USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp: The AudioQuest DragonFly (v1.2)
is a USB digital-to-analog converter that delivers far superior sound by
bypassing the poor quality sound card that is built into most computers.
DragonFly (v1.2) is a sleek, flash-drive sized DAC that connects to a USB (type-A) jack
on a Mac computer or Windows PC, turning any computer into a true high-fidelity
music source. Its 3.5mm port is designed specifically to connect to an external
audio system such as headphones, powered desktop speakers, or your audio/video
Note: DragonFly (v1.2) is compatible with Mac OS X Mountain Lion,
Lion, & Snow Leopard. DragonFly (v1.2) is also compatible with Windows 8, 7, and
XP. Currently, DragonFly (v1.2) is incompatible with Windows Vista and RT (as of
Version 2.0 Improvements: Among the improvements to the DragonFly
(v1.2), is the circuitry between the DAC
chip and the analog output stage has been refined to create a more direct signal
path, leading to even greater transparency and clarity. Also, the DAC's power
supply has been fortified, which gives the sound greater dynamic contrast.
24-Bit ESS Sabre DAC: At the heart of DragonFly (v1.2) is a 24-bit
ESS Sabre DAC chip, a high-performance solution that's typically found in
higher-end CD and Blu-ray players. DragonFly (v1.2) can accept audio and music files
ranging from MP3s (128/256/320kbps) and CD-standard 16-bit/44kHz to native
24-bit/96kHz high-resolution, regardless of music file format. DragonFly (v1.2) will
accept almost any audio you want to play on your computer and make it sound
dramatically better, whether your listening pleasure is iTunes or streaming
music services such as Mog, Spotify, or Pandora.
Asynchronous USB: Timing errors such as "jitter" have long
been the plague of digital audio playback; never more so than in recent years as
computers have been pressed into service as audio source components. DragonFly (v1.2)
uses a very sophisticated "asynchronous" USB audio data transfer protocol.
Rather than sharing crucial audio "data clocking" functions with the computer,
DragonFly (v1.2) alone commands the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically
reducing digital timing errors.
Two Clocks: Not all audio content is encoded at the same
native resolution or "sample rate". DragonFly (v1.2) uses two discrete onboard "clocks"
so that the math algorithms used to convert the digital audio data to analog are
always optimized for the native sample rate (up to 24-bit/96kHz) of the audio
file or stream being played. This ensures the least amount of mathematical
manipulation to the native audio data, which results in fewer errors and better
Compatible Sampling Frequencies: DragonFly (v1.2) will play music
or audio data at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, or 96kHz. However, for the best sonic
results the computer should be configured so that it sends music and audio data
to DragonFly (v1.2) that matches the "native rate" of the music. For example, since all
CDs and music files purchased from iTunes are at a 44.1kHz sample rate, for many
people 44.1kHz will be the best sample rate since this is the "native rate" of
most digital music. Choosing a higher sample rate will convert your native music
and audio data using mathematical approximations that can potentially decrease
the sound quality. Conversely, if you have purchased high-resolution music files
(96kHz), such as those available from HDtracks.com, configuring your computer
for 44.1kHz (or any other lower sample rate) will cause the computer to
down-sample your music to a lower resolution. When possible, always configure
the computer to output the native sample rate of the music you are listening to.
Note: If you have purchased a file that has a higher sample
rate than 96kHz you need to configure your computer to send DragonFly (v1.2) audio
data at a resolution no greater than 96kHz, and for the best performance the
sample rate you choose should be exactly half the sample rate of the file
you're playing. For example; if you purchased a 24-bit/176.4kHz file,
88.2kHz should be selected, whereas if you purchased a 24/192kHz file, 96kHz
should be selected. Directly divisible sample rates prevent the computer
from doing sonically degrading, complex math in its conversions and allows
DragonFly (v1.2) to sound its best.
High-Resolution Analog Volume Control: DragonFly (v1.2)'s
high-resolution analog volume control carries out the instructions in the analog
domain for the best sound quality. When the music player's (Windows
Media/iTunes/etc.) volume is set to maximum and the computer's main volume
control is used, DragonFly (v1.2)'s onboard 64-position analog-domain volume control is
able to preserve full resolution and maximum sound quality.
Direct Coupled Analog Circuits: DragonFly (v1.2)'s analog circuits
are direct-coupled from the ESS converter chip's output, avoiding the need for
any extraneous, sonically degrading components in the signal path.
3.5mm Output: DragonFly (v1.2)'s 3.5mm minijack connector can drive
a variety of devices or systems depending on how it's connected and used.
- Headphone Out: DragonFly (v1.2) is versatile enough to drive
virtually any headphone on the market today. DragonFly (v1.2) can drive any
headphone from 10-ohm impedance on up. DragonFly (v1.2) has enough output to drive
even the lowest efficiency headphones.
- Variable Out: DragonFly (v1.2) can be used in "variable"
output mode with computer-controlled analog volume control when connected
directly to powered speakers or a power amplifier.
- Fixed Out: Connecting to a traditional preamplifier or
AV receiver, DragonFly (v1.2) can be set to a "fixed" output mode by turning the
volume to maximum, allowing it to behave like a CD or Blu-ray player.
LED Indicator: A smart LED indicator behind the DragonFly (v1.2)
icon shows the resolution of the incoming signal - 44.1kHz (green), 48kHz
(blue), 88.2kHz (amber), and 96kHz (magenta). Red indicates standby mode.