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Macworld Reviews Audioquest’s New Updated Dragonfly 1.2 DAC!

Macworld Reviews Audioquest’s New Updated Dragonfly 1.2 DAC!

6 Feb 2014

Dragonfly

AudioQuest DragonFly

Following the DACport by a few years, AudioQuest’s $149 DragonFly takes the DACport’s basic topography—USB input on one end, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other—and further shrinks and simplifies it. A standard USB plug is integrated into the unit, allowing the DragonFly to plug directly into a computer like a thumb drive. (Indeed, the device looks essentially like a thumb drive.) The DragonFly also eschews a physical volume control, relying instead on the host computer’s software volume setting. A recent hardware revision, to version 1.2, included some improvements to the device’s audio circuitry.

The DragonFly, designed in cooperation with DAC expert Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio, is charmingly small, well-built, and offers impressive performance. Despite its small size, the unit feels substantial, and it has a pleasant-to-touch rubbery exterior. The DragonFly logo on the outside lights up to indicate (by the color of the light) the current sample rate (up to 96 kHz/24-bit). AudioQuest includes a leather carrying pouch and a cap for the USB connector.

Due to its thumb-drive-like design, heavier headphone or interconnect cables can cause the DragonFly to strain your computer’s USB port, so the company also sells the $17 DragonTail: a short USB extension, based on the company’s Carbon line of high-end USB cables, that also prevents the DragonFly from blocking tightly-spaced ports on your computer.

The DragonFly’s small size and all-in-one design make it a particularly good match for use with a laptop on the go. Thanks to this convenience, I frequently grabbed the DragonFly for portable listening.