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Article: AudioQuest DragonFly Red & DragonFly Black Review

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Chris,

 

Great review as usual! One question for the present and two about the future (you can probably guess what they are):

 

1) Any compatibility issues regarding DF's with Android or Windows Phone?

2) What are AQ's MQA implementation plans (will these DF's be software upgradeable)?

3) Any future plans for higher data rate support like 192 or DSD? - I hear you groaning already :-)

 

BTW, I saw RATM back in the late 90s at the LA Forum and it was hands down the best concert I've ever attended (PJ and Springsteen included), a sea of undulating bodies. Most unusual concert: a double bill of David Bowie followed by Nine Inch Nails. Both great shows and they shared the stage for an awesome medley, but most of the Bowie audience left after he finished and most of the NIN audience didn't arrive until after Bowie finished. Too bad for them, but it allowed me to move to the front of the stage :-)

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Good questions. Here are my guesses.

 

1. Android is the wild west. There are bound to be issues. Not sure about Windows phones but I've never seen it even suggested that the new DFs could support that OS.

 

2. I'd be very surprised if MQA support made it into the DFs.

 

3. Not that I know of.

 

Thanks for sharing your concert experiences. I'd have loved to see Rage! I saw Nine Inch Nails at Woodstock '94 :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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I use the Red to get my Android smart phone into my Lexus and it really cleans up the sound... And with my ear buds... great investment indeed...


HQ Player (#1) & Amarra Symphony (#2) (wow! love the Apple w/music!!) .. these two software make my system "Amazing!", also.... Win 7 Pro, JRiver Media Center19 or HQ Player, Livetuner, Fidelizer, Purist USB- Benchmark DAC2 HGC (love it!), Purist Audio XLR , ATC SCM25A's (To Die For!) & Focal sub6 . Triode Power Cables with Uber Buss (Yes!) Also enjoy Audeze LCD3 w/"fat pipe cardas."

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Congratulations on a great review! I've had the Red for a few months, and I couldn't agree more with Chris's conclusions. I've been extremely happy with its portability and sound quality through my JH Audio Roxannes. I bought it on a whim, and was quite simply blown away by the improvement in the sound coming out of my iPhone. I recommend it very highly.

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I had the original DragonFly which was nice but died within a few months of usage. Eventually received the first version of the Geek Out which has held up, though is hotter than all get out -- so it lives on the back of my iMac. Since I'm getting tired of waiting for Larry & Co. at LH Labs / Light Harmonic to finally deliver the long promised Geek Wave DAP, I've been thinking of copying my extensive music library of just under 4 TB to a portable drive (LaCie P9927) and hooking up with my Macbook and an appropriate hub to its USB-C connector. Seems that the latest DragonFly Black would do well with my Westone W40 IEMs.

 

Any considerations re: heat or any other factors? I've had some issues with volume control management JRiver/MacBook's El Capitan (a bit cumbersome -- OS X doesn't want to "remember" that the sonic bitstream should be going to the USB device). Any hints/tips? I really like the DragonFly's form factor and overall simplicity.


Steve Schaffer

Roon Nucleus/ WD USB Drive / dCS Vivaldi Upsampler  / dCS Vivaldi DAC / dCS Vivaldi Clock / Spectral DMC-30SV preamp / Spectral DMA-500 monoblocks / Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2 speakers

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Hey Chris, this article is so cool, and I hope some folks can be attracted to HQ audio learning from it...

 

When I tried the first generation of DF, I was a bit disappointed because I felt the sound to be a bit recessed on the mid-band. I ended up with geek out, and happy on the laptop with it, but not nearly as practical for the move.

 

Do we have any indication if the new DF is better in terms of mid-range transparency? Is there a clear evolution in SQ?

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I had the original DragonFly which was nice but died within a few months of usage. Eventually received the first version of the Geek Out which has held up, though is hotter than all get out -- so it lives on the back of my iMac. Since I'm getting tired of waiting for Larry & Co. at LH Labs / Light Harmonic to finally deliver the long promised Geek Wave DAP, I've been thinking of copying my extensive music library of just under 4 TB to a portable drive (LaCie P9927) and hooking up with my Macbook and an appropriate hub to its USB-C connector. Seems that the latest DragonFly Black would do well with my Westone W40 IEMs.

 

Any considerations re: heat or any other factors? I've had some issues with volume control management JRiver/MacBook's El Capitan (a bit cumbersome -- OS X doesn't want to "remember" that the sonic bitstream should be going to the USB device). Any hints/tips? I really like the DragonFly's form factor and overall simplicity.

 

Hi Steve -

 

Sorry to read that your original DragonFly died. Did you send it back to us for a replacement? We would still honor the warranty if you haven't dealt with it yet, provided you still have the unit. Please email us at [email protected]

 

Regards,

 

Steve Silberman

AudioQuest

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Chris,

 

Great review as usual! One question for the present and two about the future (you can probably guess what they are):

 

1) Any compatibility issues regarding DF's with Android or Windows Phone?

2) What are AQ's MQA implementation plans (will these DF's be software upgradeable)?

3) Any future plans for higher data rate support like 192 or DSD? - I hear you groaning already :-)

 

BTW, I saw RATM back in the late 90s at the LA Forum and it was hands down the best concert I've ever attended (PJ and Springsteen included), a sea of undulating bodies. Most unusual concert: a double bill of David Bowie followed by Nine Inch Nails. Both great shows and they shared the stage for an awesome medley, but most of the Bowie audience left after he finished and most of the NIN audience didn't arrive until after Bowie finished. Too bad for them, but it allowed me to move to the front of the stage :-)

 

Hi Pamplona -

 

Thank you for the great questions. All DragonFly's are compatible with Class 1 USB device drivers. So, as long as the OS in question adheres to the Class specification DragonFly will be compatible. Some Android devices comply and some don't. That said, there is a very elegant app for Android called USB Audio Player Pro ... https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudioplayerpro . This app has its own embedded USB device driver, bypassing whatever's in the OS. The only shortcoming is this only resolves driver issues for this app. It won't cross over to outside apps.

 

MQA – We are looking closely at MQA. When the time is appropriate we will look at offering MQA as a complimentary update to Black and Red. End-users will be able to perform the update from our forthcoming desktop applications (Windows and OS X). This is one of the beautiful aspects of our new platform – upgradability.

 

192 and DSD – This is not something that we plan on doing for Black or Red.

 

Regards,

 

Steve Silberman

AudioQuest

[email protected]

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Hi Steve -

 

Sorry to read that your original DragonFly died. Did you send it back to us for a replacement? We would still honor the warranty if you haven't dealt with it yet, provided you still have the unit. Please email us at [email protected]

 

Regards,

 

Steve Silberman

AudioQuest

 

It died just past warranty. Went to e-waste heaven. Guess I'll give the new Black a go and see how well it fares. Just hoping it works well on long trips with MacBook and external drive. Certainly would be nice to have a battery drain simulator for the kind of setup I envision...


Steve Schaffer

Roon Nucleus/ WD USB Drive / dCS Vivaldi Upsampler  / dCS Vivaldi DAC / dCS Vivaldi Clock / Spectral DMC-30SV preamp / Spectral DMA-500 monoblocks / Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2 speakers

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I've used the Red with my iPhone 6S and I personally didn't find it added enough to keep it.

 

I now have a Chord Mojo and it's a keeper. I find myself carrying it to work and back.


Waversa hub > Lumin S1 > Bakoon HPA-21

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What app would one use to serve 24/96 music files from an iPhone6 to the Red?

 

I quite like this one:

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/onkyo-hf-player/id704139896?mt=8


John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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Chris,

 

I wish you and your wife enjoy today's concert. I never considered DragonFly as a good purchase. I remember disagreed you chose it as Product of the Year 2012 over DAC2X. Now I'm considering buying one.

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@Chris: With most USB devices I connect to my iphone or ipad over the USB-lightning cable trigger a "Device draws too much power" message, and the device is disabled. Did you get any of this with the DF? Thx.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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you lost me. What am I defensive about?

 

Clarifying whether the new Dragonflys use USB 2 or USB 3. I personally don't care but it seems a basic fact that is strangely missing in material/ dialogue so far.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I know this doesn't get addressed to often on this forum, but do the Dragonflys make a difference if you are streaming compressed files such as the non-audiophile version of Tidal, or you use Spotify?


1) Selah Audio Fedele Speakers (Revel in ceiling surrounds)

Marantz SR7008 A/V receiver

QNAP TS-251 NAS accessed w/ Bluesound Node2, and a Ruku Ultra through SPDIF ipurifier

2) Zaph L18 Speakers

Vintage Yamaha (1982) integrated

iphone w/ Audioquest Dragon Black & Pro-Ject Expression w/ AT440mlb

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