Today I want to share my best finds from the world of stationary DACs. Moreover, we will touch on the entire segment, that is, both pure DACs and combines with a built-in headphone amplifier. A lot of interesting things have come out lately, it’s time to sort and sort it somehow. What are we going to do with you today. The list, as usual, will include only those stationary DACs that I personally tested.
For each model, we will highlight the main features, chips and, of course, literally in a nutshell we will touch on the nature of the sound.
Topping DX3 Pro+ DAC
I want to start with an updated version of the most popular Topping DX3 Pro DAC. The new incarnation of this device received an ESS ES9038Q2M converter with support for resolutions up to 32 bit 768 kHz and DSD512, bluetooth with AptX HD and LDAC codecs, and the headphone power is now as much as 1800 mW at 32 Ohm load. Which is quite enough for the vast majority of even very tight full sizes. At the same time, the manufacturer managed to maintain the very simply masterpiece appearance of the device.
The kit includes a remote control, as many as two coaxial inputs at the back and a huge, almost the entire front panel, display with orange characters that are pleasing to the eye.
In terms of sound, in contrast to the first very musical revision, Topping managed to realize simply the most gorgeous elaboration of the scene in depth. So much so that with this DAC it is interesting to listen to even some complex orchestral music. As for the rest: detailing, volume, melodiousness — everything remained at the same very high level.
DAC Loxjie D30
Not far behind Topping is the equally well-known iron manufacturer Loxjie. In the updated version of the D30 model, the manufacturer has already implemented the flagship converter ESS ES9068AS. There is a remote control, everything is also very bold in the bluetooth, with the same AptX and AptX HD codecs, and amplifiers from Texas Instruments work at the headphone output: OPA1612. The output power, of course, is not so impressive, but still sufficient for the vast majority of headphones — 110 mW at 32 Ohm load.
Of the chips, I would like to note a bright IPS display, a power supply built into the case and a very cool menu with a choice of filter settings and even various shades of sound. Well, how not to note the presence of a complete decoding of the MQA stream. And all this in addition to PCM up to 32 bit 768 kHz and simply sky-high DSD512.
The sound here is deep, melodic, with slightly softened timbres and a fairly clear separation of planes. The device, of course, is not very good at the track space, but in terms of technicality and speed of working out envelopes, everything is very decent. For metal and any well-compressed electronics, this DAC fits perfectly.
DAC Dilvpoetry DAC DT-1
The next item on the list of finds, I want to talk about the Dilvpoetry DAC DT-1. This is a DAC in such a futuristic design, based on the ESS ES9038Q2M converter, with a remote control and bluetooth with support for the most relevant AptX HD and LDAC codecs today.
In terms of sound resolution, we have the same 32-bit 768 kHz and DSD512. But the highlight of the model is a completely switchable block of two 6N3 tubes, which are built into the preamplifier block here, which is why the sound is slightly colored, leaving the signal quality just as incredibly high. Well, just crazy 2 watts of power at 32 ohms of load, and this is on a balanced output to headphones like «pentacon».
In terms of sound, everything is juicy, rich and very voluminous. Such a truly tube feed, as on really high-quality hybrid amplifiers. With the included lamp block, I liked the device a lot more, although you should not discount the possibility of choice. Since we actually have two DACs in one.
Topping D10 Balanced DAC
If you are looking for an inexpensive solution with balanced outputs, be sure to take a look at the Topping D10 Balanced. Yes, this is also an updated version of the old hit D10, but now on an ESS ES9038Q2M converter and with balanced TRS outputs, like professional audio interfaces. By permission, PCM is available at 32 bits 384 kHz and DSD256. A working set.
Of the chips, I would like to highlight the power supply via the USB port and digital outputs in the form of optics and coaxial. That is, the device can be used not only for its intended purpose, but also as a high-quality converter from USB to optical and coaxial. In addition, a large display with orange symbols should be noted.
By sound, the device does not break templates. However, as for its segment, it sounds very good: quite expressive, clear and technical. With musicality, too, everything is fine here.
DAC SMSL SU-8S
Stationary DAC SMSL SU-8S has been literally caressing my ears with its sound for half a year now. It comes with a remote control, and the power supply, like all serious solutions, is built into the body of the device. But the most important thing is the outputs on the usual RCA pair and balanced XLR. In terms of bluetooth, everything is also gorgeous with us — we have a Qualcomm chip with AptX and AptX HD codecs. A full-fledged ESS ES9068AS acts as a converter here, and a 32-bit XMOS XU216 is on USB. That is, for iron here, really, the highest class.
As features, I would like to note a small but very informative IPS display with just a bunch of all kinds of settings, including digital filters and tonal color. We also include a very high-quality multifunctional level control and support for full decoding of the MQA stream. And this is in addition to PCM up to 32 bit 768 kHz and DSD512.
In terms of sound, the DAC gives an even steeper elaboration of the scene in depth than the DX3 Pro + and brings such an easy analog mitigation from itself. Why, in terms of sound, this DAC has been leading my personal TOP for half a year. Far from any device is capable of transmitting instruments in such a way even in complex orchestral music, and the timbre volume in terms of effectiveness is comparable only to very high-quality tube preamps. Here it’s all with just perfect signal quality and incredible melody in terms of perception. To this day, I am absolutely delighted with this model.
