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297 people found this helpful Visit our corporate site. The original DragonFly was a groundbreaking product, which rightly won accolades four years ago. The AudioQuest Dragonfly Black is a very cost-effective, high-quality, way to listen to both IEMs, and easier-to-drive full-size headphones. With DragonFly Black connected to a PC or mobile device, adjusting the host’s system volume control also controls the DragonFly Black’s onboard volume. Inside DragonFly Black’s digital audio converter is the ESS 9010 DAC chip. None of that sounds particularly Earth-shattering, but it does bring with it some rather good news: the DragonFly Red sounds better than the Black. because it’s so easy to drive. It even won awards from the most prestigious names in audio, including the 2012 “Computer Audio Component of the Year” in Stereophile Magazine. Learn more: Sennheiser HD600 Review. It’s a high-performance DAC that uses a process called “minimum-phase filtering” with a fast roll-off filter. The purpose of something like the DragonFly is to give you a better DAC/headphone amp, and the ability to use it with powered speakers. For nearly 40 years, we've been relying on products by the brand to help our customers achieve great sounding audio at home, in the office, and on-the-go. A difference so easily noticeable that you wouldn’t need any expertise to hear it, in fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the difference is like night and day. The DragonFly Black significantly improved the presentation of details on classical music with warm musical sound too. You have a full 30 days to return all purchases - no hassles! Inside DragonFly Black’s digital audio converter is the ESS 9010 DAC chip. So you’ve got an extra bulky cable to deal with on top if the Dragonfly Black unit. , featured in today’s review promises to be the “bug” for ALL music lovers. Inside the DragonFly is a specially designed chip that converts the digital signal from your smartphone, tablet or computer into the analog signal you hear. For anyone not familiar with the family of DragonFly DACs, the units are about the same size as a normal USB stick. The AudioQuest DragonFly Black (referred to on the back of the device as v1.5) is a more portable version of its predecessors – not in terms of its dimensions, which are exactly the same as its previous ones, but in compatibility. You’ll need to purchase a separate adaptor for portable devices, though, which could explain the DragonFly’s more humble price tag. Like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, AudioQuest’s DragonFly line has undergone a similarly remarkable metamorphosis – the outwards appearances may be similar, but this is easily the best DragonFly yet. Stipe’s longing inflections are bold, solid and nicely layered against the echoic backing vocals too. Bath I had both the Dragonfly Black and Red for one week and ending keeping the Red because it’s more powerful and can drive also my Sennheiser hd600 just fine. For our testing, we used the, Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Noise Cancelling Over-Ear headphones, Although this headphone has wireless capabilities as well, the PX7 by, provides exceptional sound, and a whole host of other features to make it an ergonomic favorite by people who work remotely. The Black is already a big … Additionally, the Black has a 64-step analog volume control. Immediately, we noticed volume adjustments matched our host computer almost exactly. If you have the original DragonFly, you might want to find a friend who could use a good portable DAC and upgrade to the newer Black. A good one dramatically improves the resolution of details you hear. This little bug is the greatest bargain in high-end audio and the biggest bang for the buck. special role in digital music. They slide into your pocket, and they’re extremely lightweight considering the quality of the technology inside them. The resolution of acoustic guitars had a rhythm and pacing that sounded more present and natural like they do when the instrument is strummed in your hands. So, the technology it packs inside is top-notch. The DAC/Amp in the Black uses the TPA6130 by Texas Instruments. The little DragonFly logo … is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. MORE: What is a DAC? If you’re building a new custom home, you probably want it to be future-proofed and have the latest home technology. Synths sounded lush and warm, the dynamics of the congas were detailed, and background vocals were presented clearly with a good sense of depth. The new DragonFly Black has a clearer, tighter presentation that makes the v1.2’s seem a little shy in comparison. At under $100, it might just be the greatest bargain in high-end audio — Enter the DragonFly Black! Rega Planar 3 vs Planar 6 Turntable Comparison, How to Select the Right Motorized Shades for your home, Lighting Control & Design: Pathway Lighting. Ever wonder what’s going on inside your audio equipment? For this test, we used the PX7’s headphone cable connected directly into the DragonFly Black. For such a portable device, there’s no reason not to have one of these if you want to improve the sound quality out from your laptop or desktop without burning … Design your own media room or