Best small tabletop DAC

I know there are many options at various pricepoints, but I’m curious what folks have found that they enjoy. I had wanted to update from my 2013 Bel Canto C7R (up for grabs in Buy&Sell if you’re interested; great deal!), which actually has a modest footprint. The PS Audio Stellar Gain DAC/pre that I’m trying out is nice, but eats up more than twice the space on a crowded desk. Maybe a Chord Qutest? What’s north of that? (I know there’s the DAVE, but it looks hideous and I’m not looking to spend that much, even used). Honestly, will probably wind up selling the Stellar and going back to the Bel Canto, but was still curious … Mind you, I really only need a pure DAC (not even with a headphone out).

And now I realize there are probably several topics much like this … so forgive the redundancy.


Chord Qutest is a great DAC. Might take a look at Benchmark DAC3.


If you go for a benchmark just get a way cheaper dac1 or dac2. The differences are very subtle between the two vs. the big difference to the cost. Dac1s go for $4-500 and dac2s go for 7-900.

Chord qutest is a great one too although the chordette is even cheaper and amazing too!

Im sure the bel canto is fine!

Dacs i use:

Benchmark dac2
Denafrips ares ( trying to sell right now)
Lampizator Atlantic se


If you are worries about size get any of the chirds and be happy. They are all great! You would be surprised how good even the older ones are before the Qutest and how much money you can save! Id bank on the Chordette and save a bunch! Since you are using tbes the benchmark dac1 would be a cheap and safe purchase too! The synergy between my dac2 and tube amps is great!


Couple of thoughts
Gustard A18, X16 can be considered also.


I would look at Chord Qutest or Hugo-2. The filtering is among the best I’ve heard.


I really love the idea of a simple little box to plug in.

RME is the way to go! It’s very small and the plethora of features leaves no room for compromise…all things considered. It’s a complete package imo, and will last you a long time.

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What do you do with your DAC signal? Into a headlamp? Into speakers?
I have the PSAudio Stellar GC DAC/Pre. Good value if you do a trade-in. Really good headphone amp.
I found a desktop table that sits perfectly on top of the DAC – snugly – with vents uncovered in the back. I put my iMac on top of the table – bingo – efficient use of space and I prefer the 4" higher viewing level for the iMac. Pair this baby (via XLR) with Neumann KH120A’s desktop, near-field, powered monitors on top of isoAcoustic stands. Killer setup. Clean desktop. If the Neumann’s are too pricey, run the Tannoy Gold 7’s at half the price. Crazy-good value.

Or simply do the new Schiit Bifrost.


I’m using the Stellar GC DAC now. It actually works pretty nicely with the DNA Stratus amp I recently got, and yes also on its own. It eats twice the real estate as the Bel Canto integrated I’d been using, though. Unless I’m willing to spend a lot more on a higher-end DAC I should probably just decide on one or the other. I’ve got fancy-pants digital in the living room system already so there’s really not a need to drop more cash, but I was interested in what people thought was good value out there. I use strictly headphones in the office. I’ve got a stack of gear (PS Audio Memory Player and Stratus) on a table next to the desk, and the Mac Mini/Stellar (or BC C7R) on the desk, inches away.

Welp. Just had to drop a grand on car repair, and ordered this new gizmo from Uptone Audio (the EtherRegen) so I think that’s it on cash outlays for now. Just saw a Qutest for sale on Agon, should anyone be looking.

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Having owned both the ADI-2 and the Hugo-2, my preference is the Hugo-2. Whilst I agree that the ADI-2 is a nice bit of kit, the Hugo-2 just sounds better. If sonic reproduction is the primary objective, the Chord solution is hard to beat.


The battery is a huge plus.