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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Plug-in USB DAC/headphone amplifier, compatible with Apple® and Android™ mobile devices

33 Reviews | 8 questions - 25 answers

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Overview

Our take on the AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

From the get go, all of us here at Crutchfield were instant fans of the AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC, and the way it improved the sound of our computer music. But a lot of us wished it could work with our smartphones and tablets, too. Well, we got our wish. The DragonFly Black now delivers that same clear, dynamic sound with Apple or Android mobile devices. The design gurus at AudioQuest not only gave the Black a far more energy-efficient design — ideal for portable use — but they even managed to enhance its performance.

DragonFly Black plugged into a smartphone

The DragonFly Black's low power consumption makes it a perfect companion for your smartphone or tablet.

Upgrade your music on the go

From the get go, all of us here at Crutchfield were instant fans of the AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC, and the way it improved the sound of our computer music. But a lot of us wished it could work with our smartphones and tablets, too. Well, we got our wish. The DragonFly Black now delivers that same clear, dynamic sound with Apple or Android mobile devices. The design gurus at AudioQuest not only gave the Black a far more energy-efficient design — ideal for portable use — but they even managed to enhance its performance.

Low power consumption and better sound

The first thing that AudioQuest did was to give the Black a new high-performance USB microcontroller with greatly reduced power consumption (77% less, to be exact) for true compatibility with mobile devices. The new chip also provides an improved signal-to-noise ratio for quieter operation and cleaner sound. Plus, it enables future software upgrades through AudioQuest's free desktop application. 

AudioQuest also replaced the DragonFly's original DAC chip with an improved 32-bit ESS Sabre 9010 processor. This high-performance DAC features minimum-phase filtering for exceptionally detailed, dynamic, and natural sound.

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 they sound terrific. 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

The Dragonfly Black delivers enough power to easily drive earbuds and efficient portable headphones, as well as the preamp inputs of a receiver or powered speakers. And although it's operated digitally from your computer screen or mobile device's interface, the DragonFly's precise, 64-step analog volume control avoids any reduction in resolution or sound quality that can plague many digital volume 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. 

Traveling with your laptop and DragonFly?

If you plan on taking your laptop and DragonFly with you (it is highly portable, after all), you'll want to play it safe. AudioQuest's flexible DragonTail USB extender provides strain relief that can protect your computer's USB port if someone bumps into your laptop on a plane or in the coffee shop. The DragonTail also helps take some of the strain off that port when you're plugging in headphones with a heavy cable.

Product Highlights:

  • compatible with Windows® and Mac® computers
  • compatible with iPhone® and iPad®
  • compatible with some Android™ devices
  • 32-bit ESS Sabre™ 9010 digital-to-analog conversion chip with minimum phase filter for detailed, dynamic, and natural sounding music
  • offers rendering for MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files with firmware update
  • high-efficiency microcontroller for extremely low power draw
  • powered by USB connection — no need for external power supply
  • asynchronous USB data transfer using Wavelength Audio, ltd.'s Streamlength® protocol for reduced timing jitter and better sound
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack provides:
    • headphone output (minimum recommended headphone impedance 12 ohms and higher)
    • variable line-level output for driving powered speakers or power amp
    • fixed line-level output for connecting to a preamp or receiver
  • 64-position analog volume control (digitally controlled using your computer or mobile device)
  • supported sample rates: PCM up to 96kHz native resolution
    • sample rates above 96kHz will play but are down-converted by your computer or mobile device's playback software
  • incoming sample rate LED indicator for 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz sampling rates
  • input bit depth: 16 bits, 24 bits
  • output voltage: 1.2 Vrms
  • durable metal construction with rubberized coating
  • no cables included
  • supported operating systems:
    • Windows® 7, 8.1, and 10
    • Apple OS X® (version 10.6.8 or later)
    • Apple iOS® (5 and newer)
    • Android™ Lollipop OS (and some devices running KitKat OS)
  • 3/4"W x 1/2"H x 2-3/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • USB DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amp (protection cap installed)
  • Storage pouch
  • Instruction Booklet
  • Warranty Registration Card
  • HDtracks brochure
  • "roon" brochure

Featured Video:

This little thing works fantastic. I plugged my new dragonfly into my laptop there was an immediate and radical improvement in the sound.

Richard, Cloverdale, CA

Reviews

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(33 Reviews)

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Benjamin from Canton, OH on 3/28/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is a tough review. It's very subjective to try to analyze sound quality. I got this originally with my old desktop speakers, and since then got a pair of JBL LSR308's. I notice more difference with the JBL's, but still a subtle difference. I can tell that the harshness of things like cymbals are brought down when going through the Dragonfly, as well as more clarity in the instruments. But there is no WOW factor here. The first time I plugged it in I felt that the difference was great, but that's because I was actually critically listening to the music then, which we tend to when we buy something new. As I kept listening and switching between the Dragonfly and the jack on my laptop I heard less and less differences. I am continuing to listen and test it, but unless you are an audiophile I'm not sure this is for you.

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Richard from Cloverdale, CA on 1/24/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This little thing works fantastic. I plugged my new dragonfly into my laptop there was an immediate and radical improvement in the sound.

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Charles from Jackson, MS on 11/3/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I suppose this DAC has enhanced the sound quality coming from my Bose speaker that connects with and sits atop my television, but it's not the dramatic improvement I had hoped to achieve. It was very easy to install, however, and it's not terribly expensive.

Pros: reasonably priced and easy to install

Cons: barely discernable improvement in quality of sound.

Great start for a budding audiophile!

Michael from Charlottesville, VA on 10/18/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I'm a music enthusiast, but not really an audiophile . I bought the DragonFly on the recommendation of a coworker who assured me a DAC would help me squeeze just a little more performance out of my new noise-cancelling headphones (which I'm in love with). I'm glad I listened to him! Even as a quality-audio novice, I can tell the DragonFly gives my music more "oomph". Though I listen to music on average a few hours at work every day, I noticed the most remarkable difference when pairing the DragonFly with my phone and DragonTail adapter (which I purchased separately). I fly regularly, and the power and quality boost of the external DAC over my phone's built-in DAC were prominent. The sound went from shallow and quiet, unable to overpower the sound of the plane's engine, to making me feel almost as if I were sitting at home with my headphones on. If you're already pretty happy with the sound from your usual listening device, the DragonFly might not blow you away. The money might be better put toward a headphone upgrade. But if you know your device is putting out less-than-magical sound, the DragonFly will make you a happier listener!

Pros: very easy to set up, small/portable, huge improvement over mobile device

Cons: less noticeable improvement over my PC's DAC

MartinLogans on My Head!

Paul-Michael from Reno, NV on 9/28/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I primarily use this for listen to my iMac at night as I write so as to not to disturb others in my apartment complex. I stream two Beautiful Music Stations: Amityville Community Radio on Long Island along with Jones College Radio out of Jacksonville, Florida. My DagonFly powers my Grado SR80e headphones with no problem. Listening to the above, I love the full rich sound I get. the voices are nice and warm; very well balance. I also stream Acorn TV... WOW! I can hear detail in the background of scenes and love when a car goes across the screen I can hear it go from one ear through my head to the other ear! MY DagonFly makes my DVDs come alive! Right now I am veiwing my brand-new Star Trek: The Original Series Complete Collection. I love the opening of each episodes watching Enterprise go across my iMac's screen and hearing it go through my head! I play my CDs through my iMac: My Phil Keggy's "Wind and The Wheat" is so airy! I can hear each and every instrument clear as if I am in the studio. I can even hear Phil's fingers on the the strings! Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of Clair de Lune by Debussy is all out awesomeness!!! I can see The Fountains of Bellagio dancing in my mind; think Ocean Eleven. This is like having my old MartinLogan speakers on my head. Oh, I should say I had to buy this as the headphone plug on my iMac broke and could not listen for awhile. There is a night and day difference between the 'old plug' and using my DagonFly!!

Pros: Easy to install and use: just plug it in, down load the program, set it and forget it!

Cons: I do wish I could run it to make the internal iMac speakers sound better.

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Lisle, IL on 8/25/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The DragonFly Black is transformative. I use it with my android phone for music and tablet for video. The upgrade over the internal hardware in my devices is far beyond my expectations. The largest impact is to dynamics, from the most subtle wind blowing through leaves to bombastic explosions. Musical imaging and detail are vastly improved as well. I highly recommend the DragonFly to anyone listening to audio on a mobile device.

Pros: Dynamics, imaging and nuance.

Cons: None

Audioquest Black

Jose from Cabo Rojo, PR on 8/21/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Best portable DAC I have owned. However, I have all of my music in iPod Classics and there is no way except an iPhone or modern iPods where it will work. Nor is there a modern iPod that I know of that will hold my whole 200+ CDs as the IPod Classics with their 160mb capacity. Maybe Apple or Audioquest can put out a connector or modify their software to service iPod Classic fans!

Pros: Good sound. Good volume for Grado headphones.

Cons: Unable to listen all of my music collection in my iPod Classics. (I own 4 Classics each with a different genre of music)

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Danville, VA on 7/6/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 is an amazing little sound device. The sound is crystal clear when used with my iMac and Yamaha stereo receiver. The bass on my old tower speakers is really tight, and the highs are clean and crisp. Plus it is simple to use. There is no comparison between this and the Mac sound card I was using prior to purchasing the DragonFly. You cannot go wrong with this product. I just can't believe that something so inexpensive can be so effective.

