It is hard to deny the wide appeal and success of AudioQuest’s original DragonFly Series. What may have started as just another headphone USB dongle for the computer quickly migrated to a $99 sensation, no doubt thanks to the low power draw and compatibility with iPhones across the board.
The DragonFly series started with a single black colored unit and spread its wings into another black V2, but also a red option as well. Both USB sticks had a solid organic feel to them, something somewhat unusually for the sticky portable size and price tag. Tucked neatly into the $100 (Black) and $200 (Red) range, the newest edition runs around $300 and is called the DragonFly Cobalt.
Bragging rights on the latest product include a slightly smaller size, a new-model ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip, new microprocessor unit and improved power supply filtering. All good swings (and solid thinking) for better sound from the noisy likes of computers and cellphones. Use from a mobile device requires the addition of a dongle adaptor, for current gen iPhones this is the Lighting to USB connection that many audiophiles are already accustom to seeing. For USB-C connectors, rejoice! An USB-A to USB-C “Dragontail” adapter is included with the device.
Like many USB DACs, files are capped at the high resolution 96kHz, but the device also does the final MQA unfold, allowing some of the highest options available from streaming services like Tidal. As with the previous models, all this information is conveyed via a color-changing dragonfly located on the top panel of the tiny device.
My experience with the previous generation products was very satisfactory given the price point, the surprise was the capabilities given the size – which moves the needle from solid to rock solid. In the three tier spread, the Cobalt is very much positioned to be the “Best” option of the group. Advances with the new lineup of Sabre chips have been reported to be vary favorable, and any advancement to help filter out interference keeps the noise floor low and open for better dynamics. Given the current climate, I’d say things are looking very promising on the portable front these days for audiophiles.
The AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt is currently shipping to all dealers in the AQ network.
On Amazon: AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt