AudioQuest DragonFly USB D/A converter John Atkinson Comments

John Atkinson also wrote about the DragonFly in October 2012 (Vol.35 No.10):

I compared the CEntrance DACPort LX ($299.95) with AudioQuest's new $250 DragonFly, reviewed elsewhere in this issue by Art Dudley. Levels were matched to within 0.1dB at 1kHz, and for the test track I used a mix I had done a couple of years back of a song called "New York Afterparty," from Heroes of the Open End, the band for which Stereophile's Ariel Bitran plays lead guitar. The backing features two electric guitars and synth, overlaying drums and bass. I had tried in the mix to recreate some of the phat low frequencies you hear from rock bands live—there is therefore a lot of low-frequency energy—and I had used some repeat echo on Ariel's chiming guitar patterns to place the instrument in its own space.

The DACport LX offered a clean open window into the mix, with Mike Baglivi's midrange-dominant rhythm guitar well differentiated from the other instruments. The bass guitar and kick drum were reproduced with good weight but with still enough leading-edge definition that the sound didn't become too muddy. Changing to the DragonFly, the cymbals had a little more energy apparent, as did Ariel's lead guitar; Mike Baglivi's lead vocal, which with hindsight I had mixed a little too low, usefully moved a little closer to the listener. The low frequencies still had good weight, but the bass guitar and kick drum were not quite as well differentiated as with the DACport. However, it was a close-run thing overall. I don't think I could have identified which DAC was playing without reference to the other.—John Atkinson

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

manniesm's picture

Dudley reviews a $249 DAC with a $1395 cable.  Makes sense to me!

Boomzilla's picture

Please note that the Dragonfly, being powered solely by the USB port of the computer, is VERY sensitive to the quality of the USB power being supplied.  I used my Dragonfly on a laptop with a completely dead battery.  While in use, the wall AC-charger had to be plugged in or the computer wouldn't even boot.  

The system sounded SO BAD with the Dragonfly, that I replaced speakers (twice) before noticing that the Dragonfly was the problem.  I probably could have solved the problem with an external USB "powered hub," but I sold the Dragonfly before thinking of that.

Bottom line is - For the Dragonfly to perform at its best, the computer MUST supply sufficient voltage and a sufficiently clean DC voltage via its USB port.  If not, then the Dragonfly sounds absolutely atrocious!  If you have ANY doubt about the quality of the power to your computer's USB ports, then buy a good quality powered USB hub and be prepared to be AMAZED at the sound quality difference!



hollowman's picture

Stoner Acoustics, a bare-bones start-up from Malaysia, has a few very low cost DragonFly-like DACs that seem to use high-quality parts (such as ESS Sabre DAC, etc.). A decent review is on here:

Stoner Acoustics' web site is:

Some photos ...

And it seems to be Android friendly:

brightonrock's picture

Just had a demo of the Audioquest Dragonfly v1.2 DAC with my favourite headphones, notice this cool looking point of sale featuring the Dragonfly too :-)

GFischer's picture

I've recently purchased the v1.2 and noted severe clipping/distortion when plugged into my Macbook Pro USB and run directly to my Sony MDR-7506s. (Most apparent with lossless files at mid-hi volume; listening to James Blake was a nightmare). Thought the 7506 would be low enough impedance (63 ohms), but was surprised and disappointed to find out the v1.2 wouldn't drive them. Ran the v1.2 through my old Tandberg TR2045 amp's headphone jack and through my NHT SuperOnes and they sounded fantastic.

Hoping it's something I'm doing wrong and not a shortcoming of the Dragonfly v1.2, but I'm not sure what else it may be.

Laen's picture

I use a V2 Dragonfly and for $149 it cannot be beat