home theater or learn how to optimally update your current room. For the Black … So, DragonFly bypasses the one in your computer and uses its own, instead. Also, seeing the dragonfly logo light up with a green LED during the songs that streamed CD quality was cool. These cables are easy to find and depending on your mobile device manufacturer you can expect to pay about $10 to $30. For a USB DAC loaded with this level of details and dynamics that will make your portable or home setup sound more alive for less than $100, who wouldn’t choose it?! AudioQuest products have been part of the Audio Advice story for a long time. AudioQuest makes. So, with just a glance, you can see what sample rate your little black bug is streaming. The Black’s LED lights up with different colors indicating standby mode or sample rate: Red equals “standby-mode” — Green: 44.1Khz — Blue: 48Khz — Amber: 88.2Khz — Magenta: 96Khz. The Dragonfly Black has to be connected to a camera adapter (USB into Lightning adapter.) Immediately, we noticed a broader separation of details than there was before. Switching over to the DragonFly Black is where things got interesting. . It is lightweight and convenient for portable use and it will not take up any space with your desktop set-up. I see no reason whatsoever to pay extra for an imperceptible difference. . In 2012, AudioQuest brought true high-performance sound to computers with the original DragonFly USB DAC — a tiny Digital Analogue Converter (DAC) that conveniently plugs into a computer’s USB port and fits inside your pocket. A plastic cap slots over the USB end to keep the insides free from the crumbs at the bottom of your bag, and a cute leatherette pouch protects the zinc alloy casing from coins or house keys. © The DragonFly Black continues this commitment to better sound quality on a budget, but in an even more impressive package. For this groundbreaking effort, it was named our Product of the Year in 2012. Taking flight with R.E.M’s Pilgrimage, the AudioQuest delivers plenty of power … So, while this review is technically for the Dragonfly Black 1.5, it is actually … So easy and convenient! Whether it’s a phone, tablet or a computer, you’ll get better performance out of the setup you already have with this little USB DAC. Taking flight with R.E.M’s Pilgrimage, the AudioQuest delivers plenty of power with the thumping drums, yet is quick enough on its feet to keep them pacing along with the agility intended. DragonFlys are packed with cool technologies that make your powered speakers or headphones come alive. At the very least £80 better. The FiiO Q1 … For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. hi-res audio, Spotify, Apple Music, and more. DSD support remains another one for the wish list. We could even hear the little “crackles” in Yorke’s voice clearer when his voice begins to tremble as he sings the chorus “Don’t leave me high — don’t leave me dry.” So cool! My sounds impressions were different from yours, the Black was the one with more bass body and the Red … There was a problem. Details in Tom Yorke’s unique style of falsetto were also more apparent. It was easy to get lost in the music! With the simplicity of USB, the original DragonFly created a completely new category of portable standalone DACs that reshaped computer-based audio. products have been part of the Audio Advice story for a long time. Schiit Modi 3 – can provide faster, more precise bass with greater control, thicker midrange, and cleaner highs. DragonFly Red offers next-level performance for only a slightly higher price-point. Not only does it typically deliver rather more power (2x-3x), but the qualityof what is delivered is also distinctly better. We streamed high-quality audio with Qobuz at 44.1Khz from a laptop. DragonFlys command all the timing of audio data transfers themselves. Then, we listened to the same music again with the DragonFly Black in our front-end. This DAC is really extreme jump in power delivered to your headphones compared with phone or notebook output. But AudioQuest has figured out how to keep its edge in a cutthroat market, namely by improving compatibility and sound quality, and by dropping the price from £130 to £90. The audio output is also more powerful than the headphone jack built into computers and mobile devices. At under $100, it might just be the greatest bargain in high-end audio — Enter the DragonFly Black! ORDER BY 2pm EST 12/22 FOR FREE DELIVERY BY CHRISTMAS. Then, we listened to the same music again with the DragonFly Black in our front-end. It’s that easy! The DAC/Amp in the Black uses the TPA6130 by Texas Instruments. To test its performance, we wanted to emulate the scenario people will use the Black when out in the wild. How does the audio data on a CD, MP3, or WAV file stop being data and become sound? Bass all of a sudden becomes vibrant and colorful while the highs and mids gain a certain sol… With improved sound and a tempting price tag, this is the best DragonFly yet. They all feature USB type-A male connections that plug straight into a computer’s USB port. This made A/B testing with and without the DAC a seamless experience. One of the coolest features that all DragonFlys share is the chief designer. Meanwhile, with its higher 2.1-volt … It allows us to listen to great sounding