AUDIOQUEST DRAGONFLY RED
The Original DragonFly
Launched in 2012, press and public alike have enthusiastically embraced AudioQuest’s multi-award-winning DragonFly USB digital-to-analog converter/preamp/headphone amp as the rare audio product that bridges the gap between die-hard audiophiles and mainstream music lovers. DragonFly plugs into a computer’s USB port to bypass the computer’s compromised audio circuitry and deliver cleaner, clearer, more naturally beautiful sound to headphones, powered speakers, and complete audio systems. Small, affordable, easy to use, and remarkably effective, DragonFly was named Stereophile’s 2012 “Computer Audio Component of the Year” and 2012 “Budget Component of the Year;” Tone Audio’s 2012 “Digital Product of the Year;” Computer Audiophile’s 2012 “Computer Audiophile Product of the Year;” AudioStream’s “Greatest Bits;” and What Hi-Fi?’s 2014 “Product of the Year.” Perhaps most memorably, DigitalAudioReview.net’s John Darko quipped: “A DAC with the DragonFly’s performance at the DragonFly’s price point is as rare as rocking horse sh*t.” We couldn’t have said it better.
- USB Stick-Sized Digital-to-Analog Converter
- Plays all music files: MP3 to high-res
- Compatible with Apple and Windows PCs, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices (requires Apple Camera Adapter or Made for Android/OTG adaptor)
- Drives headphones directly
- Fixed output feeds preamp or AV receiver
- Asynchronous transfer ensures digital timing integrity
- High output (2.1 volts) drives almost all headphones, including power-hungry models
- 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC with minimum-phase filter
- Bit-perfect digital volume control
THE NEXT GENERATION: DRAGONFLY BLACK & DRAGONFLY RED
While the original DragonFly defined the market for micro-DACs, its USB power draw made it compatible with computers only. Music lovers have craved a more portable version—one that could be reliably used with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. We’re delighted to present two new options that do just that: DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red. Convenience and performance are no longer mutually exclusive. With DragonFly Black and Red, any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone can be used as a true high-fidelity music player, allowing music lovers to enjoy beautiful sound wherever they go, whenever they please.
AUDIOQUEST, GORDON RANKIN, AND MICROCHIP: A BEAUTIFUL PARTNERSHIP
AudioQuest and DragonFly designer Gordon Rankin worked alongside Microchip Technology to develop a new high-performance, full-speed USB microcontroller solution that delivers improved signal-to-noise ratio and significantly lower power consumption. Drawing 77% less current than the previous microcontroller, the new Microchip PIC32MX microcontroller enables true compatibility with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Further, we simply cannot overstate the significance of Gordon Rankin’s contributions to AudioQuest. The new DragonFly models embody many of Gordon’s most innovative, creative, and elegant digital-audio solutions to date.
IMPROVED 32-BIT DIGITAL PERFORMANCE
For greater overall performance, the new DragonFly models also incorporate improved 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips—the 9010 in Black and the higher-performance 9016 in Red—both of which employ minimum-phase filtering for naturally detailed, more authentic sound. While DragonFly Black uses the same high-quality headphone amp and analog volume control found in DragonFly v1.2, DragonFly Red includes the latest ESS headphone amp and a bit-perfect digital volume control that resides on the 9016 DAC chip itself—a sophisticated implementation that ensures maximum fidelity, dynamic contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio. DragonFly Black will output 1.2 volts—enough power to successfully drive all preamplifier input circuits and a wide range of today’s efficient headphones. Meanwhile, with its higher 2.1-volt output, DragonFly Red will be compatible with a wider range of headphones, including power-hungry, low-efficiency models. While the DAC chips we’ve selected are remarkably powerful and sophisticated, we’ve intentionally limited DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red’s processing capabilities to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. This makes using the DragonFlys as simple as it’s always been: they’re fully compatible with PCs without having to download and install new drivers. Most importantly, DragonFly is designed to honor the music you already own and love. Whether you’re listening to Spotify, YouTube, Tidal, ripped CDs, or state-of-the-art high-resolution files, DragonFly will deliver a more emotionally compelling and enjoyable experience.
