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Audioquest has just introduced the next generation of its famous DragonFly USB DACs, the DragonFly Black ($99) and DragonFly Red ($199).
While the original DragonFly set the standard for micro-DACs, its high USB power draw limited its compatibility to full computers. The next important step was to create a more portable version that could be reliably used with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. There are now two new options that do just that, DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red. Convenience and performance are no longer mutually exclusive. With DragonFly Black and Red, any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone can be used as a true high-fidelity music player.
Audioquest and USB DAC guru, Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio, worked with 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 DragonFly microcontroller, the new Microchip PIC32MX microcontroller enables true compatibility with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, the new DragonFly models embody many of Gordon's most innovative, creative, and elegant digital-audio solutions. This results in greatly improved sound quality in addition to the improved compatibility discussed above.
As part of this overall performance improvement, the new DragonFly models also incorporate improved 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips, the 9010 in the Black and the higher-performance 9016 in the Red. Both of these DAC chips employ minimum-phase filtering for naturally-detailed, more authentic sound. While DragonFly Black uses the same high-quality headphone amp and analog volume control found in the older DragonFly v1.2, DragonFly Red includes the latest ESS headphone amp and a bit-perfect digital volume control that resides on the 9016 DAC chip itself. This is a sophisticated implementation that ensures maximum fidelity, dynamic contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio.
DragonFly Black outputs 1.2 volts, enough power to successfully drive all preamplifier input circuits and a wide range of today's efficient headphones. The higher 2.1-volt output of the DragonFly Red is compatible with a wider range of headphones, including power-hungry, low-efficiency models.
Finally, the new DragonFly models are software upgradeable using 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 into their existing devices.
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