Has anyone heard the Audioquest Dragonfly?


Has anyone heard the Audioquest Dragonfly? It looks like it could be alright for internet radio and listening to music using your PC. Can it be hooked up to a Wifi and played through your stereo system?
zeal
I started a thread nearly 2 weeks ago, "Any other AQ Dragonfly Early Adopters out there?"

I've been dinking around with a Dragonfly since Sept. 17 with my new MacBook Pro. It's a pretty cool gizmo and incrementally improves the sound over the analog output when playing iTunes. The Dragonfly opens up other possibilities, however. I downloaded Audirvana, which can take advantage of the Dragonfly's various sampling rates. I got some improvement by using Audirvana to change the upsampling of iTunes rips to 88.2Khz instead of 96Khz. There is an even bigger improvement when using the Audirvana player to play 24/96 FLAC files from HDTracks. It's also a nice little headphone amp and makes headphone listening more enjoyable.

Still, my primary music source is a turntable, and although the Dragonfly improves the sound of iTunes from my MacBook, it still doesn't have the organic ease I get from vinyl. But then, I don't know of a digital playback system at any price that does. The hi-res 24/96 and 24/88.2 FLAC files from HDTracks close the gap more. And the Dragonfly combined with Audirvana (for Mac) or JRMC (for Windows) is the most economical way to get into hi-def FLAC downloads.

Given that I've become such a vinyl junkie, I'm not sure whether to keep the Dragonfly or return it to use the money toward upgrading my phono cartridge. If you're a digiphile, I can't see a downside. It's a great little product with lots of versatility, both from its compact form factor and the many capabilities built into it, some of which can only be brought out through 3rd party software.
Johnnyb53, I remember your thread but the Agon search engine does not recognize the word Dragonfly (or whatever the problem is) and could not find your thread - which is pretty pathetic imo.

I fing it interesting that you are not especially interested in keeping the Dragonfly, I thought you liked it pretty well in your thread.

I think the fact that you need a miniplug to RCA adapter is a pretty big downside to the Dragonfly though I have not heard one.

my two cents...
Can you use the Dragonfly just to stream internet radio? Does i-tunes have free streaming? How about playing CD's on your computer to your Stereo?
Interesting device, and unfortunate that they would use a picture of a damselfly rather than a dragonfly as the logo in their literature.
09-30-12: Zeal
Can you use the Dragonfly just to stream internet radio? Does i-tunes have free streaming? How about playing CD's on your computer to your Stereo?
Whatever you can use your computer for for music, you can use it with a Dragonfly.

I don't know the procedure for a Windows machine, but on a Mac the only difference is that you plug the Dragonfly into a USB port, then open system preferences to Audio and select Dragonfly as the preferred output device. If you don't want system warnings and email notifications to come through your stereo, designate all other system sounds to go to the internal speakers.

Then plug your stereo into the analog output of the Dragonfly instead of the computer's analog headphone output. Whatever you can play on your computer will come through your stereo, whether it's iTunes, streaming radio, or a high-def player playing WAV or FLAC files. The difference is that the computer's digital audio datastream will be decoded by the Dragonfly's asynchronous USB DAC rather than the computer's internal one.

09-30-12: Philjolet
I find it interesting that you are not especially interested in keeping the
Dragonfly, I thought you liked it pretty well in your thread.

I do like it, at least in principle. It's a clever, well-packaged,
robust, well-thought-out design. After encountering multi-thousand-dollar
asynchronous USB DACs, I thought it would be interesting to hear/own one I
could afford, designed by Gordon Rankin, no less. I think the Dragonfly does
what it's intended to do: it creates multiple sample rates that provide cleaner
upsamples of all the typical sampling rates, it adds a little analog preamp, and it
provides a better signal path for high-def digital files. Playing the 24/96 sampler
from HDTracks through the Dragonfly was a significant improvement over
computer sound in my house.

