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The new DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red USB DACs will work with Apple and Android devices, and start from £89. There's a new Beetle DAC, too.

We are big fans of the DragonFly DACs, so we're happy to report there are two new upgraded models on the way. First unveiled at CES back in January, Audioquest is officially launching the DragonFly Black and Red products today, complete with UK pricing.

The new Audioquest DragonFly Black USB DAC, preamp and headphone amp will cost £89, which is less than the existing DAC, the five-star DragonFly v1.2, which it will ultimately replace, while the DragonFly Red is £169.

As well as the drop in price, Audioquest claims better audio quality, lower power consumption and, crucially, compatability with Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. 

You'll need Apple's Lightning-to-USB camera adaptor to connect to iOS devices, or a Made for Android adaptor (Audioquest makes the DragonTail USB adaptor) for connecting to Android devices.

Elsewhere, Audioquest says it has chosen to limit the DACs to 24-bit/96kHz, to make them easier to use, with no extra drivers required. The company also says "faster processing can mean more noise", negating the potential advantages of 24-bit/192kHz hi-res files.

More after the break

DragonFly Black

The DragonFly Black uses the 32-bit ESS 9010 DAC, the same headphone amp and analogue volume control as in the DragonFly v1.2.

The Red claims superior sound to justify its higher price and uses the 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC and a "bit-perfect" digital volume control. It also boasts a higher power output, in an effort to drive a wider range of headphones.

Audioquest claims the Red has more "torque, grip and muscle" than the Black at the same volume, sounding cleaner and clearer. We look forward to finding out.

AudioQuest Beetle

Still in the pipeline is the Audioquest Beetle ($199) - also launched at CES - which sports a slightly larger design aimed more directly at desktop systems, TVs or set-top boxes. As well as the USB connection, there is improved flexibility with the addition of a digital optical input.

MORE: Best DACs 2016


Big Aura's picture

interesting.  Cant wait to

interesting.  Cant wait to see UK pricing and a review against the 1.2.

I've been considering an Oppo HA-2, but this looks super value.

Graham Luke's picture

Oppo HA-2...

BA, I spent 40 minutes playing with the little Oppo, using my iPhone 5 and iPod Classic to feed it and to provide a comparison.

My Ety HF3's delivered the sound to my ears.

Sadly, I could not detect any appreciable improvement in SQ from the Oppo over the phone feed...none.

I really like the look of the Dragonfly but am wary that it too will not deliver significantly enough to justify a punt...

tteeydoc's picture

V1.2 already works with

V1.2 already works with android. I use it with my Sony z3+.

Big Aura's picture

yes, but this is less power

yes, but this is less power hungry and (perhaps) better.

I know they don't work with Sony Xperia compact, so I was afraid to get a non-battery dac without confirmation. (I have z3 (normal size))

Do you notice a difference?

tteeydoc's picture

Yes, there's a difference

That's true, the v1.2 sucks a lot of power from my z3+.  

Yes, there's improvement in the sound when listening through the dragonfly. However to unleash it's full potential you have to use it via the usb audio player pro app. That's by miles the best audio app out there. That way, the sound is way better than the native player and the app also kind of unlocks the dragonfly's ability to amplify the sound. I've never increased the volume up to even 50%. If you connect directly through the phone's media player, this volume amplification from the dragonfly is not available. Another point, if you play your files through the phone's native player, the output files are limited to 44100hz. I know, this is a rather long answer to your question but I'm ust totally blown away by the combination I've described. Believe me, listening to high res audio via this set up is such a joy. Do give it a try.

I can't wait to try out the new version.


Gilboa's picture


These are really nice and great value. But I've been spoiled by the pricier Chord Mojo...that's the one I want! As I listen to high-res via my laptop. So super compact dimensions are not currently important for me, as my iPhone doesn't support high-res audio anyway, unlike Apple's own Mac line.

My current music listening kit consists of a Pure Music media player (iTunes as the organiser) playing on an rMBP laptop, outputting to a HRT microstreamer and B&W P7 headphones. But to be honest listening to my high-res (and non high-res) stuff through the HRT doesn't sound all that better than directly through the laptop, so I want to upgrade from this DAC to the Chord.

pcookie's picture

I went to the Headroom show

I went to the Headroom show last weekend and the dragonfly and jitterbug were both excellent products and temptingly cheap, however the Mojo was for me the star of the show and I've started saving already. There is always a lot of snake oil with these companies claims regarding improvement on sound, but to my ears the Mojo (and the dragonfly) justify their cost.


Andy Clough's picture

Mojo and Dragonfly

Couldn't agree with you more cookie, they're both great little products. And they really do make a difference.

leaky74's picture

Mojo vs Red

Purely subjective but how does the Mojo better the DF red in your opinion?

I've currently got the Mojo but would consider 'downgrading' to the DF red just for the form factor (on the proviso it's not too much of a step down).

Diego Canale's picture

DAC vs New system upgrade

Looks like a lovely little device indeed, for those who cannot afford 7k on a decent DAC! I wonder though if it is capable of 192khz resolution.
Now, we come to the dilemma which is the topic of my post beside the positive reaction to the new Audioquest product release...I have been thinking about upgrading (from a Denon DM39) to a new system like Denon CEOL N9 or something along the lines (I have neither money nor space for a separate system). Main reason is the loseless and HD audio playback capability since I have quite a bit of FLACs and a couple of 192khz/24 on my pc drive.
Besides, you can buy a 96khz/24 album for like 15$ on the internet from HD tracks.com.
I believe my need for High resolution playback alone can justify the purchase of a DAC, like the dragonfly, for better money value. On the other hand, selling just the DM39 unit (will hang on my Zensor 1 speakers) would fund the purchase of a CEOL N9 adding another 100£ on top of what I get. So I am wondering, in terms of pure sound quality (especially as far as Hi-res audio is concerned), what would be the best choice in your opinion?

Ps: the dragonfly dac would connect from my pc to the analog port of my denon avoiding its internal dac converter.





Andy Clough's picture

Hi-res upgrade

Hi Diego, not quite sure what you're asking here: do you mean will the CEOL N9 sound better than the DM39?

Diego Canale's picture

Hi-res upgrade

I assume the Ceol N9 would sound better overall.
However, the reason I would justify an upgrade is to mainly play HD files. So yes, the question is, as far High res. music is concerned, which would sound better, the DM39 (connected to a laptop via external USB DAC like the dragonfly or similar) or the Ceol N9 (its own internal DAC) box?

Andy Clough's picture

Ah, get it now

Good question. I reckon the Denon DM39 with the Dragonfly.

Diego Canale's picture

just curiosity

Thanks Andy! 
....and between DM39(with Dragonfly v1.2) and Yamaha MCR-N560D?



Diego Canale's picture


...what about Marrantz MCR 610 as alternative?
Besides, the dragonfly only supports up to 96khz/24bit while both the ceol n9 and marrantz can playback 192khz/24 bit loseless

Andy Clough's picture

Marantz M-CR610

The Marantz would be an excellent choice, it was five stars and our system Product of the Year 2013:


Diego Canale's picture

Marantz Vs Denon

I read that review. The only thing that would draw me to the CEOL N9 (aside from the lower price) is that the Denon is punchier (from users reviews)  while the Marantz is not as punchier (as in your review).