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IFi Nano vs Dragonfly for portable system with Etymotic ER4?


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Hello.

 

I'm using an iFi Nano with the original Etymotic ER4 (which I recon are 12 years old and might need to be changed too), with my Samsung S6 phone for listening while travelling on planes/hotels/office. Sound is good, but lately I've seen a lot of praise for the Dragonfly, which has a big size advantage for this use. So my question is how do these two DACs compare soundwise?

 

BTW, I don't listen to DSD. Mostly Tidal and 44/16 albums in the phone.

 

Does the Dragonfly loose anything to the iFi in sound? Can it drive the ER4? Will it deplete the battery in no time?

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Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I use the Dragonfly Black with an iPhone driving Sennheiser Momentum 2. Im also a Tidal Hi-Fi subscriber and it's great setup.

Battery use is great as the Dragonfly has very low power draw.

There have been quite a few people with problems using Android phones and the Dragonfly. Do a search on Head-Fi. It seems a bit touch and go.

I haven't heard the iFi so can't compare there sorry.

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I've owned the iDSD nano and the Dragonfly Red, though sequentially, not at the simultaneously. My sense was that the iDSD had the slight edge on refinement, but were both rather close -- very much in the same league. I switched to the Dragonfly Red because of its better battery handling and better mobility, not to mention that it is reported to drive more demanding cans than it should. Both respond to better digital sources and cleaner power.

 

Yesterday, using the Dragonfly, I was noting that UAP Pro (Android) was sounding thinner than through the J RIver (laptop) and then noticed that the Settings had the Hardware Volume set to 50%. Upped it to 100% which helped a lot.

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There have been quite a few people with problems using Android phones and the Dragonfly. Do a search on Head-Fi. It seems a bit touch and go.

 

Thanks for the heads-up! Will look into it.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I switched to the Dragonfly Red because of its better battery handling and better mobility.

 

Bruce,

 

Could you expand on the better battery handling comment? Is this in the context of a streaming device with its own battery or one with 110/220V supply, such as a computer? The nano has it's own battery, so I can see the battery depletion become an issue if attached to a computer. But the Dragonfly Red, not having a battery, I would expect to deplete my phone battery faster than usage with the nano. Am I wrong?

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Bruce,

 

Could you expand on the better battery handling comment? Is this in the context of a streaming device with its own battery or one with 110/220V supply, such as a computer? The nano has it's own battery, so I can see the battery depletion become an issue if attached to a computer. But the Dragonfly Red, not having a battery, I would expect to deplete my phone battery faster than usage with the nano. Am I wrong?

 

That certainly makes sense. I was surprised to note that when operating the iDSD nano from battery on my Android (Samsung S4) using USB Audio Player Pro with FLAC 16/44 files, the battery lowered more quickly than I would expect. This made me consider that even though it was on battery, something was going on to deplete the battery more quickly. When I used the AQ Dragonfly Red a couple weeks later, I did not experience that. I should not rule out that UAPP might have made a software player revision in the meantime which had an effect on resource requirements and thus battery. Certainly the form factor of the Dragonfly makes it much more usable on the go. But I don't mean to dis the iDSD nano. I really liked its SQ!

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