Best Portable DAC/Amps of 2023

Best Portable DAC/Amps of 2023 by MajorHiFi

Whether you’re an entry-level audiophile looking to upgrade your sound, or a seasoned audio geek who needs a solid on-the-go solution, a decent portable DAC/amp is a must have. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of our favorite portable DAC/amps and dongles of 2023. We’ve also made sure to include models in every price range, so you should find something suitable here regardless of your budget.

Under $100

iFi GO link


The iFi Go Link is quite an impressive gadget for its category, especially given the low price point. There are only a handful of dongles that audibly elevate the sound signature to hi-fidelity standards, and this is one of them. Typically, achieving such clean resolution would require investing in a bulkier and pricier DAC/Amp combo. But the Go Link excels in providing great imaging and delivering clean and transparent sound despite its size. The inclusion of a Lightning adapter for iPhones is also a thoughtful touch. A great deal all around.

The iFi Go link is best budget friendly DAC dongle on the market.

MoonDrop DAWN


Despite its unassuming appearance, the Moondrop Dawn 4.4mm (balanced output) contributes significantly to an IEM’s sound signature, infusing energy into the delivery and expanding the overall soundscape. While it might be ambitious to pair this compact DAC with higher impedance headphones, it’s an ideal companion for super-sensitive IEMs as well as those that are slightly more power hungry. The absence of MQA support may disappoint Tidal enthusiasts, but for those unbothered by this, the Dawn Pro stands out. Whether you’re in the market for an entry-level DAC that genuinely impacts sound or simply seeking a straightforward upgrade from a subpar dongle, the Dawn Pro offers an excellent choice at its price point.

The MoonDrop Dawn 4.4mm is one of the best DAC dongles at this price point.

Under $200

iBasso DC06PRO


In the realm of DAC dongles, the iBasso DC06Pro stands out for its sheer power, capable of driving an array of IEMs and headphones. So, you can rest assured that you’ll have headroom to spare. The device’s dedicated volume control adds a layer of flexibility, while the neutral profile maintains the integrity of your headphones and the original music source. For audiophiles seeking a blend of power and precision, the DC06Pro is a solid choice in a market saturated with DAC dongle options.

iBasso DC06PRO wins best portable DAC/amp of the year.

MoonDrop MoonRiver 2 Ti


Another surprisingly robust “dongle”, the Moonriver 2 TI left us quite impressed. Its power output is on par, if not exceeding many more expensive dongle models. And overall, it’s premium HiFi components, clean delivery, stylish design, and an attractive price point make Moonriver 2 TI a standout model under $200.

MoonDrop MoonRiver 2 Ti is priced competitively.

Under $300

Astell & Kern AK HB1


Despite its relatively neutral presentation, the AK HB1 adds richness to instrument tonality and reveals tons of detail, providing cleaner instrument layering and immaculate separation. While not transforming the soundstage magically, there’s a subtle touch of added depth and spaciousness with enhanced imaging precision. Although awaiting an app update, the AK HB1 impresses with super-detailed and well-controlled sound, rivaling higher-priced players. If you can be patient for app improvements, rest assured the AK HB1 offers a fantastic out-of-the-box audio experience.

The Astell & Kern AK HB1 might be the most skilled portable DAC/amp in its class.

Astell & Kern AK HC4


Yes, Astell & Kern again. We were pretty blown away by this little DAC. The HC4 offers a striking improvement to any sound signature you throw at it, delivering a grander, cleaner, richer, and more powerful audio experience. The upgrade in your IEMs or headphones’ performance is immediately noticeable, representing a leap worth several hundred bucks. Coupled with its sleek, edgy design, sturdy build, and the DAR feature, the HC4 proves to be fantastic value for money. And overall, there’s no denying that the HC4 delivers sound quality that closely approaches A&K’s best Digital Audio Players (DAPs).

Astell & Kern AK HC4 ís a heavy hitter in terms of performance and power.

Under $500

iFi GO bar


For those in search of robust performance without the heft of larger DAC/Amp units, the G0 Bar from iFi proves to be a noteworthy contender. Positioned as the most potent portable headphone amp in its size category, it lives up to its claim, offering tons of headroom, pristine separation, anal transparency, and wide stereo imaging. Maintaining a well-balanced and controlled delivery, the G0 Bar also delivers an easy listening profile without skimping on resolution. The midrange, especially, stands out with clean tonality and clarity, while the treble adds a touch of crispness and buoyancy to an otherwise neutral presentation. 

iFi GO Bar delivers huge power. Tons of headroom no matter what cans you're driving.

FiiO Q15


Here’s where things start to get a little bigger. The FiiO Q15 is a beast. With great treble extension and spaciousness, intimate mids and incredibly deep low frequencies, the transformation to your IEM borders on mind-blowing at times. Equally important, is the insane amount of power than the Q15 offers—four gain levels mean you’re covered, no matter what cans you’re driving. FiiO is known for making fantastic DACs at budget-friendly price points, and the Q15 is a prime example.

FiiO Q15 is the the most powerful DAC/amp of its size.

$500 and Up

Chord Electronics MOJO 2


It needs little introduction, but I’ll still introduce it…The Mojo 2 is the second iteration of what is arguably the most popular portable DAC/amp on the market. The Mojo 2 brings some exciting improvements, including a more accurate sound signature, improved depth, powerful output, and top-notch build quality. If you’ve been a Mojo fan, these enhancements promise an even better audio experience. The sound profile may not be as warm and gooey as the first version, but it certainly outperforms the original Mojo in terms of skill.

The Chord Mojo 2 is a huge step up from the original model.

You can find all of these products at Audio 46.

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