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The DragonFly Red from AudioQuest is a flash drive-sized Digital Audio Converter (DAC), preamplifier, and headphone amplifier that connects to a USB port. It features a 32-bit ESS Sabre conversion chip that bypasses the device's sound card to deliver higher quality sound from your Mac, Windows, iOS, or Android device (use with mobile device requires optional adapters). Compared to earlier models, the Red version has the most improved circuitry between the DAC chip and analog output, as well as a fortified power supply. Its 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo output can connect a set of headphones or allow patching into a larger audio system.
The DragonFly Red can accept audio files ranging from MP3s and CD-standard 16-bit/44.1kHz L-PCMs to higher resolution 24-bit / 96 kHz formats. Using USB protocol, DragonFly commands the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically reducing errors. DragonFly Red employs a unique clock system called a Hybrid-PLL. While not discrete, the Hybrid-PLL performs equal to, or better than, many discrete clock systems. A smart LED indicator on the DragonFly shows the sample rate and status of the incoming signal. Additionally, DragonFly's analog circuits are direct-coupled from the ESS converter chip's output, avoiding the need for any extraneous components in the signal path.
2.1 Volt Output
Direct-Coupled, High Output: With a combination of power, beauty, and finesse, DF Red delivers greater overall impact, momentum, and grip than either DF 1.2 or DF Black, while also surpassing their excellent senses of touch, texture, and nuance. In addition, Red's high (2.1v) output means that it can easily drive the widest range of headphones. When used as a line-level device (volume set to 100%), DF Red's 2.1 volts provide enough power to drive all preamplifier, integrated amplifier, or receiver inputs
The Microchip PIC32MX (USB 2.0 compliant) is a full-speed isochronous USB audio solution. Compared to other controllers, the Microchip microcontroller offers extremely low power consumption (77% lower than the TAS1020b and 95% lower than the most efficient XMOS solution), 32-bit architecture, and the option for software upgradability (via a desktop application provided by AudioQuest). In addition, the Microchip's ultra-low-noise power supply minimizes the sound-degrading effect of high-frequency interference on the critical audio signal
ESS 9016 32-Bit
Like the ESS 9010, the 32-bit ESS 9016 uses a sophisticated minimum-phase digital filter to provide more naturally detailed and dynamic music, but surpasses the 9010 in overall performance
Digital: 64-Bit Bit-Perfect Volume Control
DragonFly Red employs a 64-bit, bit-perfect digital volume control that resides inside the DAC chip itself – an elegant and sophisticated implementation that ensures maximum fidelity, dynamic contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio. With DragonFly Red connected to a PC or mobile device, adjusting the host's system volume control will, through proxy, control the DragonFly Red's on-board volume
Asynchronous USB Streamlength
Streamlength asynchronous USB code ensures low jitter, low resource load, minimal packet errors, world-class audio playback, and reliable connectivity between our DAC and any computing device compliant with USB Host Mode (as set forth by the USB Organization). Streamlength requires no additional drivers, making DragonFly Red virtually plug-and-play for Apple, Windows, iOS, and Android users (use with mobile devices requires optional adapters)
DragonFly Red’s LED lights up in different colors to indicate status or sample rate:
Green: 44.1 kHz
Blue: 48.0 kHz
Amber: 88.2 kHz
Magenta: 96.0 kHz
In the Box
AudioQuest DragonFly Red - USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp