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Dragonfly Black teardown


mansr

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I wonder if in some cases the Dragonfly product line has become obsolete?  I have the latest Red and Black - neither would play on my work laptop without frequent crashes or nothing but static.  Mind you, we're still using Windows 7 (!!!!!), so that may be the issue. 

 

But, with my work laptop and the latest sound drivers, it's supposedly capable of 24/192 and sounds great either with headphones or my cheapy USB powered speakers.  For the few times I was able to compare when either of the Dragonfly's were working I couldn't say they had a better sound.

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1 hour ago, SJK said:

I wonder if in some cases the Dragonfly product line has become obsolete?  I have the latest Red and Black - neither would play on my work laptop without frequent crashes or nothing but static.  Mind you, we're still using Windows 7 (!!!!!), so that may be the issue. 

Sounds like a driver issue. I have no problems at all with the standard usb-audio driver in Linux.

 

1 hour ago, SJK said:

But, with my work laptop and the latest sound drivers, it's supposedly capable of 24/192 and sounds great either with headphones or my cheapy USB powered speakers.  For the few times I was able to compare when either of the Dragonfly's were working I couldn't say they had a better sound.

It supports up to 24/96. As for sound quality, it's not terrible, but neither is it spectacular. There are probably cheaper devices that perform just as well.

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1 hour ago, SJK said:

I wonder if in some cases the Dragonfly product line has become obsolete?  I have the latest Red and Black - neither would play on my work laptop without frequent crashes or nothing but static.  Mind you, we're still using Windows 7 (!!!!!), so that may be the issue. 

 

But, with my work laptop and the latest sound drivers, it's supposedly capable of 24/192 and sounds great either with headphones or my cheapy USB powered speakers.  For the few times I was able to compare when either of the Dragonfly's were working I couldn't say they had a better sound.

 

I too have the latest DragonFly Red. I use it with my Mac Mini desktop computer but I don't plug it directly into the mac. Between the Mac and the DragonFly is an iFi iUSB which strips the 5 volt power from the computer and replaces it with power from the iUSB box, The output of the DragonFly feeds my Napa Acoustic NA-208A 25 Wpc amplifier which drives my matching Napa NA-208S speakers using their proprietary speaker cable. Sound is excellent, the speakers have good bass down into the 40's and are very musical. The whole system sounds great for a desktop audio system.

Electronics~~element79.jpg

speakers_208s.jpg

George

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Thank you for posting these results.  

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Was it impossible to calibrate the dB scale ? Add ~ 45dB myself to everything doesn't make more readable. :S

Or did I miss something else ?

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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6 hours ago, PeterSt said:

Was it impossible to calibrate the dB scale ? Add ~ 45dB myself to everything doesn't make more readable. :S

Or did I miss something else ?

Not impossible, but it would have been more work. Where would you have me put the 0 dB level?

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7 hours ago, mansr said:

Where would you have me put the 0 dB level?

 

Assumed that you don't show Volts (like dBV) but digital level ... at dBFS - 0. At least this is normally done so and thus everybody can "read" it. This proper reading then includes the (also normal) -3dBFS for a test signal. Thus, Y-axis has a -0dBFS marker and a normal test signal will play at -3dBFS. And if you don't use -3dBFS for test signal but -60dBFS (also quite normal) then everybody can see what you're testing.

Etc.

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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53 minutes ago, PeterSt said:

Assumed that you don't show Volts (like dBV) but digital level ... at dBFS - 0. At least this is normally done so and thus everybody can "read" it. This proper reading then includes the (also normal) -3dBFS for a test signal. Thus, Y-axis has a -0dBFS marker and a normal test signal will play at -3dBFS. And if you don't use -3dBFS for test signal but -60dBFS (also quite normal) then everybody can see what you're testing.

Etc.

The appearance of the graphs also depends on the FFT size and windowing function.

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18 minutes ago, mansr said:

The appearance of the graphs also depends on the FFT size and windowing function.

 

Well, I did not want to throw all at you at once, but consider that "width" of the 12Khz jitter analysis judgment. So Yes.

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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19 hours ago, mansr said:

Jitter

Many a problem, whether real or imagined, is attributed to jitter. When the DAC clock strays from a constant rate, the result is a smearing of frequencies in the reproduced audio. In a spectrum plot of a single tone, this typically shows up as a skirting around what should be a perfect vertical line. A good test signal is a square wave at ¼ of the sample rate as this is actually a perfect representation of a sine wave without any quantisation errors.

 

It is actually good to use the Miller-Dunn Jtest signal for testing jitter, because it has LSB modulation. It tells if there are capacitive leaks between I2S lines (data line leaking to clock and thus varying the switch-over point in the clock waveform).

 

What Peter said about calibrating the 0 dB level is true. First play 0 dBFS 1 kHz tone and then calibrate the 0 dBr point of the graphs to that voltage... This way level of the distortion components are easy to read...

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Just now, Miska said:

It is actually good to use the Miller-Dunn Jtest signal for testing jitter, because it has LSB modulation.

I thought that was meant to tease out problems in S/PDIF clock recovery.

 

Just now, Miska said:

It tells if there are capacitive leaks between I2S lines (data line leaking to clock and thus varying the switch-over point in the clock waveform).

Given the amount of jitter already present on the clock here I doubt it matters much. The ESS DAC also doesn't use this clock directly. Anyhow, I'll run the test.

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13 minutes ago, Miska said:

What Peter said about calibrating the 0 dB level is true. First play 0 dBFS 1 kHz tone and then calibrate the 0 dBr point of the graphs to that voltage... This way level of the distortion components are easy to read...

Shifting the graphs vertically won't change the relative levels.

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8 hours ago, mansr said:

Shifting the graphs vertically won't change the relative levels.

 

Of course not, but it is easier to read, because you don't need to manually calculate the normalized levels. If for example 1 kHz tone kisses the 0 dBr line, then it is easy to read what level the harmonics have, no need to attempt calculating normalization factor in.

 

Example for another very similar DAC:

Herus-thd-44k1.thumb.png.9cb17988a1f0f53f5d326bdfba87f2b4.png

Herus-imd-44k1.thumb.png.c156f23eca9728aaa56d1ed7ebe0693e.png

Herus-jtest24-44k1.thumb.png.da30a6d989c349236a9d691481d1cfee.png

 

P.S. Nowadays I use different scale for the Jtest24 (44.1k), now I use 8k - 14k frequency range and -170 - -90 dBr level range. This seems to make things quite nicely visible.

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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4 hours ago, Miska said:

How does it look at 44.1k?

The same. I see no reason why it would be different.

 

4 hours ago, Miska said:

For some reason the noise level is quite high, normalized it would be about -100 dB so it hides most of the detail.

Maybe your recording equipment is more expensive than mine.

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