The “DragonFly USB Digital-Audio Converter” by AudioQuest

Digital-audio converters have been around for a while, but none are doing it quite like AudioQuest’s DragonFly. The DragonFly is smaller, sleeker, more affordable, more portable, and easier-to-use than any before it.  This gadget will soon be a must-have for advanced audiophiles and beginners alike.

Simply plug it into any Windows or Mac computer through a USB outlet, change a few settings, plug your headphones or computer speakers into it, and voila! In little more than a minute’s time, you have turned your computer into a hi-fi system.

The DragonFly will play any audio file compatible with your computer’s software and transform it to a better sound.  This is in part due to the 24-bit ESS Sabre conversion chip, a high-performance solution that’s typically found in better CD and Blu-ray Disc players, which can also be found inside the DragonFly.  Digital volume controls too often reduce signal resolution and decrease sound quality, but even when the iTunes volume slider is used, DragonFly’s high-resolution analog volume control carries out the instructions in the analog domain for the best sound quality.

DragonFly uses a very sophisticated “asynchronous” USB audio data transfer protocol. Rather than sharing crucial audio “data clocking” functions with the computer, DragonFly alone commands the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically reducing digital timing errors. In addition, DragonFly uses two discrete onboard “clocks” so that the math algorithms used to convert the digital audio data to analog are always optimized for the native sample rate of the audio file or stream being played. A smart LED indicator on DragonFly shows the resolution of the incoming signal.

At just the size of a memory stick and a price of $249, the DragonFly is an exciting step in making hi-fi sound more accessible to all. For more information, click here.


  1. I bought one recently & so far so good. Since I plan to play both 44.1/16 (CDs copied to hard drives) and 96/24 recordings from my computer, do I need to change the settings in Windows 7 each time I switch from one to the other or can I simply leave it set to the higher resolution? I haven’t seen that question covered anywhere. Thanks.

    1. Yes, you need to switch the sampling rate manually unless you buy something like Channel D software/player which automatically detects the incoming sample rate and does the switch for you.

  2. Own it, use it daily, and love it. As essential as anything I’ve owned in this hobby. Simply put, if you own a laptop or play hi res or any resolution digital files… You owe it to yourself to try this product. An amazing DAC for its size and far too easy to use. The mini plug to RCA goes directly to my LFD integrated without issue or complications. ITunes is my managing program and the playback of AAC files is too simple to be believed. I notice the line output level tends to be a tad less full as my CD transport; but if volume adjusted a challenge to distinguish between the two sources. Ultimately, although my CD transport is preferred, the convenience of access to my library is worth the price alone.

    1. Not having had the most expensive gear; but having previously owned a Benchmark DAC-1; Bel Canto; and Simaudio pieces- not to include the digital coax; balanced or unbalanced interconnect; $249.00 is a steal.

  3. I’ think this is a useful item, however at 250 (you’ve got to be kidding me) bucks this seems to be priced as though it’s an audiophile grade item. I’ll give it a test drive when it’s priced at a reasonable 25.00 dollars. I’ll save the 250.00 for my next hair appointment.

  4. As an audiologist I was amused by the -3 at 18K thing. VERY few audiologists have audiometers that reach above 12,000 Hz, due the our poor sensitivity there and the huge amount of acoustic power we’d need to respond. I have one because im involved in clinical trials involving hair cell damage. No instrument has a fundamental frequency there anyway; it’s just a part of the extended harmonics some instruments have. So yes, it’s part of what make instrument timbre, but few would miss it. No offense, but all tones over, say 16,000 sound about the same to the human ear, which is to say a “hiss”. PLUS, I don’t get the -3 bit. Three decibels down compared to what standard? There is no norm for “normal hearing” that high. Plus, we usually test in increments of 5 dB. Even 5 dB either way is not a statistically significant difference, as audiometry is behavioral, and all results are really estimates of thresholds. And even where norms exist, say 125-8000, there is a 25 dB range of normal.

    Are you sure you didn’t mean 8000 Hz?

  5. See this is why Apple is the most hated company in the world, it is more prohibitive than a 800 year old virgin witch. It is so restrictive, curse this company. IPad3 and Ithis and Ithat with no USB connectors or adapters. This Dragonfly would really fly if it can work on an IPad or an Iphone. I tell you these restrictions will be a cause for their demise.

    1. Dragonfly already flies. Don’t blame it for Apple’s shortcomings. Dump the Apple products. I refuse to buy any product stuck on it’s own proprietary schemes. that’s why I have never and will never buy a Sony digital camera (Memory Stick).

      1. I have a Sony Nex5 digital camera that uses SD cards and takes amazing pictures so, you can stop dismissing Sony now.

  6. You could try Apples camera adapter kit for the iPad. It’s around 30 bucks and converts the plug on the iPad to USB. It just might work with this DAC.

    1. I was interested in the prospect of connecting an iPad or iPhone device or at least an iPod to the DragonFly DAC. A warning message came up noting “not enough power” to drive the Dragonfly. Oh well…. Great idea via camera connector and no luck.

      Had the Wadia iTransport since its release and its following incarnations but Apple squashed the device and many like it by voiding the 30-pin connector. The Dragonfly is still a novel device given that it solely needs a USB connector; Apple or Windows systems applicable.

  7. With the fantastic sounding HRT HeadStreamer at HALF the price and the great sounding FiiO E10 at less than 1/4 the price, the only thing the dragonFly has going for it is it’s tiny size. The price is ridiculous. All three are probably made in the same Chinese factory.

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