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Joseph from Nashville, TN on 6/19/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

It's awesome I can take this anywhere! I tested my new headphones with and without the DragonFly and I was surprised to hear such better quality with the DragonFly when listening to standard mp3's.

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Sarasota, FL on 4/29/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Boosts clear audio output over that available through the notebook headphone output jack. All it needs is accompanying software that provides tone and dialogue enhancement, a la Dolby Home Theatre v4. This could be a ChaChing for an AudioQuest/Dolby collaboration. An "audiophile" HiFi source from your beater laptop!

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Charlotte, NC on 3/31/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This little item is a no-brainer. I downloaded all my cd's to digital on my mac. When I play them with and without the DragonFly attached it is night and day to me. I'm a happy camper.

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from North Lima, OH on 3/8/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

It's simple and works great. I have a few devices around with bad 3.5mm ports and this even sounds better than the devices with good ports.

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Great Products, and I was surprised!

Vin from Ontario, OR on 2/19/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I bought both the Dragonfly Red and Black to compare them side by side. I compared them on my Samsung Galaxy S5 and S7, and with headphone output on my laptop. To me, the Black is better. Volume level 3 on the Black with my S5 was louder than max volume on the Red with the same phone. I am also using the USB Player Pro App on my S5. Don't get me wrong, the Red still sounded very good, just not as much volume. On my S7, it was plug and play, no USB Player Pro App required (the S5 requires this program to play music with these DAC's). I used the Samsung Music Player on my S7. Interestingly enough, 3 spots down from top volume level on the Black equaled 3 spots up on my S5. The Red played slightly louder on my S7, not enough to equal top volume with the Black on this phone. I thought the Red sounded better on my S7 than my S5. With laptop, the sonic differences became more apparent. Volume level was greatly increased on the Red, putting it on a better comparison with the Black. The Red on my laptop sounded fuller, more subtleties in the sound came out. The Black still sounded good, but the overall sound and Soundstage was better with the Red. I mostly played Top 40 (pop), electronic dance music and some rock. Now, these differences weren't immense, but if you want a more audiophile sound on a PC, go with the Red. If you want something to play on your phones (what I do mostly), the Black is the clear winner, since it does fairly well on the PC, too. Good luck!

Pros: Excellent volume output with Android phones, big quality difference compared to headphone out on phone, excellent build quality.

Cons: None!

Great, inexpensive upgrade for PC, Android and iOS sourced systems

Alec from Bethesda, MD on 2/5/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Dragonfly Black has been a great addition to my office sound system, which was driven by my PC to a pair of Tivoli 2 speakers (essentially a Tivoli One Radio plus a matching speaker and an old, inexpensive Cambridge Soundworks PC subwoofer). I also pair it with the Dragon Tail that allows me to pair it with my Samsung smartphone and headphones. For the price, it's a fantastic way to upgrade any compatible source. The sound is both much more powerful and clear. Highly recommended as a way of inexpensively and conveniently improving audio quality. As usual Crutchfield was great about getting and shipping it ahead of the expected "in-stock" date.

Pros: Great boost for clarity AND power Inexpensive Small and convenient to carry Easy to install and configure PC sound setting

Cons: Does not work for tablets generally Needs a Dragon Tail to pair with Android or iPhone and is cumbersome if the phone isn't sitting somewhere

Truly tasteful listening

William from Seattle, WA on 2/5/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is a fantastic little device for two reasons. First, the sound quality is downright shocking for a hundred buck product. Excellent sound-staging on familiar acoustic works, plus good bass slam on fun dance and other rhythmic tunes. I have the good fortune of being able to compare it to reference products at home and I have not once had that "it's good for what it is" feeling; I just listened to the music and enjoyed it! I'm using it to drive highly efficient IEM's, so the power is multiple times what I need. Second, the form factor simply just works. Unlike several other portable amps I've owned, where the amp sits back-to-back with the phone, this thumb-drive-sized rectangle works inline between an OTG cable and your headphones. No more worrying about over-bending a stiff audiophile USB cable. With regard to battery life, I am able to listen for a 6-hour flight without completely draining my phone battery, so AQ's claims of low power consumption seem to be realistic. Do make sure that your chosen music app gives you sufficient control of USB output to take advantage of this amp. If you don't know or care about transcoding, bit depth, or re-sampling, this isn't the product for you. Net-net, I strongly recommend trying out this one. From a value perspective, what AQ has achieved with this product is wonderful. It's a taste of high-end listening where ever you are, which is never as much time as you'd like to spend in dedicated in-home space.

