This little DAC's cute as a bug
AudioQuest's DragonFly DAC is so tiny you'll want to take it with you everywhere to enjoy superior sound quality from your computer. About the size of a typical USB flash drive, the DragonFly simply plugs into any open USB port on your PC or Mac®, installing itself automatically in just seconds. From there it takes over the audio processing function of your computer's sound card, replacing it with an audiophile-grade 24-bit ESS Sabre™ conversion chip — the kind often found in better CD and Blu-ray players — and turning your computer into a true high-fidelity music source. You'll instantly experience greater detail, clarity, and impact as the DragonFly transforms your digital files into warm, organic sound.
Asynchronous USB means better sound from your computer
The standard USB connections on most computers pose a serious limitation to sound quality. That's because while you're trying to listen to music, your PC is busy performing virus scans, data backup, and other background tasks that may take priority over your tunes, causing it to alter the data rate to suit its own needs. Unfortunately, this situation results in timing errors within the digital data stream — known as "jitter" — that adversely affects sound quality. Jitter can make your music sound harsh and edgy, and smear subtle details.
The DragonFly solves this problem by reaching out to your computer through the USB interface, and instructing it to relinquish control of the data stream timing. In its place, the DAC inserts its own separate, or asynchronous, clock to precisely control the timing of the data rate, reducing jitter to the vanishing point. And since not all audio content is encoded at the same sample rate, the DragonFly uses two discrete onboard clocks to optimize itself for different types of audio files or streams, for even greater timing precision You'll hear a stunning improvement in low-level ambient detail along with a wider, deeper soundstage.
Praise for the AudioQuest DragonFly from The Absolute Sound
"How can you not absolutely love an asynchronous USB DAC packed with audiophile-grade design elements in the form factor of a USB stick that costs $249? The variable output level allows you to drive headphones or a power amplifier directly from its 3.5mm stereo mini-jack output. Amazingly, the DragonFly features an ESS Sabre DAC, analog-domain volume adjustment, and separate clocks for different sampling frequencies for better sound. With a remarkably sophisticated and relaxed presentation, it excels at conveying dynamics and drive. A brilliant product."
— The Absolute Sound 2013 Editors' Choice Awards: DACs under $1000
Enjoy high-res USB audio
Along with all the sonic benefits the DragonFly provides for your compressed and CD-quality music files, it also decodes high-resolution data streams with up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality. If you download high-res music files from HDtracks and other audiophile sources, this DAC will ensure that you hear them in all their glory. The dragonfly-shaped logo on the DAC's exterior even lights up and changes color to verify the resolution of the incoming signal.
Connections and controls
Plug your headphones directly into the DragonFly's stereo mini audio output jack for high-energy private listening. You can also use an optional stereo mini-to-mini cable or mini-to-RCA adapter to feed a line-level signal to a pair of powered speakers, power amplifier, or receiver for more robust, room-filling sound. The mini-jack output can be set to either fixed or variable line-level out. And although it's digitally operated from your computer screen, AudioQuest gave the DragonFly a high-resolution analog volume control to avoid the reduction in resolution and sound quality that plagues many digital volume controls. Plus, the DAC's analog circuits are direct-coupled from the Sabre converter chip's output, avoiding the need for any sonically degrading components in the signal path.
All of these refinements add up to music with a natural solidity and clarity that sounds dramatically better than what you would hear from your computer on its own.