AUDIOQUEST DRAGONFLY RED > Review – Worth a purchase in 2022?
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Today we’ll take another look at the DragonFly Red and find out if it’s still worth a purchase in 2022.
It’s been a top recommendation of mine for a few years now, and I wanted to see if it holds up among the current oversaturated DAC market and if not, what should you be targeting instead?
By the end of this article, you should know everything it’s capable of and if it’s right for you.
I knew before even demoing this baby that it was going to sound good. What I didn’t realize is just how good it really is. As far as value and price to performance, I would almost rank it ahead of both the Oppo HA-2 and a Chord Mojo. Why?
Because it’s about the size of a Tic-Tac.
Okay maybe not that small, but you get the idea. 😛 You can literally take it anywhere! You can also pair it with your phone, but an OTG cable is needed. More on that later.
If the sound of your laptop’s internal Soundcard sucks (most do), and you don’t feel like investing in a desktop solution, but still want to experience what an Amp/DAC combo is all about, I would buy this almost instantly without hesitation.
What makes it so valuable is the fact that it will improve the resolution and clarity of almost any song via its powerful Digital to Analog Converter. How the heck can something so small be so amazing? We’ll delve into that in a bit. First, learn more about how your PC processes sound: Bit Depth vs. Sample Rate.
A DAC’s primary function is to convert the 1’s and 0’s (digital data) from your computer, phone, mobile device, etc., into sound that you can understand (analog). If you’re screaming obscene rap lyrics into your mic, your computer understands it in a binary way and doesn’t judge you. 😛
But if the DAC is crap, then the sound is no good. My old Lenovo T510’s internal soundcard was trash and also didn’t get loud enough.
A solution like the Dragonfly Red provides a quick fix by not only amplifying the sound to a listenable level but making the quality of the conversion itself better in the process.
Let’s take a look at its features…
Dragonfly Red Features
AudioQuest DragonFly RedDF Red goes to the beach.
What’s neat about the Dragonfly is its ability to light up in different colors according to the source file. This is done via a 1mm LED inside the device that illuminates the logo on the outside.
Green = 44.1 kHz
Blue = 48 kHz
Amber = 88.2 kHz
Magenta = 96 kHz
The other cool thing about the DragonFly is that as soon as you plug it in its volume is controlled by your laptop. You may or may not like this feature, but I personally don’t mind it.
One of the best aspects of this device is its ability to go anywhere at any time. I personally hate traveling with a lot of excess, and the DragonFly makes it possible to quickly pack up and leave without worrying about wires, power cables, etc.
The provided leatherette case protects the DragonFly from getting damaged, giving you peace of mind on the commute.
As A DAC
Perhaps the DragonFly’s best feature, and one that prevents me from selling it, is that its 3.5mm jack doubles as not only the headphone out but also a line out.
I can’t tell you how many times the Red has come in handy when I quickly need a DAC to pair with a separate amp that has line-in or RCA inputs.
Because I review so many products, I keep the Fly on my desktop since it’s versatile in that regard and I always have a DAC around. This prevents me from getting caught with my pants down as the DragonFly can pair with almost anything.
As A Preamp
Going further, you can even use the DragonFly with speakers like the Presonus Eris e3.5s that I just snagged from Sweetwater. Just purchase an RCA to mini cable and you’re set.
Ultra-convenient and Portable.
Great build even for such a small piece.
Remarkable sound quality.
Extremely versatile for such a tiny unit.