Pros: sound-staging; bass impact; dynamic contrast; form factor; phone battery drain

Cons: none

A great little "stick"!

Dickie from Austin, TX on 2/5/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Very nice addition to my PC while playing my music playlists, as well as my streaming music. I am very impressed and would recommend to anyone wanting to improve on music playback.

Pros: Big bang for your music

Cons: None, that I can find.

Great music

Steven from St Petersburg, FL on 2/2/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I purchased this DAC, because of the reputation. The sound is better than I could have hoped. Another music GREAT addition to my laptop.

Pros: Easy to set up and clear sound

Cons: None

Magical little device

Mike from Houston, TX on 1/2/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Definitely worth the money. Makes a big difference on my Macbook Air and even bigger difference on iPhone. Significantly more depth and sounds you can't even hear before. Volume is about 1/3 higher than without DragonFly. On a PC with a high quality sound card the difference becomes much more difficult to hear. Also the size of the improvement depends on what you are listening to both in terms of music style (classical/jazz vs hip hop) and the amount of compression of the recordings. Highly recommended if you're using something run of the mill for playback.

Pros: Great sound Easy to Use

Cons: A bit cumbersome on a phone.

Disappointed

James from Wayne, NJ on 12/28/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I have read many reviews on the DragonFly Black and all versions scored very high. Unfortunately, I am one of the few who disagree. I have tried all combinations of two desktop computers, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5S, Monster Inspiration headphones, and high end PSB M4U1 headphones, listening to various rock, blues and modern pop with 128, 192 and 320 bitrates as well as Spotify. In any scenario, I could not tell the difference, other than volume. I even tried blind tests between myself and a friend, adjusting for volume to not make it obvious, with and without the Dragonfly, and I got it wrong every time. I gave it 2 stars for the amp giving a bit of a volume boost, which is good for some old recordings, but other than that, it literally did nothing recognizable to the sound for me. I really wanted to like it and for one full month I tried hard to listen for even the slightest difference, but I just could not find it. I'm asking to return it.

Pros: Decent amp.

Cons: No noticeable difference in sound whatsoever, which is the point of the product.

Crutchfield response on 1/2/2017 James, we're sorry you were disappointed with your Dragonfly. Whenever you are not completely satisfied with anything you purchase from Crutchfield, please contact our Customer Support team. Purchases from Crutchfield can be returned or exchanged within 60 days of the purchase.

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Mark from Broomfield, CO on 12/12/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Well, currently the unit I have has become lose inside. Not 100% sure but this may be the cause of the intermittent pausing while using the solution mobile. When this happens I have to pull my phone out and start the song again..basically can't use it for active mobility. That said, Crutchfield has been great and I have one on order, actually went with the Red this time because those are supposed to come in first. As far as the solution goes though I love the sound quality it adds to music listening via the laptop and or phone over headphones alone.

Pros: - small and portable - Good sound - inexpensive relative to other DAC's

Cons: - seems to cause intermittent pauses on phone.

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Muscatine, IA on 12/6/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Adds incredible detail. I can now hear where a drummer is hitting the high hat!

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awesome sound cheap price

ryan from Paradise, CA on 11/11/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I am very very impressed with this 99 add on to my iPhone 7. I have never gotten such good portable sound before. Audioquest just needs to make one with the lightning connector already attached and even an extra charging port so you can listen and charge at the same time. All in all this is a no brainer even my non audiophile friends could immediately hear the difference when when tried in on the stereo in a rental car. I am getting an occasional digital clock type clicking noise. Sometimes if I remove and re install the DragonFly it goes away. Not sure what that is about.

Pros: very open and spacious detailed sound compared to not using with iPhone 7

Cons: I am getting occasional digital clock type noise.

AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Spokane, WA on 11/9/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

For the price , the Dragonfly made a very noticeable improvement to the fidelity of the music while streaming Tidal from my iphone. Highly recommended!

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Vincent from Sammamish, WA on 10/28/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I am surprised by the big sound this little guy can produce. Sound-wise It is as good as my older ~$300 HRT music streamer ii+, but the small size (full size USB thumb drive size) make it so convenient to bring around. For this low price, I think there's no DAC/amp out there that can beat it at this moment. Awesome product!

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AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5

Anonymous from Sparks, NV on 10/14/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Works great and provides fuller sound

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DragonFly Black v1.5

Richard D from San Antonio, TX on 10/8/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Wow! I thought my 1998 home system: Thiel CS2.3 floor speakers, Krell amp and NHT subwoofer was great, so I was hesitant when your Crutchfield team suggested I try the DragonFly v1.5. I plugged it into my Iphone 6 IPOD and now I'm a believer. This unit sends out a superior sound, crisp, clear and up front. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is my understanding they offer their upgrade unit, the Red v1.0. Can't wait to hear that one!

