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Dragonfly DAC and Shure 535

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 



I just recently bought a new laptop mostly so I can work in coffee shops and such as I am a freelance translator.

It is an Asus laptop that comes with a little subwoofer. Anyway the noise that comes out the headphone jack on the laptop is insane, so I did some research and bought the Dragonfly, which I just received a few hours ago.


For my desktop, I have the Emu 0404USB, which I listen to through my media room setup and also the Shure 535.


To be honest, I am very disappointed. There is still quite a lot of noise, though certainly a significant improvement over the headphone jack on the laptop. It also sounds kind of thin. Spotify sounds like absolute crap, though it sounds pretty good through the Emu whether on my Shure's or the media room setup. Listening to FLAC files through JRiver sounds pretty good, but I had to really change DSP settings from what I normally have set for these Shure's. It is just way to bright with way too much treble output with little bass output coming out of this Dragonfly.


Maybe this needs breakin?  Even if it does, I am mostly disappointed with the noise as that is the main reason that motivated me to look for a solution/replacement to the standard headphone jack.

There is absolutely zero noise from the Emu. It is much more quite to just put in the headphones and not play anything than to just sit in a room with all the ambient noise in the room.


I ordered from Amazon, and I did notice that the package had already been opened on both sides. I doubt that makes a difference, but it was apparently returned before.


Can someone confirm whether this needs breakin or not?


Although I doubt I will keep it due to the noise, so more importantly, is there anything else I can get that would have better noise performance, i.e. more quiet before playing anything?

Am I spoiled from the Emu?  I am pretty sure I only paid 200 for that little sucker, which I originally bought for making music, not listening to it necessarily.

post #2 of 17
Have you tried the EMU with your laptop, and your Dragonfly with your desktop, so you can isolate whether or not it's the laptop that is the problem or the Dragonfly?
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 


Yes, I just tried using the Dragonfly on the desktop using a couple different USB ports. The initial hiss is the same.

I am however starting to warm up to the sound signature. There is a lot of detail and I think the excellent timing is contributing to the best separation I have ever heard. I listen to a lot of glitch, beatcore, or any electronic music with a lot of stutter/delay effects, and they have never sounded better.

It does concern me that I have to keep levels so low for everything 3K and up, even lower than I normally do. I listened to Peter Gabriel's So in FLAC, and the sibilance from the letter S was so bad, I added a parametric filter at 9000 and -4 DB on top of the having everything set low with the graphic EQ.


Hans Zimmer's Inception and Last Samurai sound really nice too.


However, it seems to be adding some kind of distortion dirt to bass, especially on the attacks from kick drums. This is whether I have EQ on of off, though it is certainly covered up a bit more by everything else with the EQ off.


Anyway, again the main reason I bought this was to simply have a clean headphone jack. But I am starting to like the sound signature, so can anybody give some recommendations?

Would the 1.2 be any better for the initial hiss?


Please suggest any and all other products or solutions.


PS. I did not try hooking up the Emu to the laptop. I have had that for many years and used on many different PCs and laptops. Plus it is a real pain in the ass to get working on Windows 7 or 8.

Anyway, the hiss on the Dragonfly is still the same on the desktop.

post #4 of 17
Originally Posted by nipponbiki View Post

Yes, I just tried using the Dragonfly on the desktop using a couple different USB ports. The initial hiss is the same.

That's too bad.

My guess is that's the Shure 535. They have a very extremely high sensitivity of 119db. I know that's problematic for some headphones amps.

Have you consulted the Dragonfly discussion thread? Perhaps others have already talked about how it responds with extremely sensitive headphones.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 


post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yes, I am interested in hearing about better DAC/AMPs, but they still need to be portable. Doesn't need to be as small as the Dragonfly though.

I will start to check out the two you just mentioned.

post #7 of 17
Did you discover from the Dragonfly thread if the Shure 535s are the problem?
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I looked through there. I am definitely not the only one complaining about hiss and the 'prickly' feeling which I described as that the DF seems to add just a bit of noise or distortion.

I have another pair of cheap audio technica's that are in-ear as well. Don't know the name, just bought them for 25 or so in Japan a few months ago.


The hiss is almost inaudible on those, but I can still tell it is there.


Having said that, I have been enjoying the DF through the laptop out to these cheap Audio Technica's.  Through Spotify, I have the third-party EQ plugin, and I have to crank the bass up to +4 for 60Hz and +3 for 170, but I quite like it this way. This is the first time I have ever gotten satisfaction from bass the way I want it without distortion.  The DF does seem to have this 'prickly' effect to everything except classical music without much brass or something similar.


This particularly stands out in electronic music that was either not recorded well or uses a lot of digital distortion effects to make 'fat' sounds (which is pretty much all electronic music). Sometimes this adds to the experience, sometimes is makes some old favorites not much fun to listen to.


I was doing some more research, and I was wondering about the Meridian Explorer or possibly the Schiit M/M stack.  I think the Schiit M/M should still be portable enough for what I need. Basically, I just want to set up my portable office in a coffee shop and work a half-day or so. I have to go to a place and sit where there is an outlet for the laptop anyway if I want to work more than 3 hours, so the Schiit needing its own AC shouldn't be a problem.


Can anyone tell me if either the Meridian or the Schiit stack would be better than the AF?   My only nice headphone is the Shure 535, but I do want to get some kind of over the ear phone in the near future, though I haven't even started to get into the research for that yet.

post #9 of 17
Originally Posted by nipponbiki View Post

Yeah, I looked through there. I am definitely not the only one complaining about hiss and the 'prickly' feeling which I described as that the DF seems to add just a bit of noise or distortion.

I was wondering if it was the Shure 535s that was the problem. It's not the first time I've heard of them having problems with audible hiss. You could run headphones with 100 db sensitivity on that Dragonfly, and then you've lowered that noise floor by 20db, which could make the hiss inaudible.

I have the Schiit Asgard 2, not the Magni. Sounds great, but I've never tried it with ultra high sensitivity headphones. So I don't know what it would be like.

If you want transportable, look into the ODAC and O2. Not great for pocket portability (little too large), but would work for what you describe with your laptop.
Edited by cel4145 - 2/19/14 at 1:58pm
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
So,I think I've narrowed it down to o2 odac our idac. Anyone have any comments regarding those two?
post #11 of 17
I own the ODAC and have owned the O2. Good stuff smily_headphones1.gif

Meanwhile, I'm biased against anything that adds "i" in front of its name following on the iPad/iPhone band wagon. LOL
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am too to be honest. As soon as I saw the name, I thought this company doesn't take their business seriously.  But doing some research, their products seems to be real gold for the price points. Quite a few reviewers say they blow away the O2 and ODAC.

post #13 of 17

I have the Shure 425's and seeing this I plugged in my dragonfly and tried them through it again. I usually use my Schiit Modi through my speakers on my desktop and the DF travels. I hear no hiss from my 425's with the DF even running it fairly loud. So I am leading more towards there might be an issue with the DF if the 535's don't hiss from other amps as if it is a sensitivity issue they would do it with other amps.  Other portables to look into might be the Audio Engine D3 that just came out or the Meridian Explorer, both are similar size as the DF and from what I have seen they review well but haven't seen any comparisons with the DF.

post #14 of 17
The Shure 425s are 109db sensitivity with a 22 ohm impedance vs 119db and 36 ohm. You are trying to compare your experience with apples to oranges.
post #15 of 17
OK couldn't remember if the specs were close or not.

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