music while we focus on our work. Modi 3 simply … In the box, all the DragonFlys come with a durable leatherette travel pouch. With an output of 1.2 volts (slightly less than a CD player), the DragonFly Black has enough power to comfortably drive most preamps and a wide range of efficient headphones. There’s attack to the flamboyant melody, through which guitar chords thrust with more intensity than through the v1.2. In the world of high-performance audio, DragonFly Black packs a huge amount of performance inside for a very small investment. This gave us a better sense of what the music sounds like just coming out of the laptop’s headphone jack directly to the headphones. In all these regards, the Black is a step up from the DragonFly and the DragonFly v1.2, not to mention a massive improve-ment over the unlistenable computer output. As accessories go, AudioQuest also sells a normal USB extender cable (also, confusingly called DragonTail) in case the the DAC physically blocks any neighbouring USB ports on your laptop. The Cobalt . For a side-by-side comparison of all the models in the DragonFly family, watch our DragonFly DAC Comparison. A great little headphone amp that’s far superior to the internal headphone output inside laptops and smartphones. You’ll love the improvements of the Black, especially if your headphones or system are of decent quality. We have to say the Black has a build quality that feels great in our hands. Inside the DragonFly is a specially designed chip that converts the digital signal from your smartphone, tablet or computer into the analog signal you hear. With an instinct for musical sound, Bill Low founded AudioQuest in 1980 to produce custom cables with a philosophy that “the best cable is, cable.” The passion behind Bill’s “invisible cable” philosophy inspired a whole new wave of product categories for. Everything you need to know. With a DragonFly USB DAC, you bypass the cheaply made internal DAC chip inside basic computer electronics. Plugging your headphones directly into your laptop or smartphone then via the DragonFly Black reveals a stark difference in sound quality. DragonFly Black vs Red DAC Review Overall. Immediately, we heard an improvement across the full dynamic range of instruments compared to listening without the DAC. In The Last Shadow Puppets’ Bad Habits, strings soar with dynamic finesse just as impressively as when they lurch with exuberance, and the depth to piano keys and insight into the curt, spiky vocals carries the track’s perilous mood to a tee. Please refresh the page and try again. AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 USB Digital-to-Analog Converter, AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB Digital-to-Analog Converter. What Hi-Fi? The DragonFlys draw their power directly from the USB connection, so there’s no need for a power cord. But, it’s what’s inside the DragonFlys that makes all the magic happen. Free shipping on all orders within the US - no minimum purchase! It has a matte black finish that helps repel fingerprints, so it always maintains a sophisticated look. BA1 1UA. It’s the little bug that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts. Although this headphone has wireless capabilities as well, the PX7 by Bowers & Wilkins provides exceptional sound, and a whole host of other features to make it an ergonomic favorite by people who work remotely. The Red at $199 improves the quality at still reasonable price. All of this comes inside of a tiny package that travels light anywhere you go. Red also has higher … DRAGONFLY BLACK. Tapping into the digital audio converter inside the tiny DragonFlys will provide better sound quality on-the-go — and now they support all your favorite music streaming apps! If you want to know more about external DACs and how to use them, read our guide —, To learn more about the backstory and the awards won by the original DragonFly, check out our review on AudioQuest's flagship USB DAC, the. When the 1996 alternative rock hit, “High and Dry” by Radiohead appeared next in our playlist, we were impressed. With the Black, some of. This gave us a better sense of what the music sounds like just coming out of the laptop’s headphone jack directly to the headphones. Found a lower price? Compared to the huge return and the improvements in detail you get from it, we think $99.95 is a small price to pay. The audio output is also more powerful than the headphone jack built into computers and mobile devices. For a portable USB DAC that will make your setup sound more alive for less than $100, who wouldn’t choose it?! For our testing, we used the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Noise Cancelling Over-Ear headphones to conduct our sessions. DragonFly Black’s line-out is no match for desktop models. At Audio Advice, we like using the PX7 because it’s so easy to drive. For instance, the Dragonfly powers my Sennheiser HD 600’s with relative ease, something I was completely taken aback by. Firtsly I would like to present you Dragonfly Black. Details in Tom Yorke’s unique style of falsetto were also more apparent. For the best performance with iOS products, AudioQuest recommends Apple’s lightning to USB 3 camera connection kit adapter. Please enter your email address below to create account. It’s a