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Cool stuff: Audioquest Dragonfly

by Michael Weare
13 June, 2013
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Audioquest Dragonfly

Cool Stuff

It’s ironic that with the development of audio streaming and the steady demise of the CD, while music availability has never been easier and more portable, for the first time in history, sound output has actually been degraded. That’s because we listen to a lot of music on MP3s, which are designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording and still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio to most people’s ears.

But the fact is, an MP3 has five times less musical data than a CD. In order to compress a music file, information is edited out. This data trimming compromises the quality of the audio, but it’s seldom an issue when using laptop Digital Audio Convertors (DAC) because they tend to sound rubbish no matter how good the source is. If you ever compare a FLAC file – full lossless sound, you can instantly hear what you are missing.

To compound the problem, if you listen to music on your computer, the chances are you are listening to your already sound compromised MP3 through a cheap soundcard with an even cheaper DAC. The DAC is needed to translate digital code into an analogue signal that you can physically hear through speakers or headphones.

So if your primary source of music enjoyment is a computer, it’s possible to bypass the cheap internal DAC with a portable, external DAC. You can pay thousands of dollars or pounds for a top quality DAC, but recently DACs have become smaller and easier to setup and use. And that’s where the DragonFly USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp from Audioquest comes in.

Audioquest Dragonfly DAC

Audioquest Dragonfly DAC

Audioquest’s Dragonfly is the same size as a USB drive and also happens to be one of the best portable DACs available.

The acid test for the Dragonfly is to listen your music with it plugged in for a month or two, then remove it and listen to your music as you do now. Suddenly the bass will be muddy, the treble tinny and piercing, and there will be distortion you possibly never noticed.

Dragonfly headphone jack

The small, portable Dragonfly USB style DAC improves audio quality, works with headphones, earphones and speakers and includes a headphones amp. At $250, it’s not cheap, but then how much were you happy to splash out on your multi-tiered audio equipment in the days of old?

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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