Pros: Easy to take with you to satellite locations.

Cons: Non.

Excellent Value

Brian from Seattle, WA on 9/11/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Excellent value for a portable USB DAC! Great quality and nice finish makes this feel good in the hand. Works perfectly with an iPhone lightning to camera/USB adapter.

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DragonFly v1.5

Daniel from Elmhurst, NY on 7/29/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I had problems with this product from day one. The sound was horrible and, for some reason, slowed-down. I was ready to return it, but somehow it started working properly again. 3 days later, it stopped working altogether. I checked other websites for customer experiences and feedback with this device, and it appears, my problem is far from isolated.

Pros: None

Cons: Never had such a bad experience with a renown product like this one ever.

Dragonfly DAC

Geeman67 from Pearland,texas on 7/25/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This DAC is the ultimate portable device that will give your music the oomph it needs when listening through headphones!

Pros: Tiny footprint. Awesome sound.

Cons: None

Nice simple way to get into DAC audio streaming.

rick from Canyon Country, CA on 7/10/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Using this with a MacBook Pro and Grado headphones. I was using a Fiio, USB, amplifier and getting good sound. This also provides nice clean sound.

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definite enhancement

Adam D from Catonsville, MD on 7/3/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I had been reading reviews about digital to analog converters for quite some time and decided the time had finally arrived. I listen to music at work all the time. I went for this one because it was the least expensive, and it seemed like it wasn't worth fussing over what I would get with the higher priced models. Listening to streaming on Spotify is definitely enhanced. I listen through an old set of Bose computer speakers, or an old Audio Technica pair of headphones. The sound is warmer, crisper, and in front. I think after a couple years of listening pleasure, it will be well worth the investment. I also enjoyed reading the user manual and learning a bit more about sound conversion and playback.

Pros: Improved sound

Cons: Shouldn't all audio players have built in digital to audio converters? (sort of a joke)

Dragonfly Black

Tree from Byron, MN on 6/27/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

D to A converter improved sound quality from my desktop PC. Stunning at first and Pandora steaming quality outstanding. Also improved the audio from my iPhone 5. I use the phone for music while traveling and the audio improvement in my car is quite noticeable. I recommend the Dragonfly for versatile D to A converter.

Pros: Easy to use and excellent value

Cons: No problems, only improved tunes.

WOW! What a difference!

FlyFish77 from Park Ridge, IL on 5/9/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I purchased the Dragonfly Black for use with headphones with both my Windows Desktop computer and with my iPhone. I wear noise canceling headphones pretty much all day at work to drown out the sounds in my office. I figured that I might as well listen to better quality sound while I am working. The Dragonfly made a massive improvement in sound when used with the computer. CD quality music streamed from Tidal and from my computer sounded much more clear and crisp than playing the same music through the headphone jack in the computer. Lossy music played from iTunes or Spotity also sounded much better. With the Dragonfly Black it was easy to tell that music streamed from Tidal was superior to music streamed from Spotify. When using the Dragonfly Black on my computer, I had to turn the computer volume way down. The Dragonfly Black also improved the sound of music played through my iPhone, but not as dramatically as it did on my computer. The improve was still easily noticable.

Pros: Sounds great. Excellent bang for the buck.

Cons: None. For this price, how can you lose?

Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

Features

USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp: The AudioQuest DragonFly Black is a sleek, flash-drive sized USB DAC+Preamp+Headphone Amp that delivers far superior sound by bypassing the poor quality sound card that is built into your Apple iOS and Android smartphone/tablet or Windows and Mac laptop/desktop computer; turning your device 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 HiFi audio system.

  • Apple Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iOS 9.2+ devices that have Lightning connector (not compatible with 30-pin Apple devices). The preferred method for connecting an Apple iOS device is using Apple's Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter (472LTUSBC3, sold separately). Your Apple iOS device's battery will even charge while connected.
  • Android Compatibility: Compatible with most Android devices running Jelly Bean 4.1 or newer using the DragonTail USB adapter (703DTAILAN, sold separately). If the DragonFly Black seems to have too little output, then download the the USB Audio Player Prop app which includes its own USB audio driver. This application is compatible with various audio formats and will manage music on both the Android's internal memory and inserted microSD card. Additionally, with your Android phone connected to a WiFi network, this app can find and connect to DLNA servers/libraries, plus support playback of Tidal (UAPP does not offer support for any other 3rd-party applications).
  • Windows Compatibility:  Compatible with Windows PC (XP/7/8.1/10). No additional drivers are required for DragonFly Red to operate with Windows PC.
  • Mac Compatibility: Compatible with Mac computers (OS X 10.6.8-up). No additional drivers are required for DragonFly Red to operate with Mac OS X.

