Portable DACs are on the rise, and even Astell & Kern is seeing a great future for them as evidenced by their brand new HC3.
Where phone manufacturers have massively dropped the headphone jack to gain another few cents and a few millimeters in thickness, consumers still want to keep using their wired headphones. Hence, the market for “DAC dongles” is booming. You can buy them for a trifle from Chinese B- or C-brands, but you can also find many higher quality ones of renowned brands. Like Astell & Kern and their new HC3, for example. It’s heart is made of the ESS ES9219MQ DAC chip, known for a combination of high sound quality and low power consumption. Via USB-C you connect the DAC to your smartphone or computer, drawing power from the host. Practical is the support for a microphone (as present in a -wired- headset, for example). The price is $190.