A high quality streaming service such as Qobuz or Tidal delivers high resolution audio heaven! So, why can’t I hear the difference everyone's raving about?
Is this another case of the wool being pulled over our eyes, like serving up a cheap whisky in a heavy glass tumbler and believing that it tastes better?
7 years ago, Audioquest mobilised the world of digital to analogue converters (DACS) with the Dragonfly. While not the first of its kind, Audioquest's work with Gordon Rankin, the digital audio engineer supremo, recognised that most music played via a phone or computer didn’t sound very good. Principally, if the source is digital and you are listening on a mobile device, somewhere in the chain, that information will have to have gone through a low grade digital to analogue conversion process.
DAC circuitry is typically shoehorned into the ever shrinking mobile device - a space measured in nanometres and which is open and exposed to all manner of signal interference which further degrades the sound quality. The Audioquest Dragonfly series is one of the most affordable and portable USB DAC solutions to this problem, whilst offering improved naturally beautiful sound and incorporating a headphpne pre-amplifier all neatly packaged in a USB self powered stick. Just plug in, add headphones and away you go. It’s that simple.
Today, the Dragonfly portable DAC and Headphone amplifier series comprises of the Black, Red and Cobalt. The Black and Red both use the ESS 9010 DAC chip, with the Red employing a higher performance chip and 2.1v rather than 1.2v in the black that allows driving of larger headphones.
The flagship Cobalt has the new, more advanced ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a minimum-phase slow roll-off filter that offers an even more natural sound. The Microchip's superb PIC32MX274 microprocessor draws less current and increases processing speed by 33%. Improved power-supply filtering specifically increases immunity to WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular noise.
During testing in all cases and genres of music the sound stage opens up - certainly no sheep involved. The space, clarity and layers revealed make for a more engaging listening experience. The headphone amp in the Cobalt really drives bigger 'cans' effortlessly. Listening to the opening section of Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6 in B minor the Bassoon (or Bass clarinet depending on recording) played pppppp (that's six pianissimo) is night and day in comparison with directly connecting to the source.
But don’t take our word for it! Pop in to Audio T Bristol and have a listen with your mobile phone or laptop with the Audioquest Dragonfly Editions and experience the improvement in sound quality yourself. We can promise you there’s no wool or cheap whisky to be seen and you should hear a big difference!