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AudioQuest Dragonfly Review : Affordable, Outstanding, Tiny DAC / Amp - Page 28

post #406 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

I have an Audio-gd NFB-16 here, of which I like the sound slightly better (I listen to a lot of jazz and classical and am picky about how instrument sound), but it is, relative to the Dragonfly, a lot bigger and bulkier. Headphone drive isn't any better, however.

 

 

 

Any thoughts on the new Audio-gd NFB-11.32 which I saw on their site for $300.  Uses the Sabre chip.

post #407 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobJS View Post

 

Any thoughts on the new Audio-gd NFB-11.32 which I saw on their site for $300.  Uses the Sabre chip.

 

Holy hell.  A 9018 device for $335 + ship.  That's just... amazing.  The DF is working with the 2023 Sabre which is a commodity/low power 24 bit variant, common in DACs ~$500 price point.  The 9018 is the TOTL 32 bit variant and tends to be found in kilobuck DACs.

 

The fact of the matter is the DF is going to be limited by USB bus power both in current and voltage swing, and esp. a device of this size is going to limited by how well it can regulate dirty USB power.  Unless you're a laptop road warrior or price is an issue it's probably best to look at other things if you can spend a bit more cash.  I'm not shy in saying on fidelity alone I still prefer by ODAC/O2 combo, which is more of a transportable solution that costs about $50 above DF and mostly benefits from having the amp driven by a 9V outboard PS.  The DF kills it in convenience factor and its DAC implementation is a bit better than the ODAC, but the O2 is a more capable amp to my ears, even for easy to drive things.  But compared to other outboard USB driven DAC/amps the DF is pretty great - taking size, cost, convenience, and performance, it's unique.  I didn't like it with the EPH-100 but I *love* it with some of the other cans I recently picked up, esp. the GR07 MkII.  But my use case is pretty explicit - 11" MBA -> DF -> IEM/small portable can so I can use at coffee shops, my co-working space, etc.  


Edited by bobeau - 8/17/12 at 7:39am
post #408 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

 

Holy hell.  A 9018 device for $335 + ship.  That's just... amazing.  The DF is working with the 2023 Sabre which is a commodity/low power 24 bit variant, common in DACs ~$500 price point.  The 9018 is the TOTL 32 bit variant and tends to be found in kilobuck DACs.

 

The fact of the matter is the DF is going to be limited by USB bus power both in current and voltage swing, and esp. a device of this size is going to limited by how well it can regulate dirty USB power.  Unless you're a laptop road warrior or price is an issue it's probably best to look at other things if you can spend a bit more cash.  I'm not shy in saying on fidelity alone I still prefer by ODAC/O2 combo, which is more of a transportable solution that costs about $50 above DF and mostly benefits from having the amp driven by a 9V outboard PS.  The DF kills it in convenience factor and its DAC implementation is a bit better than the ODAC, but the O2 is a more capable amp to my ears, even for easy to drive things.  But compared to other outboard USB driven DAC/amps the DF is pretty great - taking size, cost, convenience, and performance, it's unique.  I didn't like it with the EPH-100 but I *love* it with some of the other cans I recently picked up, esp. the GR07 MkII.  But my use case is pretty explicit - 11" MBA -> DF -> IEM/small portable can so I can use at coffee shops, my co-working space, etc.  

Ive ordered mine..

My wallet cries.. LOL

post #409 of 1931

Uh... as usual, the typical head-fi hype engine is starting to rev up for a device.  Let's be clear... this is an astounding device for $250.  I prefer it to the Centrance DacPort.  It is an upgrade from the headphone port on a MacBook Retina.  It is an amazing value for $250.

 

However, it is not perfect.  I loved it with Edition 8s but I'm not impressed with it and my JH16 Pros.  There is congestion with complex music that I didn't see with the DacPort or with the Predator (the two other USB DAC/amps I've owned).

 

Your mileage may vary.

post #410 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

I have an Audio-gd NFB-16 here, of which I like the sound slightly better (I listen to a lot of jazz and classical and am picky about how instrument sound), but it is, relative to the Dragonfly, a lot bigger and bulkier. Headphone drive isn't any better, however.

 

Edit: Just thought I'd plug a pair of FitEar 334s in briefly and the pairing seems to match up reasonably well, if they do bring out the background hiss and odd computer noise a bit.

 

 

The reason this kind of thing hasn't appeared before is, first of all, the chips being used are relatively recent designs, such as the Sabre DAC. The second reason is 4 layer circuit boards cost a fortune to prototype and produce. You might have missed Gordon Rankin talking about spending $100k of his own money do to this. Add to that he is taking a gamble on it actually selling in numbers. IIRC there are many places that will make circuit boards for you, but few that do 4 layer ones.

 

 

See above. Would probably cost too much in the way of outlay to try, though you never know, if it takes off, someone with deep pockets might try.

 

Amos, how are you enjoying the FitEar 334's? Any regret to not have custom monitors?

post #411 of 1931

I ended up returning the Audioquest Dragonfly.  While it was amazing with the Edition 8s, I couldn't understand the congestion I was noticing in more complex music (like the recent Hans Zimmer Dark Knight Rises soundtrack) with the JH16Pros.  I found the headphone out of the MacBook Pro to better at handling this.

