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Audioquest Dragonfly

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My black v1.5 pairs well with my Grado SR125x headphones perfectly, but with less efficient headphones it's a bit under powered. I'm mainly using it as a DAC right now though, in my second system for near field  bookshelf speakers. The sound is good (non-fatiguing and dimensional) and also clear at low volumes, which is good for late night listening, but I have the itch to try the DragonFly Red since I found the bass loose and weak, maybe because of the low 1.2v output. The Red has a 2.1v output more like a regular CD player, and is reputed to sound better. We'll see!

Edited by olds1959special
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4 hours ago, Oregon said:

I've been thinking of adding one to the headphone output of the desktop computer hoping it might benefit YouTube videos.

I use a Cobalt with some no longer made powered Emotiva monitors with our desktop computer.  It works amazingly well and makes those YouTube videos and podcasts much more enjoyable.  The DF responded well to my home brew USB isolator and reclocker, too.

I won’t exaggerate and say that this small system approaches the sound quality of the living room system which has an Ayre DAC and Quatro CT’s.  But, it’s pleasant enough.  I don’t really like the headphone experience, so this does the job.  I’m sure that VLR CT’s driven by the right electronics would be better, but that’s a different level.  

BTW, I found that a rigid base under the speakers on the table, like what Vandersteen advocates for all their products, really improves the small speaker’s sound.  I’m using bamboo yoga blocks to support the speakers and get the tweeters to the right height relative to my seating position.  Nearfield listening has some unique characteristics, alright.

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Here's my review of the Dragon Fly Red coming from the Black v1.5:

I'm listening to the DFR now coming from the black v1.5. In this case I'm using it purely as a DAC for amp and speakers and not for headphones. First impression is, besides the increase in output, is that it sounds warmer. Upon further listening I am noticing more body and fullness to the sound. I don't really find it too bright and aggressive in the treble, but maybe a little bit more forward. I feel like I can hear the decreased noise floor, because everything is cleaner. There is some bloat or muddiness in the bass / mid bass. I'm going to listen to some music with the DFR and see how it goes.

After listening to some hi-res lossless music with my amp turned up more is helping to showcase the DFR's sound, and I'm pretty happy so far with the added balance, clarity, dimension, detail I'm getting, but there is a definite warmth to it that wasn't there before. I feel there is a slight coloration happening. The bass control and definition is not great, which was an issue with the black too, and it is more of a spread bass sound.

Overall, the DFR feels warmer, a bit bloated in the bass and mid bass, and not as etched sounding, but there is a little more detail/extension and harmonic richness/sparkle that comes through. The sound feels more balanced and cleaner with the DFR.

I've only had a few minutes to listen so far but I'm enjoying it. The deficiencies it has are not hard to handle because the overall presentation is enjoyable. I think it's an improvement for sure, and a slight side grade being warmer. I'm not too bothered by the bass / mid bass issues on most music, it just sounds nice. It never sounds harsh, even when I turn it up.

Honestly though upright bass solos sound somewhat bad. The bass has no control. I kinda want to upgrade to something better in that regard. In this case, I don't need it to be portable, just small form factor. But I will keep the Dragonfly Black for my Grados.

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I have used all the dragonfly's, but honestly, if you are serious bout portable audio, getting a used AK DAP or Cayin will give you much better sound.  It's not even close.  I"m pretty involved in the Head-Fi space too as I know the designer of the top IEM's (that I've heard). I'm using the Cayin N7 DAP and Empire Ears Odin's and LOVING it when I can't listen to my rig or when I travel.  

The iFi folks make wonderful and affordable amps and DAC's for portable audio. I even use their desktop headphone amp/dac and it kicks butt.  I sold all my serious can's since I got my Empire Ear's IEM's and CIEM's (customs).  

If you use the Dragonfly for your system, you need to think about getting two of their Jitterbug devices as that will help in a big way (those help in many systems, including pretty expensive ones).  Jitter is a killer as we know.

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