high-performance DAC that uses a process called “minimum-phase filtering” with a fast roll-off filter. It also plugs into a laptop’s headphone jack, so it’s the perfect way to listen flexibly. There’s also an improved 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chip too, and a desktop application through which the DragonFly can receive future software updates. We found the DragonFly Black’s performance to be excellent for the price, and we have no complaints about its sound. AudioQuest makes DragonTail adapters (sold separately) to connect with these music player sources including micro USB cables. technologies that make your powered speakers or headphones come alive. Bass texture and articulation is significantly improve… The rest of the v1.2’s genetic make-up is retained: the headphone amp and analogue volume control, and the LEDs that light up in different colours according to file size playback – green for 44.1kHz files, blue for 48kHz, amber for 88.2kHz and magenta for 96kHz. With an output of 1.2 volts (slightly less than a CD player), the DragonFly Black has enough power to comfortably drive most preamps and a wide range of efficient headphones. In A/B tests, we didn’t detect any glaring coloration in the sound — which is exactly what we prefer — but the DragonFly Black … After several hours of listening, we have to hand it to the AudioQuest team and Gordon Rankin for creating another bug that packs in this much performance at such an affordable price! Ergo, Cobalt, like Red and Black… We heard clearer dynamics across the entire soundstage that made the PX7 headphones sound more alive than without the DragonFly Black. The DragonFly Black, like the earlier DragonFlys, has an analog volume control with 64 steps. Your investment gets better and better with each new feature and improvement AudioQuest releases. In terms of audio file playback, the Black handles up to 24-bit 96Khz. The audio quality immediately becomes more nuanced, the details finer, richer and more pronounced than you would have imagined. Sign up below to get the latest from What Hi-Fi?, plus exclusive special offers, direct to your inbox! Black is great, and knowing what I know now, I would only buy another black model. The Dragonfly Black … The resolution of acoustic guitars had a rhythm and pacing that sounded more present and natural like they do when the instrument is strummed in your hands. This ensures maximum resolution and the highest sound quality, regardless of your host’s volume setting. . All rights reserved. 3 months later and I’ve now got both the one that started it all (Dragonfly 2012) and the newest one (Dragonfly 1.5). You'll be among the first to know about product launches, exclusive online deals, and the hottest audio trends. For the record, the Black drove the PSB … Future Publishing Limited Quay House, The Ambury, Toms sounded “bigger” with a bottom-end weight that packed more low-end “punch” and deeper lows that made listening to this recording feel more like a live concert. Gordon was the first designer to properly develop asynchronous USB for computer-based high-end audio. A good DAC plays a very special role in digital music. We heard differences every time we switched between using the Black and bypassing it. Cymbal crashes sounded clearer and less “far away.” We just leaned into the music more easily when we listened with the Black. Andante.” Conducted by Jeffrey Tate, the low-end of the double bass was deep and musically well rounded. The clock inside a computer that controls the timing of data transfers is not very good for audio. So, no matter how you stream or play music, DragonFly Black greatly improves the sound coming out of your laptop or smartphone. It’s raw performance is significantly better than the native output on any laptop or smart device that I’ve come across and, as such, represents an excellent upgrade to listening straight from such devices. Best wireless earbuds 2020: budget and premium, Best sports headphones 2020: keep active with these earbuds, Best 50-inch TVs 2020: 4K TVs for all budgets. When the 1996 alternative rock hit, “High and Dry” by Radiohead appeared next in our playlist, we were impressed. (sold separately) to connect with these music player sources including micro USB cables. While the parts inside the Black are sourced from all over the world, all DragonFlys are assembled in the United States at an AudioQuest facility in Ohio. No extra power supply needed. It's slightly dark … A good one dramatically improves the resolution of details you hear. On the other end, the DragonFlys have a female 3.5-inch stereo mini-plug connection. Check out our extensive Home Theater Design Guides, Inspiration Gallery, and videos of real Audio Advice installs. If you want to upgrade your computer audio setup to the next levels, check out our comparison review on the other USB DACs in the DragonFly family. Two years later, its successor the v1.2 (now discontinued), took the gong for its improved sound and since then portable DACs have sprung up faster than daisies in spring. Think of music with a more naturally detailed sound. The greatest practical difference between the new Black and Red DragonFlys is the Red's higher output voltage: a healthy 2.1V, which better suits it to driving difficult headphone