likely have more options for external connections. It also allows more room for headphone amps and other components which cannot fit into the small chassis of a portable DAC.

Sampling Rates

Audio sampling rates can be found in a huge range that can reach 32-bit and 192 kHz. Most people will search for a digital-to-analog converter that can handle the largest range possible. However, it’s rarely necessary to look for a DAC that can process anything higher than 96 kHz, and that’s even for professional audio recording.

The average music CD will only reach 44 kHz, and most studio recordings will be 96 kHz or less. Once the audio is recorded and compressed, the sample rate will drop even lower. For this reason, most average DAC users will not need to focus on extreme highs for their sampling rate.

Master Quality Authenticated Codec

MQA is becoming more and more popular with audiophiles and other more discerning listeners to music. Some online streaming platforms are offering MQA to their higher end subscribers. While Master Quality Authenticated audio does offer a much higher compression and delivers a high definition streamed audio, most DACs do not offer MQA support by default.

Using a DAC that does not support MQA to play this file codec will result in distorted and improper partial sound. The audio will partially play but won’t sound as good. So if you plan on listening to MQA audio files, such as from certain streaming sources, ensure your DAC supports this codec.

Separate Headphone Amp for DAC Use

Close-up of boutique recording studio control desk, dj headphones for professional disc, equipment for sound recording studio, mixer and DJ headphones

Many users wonder about using headphones with their digital-to-analog converter, and whether or not a standalone DAC is suitable or if they need to purchase a separate headphone amp. If you are using headphones, a headphone amp will be needed.

However, purchasing a separate headphone amp may not be necessary as a large number of digital-to-analog converters already integrate one. If purchasing a headphone amp separately, keep an eye on your impedance rating as some lower end models may not offer a high enough power output to give you a proper sound return.

If the mentioned DACs are a bit expensive for you, we also have reviewed here 4 digital-to-analog converters for under 500 dollars.

Conclusion

Best Overall Professional DAC Under $1000
Best Compact DAC Under $1000
Best Portable DAC Under $1000

From portable combination DACs to stand-alone professional-level converters, you’re sure to find the right model for your needs. With so many options on the market, this review page only covered a small fraction of what is available. Luckily, there are many different DAC features that can be found, so don’t be afraid to take a bit of time to decide what is really important to you before making your first purchase.