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Article: Objective: AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt Review

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SMSL Idea or Sabaj DA2 are a lot better value.


1. Sonore ultraRendu - Uptone ISO Regen - Calyx Femto - Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE stage 2 - Apollon NC800 SL PRO - Thiel CS3.7
2. JRiver - Burson Conductor V2+ - Audeze LCD-XC - Calyx Femti - Monitor Audio PL100
3. JRiver - SMSL iDEA - 1More Triple Driver IEM

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Great Review!


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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@mansr any experience with the Red in comparison to the Black and Cobalt?


Roon Rock->Auralic Aria G2->Schiit Yggdrasil A2->McIntosh C47->McIntosh MC301 Monos->Wilson Audio Sabrinas

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22 minutes ago, wgscott said:

Looking at the frequency response curves for 44.1 and 96kHz, at 20Hz, the first one is down about -5.5 dB, whereas the second one is down about -0.4 dB.  (Let's assume the youthful audiophile listener hears music at 20Hz, for simplicity).  Would this DAC therefore give the impression that it could resolve details from a 24/96kHz recording that it would be able to for a 16/44.1 recording?

Did you mean unable? It's a possibility, though I haven't personally tested it, and I can't hear anything above about 16 kHz anyway.

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16 minutes ago, Dr Tone said:

@mansr any experience with the Red in comparison to the Black and Cobalt?

I only have the Black and Cobalt. @Archimago's testing suggests that the Red has superior distortion figures while the Cobalt has slightly lower noise.

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Interesting that Chris' subjective listening also concluded that SQ wise, there wasn't any substantial reason to buy the new, more expensive Dragonfly.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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35 minutes ago, mansr said:

Did you mean unable? It's a possibility, though I haven't personally tested it, and I can't hear anything above about 16 kHz anyway.

 

I did. (The worst thing is I edited that and de-corrected it.)

 

It is more of a hypothetical question.  The usual assumption is that if one cannot hear a difference between redbook and high-res, it is because the cheapskate was unwilling to spend a large sum of money on a better, more resolving DAC.

 

However, these test results show a measurable difference in the (potentially) audible range in the frequency response curves, which got me to thinking that maybe the ability to hear differences is dependent upon having defective audio equipment, rather than more resolving equipment.


--

Do facts matter?

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4 hours ago, FredericV said:

Interesting read, and very well written for those with a technical background.

The price of your scope looks impressive:

https://www.distrelec.be/fr/oscilloscope-4x-500mhz-5gsps-tektronix-mdo3054-mdo3sa-mdo3bnd-promo/p/30018059

That's what like... The price of a clock for your DAC? :)

 


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

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Thanks Mansr for the review.

My question is: is this device an improvement over the typical integrated audio output of a laptop (regarding measurements)?

 

Is there any objective reason to use the DF cobalt with a MacBook Pro or some decent android phone already equipped with analog outs?

 

Thanks again,

Jorge

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8 hours ago, jzahr said:

My question is: is this device an improvement over the typical integrated audio output of a laptop (regarding measurements)?

 

Is there any objective reason to use the DF cobalt with a MacBook Pro or some decent android phone already equipped with analog outs?

The noise level is a little lower than many other devices, though most are already well below what's audible. If you have high impedance, low efficiency headphones you may need the higher than average voltage delivered by the Red/Cobalt, at least if you like to play loud. With a headphone impedance below about 40 Ω, the Black actually delivers higher power. The distortion is somewhat worse than average for half-way decent devices, though again not bad enough to be audible, at least not with normal music. I could not in good conscience advise anyone to buy the Cobalt.

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On 8/29/2019 at 11:55 AM, Matias said:

SMSL Idea or Sabaj DA2 are a lot better value.

My Da2 was a nice little DAC for as long as it lasted, which was just barely beyond the warranty period. I replaced it with an ExtremPro X1, which my laptop sometimes calls a Dragonfly Black 1.2. I don't know whether the X1 or Da2 sounds better  because I never had both together, but given the price difference, I would not recommend Sabaj.

https://www.amazon.com/XtremPro-X1-1-Performance-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B07P6SYQG9

 

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3 hours ago, mansr said:

The noise level is a little lower than many other devices, though most are already well below what's audible. If you have high impedance, low efficiency headphones you may need the higher than average voltage delivered by the Red/Cobalt, at least if you like to play loud. With a headphone impedance below about 40 Ω, the Black actually delivers higher power. The distortion is somewhat worse than average for half-way decent devices, though again not bad enough to be audible, at least not with normal music. I could not in good conscience advise anyone to buy the Cobalt.

Thanks.

US$299 seems a lot to me for a device that doesn't seem to provide significantly better performance.

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1 hour ago, jzahr said:

Thanks.

US$299 seems a lot to me for a device that doesn't seem to provide significantly better performance.

Yes, I can see why Audioquest would replace the Red with the Cobalt for the same price, but charging 100 dollars more when the difference appears to be technological advancement rather than the extra cost of manufacture doesn’t seem to be good value.


System (i): (iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodek/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/Pure Sound P10; Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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