Best DACs for iPhone and iPad iMore 2021
Apple's recently announced Apple Music Lossless Audio is now available for Apple Music. Lossless Audio is a file format that compresses audio without losing any data, so your songs sound like originally intended. To listen to Lossless Audio, you need wired headphones. Taking it a step further, Apple Music now also streams in Hi-Resolution Lossless Audio, which requires an external digital to analog converter (DAC). Let's take a look at the best DAC's you can buy right now for your iPhone or iPad, so you can be ready for Apple Music Hi-Resolution Lossless Audio.
- Solid and MiFi certifed: FiiO Q1 Mark II Native DSD DAC & Amplifier
- Portable power: iFi Hip-dac Portable Balanced DAC
- Modern USB-C port: FiiO K3 Type-C USB DAC Headphone Amp
- Digital display: Fosi Audio K3 HiFi Headphone Amplifier DAC Converter
- DAC on a budget: FX AUDIO USB DAC Headphone Amplifier
- Unique design: Fosi Audio HD3 Headphone Amplifier & DAC
Solid and MiFi certifed: FiiO Q1 Mark II Native DSD DAC & AmplifierStaff Pick
The FiiO Q1 Mark II DAC is MiFi certified, so you have ensured compatibility with your iOS device. It has a full metal exterior that protects it from electromagnetic interference when used with your iPhone or iPad. The volume knob features an oblong design to help if you use the DAC in a tight space. The FiiO connects to your iPhone or compatible iPad via an included lightning to Micro USB cable.
Portable power: iFi Hip-dac Portable Balanced DAC
The iFi DAC has a portable design with six hours of battery life. It has a USB-A port, so make sure you have the proper cable to connect your iPhone or iPad. You also get 400mW output from the onboard amplifier.
Modern USB-C port: FiiO K3 Type-C USB DAC Headphone Amp
The Fiio K3 DAC contains a modern USB-C connection, perfect to use with your new IPad Pro or iPad Air 4. Be aware, this DAC is not portable and is for use at your desk. It features an all-aluminum body, two modes of USB audio, and coaxial and optical digital outputs.
Digital display: Fosi Audio K3 HiFi Headphone Amplifier DAC Converter
The Fosi DAC converter is a portable solution with USB-C and USB-A inputs. It contains an OLED front display panel and a silver aluminum body. The built-in ESS9038Q2M chip allows for low distortion and high power.
DAC on a budget: FX AUDIO USB DAC Headphone Amplifier
The FX AUDIO DAC can be powered by USB or DC, which makes it good to use on your desktop, or it can be portable. You can listen to your favorite music wherever you want.
Unique design: Fosi Audio HD3 Headphone Amplifier & DAC
The Fosi Audio HD3 DAC features a unique and retro design to a portable DAC. To ensure portability, this DAC contains a 1500mAh internal battery for up to 8 hours of use.
What is a DAC?
A digital to analog converter (DAC) is simply a device that converts a digital signal to an analog one, so you can listen to your music through wired headphones or speakers. So, why all the talk about DAC's recently? Apple announced that it will soon stream all 75 million of its Apple Music tracks in Apple Lossless Audio. This means that Apple will compress the song without losing any data so it will sound exactly as the artist intended. However, the hook here is that you can't listen to Lossless tracks over Bluetooth, thus eliminating the use of Beats, AirPods, or any Bluetooth headphones.
If you want to listen to Apple Lossless Audio, you will need a pair of wired headphones. If you want to best sound quality possible, Apple will also stream in Hi-Resolution Lossless Audio. To take full advantage of this, you will need wired headphones as well as a DAC. Simply connect the DAC to your iPhone or iPad, and then connect your wired headphones to the DAC.
Which DAC should I buy for my iPhone or iPad?
Our favorite DAC is the FiiO Q1 Mark II. It's MiFi certified, so it's ensured to work perfectly with your iOS device. It has a full metal body and unique volume control. The FiiO includes a lighting to micro USB cable to let you connect to your iPhone out of the box.
If you have an iPad Pro or iPad Air 4 with a USB-C connection, check out the Fosi Audio K3. It contains a USB-C and USB-A connection and an OLED front panel display, and an attractive silver aluminum body.
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