Almost all sources are digital. This has been the case for quite some time. A d/a converter, or digital to analog converter, is required to transform this digital signal to a little more pleasing signal for human ears – analog.

A DAC is now essentially simply a chip. However, it requires more to be useful: at the very least, a power source, a pair of inputs with an input receiver, and an output stage to link it to an amplifier or – if feasible – a pair of active speakers.

We tested five converters priced at about 1000 for you. If you are interested in these models, keep reading our 5 Best Dac Under 1000 review for more information below.

Our Top Pick: Cambridge Audio CXC CD Transport Player for Home

Description: The Cambridge CXC is a true indicator of the times in the hi-fi world.

Features: A CD transport, rather than a CD player, this device reads the information stored on a compact disc but does not waste time converting that digital signal to an analog output.

If you are looking for the 5 Best Dac Under 1000, you should give this one a chance. This is probably one of the best 5 Best Dac Under 1000 you can find. But first things first. The CXC is a well-made piece of kit, with its machined-metal chassis worth every cent of the £300 asking price.

It is constructed to match the rest of Cambridge’s outstanding CX line, which includes the CXN streamer and two integrated stereo amplifiers, the CXA60 and CXA80.

The CXC not only looks excellent, but it also has some good components, including the single-speed transport and proprietary S3 Servo that it shares with the Cambridge Audio Azur 851C (£1200).

In many respects, this is a good thing, but it does mean that the CXC can only read CDs – no SACDs or MP3 CDs here. Fortunately, it excels at only one thing.

At the back are connections for connecting the transport to other CX family members, as well as two digital outputs – one S/PDIF coaxial and one Toslink optical digital. You may then utilize this transport with any DAC you currently own.

After a few days of testing, we partner the CXC with the award-winning Arcam irDac (£400), and they create a formidable combo.

Listening to a CD of The Dark Knight OST, we are instantly amazed by the pair’s accuracy of sound. Crisp, accurate treble is paired with a fast, well-defined bassline that propels the music forward.


  • Muscle and musicality
  • Well-built
  • Simple to use Excellent remote control


  • To function as a CD player, an external DAC is required

Runner Up: Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 S/PDIF Digital to Analog Converter DAC

Description: Overall, the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M is a fantastic DAC converter for anybody searching for a high-quality DAC converter. 

Features: The Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M is an excellent digital-to-analog converter. It supports MQA, an award-winning British technology that offers studio-quality sound in a streamable format. The DacMagic 200M also has a strong processing unit and digital inputs that are simple to connect.

It has two ESS Sabre DAC converters for digital audio files up to 32bit/768kHz or DSD512. This enables you to connect a wide range of digital audio systems and devices, such as CD players, gaming consoles, laptop computers, and cellphones.

Furthermore, the Bluetooth aptX function allows you to effortlessly transfer files from your smartphone or tablet. A robust processing system, including a pair of exceptionally high-quality ESS Sabre DAC converters, is also included in the DacMagic 200M.

If you are looking for the 5 Best Dac Under 1000, you should give this one a chance. This is probably one of the best 5 Best Dac Under 1000 you can find. The USB connector is asynchronous, which means that the DAC handles clock tasks, controlling when it gets digital data from the source: the designers claim that this results in faster data transfer and better sound quality.

All major sample rates are supported, including 16-24bit, 32kHz, and 192kHz for high-resolution audio files. If you use a PC, you’ll need to download Cambridge Audio’s driver software from their website to make use of the 24-bit/192kHz capacity.


  • Professional-grade conversion of high quality
  • Designed for high-quality audio recordings.
  • Strong processing unit
  • MQA and aptX technologies are supported.
  • Bluetooth aptX allows you to send files wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet.


  • None

Best for Budget: Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital Preamplifier

Description: The S2 houses the highly respected ESS Sabre ES9038 dual DAC chip, which is linked to a custom clock circuit and carefully selected components to optimize performance.

Features: The main board is a four-layered gold-plated design with reduced jitter at the top of the priority list. You get the idea that Pro-developers Ject’s worked hard on this one, which is especially impressive given the Pre Box’s low pricing.