High-Performance Microcontroller: AudioQuest and DragonFly designer Gordon Rankin worked alongside Microchip Technology to develop a new high-performance, full-speed USB microcontroller solution that delivers improved signal-to-noise ratio and significantly lower power consumption. Drawing 77% less current than the previous microcontroller, the new Microchip PIC32MX microcontroller enables true compatibility with Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad and Android smartphones/tablets. In addition, the Microchip's ultra-low-noise power supply minimizes the sound-degrading effect of high-frequency interference on the critical audio signal.

32-Bit ESS Sabre 9010 DAC: At the heart of DragonFly Black is a 32-bit ESS Sabre 9010 DAC that uses a sophisticated minimum-phase digital filter to provide more naturally detailed and dynamic music. This high-performance DAC is typically found in today's higher-end CD and Blu-ray players. DragonFly Black 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 Black 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 Pandora, Spotify, Amazon, or Tidal.

Streamlength 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, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have been pressed into service as audio source components. Rather than sharing crucial audio "data clocking" functions with your source device, DragonFly Black uses a very sophisticated Streamlength Asynchronous USB audio data transfer protocol which takes command over the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically reducing digital timing errors. As a result, you get low jitter, low resource load, minimal packet errors, world-class audio playback, and reliable connectivity between the USB DAC+Preamp+Headphone Amp and your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.

Hybrid-PLL Clock System: The DragonFly Black 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.

Compatible Sampling Frequencies: DragonFly Black will play music or audio data at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, or 96kHz. However, for the best sonic results your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer should be configured so that it sends music and audio data to DragonFly Black 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 smartphone/tablet or computer/laptop to send DragonFly Black 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 Black to sound its best.

MQA Firmware Update: The latest firmware update (1.06) will provide the DragonFly Black with the capability of rendering Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files. This means that now the DragonFly Black lets you experience your favorite albums and songs in the highest audio resolutions available. As an MQA-rendering DAC, the DragonFly Black must be used with an MQA-approved playback application, such as Tidal or Audirvana (with more to come), in order to unlock the full resolution of an MQA file.

Note: When rendering MQA files, the DragonFly Black will display a purple light. (Sampling rates of 96kHz will continue to display in magenta.) While the DragonFly Black will not specify the native resolution of the associated MQA file, you can rest assured that the MQA file was derived from the highest source resolution available.

64-Step Analog Volume Control: The AudioQuest DragonFly Black is equipped with a 64-step analog volume control. With DragonFly Black connected to a PC or mobile device, adjusting the host's system volume control will, through proxy, control the DragonFly Black's onboard volume. This ensures maximum resolution and the highest sound quality, regardless of volume setting

Direct Coupled Analog Circuits: DragonFly Black'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.

Stereo Minijack Output (1.2-Volt): DragonFly Black is fitted with a stereo female minijack (3.5mm) output and will output 1.2-volts, which is enough power to successfully drive most preamplifier input circuits and a wide range of today's medium-to-moderately efficient headphones. The DragonFly Black's 3.5mm output can be used as a Headphone Jack, a Variable Out, or a Fixed Output.

  • Headphone Out: DragonFly Black is versatile enough to drive virtually any headphone on the market today. DragonFly Black can drive any headphone from 12-ohm impedance on up. DragonFly Black has enough output to drive even the lowest efficiency headphones.
  • Variable Out: DragonFly Black 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 Black 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 Black icon shows the resolution of the incoming signal - 44.1kHz (green), 48kHz (blue), 88.2kHz (amber), and 96kHz (magenta). Red indicates standby mode.

Firmware Software Upgrades: The DragonFly Black is firmware/software upgradeable through a complimentary Windows PC or Mac OS X desktop application. As new developments arise in music player applications, streaming protocols, or other associated software; DragonFly Black users will be able to incorporate those updates to their existing devices.

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At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

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Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

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Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

