DAC&AMP combo for „on-the-go“ — too many options led me to a paralysis of choice


i made a mistake… I read to many opinions. Therefore I am seeking even more opinions:)
I am looking for a fitting portable DAC/AMP combo. I mostly listen to acoustic singer songwriter music. I enjoy a sound that highlights the midds as well as the highs, is as clear and wide as possible. Summarized I want to get the best possible sound to enjoy acoustic music and vocals.

A couple of additional infos.

  • I don’t mind to spend a little bit more because I would like the DAC/AMP to be as future proof as possible. I would use the DAC with my HD 58x at the moment but are looking to get a DAC/AMP that performance good enough that it is worth paring higher quality headphone or headphones that are a little harder to drive with it in the future. (I got hooked into this audioenthusiast world)

  • I really don’t want to use micro usb. Would only be ok for charging (future proofing)!!

  • the DAC/AMP should be pocketable (but I have big pockets).

  • MQA support would be nice but not a deal breaker

  • I would use the DAC mostly with my iPhone or iPad Pro (USB-C).

  • I use Tidal as the streaming service of choice at the moment.

To be honest I already requested recommendations like this in a couple of other threads and got a tone of different answers — Hifiguids is an absolut incredible community!

I startet a list to track the recommendations from different reviews, blogs and threads.
Here is the list with a couple of notes:

  • Chord Mojo - has micro usb; not sure about the price-performance ratio.

  • Ifi Hip Dac - beautiful; great size; MQA support; only real downside seams to be to warm sound

  • Ifi xDSD - micro usb; I don´t need Bluetooth; feature packed; to warm as well?

  • Ifi nano iDSD black - sound isn’t all that good otherwise a good option; less warm than hip dac

  • Ifi micro iDSD black - a little to big

  • Topping NX5 - not to warm, relatively clear, micro usb, doesn’t get discussed to often (don’t know why)

  • Topping NX4DSD - quid old, used to be a good option

  • Fiio K3 -

  • Fiio Q1 Mark II - good one but i should get the BRT 5 instead

  • Fiio BTR5 - a Hifiguids Forum favorit; usb c; I don’t need Bluetooth, should get the hip dac instead

  • Earstudio HUD100 - average imaging and soundstage; not very textured

  • xduoo XD5+ (added after convinced in this thread) - more analytical/cleaner Signatur; no MQA;

So what should I get :joy:?

P.S. I am an absolute beginner in the audiophile world. If any of my request don’t make sense what so ever. I am happy to get educated!

1 Like

Buy something that meets your criteria and start there. You may not like it and it you don’t you’ll at least know why you don’t like it and you’ll be more educated on your next purchase. There’s a resale market for everything you’re going to buy especially if you keep it all neatly boxed.

The more you read people’s and assume that’s what you’ll hear when you listen to it, the more you’ll make wrong choices in purchases down the road. We don’t all hear, see, smell, touch the same. What you want to do in this hobby is learn what YOU like, then using that as a starting point, branch from there.

Given your requirements, I’m surprised none of the Audioquest Dragonfly DACs made it to your list.

Lastly, unless you provide details of what you’re plugging into the DAC/AMP no one can tell you with certainty what sound you’re going to get out the other end. Most people can discern the differences from their headphones, but much fewer people will be able to discern differences from DACs if as you say you’re new to the hobby and haven’t yet learned to listen.

The reality is that if it meets your criteria, you’re much more likely to enjoy whatever it is you wind up buying. Also, if you continue with the hobby, I guarantee that you’ll wind up with more than one.


It is definetly portable and is supported by iOS devices.

1 Like

Personally I wouldn’t consider getting USB type C “future proofing” but rather just a convenience thing. I’m not aware of any dac feature that would require the newer USB standard. Also do you want Type C specifically? Because there are some oddball players that don’t use either. (Such as the ifi Black label)

1 Like

Thanks for the response!

Hearing those words gives me the peace of mind to by the Blue colored DAC :slight_smile: but seriously I might really just go for one and discover the world of audio more for and by myself.

Regarding the DragonFlys: I looked into them but because I am planing on using them mostly with my Phone I was concerned about 1. the battery drainage 2. the headphones they are capable to drive 3.The use of USB A.

I removed all dongle like DAC/AMPs from my list, because I started to lean to a solution that uses its own power (battery) to drive the headphones. I thought that way the audio quality would be superior to dongles because of the power the AMPs would be capable of.

1 Like

You put it better than me. USB C in itself is just a connection type that is more up to date it its form and therefore only really brings more convenience for this use case.
The technical capabilities of type C like Thunderbolt etc. are not necessary for my audio needs.

1 Like

One other consideration is what headphones and or IEM’s are you going to drive?..as matching them to the source is as important as just saying an amp does this or sounds like that tbh.

1 Like

why is warm sound a bad thing to you?

1 Like

One more thing to consider is power output. For future proofing, I’d recommend getting something that can output enough power on the single ended output for a HD6XX. That would rule out some of Fiio’s offerings like the Q5s.

1 Like

The newest xdsd shipping have type c for charging fyi


At the moment I started my audio journey with the HD 58X.

I don’t think warm sound is bad. But I am using HD 58X´s at the moment and find them quit warm already. With the limited experience I had so far I just realized, that I enjoy a brighter sound.

On the other hand my hearing really isn’t trained what so ever so take my „preferences“ with a grain of salt.

That would be awesome. Are there any Information when the USB-C version will ship?

1 Like

I think it has been for a year now. To be clear it still uses the recessed type a port for data transfer, but type c for charging

1 Like

I’m also a bit surprised that the Xduoo XD05 and XD05+ didn’t make the list. Lots of portable power and well regarded for fairly neutral sound quality.


The xd05+ uses type c for data transfer, do that would also be a plus if you are looking for type c


To be honest they were on my list… they even have been one of my favorites for a while. But after seeing them in a couple of reviews they looked huge.
They are about 40mm taller than the xDSD and that one was kind of the size threshold for me.

But If they are worth it performance wise I might reconsider them.

1 Like

They are almost as large as the idsd micro, only a little bit shorter lol

1 Like

For reference theres the xd05+ with an s10+


iFi Micro with enough power to melt power cables? and an Apple XR…


As a new member to this community I am honestly astonished by the time and effort you guys are taken for me, thanks!

The XD05+ isn’t big at all… I was totally of! That paired with the feature set is really compelling. I thought the XD05+ would be closer to the micro iDSD size wise.

Ok I think I got it down to the xDSD and the XD05+. I might just tell my wife both options and wait what she will get me in two weeks… cause its my birthday!

@M0N I actually really like the idea of the recessed USB A port. It’s a mechanic strong connection which I find appealing. But I still couldn’t find any indication of a usb-c version of the xDSD.


I am a big fan of my IfI xCan- it has a decent amount of power for its size and you have the option of balanced (selling point for me) and SE outputs (and a bluetooth input). The device is marketed as an amp first but has a Sabre DAC for its Bluetooth input only. You will need a separate DAC if you want to use it solely as an amp. I think its a great product for 300 bucks and one of the few truly portable balanced DAC/amps (only for Bluetooth can it do both) in this price range (not including Chifi products).

1 Like