If you are looking for the 5 Best Dac Under 1000, you should give this one a chance. This is probably one of the best 5 Best Dac Under 1000 you can find. Around the front is a small, barely sufficient display that indicates the volume level, the input selected, and the sampling rate of the incoming sound, as well as a volume control.

Despite taking up approximately the same amount of area as a coaster, this little box may serve as the digital hub in a hi-fi or two-channel TV-based audio setup as well as a desk next to a computer. It’s so compact that it can fit almost anyplace, and a credit card remote comes in handy when utilized in this manner.

The build quality is adequate, and the graduated rotation on the volume control feels decent. We’re not crazy about the sharp-edged front-panel control buttons. The same can be stated about the audio quality. Things get off to a good start with our resident MacBook (stocked with a variety of high-resolution and CD-grade files).

The Pro-Ject delivers a crisp, somewhat detailed performance that has better accuracy and grip than the computer’s headphone output. It’s a quick, agile sound that seeks to compensate for a lack of natural warmth and richness with appealing clarity and a well-balanced presentation.

There’s enough rhythmic energy and punch to give Nirvana a pleasingly free reign, yet the DAC’s calm and organization retain a firm enough hold on the numerous melodic threads to keep things simple.

Listening to a CD of The Dark Knight OST, we are instantly amazed by the pair’s accuracy of sound. Crisp, accurate treble is paired with a fast, well-defined bassline that propels the music forward.

The story is the same whether we use the Pro-Ject with our laptop and headphones or as the digital hub in a two-channel speaker setup.


  • Outstanding feature set
  • Compact and well-made
  • Delivery that is balanced and tidy


  • None

xDuoo XP2 Pro Bluetooth

Description: xDuoo has just developed a new gadget, the XP-2Pro, to fill the portable Bluetooth DAC/Amp market.

Features: The $140 Pro is, predictably, a redesigned version of the preceding XP-2 model. While the core DAC chip remains unchanged, the new Pro version includes increased power output, better codec compatibility, greater bitrate playback, and a more attractive appearance. 

If you are looking for the 5 Best Dac Under 1000, you should give this one a chance. This is probably one of the best 5 Best Dac Under 1000 you can find. 

Then there was a third camp that gave you both connections and let you choose which one you preferred. xDuoo is undoubtedly such a manufacturer; it has created several items and continues to do so on a regular basis.  

We’ve already tested their entry-level USB Type-C dongle, Link, and their flagship portable wired and wireless DAP/headphone amp, XD-05 Plus, and now it’s time to scrutinize their midrange proposal, XP-2 Pro, which has nearly the same feature set as its bigger brother, but on a smaller scale and at a much lower price point of just $155. 

To be quite honest, we didn’t see the appeal of Bluetooth in a portable DAC/Amp. On the one hand, we assumed that if you want Bluetooth, the freedom of TWS earbuds or a Bluetooth cable converter would be the ideal choice, because a gadget like the XP-2Pro still required a wire going from your headphones to your pocket. 

On the other hand, if you’re going to carry your phone and a portable DAC/Amp in your pocket, why not connect them with a cable? (and guarantee the highest sound quality). Alternatively, you may simply use a separate DAP.

Finally, because most of us would be carrying a phone anyhow, why add a possibly costly DAP to your pockets? While basic DAPs are quite affordable, adding functionality for streaming services (which is now built into nearly every smartphone) necessitates the purchase of a more feature-rich and costly DAP.


  • Connection options include AUX, USB, and Bluetooth.
  • High-quality fit and finish.
  • Very appealing.
  • Support for high-quality codecs.


  • The volume range is quite restricted.

IFI Zen ONE Signature

Description: The iFi Audio Zen One Signature is a new DAC from iFi. It supports all major audio formats, as well as Bluetooth 5.0TM with AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and HWA/LHDC codecs. It is just an all-in-one home audio system

Features: The device includes 4.4mm BAL and RCA analog outputs, as well as a SPDIF in/out. You also have optical and USB inputs. The ZEN One Signature may also be utilized wirelessly through Bluetooth. That is why it includes all of the solutions in a single bundle.

