USB HiFi and Hi-Res Audio

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Recommended USB DACs and USB Audio Interfaces

Recommended USB DACs and HD Audio Interfaces for HighEnd Audio PCs

Both within the context of HiFi / high-end audio as well as for recording studios there is now a wide range of high quality DACs for HD Audio available. As long as you reduce the requirements for a USB audio interface to those that are really essential (high quality conversion of the USB signal up to 192 kHz / 24 bit or more, very good analogue output stage, a high quality converter chip, such as ESS Sabre, Burr Brown, XMOS, Wolfson or the like, and maybe playback of DSD / DXD audio files), you can get a very cheap high-end DAC with a top sound.

When choosing the right device, let your ears decide and not the technical specifications: You don’t need an asynchronous mode. Adaptive converters provide great sound-neutral results for little money. Up-sampling can be expensive as well, and is worth it only when consistently implemented. Since HD audio files with more than 192 kHz / 24 bit are still quite rare and the improvement in sound negligible, a 24/96 converter will do just fine

Below you can find a selection of devices for high-end and studio technology, all of which can be easily purchased at Amazon.

You can buy the matching Hifi Music Server here.

HD Audio USB-DAC recommendations

NuPrime DAC 9

  • DAC and preamp
  • Five digital inputs with adjusment of volume for each input
  • Up to 32 Bit / 384 kHz
  • Balanced (XLR, recommended!) and unbalanced (chinch) outputs

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GUSTARD A20H Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">

  • AKM AK4497EQ x2 decoding chip
  • DSD (DSD64,DSD128,DSD256,DSD512) and IIS support
  • Chinch and XLR outputs
  • AES/ABU, USB, IIS, Optical and Coax input

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Micca OriGen G2 Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">

  • Small headphone (16-600 Ω) DAC with streaming
  • up to 24 Bit / 192 kHz
  • Wolfson WM8740 stereo D/A converter
  • USB or Optical S/PDIF inputs

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Aune S16

  • XMOS Chip for USB
  • 32 Bit / 384 Khz DSD/DXD
  • AKM Decoder Chip
  • superb sound via XLR-outputs

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Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic 100

  • Good value for money
  • Shows up sample-rate
  • Native USB up to 24 Bit/192
  • Wolfson WM8742 24-Bit-Digital-Analog-Converter

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  • Professional studio equipemnt
  • 32bit Upsampling with AKM 32bit DAC AK4390
  • Powerd via USB input
  • USB only up to 24/96

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Korg DS-DAC-100 Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">Highly recommended! align="right">

  • Realtime DSD conversion
  • CS4398 Chip from Cirrus Logic
  • Nativ DSD-Playback (2,8224 MHz or 5,6448 MHz)
  • PCM in 24 Bit / 192 kHz
  • XLR Output

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NuForce DAC-80

  • Reduced to reproduce absolte analytic audio
  • USB and S/PIDF
  • Asynchronous USB without Upsampling
  • Supports USB up to 24bit/192 kHz

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  • Small but powerful
  • Plays PCM-Audio-Files with 32 Bit / 384 kHz
  • XMOS's USB receiver chip
  • Sabre Reference 32bit ES9018 DAC Chip

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Teac UD-501-B, Dual Monaural D/A Converter

  • Audiophile Classic
  • DSD-Dateien in 2,8 and 5,6 MHz
  • Burr-Brown and MUSE inside
  • includes symetric XLR outputs

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An if you are looking for the best sound if you are outside here is also a good overview of Smartphones for Audiophiles.