However, I am less interested in higher highs, lower lows, louder louds and
softer softs than I am in my emotional response to music. Of course better
fidelity and high resolution helps, but there's something about even excellent
digital playback that doesn't grab me. My emotional response to my turntable rig
is significantly stronger than to any digital sources I listen to, and also closer to
the emotional responses I feel to live music. Therefore, instead of chasing my tail
going after the next round of digital, I'd rather put the money into a better
cartridge. I already have around 1500 LPs and 500 CDs, so at age 59 I'm not
about to start a collection of 24/96 downloads at $18 ea. when--as good as they
sound--they only take me about 80% of the way to where analog takes me.

I think the fact that you need a miniplug to RCA adapter is a pretty big downside
to the Dragonfly though I have not heard one.

Nah, not a factor. There are plenty of very high quality stereo mini-to-RCA
interconnects. I have a couple of them and tried them both--a 1.5M Zu Cable
Mission and a 3M AudioQuest level 5 with PSC+, which is AQ-speak for PCOCC
at six nines copper. Both are great interconnects and I swapped them back and
forth for a sanity check but I found their performance to be close to identical.

If you like the idea of the Dragonfly, don't be put off by the mini-to-RCA
interconnect. There are plenty of good ones out there from Cardas, AQ, Kimber,
Zu, and others.
I got one for my wife to upgrade her computer audio. It is a very large upgrade compared to straight mini-RCA. That's with Itunes in Apple lossless. I'D imagine a further upgrade with Pure Music or similar product. We also use it with ear phones and again it's a substantial upgrade from just the mini-microphone port out. Obviously it's small and portable meaning you can travel with it. My wife, who loves music and tolerates the Hifi stuff, loves it.

For the money it offers a lot. You would probably have to spend around a 1000 dollars for better sonics. Other devices do have more connection options.
FWIW, my system is Atma-sphere MP3 to Atmashere S30 to Zu Soul Superfly.
Out of curiousity, we compared it to my analog set up, (Technics SP10 in a OMA slate plinth with a Graham phantom and Koetsu Jade) lisening to identical Billy Holliday songs. Was it close? Ahhhh, no. Nor should it be at the huge price difference. But the fact that the dragonfly sound was good enough to make me wonder speaks volumes.

Sfar, good one.
Johnny regarding the miniplug comment I made I guess I was thinking about a $250 device and a cable that costs almost as much just to be able to use it would make it less cost effective.

Also I wonder about the quality of the connection of the miniplug.

No big deal and I do still wonder how the Dragonfly stacks up against the Musicstreamer II which you can use RCA ICs with that you have at home already (most of us)

OK OK I am cheap! I said it!

my two cents...
Philojet: I'm also cheap but am addicted to good cables. I already mentioned a couple of excellent stereo mini-to-RCA iPod style interconnects, and I own some of each. The first is the Zu Audio Mission iPod cable. This is a cable designed to sell somewhere around $200. Yet Zu and other storefronts put up new or slightly used ones on eBay all the time. If you check the completed auctions you'll see that people are picking up 1M examples for anywhere from $25-45. These are *excellent* interconnects--fast, clean, smooth, full-bodied.

The other is an AudioQuest blowout at MusicDirect.com. I picked up one of these, a 3M AQ mini-5, retail $209, yours on closeout for $59. It's superb, and a gift at $59. If you need more length, here's an 8-meter mini-3 at the same price.

And if you need still more flexibility and length, go here for a selection of AQ mini-3 and mini-5 mini-to-mini cables (male at both ends) and a mini-plug extension cord (female and male).

If you want to use interconnects you already have, get one of these or something like it. $12.95 gets you the adapter at the mini-5 level of conductor--PSC+ (PCOCC six-nines copper with gold-plated connectors).

As to the Dragonfly's connectors, they're first-rate: silver-plated and thick and sturdy. Sliding that AQ mini-5 cable into the Dragonfly's stereo mini feels slick and secure.

