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Dragonfly COBALT vs.............Discussions

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by Condocondor, Jul 8, 2019.
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  1. Condocondor
    44014dc8-4dd4-4b66-a7dc-b790f1a09023.__CR0,0,300,300_PT0_SX300_V1___.jpg Ordered the Audioquest Dragonfly COBALT today. Will be comparing how it stacks up to my iFi Micro iDSD Black Label. Obviously, the iFi will trounce it but how will it stack up? I had the DFR and it was sort of sibilant with edgy treble. The COBALT will have the new ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a brand new controller chip that brings spaciousness, smoothness, and better dynamics over the DFR. Stay tuned for my review. We'll see how it pushes the HiFiMan Edition XX with a sensitivity of 93dB/mw. The below link gives all the juicy details of the new COBALT:


    About the ES9038Q2M SABRE DAC

    The ES9038Q2M is a mobile version of the ES9038PRO, the PRO version is currently the benchmark in audio performance, and is the favored part in the audiophile community.
    The ES9038Q2M SABRE DAC is a high-performance 32-bit digital to analog converter and uses the new patented 32-bit HyperStream II architecture previously only available in the PRO series of DACs. HyperStream II allows for the incredibly low noise that remains stable over all input levels, avoiding the noise modulation that can become perceptible in competing solutions. It also delivers a dynamic range (DNR) of up to 129dB and total harmonic distortion plus noise of -120dB (THD+N) – a performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  2. Wheel Hoss
    Was about to buy a Red. Finally I have good timing!

    Thing is smaller, better sound, and basically has a Jitterbug built-in.

    Check, please.
    rezakhalvati and Condocondor like this.
  3. Condocondor
    John Darko Video Review of the COBALT Below:

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    volly likes this.
  4. artpiggo
    No DSD and PCM limited to 24/96 ruins this tiny dongle.
  5. lesanderson
    Both are niche limitations that the real world doesn't care about. audioquest is building these for scale, and that scale allows better components at lower pricing which produces better sound for 99.8% of listeners.
    SLC1966, rezakhalvati, kaufex and 3 others like this.
  6. Ultrainferno
    volly, megabigeye and Condocondor like this.
  7. billbishere
    Same Power as Red - Same OMP as Red
    DAC chip is nothing special
    cost +100 over the red over a different DAC chip

    Sotiris, robo24 and Condocondor like this.
  8. megabigeye
    I hear the Cobalt was lapped at the Nurburgring by a '92 Camry. :confounded:

    I hear AudioQuest launched it into low orbit but it exploded on re-entry, killing everybody on board. :sob:

    I hear neither the DFC nor Gordon Rankin has convinced anybody that Roger Penrose's ideas about the brain and consciousness are right. :older_man:

    HARD PASS!!1!

    Seriously though, I'm looking forward to reading more impressions from people that have actually heard it. My DFR recently stopped working and the DFC's reduced battery draw is... a... uh... draw. I never found the DFR's sound to be lacking (except with higher impedance cans), so I'm curious how much better the new one could be (especially with regards to higher impedance cans). I do kind of wish they'd found a creative solution to the ergonomics, though.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    Condocondor likes this.
  9. joesuburb
    I have some very high end headphones that are easy to drive. I love the Red and wont go to a Mojo because of the form factor. Will I hear a significant improvement with the Cobalt? Hate to spend the money if my normal ears wont really hear an improvement.
    Condocondor likes this.
  10. billbishere
    I would say no considering the power output is the same and the only significant change is the DAC chip. Even then that DAC chip is only a incremental upgrade from ESS as the red using a ESS chip one revision prior.

    At this point speculation based off of the hardware is about the only answer to that question to people can start doing some side by side testing with the Red, Cobalt and even Black. I am curious to know what the perception is between the red and cobalt, that is once it's gets past the first couple days of hype train! Right now ya got all the die hard AQ people out talking about voodoo.... lol I got jumped on instagram for pointing on the internals.

    or and I got corrected on insta - it also has a new "shell".... lol
    DancingBlue likes this.
  11. megabigeye
    Hey @Ultrainferno,
    Thanks for the early impressions!
    I've got some questions, if you can answer 'em.

    I'm wondering what effect the 33% faster processing rate has on listening / general use? ...If you know, of course.
    What about battery draw? Did you notice any difference between the DFC and DFR? (I'd love it if you could include that in your final review!) To me this is one of the main assets over the DFR. With my old phones I'd only see a few extra percentage points off the battery, with my S9 it's almost unacceptably high.
    Or the power source's noise rejection?
    Have you (or will you) try it with higher impedance or harder to drive cans?

    @joesuburb, check out Ultrainferno's impressions linked above, specifically page 2 has sound impressions. My guess based on his mini-review (and Darko's video) is that you would hear a difference. Whether or not that's worth the extra $100 is up to you, of course.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    Condocondor likes this.
  12. megabigeye
    Anybody else with more impressions? There's one user in the Black and Red thread who seems kinda underwhelmed by the Cobalt, so I'm wondering if anybody else has a take?
  13. dbdynsty25
    I’ve been using the DFB for about a year now and I just got my Cobalt today...the main reason was because I have some fairly hard to drive IEMs (Final Audio E5000) and I have another set on the way (TINHIFI P1) so I need a bit more overhead w my portable setup (Pixel 3). At first listen, the only things I could really determine is that there is a bit less sub bass and the highs are a lot crisper (less fatiguing). You can definitely tell the different in output power, so my initial goal was solved. Was it solved 100 bucks better than the DFR, I doubt it, but I’m happy at this point. The form factor is nicer and the official dragon tail is better than the regular usb > usb C cable I was using (fits better, higher quality).
    thecrow and megabigeye like this.
  14. The Socialist Nerd
    Looks interesting but will be waiting on this...
  15. Haden2866
    I cam across an interesting comment from John Darko on his YouTube review. People were asking whether adding an AQ Jitterbug would further improve the performance of the Dragonfly Cobalt. JD said that he had been told directly by AQ that a Jitterbug should not be used with DF Cobalt, despite what it says on the packaging (which I haven't seen; presumably there's some mention of it). Make of that what you will. At least one UK retailer is actively promoting Jitterbug as an add-on.
    megabigeye likes this.
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