I want to add MQA to my Tidal stream. [ A  Mar 02, 2018 ]
On the recommendation of your staff, Dexter and Peyton, who have been wonderful to work with. [ Lauren  Feb 23, 2018 ]
I wanted a HP amp and DAC. This item is highly regarded by Crutchfield Tech Team, whom I have learned to trust. Plus with Crutchfield's excellent return policy I know I can return or exchange if the device isn't what I need. [ Steven  Jan 15, 2018 ]
Good reviews! [ Jose Luis  Dec 18, 2017 ]
To accompany a set of ATH-MSR7 Headphones [ Richard  Dec 07, 2017 ]
I needed something that was budget friendly. I have used AudioQuest's products in the past and love them; good quality at a great price! I live in apartment and love to listen to two easy-listening stations from Jacksonville, Florida (Jones College Radio) and Amityville Community Radio out of Amityville, New York, along with watching my extensive DVD collection on my iMac late at night as I am a night owl. [ Paul-Michael  Sep 14, 2017 ]
digital to analog converter for iphone [ Gordon  Jul 29, 2017 ]
Best value for a DAC to go with my iphone [ RAJ  Jul 11, 2017 ]
Quality low price DAC for listening to B&W P7's on iPhone 7. [ RICK  Jun 07, 2017 ]
Inexpensive and convenient DAC to use with an iPhone. [ Leroy  Apr 28, 2017 ]
Reviews, price [ David  Apr 21, 2017 ]
I want to enhance the sound quality of my Shure SE215 earphones [ Mark J.  Feb 23, 2017 ]
Great reviews...Curiosity to see what a better DAC can do for music on the go. [ OftenWorksAlone  Feb 20, 2017 ]
For home and portable use. [ Richard  Feb 15, 2017 ]
Great reviews for a long time [ Steven  Jan 19, 2017 ]
I wanted to upgrade the audio quality of my phone without sacrificing portability or practicality. [ William  Jan 08, 2017 ]
I Purchased this Because I wanted better sound through my Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones!!! [ Alejandro  Dec 30, 2016 ]
Any improvement in quality is a good thing. [ Kenny  Oct 05, 2016 ]
want to try it out,heard a lot of good news about this item!! [ Craig  Sep 16, 2016 ]
I chose this DAC because it is affordable, has good reviews and is my start to use a DAC to listen to digital music. [ Walter  Aug 27, 2016 ]
I hope to improve the sound of music from my iPhone 6S and Macbook Pro. [ J  Aug 23, 2016 ]
Chance to use DAC with BOTH my computer AND smartphone! [ G  Jul 14, 2016 ]
Wanted to upgrade my audio on my phone and computer. this is very portable and has great reviews. [ Brandon  Jul 08, 2016 ]
I recently purchased the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless headphones. I have the Samsung S7 edge and the sound quality is pretty good with those headphones. I'm used to the sound quality you get from say HTC or Viper4Android so I'm hoping this will give my new headphones the push they need. [ Stewart  Jun 18, 2016 ]
cruchfield web site [ A  Jun 04, 2016 ]

