The DragonFly Cobalt is AudioQuest’s newest USB DAC. It comes with a USB-C adapter so it’ll work well with Apple’s newest notebooks which only have USB-C ports. It features an ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip and supports playback up to 24-bit/96kHz. Its 3.5mm output provides 2.1 volts of drive which is sufficient for all but the most power-hungry headphones. You could also connect it to an amplifier or powered speakers.
The AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt is S$399 and you can find it on Shopee.
Read more about the DragonFly Cobalt here.
Inside the Topping D10S is an ESS ES9038Q2M DAC that’s capable of playing music that’s up to 32-bit/384kHz or up to DSD256. What’s unique about it’s powered solely via USB and that it features optical SPDIF and Coaxial outputs. This can be handy for connecting to powered speakers, many of which lack USB support but have optical inputs.
The Topping D10S is S$139 and you can find it on Shopee.
The Fives are one of the most versatile speakers you can find. They have a ton of inputs including USB, HDMI, optical, phono, and 3.5mm. Its internal DAC supports music up to 24-bit/192kHz so it’ll support Apple Music’s Hi-Res Lossless. It features a 4.5-inch composite cone woofer and a 1-inch titanium tweeter with Klipsch’s Tractrix Horn.
Klipsch’s The Fives are S$1,199 and you can find them on Shopee.
The iFi Zen DAC is an amp/dac combo that’s great for budding headphone enthusiasts. The USB input supports music up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, and even MQA. As for headphones, owners can choose to plug into the 6.35mm or 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced jacks. Bassheads will likely find the TrueBass feature handy. This gently boosts the bass in the analogue domain.
The iFi Zen DAC is S$229 and you can find it on Shopee.
Readers who are looking for a compact desktop solution should check out the Edifier S880DB. It's a powered speaker with USB, optical, and coaxial inputs. It also supports Bluetooth. This means it'll work easily with computers, gaming consoles, and TVs. The USB input supports music up to 24-bit/192kHz so it'll play well with Apple's Hi-Res Lossless music. It has a 19mm titanium dome tweeter and 3.75-inch driver, and it's Hi-Res Audio certified.
The Edifier S880DB is S$399 but I've seen it go for as low as S$299 on Shopee.
Readers seeking one of the best headphone listening experiences have to check out the Schiit Ragnarok and Yggdrasil combo. The former is Schiit’s flagship headphone and speaker amplifier while the latter is their top-of-the-line DAC. What’s interesting about the Yggdrasil DAC is that it eschews off-the-shelf delta-sigma DAC chips in favour of Schiit’s a military-grade Analog Devices chip that runs Schiit’s proprietary digital filter. If you already have a first-rate headphone, you owe it to yourself to get an amplifer and DAC to match.
The Schiit Ragnarok is US$1,499 (~S$1,981) while the Yggdrasil is US$2,449 (~S$3,237) . You can find them on Schiit.
Read more about the Schiit Ragnarok and Yggdrasil combo here.