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Audioquest DragonFly new Black and Red USB DACs replace the DragonFly V1.2. There are key differences between the Black and Red DACs. Firstly, the DragonFly Black incorporates an improved ESS 9010 Sabre 32-bit DAC and uses the same high-quality headphone amp and analog volume control found in the DragonFly 1.2. Its output can deliver 1.2V, capable of driving all preamplifier input circuits and all reasonably efficient headphones.
The DragonFlyRed uses the higher performance ESS 9016 Sabre DAC and which features a higher 2.1V output capable of driving power hungry, low efficiency headphones. It also has a bit-perfect digital volume control that resides on the 9016 DAC chip itself—a sophisticated implementation that ensures maximum fidelity, dynamic contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio.
The difference in maximum output between DF Black and DF Red is essentially irrelevant with our NightHawk headphones, as they can be easily driven by either model. However, the difference in sound quality between the two new models is always meaningful, and is important whether feeding headphones or the Aux input of an audio system. At the same volume, Red has much more “torque,” “grip,” and “muscle” than Black. Red simply sounds cleaner and clearer overall, enabling a larger sound-stage with each instrument or voice more nearly in its own space.
And, more good news: The new DragonFlys are software upgradeable through complimentary Windows and OS X desktop applications. As new developments arise in music player applications, streaming protocols, or other associated software, DragonFly users will be able to incorporate those updates into their existing devices.
DragonFly Black & Red Features