AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC

Dragonfly Concept Drawing from AudioQuest

No Show would be complete without an AudioQuest demo to get those skeptics juices flowing (or blood boiling depending on your level of commitment to the cause). But this one was different in that we didn't focus on cables. Instead we focused on the new AudioQuest Dragonfly Asynchronous USB DAC. The diminutive DAC, about the size of a thumb drive, plugs into your computer's USB port and you connect a mini 3.5mm RCA to RCA cable to the other end (available from among others AudioQuest) and you're off to the races playing up to 24-bit/96kHz files. There's also an internal volume control that is controlled through your media player's volume control (a neat software trick). The other neat visual trick is that dragonfly changes color depending on the bit/sample rate being played.

The AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC represents a group effort with software and circuit design by Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio and industrial design by James Pan. The Dragonfly DAC will be available in April 2012 and the projected retail price is under $300.

Before we left the Dragonfly demo, we did get to hear two quick cable swaps—the new AudioQuest USB-to-Dock Cable ($30) versus the stock Apple USB-to-Dock Cable playing music from an iPhone and there was a clear and noticeable difference between the two. Granted this was a quick sighted A/B/A but if I ever lose my Apple USB-to-Dock Cable, I won't be going back to Apple to buy another one.

deckeda's picture

You may have also seen a similar feature in the new HRT HeadStreamer. If not, I offer up the preceding sentence.

I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago Googling DAC/headphone amps or some such but found nothing at HRT's site at the time. I emailed, asking "wtf?" (or words to that effect) and Kevin Halverson courteously sent me a PDF blurb about it.

Anyway, I thought you'd be interested. It's half the price of the Dragonfly but larger. I haven't yet pick one up, but controlling the volume in the computer (when done right, of course) appeals to me.


For the new AudioQuest USB-to-Dock Cable, I'd like to learn more. I realize that if the slightest improvement is discerned it's saner to just spend the $30 instead of taking a lot of time analyzing minute differences on something so cheap. But I get the impression what you heard was obviously better.

And was it using your iPhone's DAC via a typical dock stand with line out, or the USB input of something? Thanks.

Michael Lavorgna's picture


I'd contacted HRT some time ago through thier rep and so far no luck getting a review sample.

Re: the AQ dock cable, the iPhone belonged to AudioQuest's Steve Silberman and I believe he was running it through a Pioneer receiver's USB input. And yes, the difference was obvious and better.

Stephen Scharf's picture

This looks pretty interesting. I like the small form factor and attractive industrial design and anything by Gordon Rankin is okay in my book. I may well have to pick one of these great for high-end on the road with a pair of Grados. 

BTW, Michael, curious if you're going to get around to reviewing the Schiitt Bifrost DAC: asynch 24/192 USB 2.0 support, as well as S/PDIF via coax or Toslinlk and with upgradeable DAC chips for future-proof ownership. All for $449 with Asynch USB, and you can use a real power cord with it! 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Is in the works. When I initally contacted them they were "stripped of all inventory" but I'm nearly due to follow up. Thanks for the reminder!

Stephen Scharf's picture


They shipped mine out the day I ordered it, so I think their backorder situation has improved markedly. Needs a good 100 hours burn-in, just as a heads-up.