The 8 Best DSD Enabled DACs

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This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in January of 2019. Direct Stream Digital is an audio format developed to provide listeners with the most accurate reproduction possible. There are quite a few digital-to-analog converters available today designed to take advantage of this high-fidelity transmission method, which an increasing number of albums and performances now employ. Here are some of the best DSD-enabled DACs that money can buy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. SMSL SU-9

2. Monolith 124459

3. SMSL SU-8

Editor's Notes

January 06, 2021:

You can, if you want, spend thousands on a DAC. However, you almost certainly don't need to. The best DACs actually make no changes to the signal at all, and 99% of consumers won't notice a difference in terms of interference or distortion from model to model on this list of high-end options. The differences come down, largely, to functional features offered, and general value. The S.M.S.L SU-9, for example, has just about every fancy feature that can be abbreviated, including MQA decoding and the LDAC codec. On the other hand, the Monolith 124459 doesn't have MQA or Bluetooth capability, but if you're utilizing its pro-level AES3 input and four-pin XLR output, you definitely won't miss those other, more traditional-grade consumer-oriented features.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Topping E30 and 1mii Lavaudio DS600 are reasonably priced, and the 1mii is an all-in-one amplifier and DAC. If you want something that you can use on the go with your high-end closed-back headphones, the Sabaj Da3 is hard to top.

January 31, 2019:

DSD is an insanely interesting (well, we think, anyway) format that's actually been in development since as early as the 1960s, though it's only been in mainstream production for about 20 years. It's another collaboration between Sony and Philips, and just like S/PDIF, it's a cornerstone to some of the best listening experiences available. One note is that while some of these fantastic selections boast up to DSD512 support, it's actually nearly impossible to find such content yet. But in case you want to future-proof against upcoming advancements in recording thoroughness, that's the top-of-the-line standard. And, because we always like a good, factual debunking, don't believe the myth of "burn-in" when it comes to solid-state electronics like a DAC; anyone who claims to hear such a difference after so many hours is either changing their own expectations, or actually witnessing the degradation of their product due to over-use. The Mytek and Chord both receive rave reviews from experienced audiophiles, and are almost guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding listeners. The Benchmark is a similarly top-of-the-line option, and features easy-to-read monitoring lights and controls on the front panel, making it quite straightforward to use. The portable IFI module is one of the most lauded for use with headphones, and does a great job powering some of the most expensive, dynamically driven cans. Auralic makes a high-end device that's pretty well mastered the art of wirelessly streaming lossless recordings throughout a building. SMSL, on the other hand, makes a number of great DACs that cost far less than the competition, and only the most sensitive ears will even be able to hear the difference. THe NuForce is even more affordable, in fact, though the most discerning users may want to opt for a more powerful choice. And if your budget is neither huge nor tiny, the Arcam and Resonessence are both worthy of consideration.

4. Topping D90

5. Sabaj Da3

6. SMSL M500

7. 1mii Lavaudio DS600

8. Topping E30

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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