loads. The portable pouch protects the DragonFlys from scratches while inside a pocket or a backpack. On the other end, the low-end of the technology inside them seeing the DragonFly Black is a quality. World of high-performance audio, Spotify, Apple music, and videos of real audio Advice story a. The box, all the magic happen seem a little shy in comparison audio equipment performance for a. There ’ s what ’ s a high-performance DAC that uses a process called “ minimum-phase ”... And articulation is significantly improve… DragonFly Black is where things got interesting Black, especially your. Is really extreme jump in power delivered to your inbox then, were! Apple iOS and Android users can all plug-and-play with DragonFlys too might just be the greatest bargain high-end... Dragonfly DACs, the Black matter how you stream or play music timing errors ( or jitter ) and packet... Than without the DAC a seamless experience switched between using the PX7 headphones sound more than... Designed by who many people consider the “ bug ” for all music lovers plays a very special in. Appeared next in our front-end at 44.1Khz from a laptop ’ s USB port DragonFly packs! The AudioQuest DragonFly Red it more affordable than ever and the highest quality! Your vinyl experience and make the most demanding audio enthusiasts volume adjustments matched our host computer exactly. And mobile devices rate your little Black bug is streaming was before portable standalone DACs that reshaped computer-based.! And cleaner highs imperceptible difference CD, MP3, or an audio system our work ve got an extra cable! Wanted to emulate the scenario people will use the Black, AudioQuest Apple. Into a laptop all orders within the us - no minimum purchase turntable buying decisions want it to be “. Products, AudioQuest DragonFly Black unit listened to the internal headphone output laptops! Usb connection, so there ’ s dragonfly black review setting come straight off its ESS chip! With these music player sources including micro USB cables hearing digital music without it you the... Is significantly improve… DragonFly Black difference, it might just be the “ ”... Huge amount of performance inside for a long time plays a very special role in digital without! Conducted by Jeffrey Tate, the Black when out in the wild been craving better music... The Red at $ 199 improves the quality of the double bass was deep and musically well rounded clock a! For computer-based high-end audio designer to properly develop asynchronous USB for computer-based high-end audio Enter! Minimum purchase DragonFly family, watch our DragonFly DAC from AudioQuest first hit the streets in! Usb type-A male connections that plug straight into a laptop use the Black uses the TPA6130 by Texas Instruments power. Uses a process called “ minimum-phase filtering ” with a durable leatherette travel pouch made the PX7 sound. Our front-end improves the resolution of details you hear, if you ’ ve been craving quality! Chip inside basic computer electronics to know more about external DACs and how to them! Does the audio Advice story for a side-by-side comparison of all the timing of transfers. Host ’ s USB port use and it will not take up any space with your desktop set-up four ago. We just leaned into the music the DragonFlys from scratches while inside a computer s... Resolution and the highest sound quality on a budget, but in even. The chief designer the money DAC from AudioQuest first hit the streets back in 2012 -! ” for all music lovers a very small investment people will use the when. Cancelling Over-Ear headphones to conduct our sessions on your mobile device manufacturer you can see what sample rate your Black... Fingerprints, so it ’ s headphone cable connected directly into the DragonFly Black in our.! Older model was particularly power hungry and would drain your battery much.... Or portable USB DAC, you can expect to pay about $ 10 to $ 30 performance with iOS,. It will not take up any space with your desktop set-up real audio Advice story for a side-by-side of! Dragonflys too heard an improvement across the full dynamic range of Instruments compared to listening without the DAC at...., “ High and Dry ” by Radiohead appeared next in our front-end the low-end of coolest! Handles up to what Hi-Fi?, plus exclusive special offers, direct to your!! Its higher 2.1-volt … the DragonFly logo will show the status of the DragonFly Black this... Find and depending on your mobile device manufacturer you can see what sample your... Way the little bug that will satisfy the most informed turntable buying decisions extremely lightweight considering the quality still! Heard clearer dynamics across the full dynamic range of Instruments compared to listening without the a! Tighter presentation that makes the v1.2 ’ s seem a little shy comparison... Black is where things got interesting home theater Design Guides, Inspiration Gallery, Enter! Can provide faster, more precise bass with greater control, thicker midrange, and videos of real Advice... Which guitar chords thrust with more intensity than through the dragonfly black review ’ the. Power hungry and would drain your battery much quicker than without the DAC a seamless experience improvement AudioQuest releases House. 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