8 questions already asked

I have not tried that myself it probably will not work because the USB side is the source of the music. [ Clinton  May 08, 2017 ]
No. This device is "output" only. [ Justin  May 05, 2017 ]
Not entirely sure because I THINK that the USB end is to input the sound and the 3.5mm jack is the output. That said you might be able to use the Dragontail device for iPhone to connect your iPhone to this device and then another 3.5mm cable (with the appropriate end) to connect to the car. [ Alec  May 05, 2017 ]
No, the setup you're describing won't work. The car's USB port is looking for a file system on a USB stick, from which to ingest music files to play; or, for an MTP (Music Transfer Protocol) device, such as an Android phone; or, for an Apple device, such as iPhone or iPod. The Dragonfly is a USB sound card, and it expects to be treated as an audio device, with a digital audio bitstream sent to it (and not pulled from it). This makes it incompatible with your car's USB port. Additionally, it only outputs analog audio; it won't ingest analog audio output from your iPhone. However! If you get an adapter cable to adapt your iPhone's connector to a female USB A connector, you can then plug the Dragonfly into your phone, and connect the Dragonfly's analog audio output to the aux input in your car (if it has one). This approach has a couple of drawbacks: Faster battery drain on your phone, since it will be powering the Dragonfly, and you won't be able to control your phone via the steering wheel audio controls (for track skip, etc.) You'd likely get the best audio quality by plugging your iPhone directly into the USB port, which allows the audio files to remain in the digital domain until they reach your stereo; this also allows you to use your steering wheel-mounted audio controls. [ Adam  May 05, 2017 ]
The DragonFly has 2 connections. A USB which is an input connection and a phone jack which is an output connection. If your car system has a phone jack input you could use the DragonFly on your iPhone to source your car system. [ Jeffrey  May 05, 2017 ]
I get the same result when listening through Bluetooth. Where this device is good is listening to songs through your computer. But to me it seems that is just bumps up the volume compared to no device. I tried to get the adapter for this so I could connect my phone to it but have been unsuccessful so far. All-in-all, if you use your headphone alot then go for it. Otherwise, save your money. [ Barry  May 07, 2017 ]
Well not exactly to a super hi end system but I have plugged it into a number of car systems as well as some of the nicer portable speakers (Kef Muo, B&W T7 etc...) plugged into the iPhone 7 via the USB 3 camera connection kit and an Audioquest tower interconnect the sound is amazing for 100 bucks. I have had and have a lot of hi end gear and the quality that you get out of this little guy just blows my mind for the price. [ ryan  May 04, 2017 ]
I use a Harmon Kardon hk550 receiver and also a Pioneer Elite network receiver for music. I am extremely pleased with the performance I get through the Dragonfly. I use the aux input on the receiver and USB with 3.5mm cable out from my computer just as your note says. I sometime use my iPhone with the dragonfly to go to the aux input of my Pioneer the same way. I think the audio is outstanding. Hope this helps. [ Dana  May 04, 2017 ]
Sorry for the previous interruptin. The schiit modi and dragonfly are very close in sound without doing very critical a-b testing. Either is a major improvement over the line out from the pc. [ KEN  May 04, 2017 ]
I have and it sounds great. I also have listened with a Schitt modi designed for a traditional amp setup and they are veer [ KEN  May 04, 2017 ]
I use the Dragonfly Black with AudioTech ATH-ANC9 noise-cancelling headphones. There's not much difference using the Dragonfly with a cheap set of earbuds, but it's a pretty dramatic difference with noise-cancelling headphones. [ Michael  Nov 21, 2017 ]
I have used it with the Blue Lola headphones as well as the Munition Pro40 headphones and they sound great. My iPhone through the Dragonfly can power both pairs really well and sound quality is obviously better that the integrated dac. [ Nathan  Feb 23, 2017 ]
Yep! You just need a male USB c to a female USB adapter [ Nicholas  Nov 03, 2016 ]
Nope. You'd need an adapter to get this down to a USB C. [ Richard  Nov 03, 2016 ]
yes if it has a ubs port [ RAYMOND P  Aug 31, 2016 ]
The device needs to have a port for lightning to USB adapter. I'm not familiar with all iPods, but the iPod touch might. Don't think it works with the older versions. [ Dana  Aug 31, 2016 ]
As long as it is a later generation iPod with the Lightning connector, then it will work. I use it with my iPad mini and it is connected by the Apple camera adapter, which I bought at Crutchfield as well. Don't pass up the DragonFly Black. It really makes a difference. [ Nathan  Aug 31, 2016 ]
I use mine with my iPhone so I'm sure it would work with iPod. You may need a recent operating system. I did have problems on iPad with older system. You can check online manual for requirements [ Larry  Aug 31, 2016 ]
Would work great - you'll just need a USB adapter compatible with your ipod. Just Google "Dragonfly ipod usb adapter". [ Bryce  Aug 31, 2016 ]
The DragonFly Black v1.5 is compatible with most Android devices running on Lollipop OS (and some Android devices running on KitKat), provided that the device manufacturer has adhered to the USB specification and implementation, and supports audio over USB. To verify that your Android device complies with isochronous USB audio, you can download and run USB Host Check (link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.tauruslabs.usbhostcheck) from the Google Play Store. I hope that helps! [ Larry  Aug 23, 2016 ]  Staff
It brings the soundstage to a more immersive front, as well adds depth to every instrument in a given track. While it might not be a night and day experience, a trained ear will appreciate this device. [ Nicholas  Aug 12, 2016 ]
Not too sure about that application but when used with my Hi Fi Man 600 earbuds it was a night and day difference. You can always try it and return it since Crutchfield offers a great return program. [ C  Aug 12, 2016 ]
I use the Dragonfly with the Apple Lightning adaptor in my vehicle. I use a mini to mini cable and plug one end into the aux jack in my car and the other end to the Dragonfly. Works good and I carry it with me all the time. I do extensive driving for work and it's great. Charge your phone if you're using it for music source. You can't charge while hooked up this way. [ Dana  Jul 22, 2016 ]
Question is probably beyond my pay grade. It connects to a USB port and then to headphones. I use it with my computer or my iPhone using a lightening to USB connector. [ Brian  Jul 20, 2016 ]
Your question is pretty broad but yes it works in a vehicle. I use my iPhone, using a lightning >> USB adapter (the camera adapter), to the Dragonfly, then this goes via 3.5mm (standard headphone size) into the aux in of my truck. [ Nathan  Jul 20, 2016 ]
Articles

Looking for more? Check out the next model in this lineup.

AudioQuest Dragonfly Red

Get even higher performance

The AudioQuest DragonFly® Red v1.0 offers these features:

a 32-bit ESS Sabre 9016 digital-to-analog conversion chip

a more powerful headphone amplifier for hard-to-drive headphones

a bit-perfect digital volume control

Searches related to the AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5 Plug-in USB DAC/headphone amplifier, compatible with Apple® and Android™ mobile devices