The concept of compact and battery-powered amp/dac combos isn’t new. Actually there are plenty of these portable gadgets out in the market. They all have the same goal in common. They help you to get better sound out of devices like notebooks, smartphones or SBCs. All of these tech appliances are able to provide some kind of audio output. But usually non of them are built with the idea of high-quality music reproduction in mind. That is why they typically suck when it comes to lossless audio. They deliver low-quality, noisy, fatiguing music playback.
Portable DAC and headphone amplifiers are here to help. Their purpose is to overcome the shortcomings of built-in audio components and circuits. In the end those combos bypass and replace the integrated audio components and deliver superior audio playback with their specialized hardware.
UK manufacturer iFi is offering a whole range of dac/amp products. But there is plenty of fish in the sea. Quite a few manufacturers have discovered that specific niche in the last few years. Therefore the market has to offer a rich selection of possible solutions. From affordable to expensive. From tiny to barely portable.
Those six devices are all worth mentioning and might be a good fit for you depending on your budget and needs:
This is just a tiny selection out of what is available on the market. Despite that competition or maybe because of it, iFi is now about to add another product to its dac/amp product line-up: The pocket-size hip-dac. iFi will release their brand-new product at the upcoming CANJAM NYC 2020 which will take place on Feb. 15th and 16th. Afterwards the new hip-dac will sell for €149. At that price point it really seems to be an attractive value proposition given the device’s specifications: