AudioQuest FBA_Dragonfly Rosso Red USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier
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- 32-Bit SABRE DAC
- 2.1v Output Drives Almost Any Headphones
- Works With Apple and Android devices when paired with a simple adapter
- Plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files
- This versatile DAC improves everything – detail, transparency, immediacy, richness, tone
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|Item Dimensions||0.79 x 2.36 x 1.18 in||1.18 x 1.97 x 0.39 in||0.5 x 2.7 x 5.38 in||0.8 x 2.4 x 0.4 in||2.2 x 3.82 x 0.51 in||0.3 x 2 x 2 in|
Stupendous-Sounding AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC/Headphone Amp Decodes MQA, Has 32-Bit SABRE DAC, Drives Almost Any Headphones, Works with Apple and Android Playing music on your computer, laptop, stereo, smartphone, tablet, or powered speakers becomes exponentially better, more authoritative, and stunningly lifelike with the groundbreaking AudioQuest DragonFly Red DAC/headphone amplifier . Among the most exciting audio products in recent memory – and named The Absolute Sound 's Product of the Year Award (Budget Component), Stereophile 's Product of the Year (Digital Component and Budget Component) What Hi-Fi 's Product of the Year (USB DAC), and Computer Audiophile 's DAC of the Year – DragonFly Red sets new benchmarks for how much performance, portability, and flexibility is possible from an asynchronous USB DAC. Offering tremendously enhanced sound, higher value, and significantly lower power consumption than the original award-winning DragonFly for a lower price, DragonFly Red even works with Apple and Android phones and tablets when paired with a simple adapter. Most importantly, this versatile DAC improves everything – detail, transparency, immediacy, richness, tone – associated with your music. MQA decoding ability, ideal for TIDAL listeners, is also part of its feature set. And Red plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files with spectacular simplicity and ease of use. Lest we forget, it doubles as a serious headphone amplifier and comes with our 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee . “In my desktop system and through headphones, the Red upped the ante in every sonic criterion.” —Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound "DragonFly Red and Black are the finest examples of everyman hi-fi to ever grace these pages. Their value quotients explode the dial." – John Darko, DigitalAudioReview
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In the DAC/AMP world I've already gone through the Fiio Q1 (was fine, but didn't really do much for me) and the OPPO HA-2 (looked super slick -- made everything louder -- but ultimately was too harsh/sterile in the treble dept). I've lusted over the Chord Mojo for quite some time and would love to listen to it. I have no doubt it sounds great! But my fear is that it won't sound "$600 great" to me (see point #2 above). And then I stumbled across the Darko review of this new Red just a few weeks ago and knew I had to try it.
I'm playing it through an iPhone 5s connected via the Apple CCK (using Onkyo HF Player), an iPod Touch 6th Gen (through Korg's iAudioGate) and also through my Macbook Air (using Roon). Set-up is super duper quick and intuitive. Audioquest did a really nice job in including a detailed booklet written for the layperson, telling you everything you'd need to know (and why, which is sort of cool in the audio world -- too many companies treat you like you've already got a Master's Degree in HiFi Audio). Extra bonus: Audioquest ALSO threw in a nice travel pouch + a coupon voucher to HDtracks + a 60-day complimentary trial to Roon (this is super nice, as the trial period from Roon themselves is just 14 days). If you haven't read up on Roon I'd highly recommend it --- it allows you to play higher res tracks on your Mac computer...it's a lot more fun/intuitive/exploratory than the native iTunes player...it integrates with Tidal...and it absolutely makes your music sound better. Same thing with Onkyo HF Player for your iPhone.
At any rate, let's cut to the chase. How does the Red sound? Quite good -- IF (1) you have good headphones, and (2) you're taking advantage of better sources (like the players I described above). If you don't do any of that, it will make your music sound louder but not necessarily a lot better. I'm using HIFIMAN HE400s, which are great reviewed/open style/planar magnetic headphones. They're efficient already so don't necessarily need an amp, but most everything sounds better with an amp. Anyway, if you're curious how exactly the sound improves with the Red, here's my best way to explain it: more full, and more realistic. Picture a comb -- imagine that this is a visual representation of your music without a DAC/AMP. Now, imagine that all those tiny spaces between the teeth of the comb get filled in -- this is the DAC/AMP going to work. It feels like it fills in gaps/missing info/details you didn't realize were there, so overall everything sounds a little louder/clearer/lusher/more realistic/more enjoyable. There's more bottom end to kick drums...more "plucking" you can sense on guitars and bass notes...more snap on snare drums...and little things like hi-hat cymbals suddenly sound real, vs a digital copy of what's real (if that makes sense). Also, there's more separation between instruments, creating the "space" that you read about, so it feels like you're in the studio surrounded by musicians rather than just being presented a wall of sound. I did an A/B test of a rock song I'm familiar with, listening to identical sections with and without the Red. Without, I found that the bass guitar disappears into the drums...sometimes you'd hear it, and sometimes you wouldn't (would just be sort of muddy). But with the red, there is a distinct bass guitar playing alongside a distinct drummer playing.
Don't get me wrong -- the overall effect is not a massive night/day difference that bowls you over -- so don't go in expecting that or you'll be disappointed. Instead, if you take the time to get good copies of music + good headphones + good sources, then you WILL take notice of the improvement and enjoy the positive contributions the Dragonfly brings and you'll want to listen to more of your music. Also, geeky cool thing that's actually helpful: the dragon on the device glows and changes colors, to tell you what sample rate your music is.
BOTTOM LINE: Sound is superb. Value is great. The care they put into the booklet + add-ins are nice surprises. Convenience is top notch. And the fact that it is pretty future-proof (they designed it to accommodate firmware updates) is great. If any of the above describes your philosophy, I think you'll really enjoy it.
UPDATE 1 MONTH LATER: I was going to be eternally curious about the CHORD Mojo, so I went ahead and decided to audition that as well. I spent about a week with it, and my 100% honest-to-goodness takeaway was: I personally could not hear an audible difference between the DragonFly Red and the Mojo. They both make my music sound better, but neither one is better at making it sound better (to my ears, anyway).
I'm sure there are measurements or tests or something that prove Mojo "wins"...but I couldn't pick up on it. I have no clue if that's because there IS no discernible difference between the two, or my equipment isn't good enough to reveal that difference (although I use Hifiman HE-400s, Westone W30 and Audeze Sine, all of which is a far cry from entry level gear) or my ears just aren't "golden" enough to tell. Who knows - I'm sure others swear they can tell one from the other. At any rate, Mojo definitely sounded great....but so does Red. And Red is 1/3 the cost, firmware upgradeable, much more discreet/portable and never requires charging (I already had one annoying instance where I sat down to listen to music, but Mojo's battery died 10 minutes later and had to be recharged for 3 hours). Thus, I returned Mojo and am keeping the Red.
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