Resonessence Labs Concero HD
The Resonessence Labs Concero HD converts streams at up to 128 times the quality of an audio CD, and is offered at a middle-of-the-road price. It’s exceptionally well-built and durable, with plenty of heft, and a 2-volt RMS output at 75 ohms of impedance.
- Generally neutral sound profile
- Dynamic reach of over 112 decibels
- No onboard customization controls
The SMSL SU-8 offers just about the most bang for your buck, whether you subscribe to a high-end service, or own a collection of pristine recordings. It allows up to octuple-rate decoding, and its 768-kilohertz PCM bit rate also helps all your other music sound great.
- Ultra-low-phase output
- Average power consumption of 3 watts
- Multiple integrated digital filters
Arcam IRDAC II
Firmly in the middle of the price range, the Arcam IRDAC II is a high-performing unit that uses a 32-bit Sabre module for incredibly lifelike reproduction. It allows for USB, S/PDIF, and optical wired inputs, and has a signal-to-noise ratio of 117 decibels.
- Very minimal harmonic distortion
- Slightly subpar bluetooth connection
- Limited to double-rate dsd decoding
If both your budget and your shelf space are a little bit tight, the most recent NuForce Optoma may be your best bet, as its price tag and body are each quite small. Despite its stature, it works with up to quad-rate inputs, and it’s particularly straightforward to use.
- Up to 24-bit pcm conversion
- Sabre hyperstream processor
- Minimal connectivity options
In the quest to pump lossless audio to every corner of your home, the Auralic Altair is one of the best solutions you’ll find. It achieves sound quality that’s surprisingly good, considering it’s made for a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.
- Compatible with apple airplay
- Space for an internal storage drive
- Costs nearly two thousand dollars
While the SMSL M7 sports an impressive range of native codec compatibility, you wouldn’t know this from its incredibly modest price. Despite such affordability, it easily handles the Direct Stream format at up to 22 megahertz, if you can source such high-quality content.
- Built-in headphones amp
- Works great with windows computers
- Controls are a bit confusing
Created to satisfy the most demanding headphone users, the IFI xDSD is an all-in-one unit that utilizes Bluetooth aptX and AAC to make lossless, on-the-go listening a reality. Not only does it sound fantastic, but it’s also priced rather reasonably, at around $400.
- Drives headphones of up to 600 ohms
- Supports mqa copy protection
- Works with octuple-rate streams
The Benchmark HGC is an incredibly versatile model with a host of front-facing controls and status lights that make it quite easy to configure. It natively decodes popular formats, like FLAC and ALAC, and its built-in amp is more than sufficient for many costly headphones.
- 32-bit sabre chipset
- Quadruple-rate stream playback
- A wide range of input options
While it may not look like much, the Chord Qutest is the latest from a brand revered by users around the world. It boasts incredible rhythmic dexterity, powerful volume dynamics, and BNC connectors that true audiophiles will appreciate.
- Well-isolated usb-b input
- Powered via micro usb
- Proprietary user-selectable filters
Built with high-resolution services like Tidal in mind, the Mytek Brooklyn combines a high-output amplifier with a DSD256 capability. It’s among the few compatible with the up-and-coming MQA format for copy-protected recordings.
- Daisy-chains for multi-channel use
- Auto-detects headphones impedance
- Easy-to-read display built in