AudioQuest DragonFly Red

General Information

The size and shape of a USB thumb-drive, DragonFly Red is a digital-to-analog converter with a USB plug at one end and a 3.5mm mini-jack at the opposite end. Compatible with Apple OS X and Windows (7, 8.1, 10) PCs, DragonFly Red can be plugged into a USB port to bypass the host computer's compromised audio circuitry and deliver cleaner, clearer, more naturally beautiful sound to headphones, powered speakers, or complete audio systems. Thanks to its low-noise, high-efficiency Microchip microcontroller, DragonFly Red draws extremely low power from the host, enabling seamless compatibility with Apple iOS and Android mobile devices. DragonFly Red requires no additional drivers and plays all digital files-from MP3 to high-res (with native resolutions up to 24 bits and 96kHz). It features StreamlengthTM asynchronous USB code, which ensures low jitter, low resource load, minimal packet errors, world-class audio playback, and reliable connectivity between DragonFly and any computing device compliant with USB Host Mode. DragonFly Red's 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC chip uses a sophisticated minimum-phase digital filter to provide more naturally detailed and dynamic music, while the bit-perfect digital volume control enables maximum resolution regardless of volume setting: With DragonFly Red connected to a PC or mobile device, adjusting the host's volume control will adjust DF Red's onboard volume. With an output of 2.1 volts, DragonFly Red delivers enough power to successfully drive all preamplifier, integrated amplifier, or receiver inputs, as well as a wide range of today's headphones, including power-hungry models. AudioQuest's free Desktop Device Manager application allows for software upgrades to meet future technological advancements. With DragonFly Red, music lovers can enjoy an emotionally compelling listening experience, at home or on the go, with the computer or mobile device of their choice.
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Latest reviews

Pros: - could be a solution to tame overly bright headphones
- small, plugs directly to USB port so if you want to avoid cable mess then it's a pro
- good value
Cons: - no big deal but you can't turn off the LED or I missed it
M50x sounded harsh, overly bright depending on the recording so instead getting rid of the M50x which is otherwise okay all arounder from games to music I thought that maybe getting rid of the E10k will solve the issue. And it did,DragonFly Red tamed the treble quite well and mostly removed the harshness from cymbals, piano. Now it's not fatiguing as it was with the E10k however the E10k had more bass but I rather give up a little bit bass than listen the too metallic cymbals, also instrument separation is better with the DragonFly Red and the overall sound is more balanced and now just bright not ear piercing bright. I don't think that the M50x can sound any better than this, more or less that's it. So I think that the DragonFly Red+M50x combo is good enough setup. However it has too much power for the M50x, it's not that quiet with the Windows System volume at just 1, 3 is comfortable listening volume and 4 is loudish and anything above volume 5 and it's very loud. You can look at this positively, probably it can drive most headphones.
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hgpardo
hgpardo
Same here with Audio Technica MSR7. DF Red tames the highs and improves bass and mids. Same for hybrid IEMs like FLC 8n or Jays q-jays or iBasso IT01.
This little DAC produces better sound quality than products costing two to three times as much. Its almost like having a desktop audio system shrunk down to a tiny Gizmo that fits in your pocket.

The best part of this product is the DAC, not the amp, so it sounds even better if you pair it with a good dedicated headphone amp... Especially if your headphones are hard to drive. The Dragonfly Red is capable of driving up to 300 ohm headphones, but not necessarily as well as a dedicated headphone amp would.
Pros: Sound Quality, Portability, Appearance
Cons: None
I love this little thing I really do. I bought it for myself as a present for a professional milestone. I can't tell you that it is worth almost 200 bucks, that's your call, but I don't regret the purchase.
 
Pros:
 
Sound Quality- Versus my work PC headphone output it's night and day, no more noise, anemic bass, and almost mono soundstage. Versus MacBook Pro headphone Out definite improvement especially in bass and separation. Versus iPhone 6s headphone out a subtle improvement, slightly fuller and more defined bass, better guitar separation.
 
Portability- Some could argue that a high quality PC sound card would have improved my PC sound cheaper. Fair enough but I certainly couldn't have easily unplugged that sound card and used it on the MacBook Pro or the iPhone 6s. I have no problem folding over the Dragonfly and required Lightning to USB connector into my pocket.
 
Appearance- This thing looks the business nice shiny red with a not subtle glowing dragonfly.
 
Cons: 
 
Really none. Shy of a bit of heating up (less than the iPhone itself) this thing does not disappoint.
 
Comparison:
 
The only other dedicated DAC I have is my RME FireFace audio interface. Compared to that the Dragonfly it isn't really in the same league. The RME sounds like I'm sitting in the studio with the band. But I can't pack a full rack space device in my pocket. 
 
A little about my setup:
 
My primary listening is lossless files on my iPhone 6s >> Apple Lightning to USB 3 camera connector >> Audioquest Dragonfly Red >> Sennheiser HD380 Pro (with a swapped out cable)
 
The Apple Lightning to USB 3 is a must have for me. It allows for the charging of the phone while listening. It is slightly wider than the standard connector but that doesn't really matter to me because the phone is still twice as wide as the connector. Being able to charge is a must for travel in my book. 
 
A little about my musical tastes:
 
I tend to listen loud. I listen to mostly alternative rock and mostly hard guitar centric stuff but not metal, think 311, Smiths or Less Than Jake. I also listen to some more synth oriented stuff; Depeche Mode, NIN, Prodigy. Occasional hip hop mostly Tribe Called Quest.

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