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Audioquest DragonFly Black or Red?

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  • Audioquest DragonFly Black or Red?

    When the original DragonFly was introduced in 2012 it received huge praise from the audio press and received many awards. Since then they introduced two upgraded versions called the DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red. On Amazon Canada they retail for CAD$129.95 and CAD$249.95 respectively. Note: The original DragonFly is now discontinued.

    There are three major differences between the Black and the Red,which are: Output, DAC Chip and Volume Control. See here.

    Output: I like the higher output of the RED at 2.1 as I have the ability to choose from a larger selection of headphones.
    DAC Chip: I'm technically challenged, so I'll assume the RED has a better one.
    Volume Control: The Black is analog and the RED is Digital. Is one better than the other?

    I'm interested in improving the sound of my FLAC files through my DELL Inspiron17 5000 laptop using headphones (more on that later), but I have very limited space. Since the DragonFly is the same size as a standard USB stick it would solve that space limitation for me. All I need to do now is decide on which of the two I want to purchase. My gut tells me to go for the RED as it's also compatible with mobile devices (through use of an adapter called the DragonTail). Truth be told.....I don't yet have any music on my cellphone, but if the DragonFly is something I would really enjoy then that might be a possibility down the road.

    Here's a YouTube comparison review that I just lucked onto:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmnmADR4P9Y

    I think I have just convinced myself that the DragonFly RED is the one I should go for. I'd still like to hear the opinion of those who have experience with either unit.

    Thanks,

    Johnny


    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

  • #2
    My friend uses the red as his DAC for streaming all his Hi Rez files from his phone into his full blown active crossover car system. The car is tuned to the drivers and is impressive for car audio setup.The video link was excellent in defining what each of the dacs bring to the table. In the end our budget is usually the determining factor. Reading your personnel post I think that the red is most deserved. :-))

    Comment


    • Johnny Vinyl
      Johnny Vinyl commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks chris! I've got about +/- CAD$500 to spend on the RED and some headphones. I had a pair of Shure SR840's that I sold a few years ago as I wasn't really using them. Wish I hadn't now. Oh well.

  • #3
    Just saw an ad on CAM that was posted a few days ago for a DragonFly Red. He wants CAD$170 and it includes all of the original packaging. I contacted him....crosses fingers.
    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

    Comment


    • #4
      Red
      Dave Clark
      Editor and Publisher, Positive Feedback
      www.positive-feedback.com

      Comment


      • #5
        If you have $500 total to spend, then the Black gives you $120 more to spend on the headphones. I have a Black that I use exclusively with a notebook to stream Tidal. It does a great job all of my (admittedly low cost) headphones (20 year old Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 600 ohm, Meze 99 Classic, Meze 99 Neo, and 1more Triple Driver IEM) . I also have an Audioengine D3 and an original Dragonfly.

        I was never terribly impressed with the Dragonfly playing into my system, but as a headphone DAC/amp from my notebook I really enjoyed it. The D3 was an improvement in all regards, especially with my Beyers.

        When streaming Tidal the Black beats them all on Master releases, as it is MQA compatible. On regular Tidal HiFi I still prefer the D3.

        With all of them, I miss the crossfeed from my old Headroom Total Bithead. None of the software based crossfeeds I've tried work as well.

        However, I've not tried the Red, and everyone I've talked to that has one feels it is a substantial improvement over the Black. And yes, iPhone compatibility is a huge plus.

        So, it seems most of what I contributed here is meaningless, and the Red would be the way to go!
        Steve Lefkowicz
        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
        --------------------------------------------------------
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

        Comment


        • #6
          An even cheaper option would be an XtremPro X1, which is normally available on Amazon for between $30 and $40. I haven't listened to it but if you search on the web you'll find people comparing it to the Black and saying that the XtremPro is quite a bit better. I think spending more on headphones and less on the DAC is the way I'd go.
          ---Gary
          Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
          Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
          Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
          Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
          Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
          Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, TEAC VRDS-T1 (modfied with G+D clock and driver)
          Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

          Comment


          • #7
            I think that Steve L must be inspiring me to post about good but inexpensive audio components. Plus I felt bad about recommending a component that I hadn't listened to myself. A place that I have bought inexpensive DACs from is HiFimeDIY, an online retailer out of China. For the last couple of years I've been listening to a small ES9023 DAC from them as my background music at work. It's plugged into a Dell laptop and used with various IEMs. It's similar to this one https://hifimediy.com/DACs/ready-mad...abre-dac-uae23 .
            On paper the slightly more expensive one using the ES9018 chip sounds like it should easily give the Red a run for its money, but I've not listened to that one. This is the one that caught my eye https://hifimediy.com/DACs/ready-mad...Sabre-9018-DAC . Since most of their DACs are under $100, it's not too hard to experiment. You'll find that there are a lot of good DACs around these days for not too much money. The trick is finding the good ones. These folks have a good reputation.
            ---Gary
            Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
            Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
            Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
            Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
            Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
            Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, TEAC VRDS-T1 (modfied with G+D clock and driver)
            Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by GaryB View Post
              I think that Steve L must be inspiring me to post about good but inexpensive audio components. Plus I felt bad about recommending a component that I hadn't listened to myself. A place that I have bought inexpensive DACs from is HiFimeDIY, an online retailer out of China. For the last couple of years I've been listening to a small ES9023 DAC from them as my background music at work. It's plugged into a Dell laptop and used with various IEMs. It's similar to this one https://hifimediy.com/DACs/ready-mad...abre-dac-uae23 .
              On paper the slightly more expensive one using the ES9018 chip sounds like it should easily give the Red a run for its money, but I've not listened to that one. This is the one that caught my eye https://hifimediy.com/DACs/ready-mad...Sabre-9018-DAC . Since most of their DACs are under $100, it's not too hard to experiment. You'll find that there are a lot of good DACs around these days for not too much money. The trick is finding the good ones. These folks have a good reputation.
              ---Gary
              That looks like something that would do the trick for a lot less money than the DragonFly RED. With shipping and dollar conversion it would be around CAD$100...a huge savings for sure. If I paired this with something like the Audio Technica ATX-M40 over ear Headphones at CAD$150 I could do both for the price of the DragonFly RED.

              I do need to think it through though as I prefer buying brand name and I love that small USB stick format of the DragonFly RED.
              Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

              Comment

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