So, you’ve picked up your new Samsung Galaxy A53 only to find that it doesn’t have a 3.5mm connection for your headphones. If you’re too much of an audiophile to accept wireless earbuds, the following DAC dongles are the perfect answer to your USB-C phone setup. They will not only allow you to retain a wired IEM/headphone connection, but will also significantly upgrade your sound quality in the process.
iFi GO Link
The iFi GO Link has received massive applause from the audiophile community. For under $60, this little device delivers a huge upgrade to your sound, offering great resolution, rich tonality and a broadened soundstage. And while, the GO Link is best suited for IEMs, it also has enough driving power to handle higher impedance headphones. Also impressive for its small size, is the fact that the GO Link supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256), and MQA.
You can buy the iFi GO Link at Audio 46.
This DDHiFi DAC, with a detachable/swappable cable, not only looks pretty in its leather case, but delivers big sound too. If you like your music to feel grand and beefy, the TC44C will certainly give you that quality. In addition, this DAC improves the depth of your soundstage, while also adding some oomph to your low-end. It’s certainly a fun option for those who enjoy listening to modern genres. Finally, for those who want to go with a balanced connection, the TC44C offers a 4.4mm input in addition to the standard 3.5mm. (One thing to note is that although the TC44C supports PCM up to 32bit/384kHz, and up to DSD256, it does not render MQA).
You can buy the DDHiFi TC44C at Audio 46.
FiiO KA1 and KA2
For those who enjoy a more neutral sound profile, the FiiO KA1 and KA2 will deliver a clean, smooth and evenly balanced signature that won’t saturate your sound. And for those who enjoy a balanced connection, FiiO also offers the KA2 with a 4.4mm input. Like the iFi GO Link, the FiiO KA1 and KA2 support PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD up to 11.2MHz (DSD256), and MQA. And like the GO Link, this device has enough power to drive higher impedance headphones in addition to your favorite IEMs.
You can buy the FiiO KA1 and KA2 at Audio 46.
This is the priciest DAC on the list, but well earned by the famous Astell&Kern brand. This option will only work for those with 4.4mm balanced cable, but for true audiophiles, the HC2, equipped with a CS43198 Dual DAC, is the ultimate DAC dongle. Delivering tons of clarity and control, the HC2’s powerful 4Vrms output can even make higher impedance headphones sound fantastic. Finally, the HC2 it also comes with an accompanying APP that gives you detailed volume control.
You can buy the Astell&Kern HC2 at Audio 46.
IKKO Zerda ITM02
The IKKO Zelda ITM02 may not look like anything special, but for audiophiles who appreciate a smooth and easy listen, this thing delivers. Although high frequencies are tempered a little, the level of detail remains impressive. Certainly, the ITM02 is suitable for folks who listen for long stretches or who are particularly sensitive to high frequencies. Like the DDHiFi TC44C, the Zelda ITM02 features a detachable cable. And though this little DAC looks unassuming, it sports a solid, well-constructed build.
You can buy the IKKO Zerda ITM02 at Audio 46.