 

The main purpose of the Dragonfly and the JH16Pro was to have an awesome portable rig but it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

post #412 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post

I ended up returning the Audioquest Dragonfly.  While it was amazing with the Edition 8s, I couldn't understand the congestion I was noticing in more complex music (like the recent Hans Zimmer Dark Knight Rises soundtrack) with the JH16Pros.  I found the headphone out of the MacBook Pro to better at handling this.

 

The main purpose of the Dragonfly and the JH16Pro was to have an awesome portable rig but it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

How many hours did you have on it?. Seems pretty much the opinion around here you need a couple hundred hours on the DF before you get its best performance. That was also the position the folks at Audioquest had as well. It won't be at its best right out of the box.

post #413 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by longbowbbs View Post

How many hours did you have on it?. Seems pretty much the opinion around here you need a couple hundred hours on the DF before you get its best performance. That was also the position the folks at Audioquest had as well. It won't be at its best right out of the box.

 

I'm >100 hours on my DF at this point, used it for the past couple weeks to drive everything with... mostly JVC S500 and GR07s, both new and using DF for listening and burn-in of those.

 

Using my EPH-100s as a reference the difference between plugging in straight to the MBA headphone out v/ the DF my criticism of this combo stands... it's bloaty/congested.  Not saying there haven't been any changes but they're subtle compared to the overarching mismatch going on here.  My opinion of the DF with the GR07 = fireworks, awesome sauce, and to a lesser extent the S500 (an improvement over the MBA's headphone out, but not quite to justify the price to drive those alone).  I also have some used FXD80s and am on the fence which way I prefer those as they can be slightly bloaty w/ the DF but it gives them a wonderful sense of dimension, they themselves could possible use more burn-in.  

post #414 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

 

I'm >100 hours on my DF at this point, used it for the past couple weeks to drive everything with... mostly JVC S500 and GR07s, both new and using DF for listening and burn-in of those.

 

Using my EPH-100s as a reference the difference between plugging in straight to the MBA headphone out v/ the DF my criticism of this combo stands... it's bloaty/congested.  Not saying there haven't been any changes but they're subtle compared to the overarching mismatch going on here.  My opinion of the DF with the GR07 = fireworks, awesome sauce, and to a lesser extent the S500 (an improvement over the MBA's headphone out, but not quite to justify the price to drive those alone).  I also have some used FXD80s and am on the fence which way I prefer those as they can be slightly bloaty w/ the DF but it gives them a wonderful sense of dimension, they themselves could possible use more burn-in.  

You certainly have to have a good match! The Senn's (HD650 and HD25's) both work very well with the DF.

post #415 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by longbowbbs View Post

You certainly have to have a good match! The Senn's (HD650 and HD25's) both work very well with the DF.

 

+1 on the HD25, but the DF can't seem to drive the HD600 beyond an extremely low volume.

post #416 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post

I ended up returning the Audioquest Dragonfly.  While it was amazing with the Edition 8s, I couldn't understand the congestion I was noticing in more complex music (like the recent Hans Zimmer Dark Knight Rises soundtrack) with the JH16Pros.

 

The congestion isn't because of the DF.  The congestion is because the album is sh1ttily mastered.  Lots of clipping/limiting.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/619575/dark-knight-fail-another-cd-mastered-with-excessive-gain

 

Same problem with the OSTs from the other two Nolan Batman movies, as well as Inception.  It's a bloody travesty.

post #417 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobJS View Post

 

+1 on the HD25, but the DF can't seem to drive the HD600 beyond an extremely low volume.

Funny, it has plenty for the 650's on my HP Elite PC.

post #418 of 1931
Seriously?! That sucks. It even says the whole soundtrack is "mastered for iTunes". Hate the movie... should have known nothing good could come from it. I'll just pretend Chris Nolan and Hans Zimmer had nothing to do with it.

Anyway, had about 150 to 200 hours on the Dragonfly. Saw similar issues when playing many tunes from my collection.
post #419 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

 

The congestion isn't because of the DF.  The congestion is because the album is sh1ttily mastered.  Lots of clipping/limiting.

 

Maybe in that case, but with my EPH-100s where I've listened to a variety of material it's consistent.  All I have to do is run it thru my O2 and that congestion and bloat vanishes (as much as it can for those).


Edited by bobeau - 8/18/12 at 3:46pm
post #420 of 1931
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobJS View Post

Any thoughts on the new Audio-gd NFB-11.32 which I saw on their site for $300.  Uses the Sabre chip.

 

I had the NFB-11. Once Kingwa nailed down the issues with the clock for the Sabre chip the sound was pretty good. The sound was a bit less mellow than his WM8741 offerings. Would be interesting to compare the sound to the Dragonfly.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by longbowbbs View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post

I ended up returning the Audioquest Dragonfly.  While it was amazing with the Edition 8s, I couldn't understand the congestion I was noticing in more complex music (like the recent Hans Zimmer Dark Knight Rises soundtrack) with the JH16Pros.  I found the headphone out of the MacBook Pro to better at handling this.

 

The main purpose of the Dragonfly and the JH16Pro was to have an awesome portable rig but it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

How many hours did you have on it?. Seems pretty much the opinion around here you need a couple hundred hours on the DF before you get its best performance. That was also the position the folks at Audioquest had as well. It won't be at its best right out of the box.

 

This is not a problem with "burn-in" but  the limitations of USB power. That's why you see portable amps loaded with capacitors, so they can store enough power in reserve for those big transients. Adding a regular headphone amp into the chain will rectify that.

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