User Review The best (budget) USB DAC AMP - Apple USB C to 3.5mm

Hi all,
This might seem a bit of a strange review but this has been one of the most surprising purchases for me. I had been searching for USB based DAC AMP from about 2 months, and came to know about Apple's type c to 3.5 dongle about 2 weeks ago (made for the newer iPad Pros which don't have a 3.5mm jack for some reason only God knows), and in one word I would review it as: fantabulous!

First things first, the primary reason tjic caught my eye was because it was the cheapest USB DAC AMP on Amazon from a known brand (to me) at INR 900. I did a bit of research and lo, it's actually really good. Other reviewers online, who've done a far better review on the technical aspects of it than I ever will be able to, have found that the noise floor and signal to noise ratio of this little thing is comparable to stuff which costs more than 100USD! I even saw one review (for the A2155 version specifically which is sold here in India) that it actually had db higher Snr than even the Chord Mojo, a DAC AMP which retails for 35k on headphonezone!

Coming to my usage and experience, I will be using these primarily with my triple driver IEMs - Signature Acoustics Raven. Before coming to how theey sound through the dongle, a bit of background - I like listening to a slighly V shape sound quality, and value detail. Before getting this dac amp, I was listening to music via my laptop's (Acer Nitro 7 i7 9750H GTX 1650) internal audio header via MusicBee (sometimes via Dolby), and through my phone (Vivo V15 Pro) using JetAudio+ and heavy use of equalisers. I listen to 320kbps MP3 (with the occasional flac/wav thrown in) and YouTube for recommendations.

My benchmark for sound quality was the detailed preset through Dolby Atmos' Gaming preset, and those were previously the best my IEMs had ever sounded. The stock audio quality from my laptop was very muffled with muddy bass and no Soundstage.
With Atmos, I experienced (relatively) wide Soundstage in IEMs for the first time, and started noticing much mkre details. But bass was still mostly muddy. I was willing to accept this compromise, and did so for the past 8 months or so.

Now, I'm not exaggerating when I say this, but this 900INR dongle blows even Atmos's sound quality away. Superb clarity, wide Soundstage, much tighter and very well controlled bass, comfortable yet very smooth highs and all that. Music had never sounded so good before.

As a bonus, even the mic sounds better through these dongle, and the one button remote on my IEMs actually works via these on Windows which wasn't the case before.

So in a nutshell, to all beginner and budget audiophiles (and actually even those higher up in the game) , I would absolutely recommend these. The best QoL improvement I've experienced yet in my audio journey.

The only thing that is a hit concerning is the build quality, but since I'm still using my stock iPad cable from 2016 hopefully this will last at least as long as that. You do need to be a bit careful handling it since the 3.5jack is quite tight and if you aren't careful, you might easily break the thin wire.

PS: doesn't really work that well with Androids, or at least on a Xiaomi Mi A1, Samsung S8+, Poco X3. Volume is really low and I don't think the dongle's DAC is being utilised since there's no difference in SQ for Android phones.
Also my reference point for reviews of this dongle while researching was chiefly the below website:
 

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jiith77

Disciple
I keep damaging mine due to use. On my 3rd or 4th one.
Many a times the apple lightning dac is not available anywhere for purchase. Have to wait for restock to use headphone out
 

Ssreek

Disciple
I too have the dongle. I want to use it for pc..
But front sideof pc there is no usb type c port and if I want to utilize backside type c port, I would have to invest in male to female 3.5mm extension cable.

So considering this, can someone tell me if a type c to type a converter like this work same way? or does it make additional processings again?

Edit: my main concern is whether to get a type c adapter or a 3.5mm male to female instead.
 
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desiibond

Skilled
I too have the dongle. I want to use it for pc..
But front sideof pc there is no usb type c port and if I want to utilize backside type c port, I would have to invest in male to female 3.5mm extension cable.

So considering this, can someone tell me if a type c to type a converter like this work same way? or does it make additional processings again?
Why not just use analog audio out ports in PC?
 

Ssreek

Disciple
I have this apple dongle too. I use it as a dac to connect my earbuds to pc.
When using the mic on the ear buds, there is noise. Even without using this dongle and directly connecting to 3.5mm jack, noise is same. I tried with different earbuds and same noise happens.

Here obviously, mobo audio or psu could be the issue. But I thought using a dac would cut out such noise. This wasn't happening in my case.
Can someone enlighten me here?
This should work fine. Most portable usb-c DACs come with an adapter like that.
I bought this and it works fine as intended...
 
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