AudioQuest Introduces DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red Headphone Amplifier + Preamp + DAC

Since 2012, press and public alike have enthusiastically embraced AudioQuest’s multi-award-winning DragonFly USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) as the rare audio product that bridges the gap between die-hard audiophiles and mainstream music lovers. 

While the original DragonFly defined the market for micro-DACs, its USB power draw made it compatible with computers only. Since DragonFly’s inception, music enthusiasts have expressed strong interest in a more portable version—one that could be reliably used with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. 

We are happy to present two new models that do that and so much more: DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red—both scheduled to begin shipping to dealers later this month.

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 allows DragonFly Black and Red to be successfully used with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.      

For use with Apple iOS devices, Apple’s Lightning-to-USB Camera Adaptor is required; for use with Android devices, a Made for Android (OTG) adaptor, such as our DragonTail USB Adaptor For Android Devices (shipping in May), is required. 

For greater overall performance, the new DragonFly models also incorporate improved 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips—the 9010 in Black and the higher-performance 9016 in Red—both of which include minimum-phase filtering for naturally detailed, dynamic sound. While DragonFly Black uses the same high-quality headphone amp and analog volume control found in the original model, DragonFly Red includes the latest ESS headphone amp and a bit-perfect digital volume control that resides on the 9016 DAC chip itself—a sophisticated implementation that ensures maximum fidelity, dynamic contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio.

DragonFly Black will output 1.2 volts—enough power to successfully drive all preamplifier input circuits and a wide range of today’s moderate- to high-efficiency headphones. Meanwhile, with its higher 2.1-volt output, DragonFly Red will be compatible with a wider range of headphones, including power-hungry, low-efficiency models. 

In addition, the new DragonFlys will be software upgradeable through a complimentary Windows or OS X desktop application. As new developments arise in music player applications, streaming protocols, or other associated software, DragonFly users will be able to incorporate those updates to their existing devices. (source)

Introduced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red were named “Stars of CES” by What Hi-Fi?. 

DragonFly Black & DragonFly Red

  • Play all music files: MP3 to high-resolution
  • Compatible with Apple and Windows PCs, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices (requires Apple Camera Adaptor or Made for Android/OTG adaptor)
  • Asynchronous Class 1 USB data transfer using the StreamlengthTM protocol
  • Fixed output feeds preamp or A/V receiver

DragonFly Black

  • Medium output (1.2 volts) drives a wide range of headphones
  • 32-bit ESS 9010 DAC with minimum-phase filter
  • Analog volume control
  • MSRP: $99

DragonFly Red

  • High output (2.1 volts) drives almost all headphones, including power-hungry models
  • 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC with minimum-phase filter
  • Bit-perfect digital volume control
  • For a complete DragonFly Comparison Chart, click here. For more information on DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red, click here.
  • MSRP: $199