I haven't listened to the HRT Music Streamer II, but the October 2012 issue of Stereophile is a Recommended Components issue. According to them, the Dragonfly is a Stereophile Class B component, same as the $500 HRT Music Streamer Pro, while the Music Streamer II and II+ are both Class C.
How does the Music Streamer II compare to the Dragonfly? One would think that a USB connection would be better then a single wire. Anybody make a comparison yet? Does the Music Streamer II bypass your computer DAC like the Dragonfly does?

10-02-12: Zeal
How does the Music Streamer II compare to the Dragonfly? One would think that a USB connection would be better then a single wire. Anybody make a comparison yet?
By that do you mean that the Dragonfly plugs directly into a computer's USB port where a Music Streamer requires a USB cable to connect between computer and DAC? I haven't compared the two brands, but I have used the Dragonfly plugged directly into the computer and also with a USB extension cable. I couldn't detect any sonic difference; maybe others could. For my purposes and situation, I found the setups interchangeable.
Does the Music Streamer II bypass your computer DAC like the Dragonfly does?
Yes, that's the point. Both DACs derive the digital data stream from a USB port. For the Mac you specify that audio output be directed to the DAC plugged into a USB port in System Preferences; I'm not sure of the setup in Windows.
The set up with windows is about the same. Wondering if it would work with YouTube, Skype and things like that as well.
10-02-12: Zeal
The set up with windows is about the same. Wondering if it would work with YouTube, Skype and things like that as well.

Yes, of course. All sound coming from or through the computer starts in digital form and has been decoded by the computer's built-in DAC. When you plug in the Dragonfly and configure the computer to output to it, you're transferring the computer's internal DAC function to the Dragonfly via its USB port.
I got a private email from an A-goner about using the Dragonfly between his computer and the Outlaw OAW3 wireless system to wirelessly connect his computer to his stereo. However, the return address was no reply@audiogon.com so my reply got bounced.

Assuming the sender is aware of this thread, let me repost my answer here:

For the signal chain you propose, there's no place or use for the Dragonfly. All wireless transmitters/receivers for wireless speaker operation are digital. That means the D/A conversion happens within the Outlaw's wireless receivers and your internal Beats DAC is already bypassed. When you connect the USB cable between the OAW3 and your computer, the computer recognizes the connection and you have to configure the computer to send its audio output as a digital stream via USB to the Outlaw transmitter. This configuration bypasses the DAC in your computer already. Then the Outlaw transmitter digitally transmits this signal wirelessly (much like a cordless phone) to the wireless receivers plugged your stereo. The wireless receivers receive the in-air transmissions as digital data and convert it to analog before sending it (via low level analog connection) on to your receiver or preamp or whatever. So there's no place and no applicability for an external DAC in this signal chain. So if you don't like the D/A conversion you're getting with your current setup, your problem is with the Outlaw DACs, not your computer's internal Beats DAC, because it's bypassed.

The mini-plug to mini-USB adapter cable you propose won't work, because the Dragonfly's mini-jack output is analog and the Outlaw transmitter is only going to read a USB protocol digital stream. If you use the Dragonfly, you'd need to directly connect its mini-plug output to your stereo input with a mini-plug to stereo RCA adapter cable. If you use a quality cable such as AudioQuest, you should be able to use an interconnect of 5 to 8 meters without much degradation if any. Right now MusicDirect has last year's model 3M and 8M mini-to-RCA cables for $59, marked down from $209. I have a 3M one and it's very nice.
Johnnyb53, thanks for your threads on the AQ Dragonfly. I just got one and am enjoying it in my office system - clearly better sound than the sound card in my computer. Has me thinking of upgrades all along the line. In your thread you note that the AQ and Zu have decent and similar sounding cables. You also note:

"If you like the idea of the Dragonfly, don't be put off by the mini-to-RCA
interconnect. There are plenty of good ones out there from Cardas, AQ, Kimber,
Zu, and others."

Has anybody done a comparison of these 3.5mm to RCA cables using fairly resolving system(s) to determine which is "better" or perhaps more accurately, how they differ if at all? I tried to do a search on Agon, but couldn't turn up anything really helpful.