Topping E50 DAC
If they ask me what they could oppose to the SMSL SU-8S, then I would call the new Topping E50 without hesitation. The same coolest converter ESS ES9068AS, 32-bit USB chip XMOS XU216 and similar support for PCM, DSD and MQA streams.
There is a very convenient remote control, power even from a power bank, outputs on a classic RCA pair and balanced TRS, as well as a display with orange characters that is just freaky in appearance. In addition, the device itself can go to sleep when not in use, and its drivers are always the most current version. Haven’t seen any other manufacturer do this.
In terms of sound, this is just a standard of sharpness, clarity and technicality. For well-compressed electronics and various heavy genres, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Just breathtakingly cool. If not for the SU-8S, I would definitely choose the E50 as my favorite. Although it is much cheaper, so everything is in its place. The device is very good, you can safely take it.
DAC SMSL DO200
Here you can ask me — where to go next? And I will answer you with a specific example: SMSL DO200. Those who follow my reviews are aware of the HO200 headphone amplifier that literally shook me, and now the DO200 is paired with it. The device is based on two ES9068AS converters, USB on a 32-bit XMOS XU216 chip, bluetooth with support for AptX HD and LDAC codecs and, of course, maximum resolutions for PCM, DSD and full MQA stream decoding. Included is a remote control, a screen like in the SU-8S and a complete chaos in choosing digital filters and different colors of sound.
At the back we have a classic pair of RCA and balanced XLR outputs, and at the input we already have not only bluetooth, USB, optics and coaxial, but also professional AES and I2S inputs. The power supply, like all older models, is carefully removed inside the case, which is really very convenient.
The sound is as expected, still cooler than the SU-8S. The same very detailed space of the stage and almost lively timbre volumetric images. Plus, a much sharper and more detailed sound. That is, the SU-8S turned out to be literally supplemented with the capabilities of the E50. And if you are just thinking about what to take, then that very hundred dollars on top, relative to the SU-8S, is definitely worth it. Although the SU-8S has been more than fine with me for a long time. It seems much better — it turns out that there is where.
DAC FX-Audio D01
Well, you can’t pass by the FX-Audio D01 DAC, which most impressed me with its truly analog sound. This is a much more affordable solution with a built-in headphone amplifier capable of delivering up to 400 mW of power into a 32 ohm load. It is based on the ESS ES9038Q2M converter, a very advanced XMOS XU208 chip is also responsible for USB, and bluetooth has support for popular AptX HD and LDAC codecs.
Of the features, the device can be disassembled and further adjusted to your own tastes through replaceable operational amplifiers. Alas, but such opportunities are now becoming rarer.
In terms of presentation, this DAC evokes in me clear associations with a completely analog path. How they did it — I’ll never know, but all new models from the same manufacturer can no longer do this. Everything is very juicy, warm and just insanely musical.
DAC FX-Audio DAC-SQ3
Another hit that just needs to be highlighted is the FX-Audio DAC-SQ3. It is based on the same ESS ES9038Q2M converter, and XMOS XU208 is responsible for USB. As far as possible, we have a control panel, a rather impressive display with orange symbols and USB power supply.
Which, in my opinion, is a very serious plus, since it generally unties it from the outlet. For inputs and outputs — a completely standard set of USB, optics, coax and a classic RCA pair for the output.
The DAC sounds quite expressive, warm and rich. In its price segment, he is obviously the real king.
Aiyima DAC-A5 Pro DAC
And finally, I will note perhaps the most-most of the ultra-budget DACs: Aiyima DAC-A5 Pro. It has the same standard set of inputs and outputs, but, plus everything, a fairly serious headphone output, giving 400 mW into 32 ohms of load. The device is based on the ESS ES9018Q2M converter, it has a fully mechanical control and two headphone outputs with different impedance.
Of the additional features, we note interchangeable operational amplifiers, which allows you to easily and concisely configure the device to your own taste preferences.
In terms of sound, expecting the same revelations for 50 bucks as for 300 would be super naive. But for its price, the device plays cheerfully, drivingly and moderately technically. If you need an inexpensive DAC with a headphone amplifier, this is probably the best option.
These, friends, I have selected for you 10 of the most relevant for today and very interesting DACs from those with which I have personal experience of using (reviews can be found in my profile). Moreover, each of the listed solutions is simply excellent for its price category, with its own features and its own unique sound character.
I hope that this selection has helped you understand all the mass of reviews that I have done lately and choose for yourself exactly the model that meets all the requirements for functionality, price and sound quality.
I remind you that the Black Friday sale on Aliexpress runs from November 25, 11:00 — November 30, 10:59.
Also, just below there is a link to my Telegram channel, and if you want to always be aware of sales from Aliexpress, then drop by and join!
At the time of publication of the collection When you buy Topping DX3 Pro+ DAC, you can use the promo code HIFICOLLEGE6 and the seller’s coupon and get a great discountmost likely, by the sale, this promotional code will stop working.
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