Best DACs for Android 2024

I was trying to wait to write this roundup until Spotify officially announced their Hi-Res Audio offering, but I’m getting old, and life is short, so here we are. There are DACs in this list for every budget and every level of sophistication. From the casual listener to the enthusiast, (GASP!) even a neophyte “audiophile,” we have something for you here. These are the best DACs for your Android-based audio enjoyment. Whether it’s a tablet, smartphone, or Chromebook, we’ve got you covered.

To fully experience the enhanced audio qualities these DACs offer your phone or tablet, you’ll need an app like Neturon Player or USB Player Pro (my favorite) to bypass an Android limitation. Google’s OS downsamples USB-C output to 16bit/44.1kHz or CD quality, but with the proper setup, you can unlock the full potential of high-resolution audio. We know that hi-res's “full potential” is somewhat controversial, but we’ll save that for another article. Let’s dive into these DACs!

The best DACs for Android

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Before you buy that DAC, know this...

Imagine me on a rooftop, shouting; your DAC won’t matter if your headphones or IEMs are trash. Just like you can’t outwork a bad diet in the gym, you can’t outperform poor-performing headphones or IEMs in your DAC purchase. But no worry—we have you covered there as well.

You can check out Harish’s review of some of the best IEMs your hard-earned dollars can buy. Or you can peruse our selection of the best wireless headphones, many of which you can connect via 3.5mm cable to one of the DACs on this list. For example, Sennheiser’s Momentum 4s sound excellent paired with iFi’s GO blu DAC/AMP.

The next thing you need to know is that pairing a good pair of headphones or IEMs with a DAC is like pairing beverages with food; some go better together than others. Part of the fun for some people is the exploration, so you’ll have to try out the headphones that have caught your attention with the DAC you can afford or want to try and see how they sound. Some people will buy a couple DACs at a time and trial things, then return the one they don’t want or sell it. 

One feature I want to take a moment to clarify, if you haven’t had much experience with headphones and DACs is the 4.4mm (or XLR) balanced output. It’s really simple, actually. A DAC with balanced output sends signal/power to both the left and right audio channels independently from two separate DAC chips, unlike one with unbalanced output (also referred to as 'single-ended' or 'SE'), which sends power to both left and right channels from a single source. You’ll immediately notice more volume (turn it down when going balanced), and greater bass detail. If you’re in an environment with a lot of electromagnetic interference, you’ll also have less “noise” in your audio. If you have a pair of high-quality headphones that support balanced audio and you have the budget, you should definitely be looking at one of those DACs for Android.

If your “audiophile” experience isn’t extensive, any item on this list beyond the Apple adapter will be a noticeable upgrade from what you’ve been listening to. So, sit back, relax, press play, and lose yourself in immersive sound.

Tshaka Armstrong

Tshaka Armstrong is a nerd. Co-Founder of the non-profit digital literacy organization, Digital Shepherds, he’s also been a broadcast technology reporter, writer and producer. In addition to being an award-winning broadcast storyteller, he’s also covered tech online and in print for everything from paintball gear technology, to parenting gadgets, and film industry tech for Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to writing for Android Central, he’s a video contributor for Android Central and posts everything else to his own YouTube channel and socials. He blathers on about his many curiosities on social media everywhere as @tshakaarmstrong.