AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt USB D/A-headphone amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Sources: Roon Nucleus+ server; PonoPlayer, AudioQuest DragonFly Red, iPad mini.
Headphones: Audeze LCD-X, AudioQuest NightHawk, Ultimate Ears 18 Pro.
Cables: Headphones: manufacturers' own with AudioQuests; Nordost Heimdall with Audezes. AC: manufacturers' own.
Accessories: AudioQuest Niagara 1000 Low-Z Power/Noise-Dissipation System.—John Atkinson

2621 White Road
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 585-0111

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Best thing to happen to smartphone music since smartphone music ......... AQ DragonFly :-) .........

Graham Luke's picture

Good comment.

invaderzim's picture

That is something that is often overlooked in comparing audio components. Small differences get much more noticeable over time.

John Atkinson's picture
invaderzim wrote:
That is something that is often overlooked in comparing audio components. Small differences get much more noticeable over time.

Jim Austin examines the relevance of long-term listening in his "As We See It" essay in the January 2020 issue.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

I've been gifting the Dragonflys since their introduction.

People love them, use them 100% of the time, look for them if they get misplaced and keep thanking me for them.

I've also given WristWatches from Long Island Watch. ( which tend to be nice but forgotten )

The cute little Dragonfly is what people mention to me.

The people, I gift, are not Audiophiles but won't listen without the Dragonfly plugged in. It significantly improves Sound Quality and always leads to "better" headphones. ( our people are buying and showing new headphones, constantly, it's exciting )

Overall, I'd say and think that these Dragonflys are probably "Gateway" devices to Audiophile "leanings", it presents music as a beautiful & accessable life component. In one case the Device led my recipient to purchase a record player. ( unintended consequences , oh dear ! )

Now, I "have-to" use the blue one ( instead of the dreaded RED one ) for nonsense political reasons.


The Blue one is pricier to gift, darn it. ( I could just give the Black one which would be even better politically, if they still offer it )

Tony in Venice

ps. this thing has to be a respectable Audiophile device if the Editor of the World's most Authoritative Audiophile Journal owns one. Isn't JA1 the highest Authority that we Audiophiles had ? ( jus say'n ) Of course JA2 is equally brilliant and is also brave enough to take sides with MQA and the lovely Devialet stuff.

ps.2) Audioquest probably SHOULD gift every Dragonfly purchaser with a ONE Year Subscription to Stereophile, they'd be doing themselves and everyone else a HUGE favor!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 is Apollo and JA2 is Orpheus :-) .......

JRT's picture

I bought a couple of the original Audioquest Dragonfly units before any of the colored models were released. Performance is adequate for casual background listening, and I like the small form factor for some applications, but also that small form forces some compromise in some other applications (adapting mini-plug connectivity, lack of balanced output, lack of external volume knob, etc.).

For non-portable applications, look at the SMSL-500, $399 on Amazon.

SMSL-500 can sit on a table next to the listening chair, can drive most headphones, has external volume knob, and includes balanced output on the rear which can drive longish interconnects to amplifiers located adjacent to the loudspeakers.

For balanced XLR interconnects, look at Monoprice's Stage Right starquad microphone cable, XLR-M to XLR-F, gold plated contacts, 24AWG, 10ft, black, available in wide variety of lengths from 1.5_ft to 100_ft. The 50_ft length is priced under $20/cable, with two cables needed for stereo pair. Microphone cable works well for balanced interconnections, but tends to be more flexible, smaller in diameter, yet also more durably rugged in construction.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

For non portable applications, one could also consider ......... the new, iFi Audio Zen DAC/headphone amp $130 :-) .........

Brown Sound's picture

I have been eyeing the new iFi Zen as an upgrade for my original iFi iDSD Nano, which has been dutifully performing my desktop tasks. Can you review that one JA1? Great review, sir!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If you want both SS and tube flavors, you can check-out iFi Audio Pro iDSD desk-top DAC/headphone amp ($2,499) reviewed by Stereophile :-) .........

jimtavegia's picture

Focusrite Scarlette 2i2 and the Steinberg UR22 USB 24192 interfaces. At about $150 each I would like to see how they compare as they are both I/O devices with built in Mic Preamps. I love mine even just for listening to computer audio. You can even use them for line level inputs.

Brown Sound's picture

I do have an original DragonFly v1.0 in my laptop bag, if I ever need a better listening experience on the go, which has been a rarity lately. As cool as the Cobalt seems, after getting burned for the initial $250 of the original, I'll wait for the price to come down, when the DragonFly Mauve is introduced. Great review, JA1!

Charles E Flynn's picture