The new Signature model combines the ZEN DAC V2’s DAC stage and the ZEN Blue V2’s Bluetooth stage. Furthermore, iFi enhanced the audio circuitry aspects. If you are looking for the 5 Best Dac Under 1000, you should give this one a chance. This is probably one of the best 5 Best Dac Under 1000 you can find.

The Zen One Signature comes in a very basic and understated package. The device is on the left, while the accessories are on the right. The compact package contains an RCA cable as well as an adaptor for powering the gadget. You also receive the wireless antenna separately, which you install afterward.

As with other iFi Audio products, the packaging is composed of recyclable materials. This is a thoughtful decision by iFi Audio, and we’re delighted they’re keeping it up. The package’s appearance is unattractive, to say the least, but everything functions well, as we saw no shipping deformations.

The iFi Audio ZEN One Signature keeps iFi Audio’s traditional aesthetics and the same design as the Zen Blue. The new color palette, on the other hand, makes the gadget appear more professional and studio-like. It’s no surprise that the Signature range of items always comes in darker and more serious colors. Without a doubt, it appears smooth and stylish.

From the outset, you get the impression that this is purely a home audio gadget. On the front, an LED on the right displays the sampling rate. On the left side, alongside the power button, there is a source switching button.


  • Good sound quality
  • Low noise floor
  • Robust construction


  • No volume control

Buyer’s Guide for 5 Best Dac Under 1000

We understand that selecting the appropriate DAC may be difficult, especially if you’re on a limited budget. That is why we have compiled this list of the top DACs under 1000. This collection has something for everyone, from basic models to more complicated alternatives.

Should I get a separate DAC or a DAC/Headphone Amp?

A headphone amp is required if you are using headphones. Although you may purchase a separate headphone amplifier, many DACs include one according to this 5 Best Dac Under 1000 review.

A DAC/Headphone Amp is more convenient, but a solo DAC allows you to select the headphone amp. Be mindful that some of the less expensive DAC/Headphone amp combos have low output power amps that are insufficient to drive high impedance, low-efficiency cans.

Is a 32-bit/384kHz DAC always preferable to a 24-bit/192kHz DAC?

No! When purchasing their first DAC, many people look at the maximum bit depth and sampling rate and conclude that the bigger the number, the better. However, this just indicates the maximum bit depth and sampling rate that the DAC can handle/process.

However, few people have access to music files with such high sample rates and bit depth. A typical CD is 16-bit/44.1kHz. A recording studio will usually record at 24-bit/96kHz (occasionally 24-bit/192kHz). Even so, it will reach the user at a reduced sample rate and bit-depth. You get the idea.

So we don’t mind if our DAC can potentially ‘handle’ these uncompressed audio files. Instead, we should be concerned with how well a DAC converts a digital file (of any size; lossless or lossy) into an analog signal with adequate audio depth, clarity, and accuracy.

I use a desktop PC. Should I invest in an external DAC or simply improve my sound card?

DACs have the benefit of being insulated from the components of your computer that might cause interference. They are also independent of your computer and may be utilized with other audio sources such as your iPhone or laptop.

However, today’s sound cards have considerably superior DACs and are more protected from electrical noise than in the past according to this 5 Best Dac Under 1000 review.

What exactly is MQA, and will my DAC support it?

Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is a lossy audio codec designed for hi-fi digital audio streaming over the internet. It is intended to sound better than the audio on other streaming services, such as Spotify (which utilizes 320kbps OGG VORBIS as the very high-quality option).

Tidal’s Masters’ plan customers get access to MQA audio. As a result, it is gaining popularity among audiophiles who wish to stream music according to this 5 Best Dac Under 1000 review.

Conclusion: 5 Best Dac Under 1000 [2022 Review]

When shopping for a DAC around 1000, think about what characteristics are most essential to you. The Cambridge Audio CXC CD is a wonderful choice if you want a DAC that supports Hi-Res formats and features a big bandwidth Class AB amplifier.  

If you want an all-in-one solution with a small footprint, the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 S/PDIF Digital to Analog Converter DAC is a suitable choice. Finally, the greatest DACs will give excellent sound quality and a delightful listening experience. We hope you liked our 5 Best Dac Under 1000 review and it was helpful.

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