If you want to listen to the toppiest of top-quality tracks on Apple Music, then you're going to need one of the best Dacs for Mac. Apple Music lossless uses hi-res lossless tracks, and the DAC in pretty much all the computers you can buy now aren't capable of reproducing the super high bitrates. To that end, you'll need to get an external DAC, or Digital to Analogue Converter. You'll also need a pair of wired headphones, because Bluetooth is incapable of carrying the high bit rate track over the air.
That's the beginning - there are loads of different DACs out there, and finding the best can be a tricky job. So we've found all the best and put them here so that you can find which will work for you.
Best Dacs for Mac
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Plug and play DAC
The Fosi Audio Q4 is a plug-and-play device, no installation required on your Mac. The Fosi features a full-metal housing with bass, treble, and volume adjustments. Note you will need a USB-C adaptor if your Mac does not have USB-A ports.
The Grace DAC is a desktop DAC that features the AKM AK4452 digital-to-analog conversion chip, previously found in larger and more expensive equipment. The Grace DAC has a clean look, with only one dial on the front.
DAC on a budget
Not only is this DAC inexpensive, but it can also be used away from the desktop if you want to take it with you. It can be powered via USB or DC, so that makes the FX AUDIO DAC versatile.
The Q1 automatically detects the connected device, so you don't have to manually change settings and controls. As a bonus, the Q1 is MiFi certified, so it will also work seamlessly with your iOS devices.
The Audioengine D1 is a plug-and-play DAC that features a headphone amp for premium audio. This DAC is USB powered, so no separate power supply needed, making this DAC portable if you want to take it on the go.
Digital and aluminum
The Fosi Audio K3 features a unique digital display and an all-aluminum body. Great for modern Macs, it contains a USB Type-C input.
What is a digital to analog converter (DAC)?
A digital to analog converter (DAC) is a device that takes a digital signal and converts it to an analog one. You may have heard a lot of talk about DACs recently. Soon, Apple will stream all 75 million of its Apple Music tracks in Apple Lossless Audio. This means that Apple will compress the song to sound precisely as the artist originally intended, without losing any data. Sounds great, doesn't it? The only problem is that you can't listen to Lossless tracks over Bluetooth. This eliminates Beats, AirPods, or any Bluetooth headphones.
So how do you listen to Apple Lossless Audio? Put simply; you will need a pair of wired headphones. For the best sound quality possible, Apple will stream in Hi-Resolution Lossless Audio. This is where you will need a DAC, in addition to wired headphones. Connect the DAC to your Mac, and then connect your wired headphones to the DAC.
Even if you don't want to use a DAC to listen to Apple Lossless Audio, it can still improve your audio experience with a Mac. It will remove unwanted noise and distortion from any audio tracks.
The best DAC for the Mac?
The Fosi Audio Q4 is our choice for the best DAC for the Mac. It has a full metal housing and separate bass, treble, and volume adjustments. It's plug-and-play, so no complicated installation is necessary. It also has a headphone amp chip built-in, as well as being relatively inexpensive.
The FiiO Q1 is another great DAC to pick. It contains a full metal body and unique oblong volume control. It's also MiFi certified, so it can do double duty, and you can use it with your iOS devices as well as your Mac.
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