I still think first you should do the 44.1k lossless test again, using the same software (foobar), make sure output res setting are the same (44.1k) for both internal sound card and dragonfly.
I haven't tried MacBook Air, but I heard it's sound quality is pretty good. Much better than MacBook Pro, I have MBP 17, the sound is horrible, and unacceptable hiss level.
In all my computers, the best internal DAC is Dell XPS Studio 9000, I have to say difference from DragonFly is pretty small. Only after 2 days careful listening I can start to appreciate the difference. compared to that, DragonFly has cleaner mids, smoother, slightly warmer, more musical and pleasing. But, the PC's internal DAC projects a easier to understand sound stage, while DragonFly's sound stage is slightly 'confusing', due to it's smoothness.
I'll say, compared to >$1000 DACs, the only real big disadvantage of DragonFly is power. For phones like 300ohms Senn 600, this will be a factor. But for IEM like IE8/ IE800, this shouldn't be a factor at all.
Compared to the really great ESS Sabre based DAC+AMP like Anedio D2, DragonFly share the same sound signature: same kind of smoothness, musical. But Anedio is cleaner, more textured.
If Dell XPS Studio 9000 has a score 0, and Anedio D2 has a score 100, then DragonFly is somewhere at 80, or 90.
Put it another way, if upgrading from XPS 9000 to DragonFly gave me a boost of 10 miles, then upgrade again to $1000+ DAC will give another boost of 1 or 2 miles.
Edited by yfei - 2/8/13 at 9:37pm
Originally Posted by hungrydave
Folks, these are really helpful responses, thanks. Gives me lots to think about.
Guess my feeling was it wasn't worth the upgrade based on not being able to discern any notable difference in quality listening to my current collection in my normal player. My high res collection is non existent - I just downloaded a few test tracks off the web to see what difference it made (a lot seems to be the answer).
Following on from the response I have a few more questions:
- does anyone here use their dragonfly for a similar type of music collection (ALAC / AAC) and get big improvements? What setup and player do you use?
- are there other players I should try out with the dragonfly that might give it more of a chance to shine with my 16/44 collection?
- what are the alternatives to the dragonfly at this price point and above? Happy to look at something pricier if its notably better, but it still needs to be vaguely portable! Something like the fostex hpp1 might be worth looking at but from what I've read I'd be paying more for its amp abilities whilst having an equivalent DAC? Anything else to consider? Probably consider up to £800-1000 for a setup that really helps the music and IE800 sounds their best.
Or maybe the answer is to spend £200 on the dragonfly and start buying up high-res music.
I'm new to really thinking about this so hard to know where you get for biggest bang for your buck.