FREE DESKTOP APPLICATION FOR SOFTWARE UPGRADABILITY (FOR DRAGONFLY BLACK AND RED ONLY)
In addition, the new DragonFlys will be software upgradeable through a complimentary Windows or OS X desktop application. As new developments arise in music player applications, streaming protocols, or other associated software, DragonFly users will be able to incorporate those updates to their existing devices.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
Introduced to the media at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red were named “Stars of CES” by What Hi-Fi? Magazine. But this is only the beginning. We look forward to building stronger, more meaningful connections between music enthusiasts and the artists, albums, songs, and videos they love. Our hope is that with DragonFly Black, DragonFly Red, and future AudioQuest digital products, more people than ever before can enjoy beautiful music—wherever they go, whenever they please.
What is a digital-to-analog converter (DAC)?
Little-known fact: Digital-to-analog converters are used in all digital devices that have the ability to send an audio signal or play music. These digital devices include (but are not limited to) CD players, laptops, computers, tablets, smartphones, and televisions. DACs are everywhere. Simply put, a DAC, as its name suggests, converts digital audio information (comprised of 1s and 0s) into an analog signal that can be sent to headphones, powered speakers, amplifiers, and/or receivers, to be heard and enjoyed by the listener.
Anytime you’re listening to music, watching a movie, or even enjoying a YouTube video on a computer, the digital audio data is first sent through a DAC that converts the 1s and 0s to the analog waveforms that our headphones and home stereos deliver to our ears as music.
The sound card that’s built into your computer and feeds its headphone jack is an example of a DAC. However, computers and most other digital devices are not optimized for sound. They have other priorities to meet and functions to fulfill—browsing the Internet, taking and sending photographs, sending and receiving emails and texts, and so much more. For most digital devices, delivering audio is just one of numerous functionalities, all of which are compromised to some extent.
Far superior sound—and, thus, much more beautiful, engaging music—can be enjoyed when using an external, purpose-built DAC, such as DragonFly.
What is “asynchronous USB?”
Digital audio is stored in computers and delivered to DragonFly as 1s and 0s.
Contrary to common belief, making beautiful music out of 1s and 0s isn’t a case of simply getting all of the audio data from Point A to Point B. In order to successfully reconstruct the analog waveform, it’s crucial that subtle digital timing relationships are carefully maintained. Timing errors such as “jitter” have long plagued digital audio playback, and never more so than in recent years, as computers have been pressed into service as audio source components.
DragonFly uses a very sophisticated “asynchronous” USB audio data transfer protocol. Rather than sharing crucial audio “data clocking” functions with the computer, DragonFly alone, using asynchronous USB transfer, commands the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically reducing digital timing errors.
DragonFly’s StreamlengthTM asynchronous USB code ensures low jitter, low resource load, minimal packet errors, world-class audio playback, and reliable connectivity between our DAC and any computing device compliant with USB Host Mode (as set forth by the USB Organization). Streamlength requires no additional drivers, making DragonFly virtually plug-and-play for Apple, Windows, iOS, and Android users.
What is an MQA renderer?
An MQA Renderer is a device which takes in the MQA Core (at 88.2 or 96 kHz) and completes the unfold to the original sample rate and also matches and compensates the DAC characteristics to the hierarchical target, matching the analog sound heard in the studio.
The AudioQuest DragonFly Red and Black feature an MQA renderer and enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. When connected to an MQA Core signal (within Tidal or Audirvana for example) the purple display on the product indicates the unit is rendering an MQA stream or file.
What other applications (in addition to TIDAL) are capable of handling the decode process that can work in conjunction with my DragonFly to playback MQA files?
Currently the MQA Core Decoder is live on Tidal and Audirvana. Many more services and media players will be live throughout 2017.
For more detailed information, visit the MQA website: http://www.mqa.co.uk/customer/how-it-works.
For more information on DragonFly and MQA, visit these helpful links: