Author Topic: USB DACs: DragonFly versus AudioEngine  (Read 10088 times)

Anti

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Currently using the Realtek soundchip and jack on my laptop. Thinking about buying one of these:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Audioquest-Dragonfly-Digital-Analogue-Converter/dp/B00H00VLZQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Audioengine-D1-Premium-24-bit-DAC/dp/B0079KWSF4/ref=pd_sim_sbs_ce_acc_7?ie=UTF8&refRID=0WCZ9RZJWGD6PT99BNY3

Anyone with DAC experience got an opinion on which one would be best?
Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 11:57:38 AM by Anti

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Currently using the Realtek soundchip and jack on my laptop. Thinking about buying one of these:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Audioquest-Dragonfly-Digital-Analogue-Converter/dp/B00H00VLZQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Audioengine-D1-Premium-24-bit-DAC/dp/B0079KWSF4/ref=pd_sim_sbs_ce_acc_7?ie=UTF8&refRID=0WCZ9RZJWGD6PT99BNY3

Anyone with DAC experience got an opinion on which one would be best?


I own the Audioquest Dragonfly. I haven't heard the Audioengine D1. I would actually recommend the Schiit Modi, it's around the same price range and for the money I'm very impressed by it, I find it to sound a bit better than the Dragonfly. It's made in the USA and you can buy it direct from the manufacturer.

http://www.amazon.com/Modi-USB-Digital-Analog-Convertor/dp/B00CICPN0K
http://schiit.com/products/modi

Bee-liever

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Depends on using headphones or full-size speakers.
The AudioEngine D3 is rated at 10 Ohms so it is better suited to larger speakers or high-end headphones.  Using it with low-impedance headphones (8 Ohms or less) can actually make your tracks sound worse.

If you go with the Dragonfly and space is tight on your laptop ports and/or you move around a lot with the headphones on, get the DragonTail lead as well.

NB: I have the DragonFly 1.0.
MusicBee and my library - Making bee-utiful music together

Anti

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Thanks for the replies.

I went with the DragonFly 1.2.

I would have loved to buy the Schiit, but I am very limited what I can delivered to my small island, and also have to watch out that customs/couriers don't try to charge me 20% additional tax. With regard to internet purchasing, Americans don't realise how lucky they are!

I managed to find a DF1.2 listed on Amazon.es for 119€ (159$), down from 144€. I bet they send a DF1.0 though, and I'll have to wrestle between the hassle of sending it back or just accepting it (and spoiling the high you should get from buying something). Something like that always happens when I buy on the Net!

Anyway, thanks for the advice.

Anti

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I got the DragonFly 1.2 this morning. Tested it with 320k mp3 files. I A-B'd as well as I could with my laptop's soundcard
(Asus A93S with Realtek soundchip). Takes a couple of seconds to switch over though. I'm using 60€ Denon AH-D1001
headphones. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Denon-AH-D1001-Closed-Stereo-Headphones-SILVER/dp/B000UPA4R4

My impression is:
Slightly more crisp, and therefore more punch, but this also lent itself to a slightly harsher tone in the upper-mids.
Slightly wider and rounder (front to back) soundstage.
A little less digital distortion in the lower end, and slightly more defined bass.
The main thing I wanted to get rid of was muddiness, but sometimes instruments still aren't quite as clear as they could be.

So it's not a huge difference.
I can notice little things if I'm listening for them, and A-B'ing, but my wife would probably think it was a waste of money.

Through the Realtek soundchip, my speakers, Panasonic and Sennheiser earbuds, and the Denon headphones all sound fairly similar to each other in tone and volume. However, through the DragonFly, they all have much more varied tone and volume. I hope this means that the soundchip is reaching its limitations, but the DragonFly has more to give. I think I need to try to borrow a much more expensive pair of headphones and speakers, and see if that makes a more pronounced difference. I don't actually know anyone with good gear though.

Also, the DragonFly is not powerful enough to drive my computer speakers (Philips SPA 2201) to their maximum output; they are considerably quieter than when driven by the onboard soundchip.

Further, when I plugged it into the usb 3.0 port that I wanted to use on the left side of my laptop, Windows gave an error about it not having some kind of ID, and that it doesn't know what type of device it is. The DragonFly doesn't display in 'Devices' at all, and I can't get the error to display again to make a note of it. It works fine in the usb 2.0 ports on the other side.

So as it stands, I would say that you always hope for a massive difference in these types of purchases, but in the end it's actually kind of disappointing.
Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 02:47:58 PM by Anti