Sound quality is important, and AudioQuest’s DragonFly is a simple device that anyone can use to bypass the not-so-great quality of a computer’s built-in sound card, turning it into a high-performance sound source to enjoy at home or on the go. DragonFly comes in the form of a flash drive that connects to any Mac or PC USB jack and uses an ESS Sabre DAC—a quality chip found in most high-end Blu-ray and CD players.
DragonFly can work with MP3 formatted audio files and CD-standard 16-bit/44KHz to 24-bit/96KHz files. Over 100 components are mounted inside the device on a 0.6×1.7-inch four-layer board that includes regulators and custom capacitors. You can use it with your desktop speakers or directly with headphones.
Whichever audio file format your computer can recognize, DragonFly can make it sound better. Rather than relying on a digital volume control that can actually lower signal resolution and the quality of sound, the volume control operates in the analog domain to ensure only the best sound. This little desktop DAC has been designed with the audiophile in mind and comes at a price of about $249.