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2021 Best DAC £200-£300
"This tiny USB DAC remains hard to beat"
2020 Best DAC £200-£300
"This tiny USB DAC justifies its price tag"
2019 Best DAC £200-£300
"This tiny USB DAC justifies its hefty price tag"
"Clean and precise presentation, spot on timing, dynamics and wide file support."
EISA Portable DAC/Headphone Amplifier 2020-2021
"The Cobalt model not only converts a huge range of audio formats from your computer, it also features a high-quality headphone amplifier, as well as being able to deliver great sound to a hi-fi system – and all in a package no bigger than a USB thumb-drive."
DragonFly Cobalt is a portable, plug-and-play USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter), preamp, and headphone amp that delivers far cleaner, clearer, more naturally beautiful sound to headphones, powered speakers, or complete audio systems. With an attractive enclosure whose overall size and shape match that of a USB thumb drive, DragonFly easily connects to laptops, tablets, and smartphones, either directly or with an appropriate USB cable, such as AudioQuest’s high-performance USB-C DragonTail (included). Plays all file formats/soundtracks: MP3, MQA, high-res, etc. 2.1-volt output easily drives most headphones. Compatible with Mac and Window computers, Android and iOS devices.
AUDIOQUEST, GORDON RANKIN: A BEAUTIFUL PARTNERSHIP
Like all previous DragonFly models, Cobalt uses Gordon Rankin's precedent-setting StreamLength® asynchronous-transfer USB code. Further, in Gordon's monoClock® technology, a single ultra-low-jitter clock generated from the ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip runs the ESS chip functions as well as all microcontroller functions. This superior clock enables DragonFly Cobalt to provide greater resolution and clarity than DACs with multiple clocks.
WHY THE "SLOW ROLL...?"
Cobalt employs ESS's new flagship ES9038Q2M DAC chip. While the chips used in DragonFlys Black and Red are unbeatable for the price, the minimum-phase slow roll-off filter in the 9038 results in naturally expressive sound that is always emotionally engaging and never fatiguing—a beautiful combination of warmth and detail that we find equally exciting and soothing.
KILLING THE NOISE
In Cobalt, AudioQuest have taken what they've learned from their recent research and development in noise dissipation to employ power-supply filtering specifically designed to dramatically reduce the increasingly prevalent noise from WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals. Successfully combating this noise is absolutely crucial to the preservation of the lowest-level musical details, particularly when it comes to high-res audio—and especially when applied to a portable-audio device such as DragonFly.
BIT-PERFECT VOLUME CONTROL AND 2.1-VOLT OUTPUT
Cobalt features the same ESS Sabre 9601 headphone amp and bit-perfect volume control that give DragonFly Red its unique combination of power and grip over the music. This solution ensures maximum fidelity, thrilling dynamic contrast, and excellent signal-to-noise ratio. The 2.1-volt output makes Cobalt and Red compatible with a wide range of headphones, including power-hungry, low-efficiency models.
DragonFlys Black, Red, and Cobalt are firmware upgradeable via AudioQuest's free Desktop Device Manager. In today's fast-paced digital world, longevity in a hi-fi component is increasingly rare—at any price. AudioQuest believes that today's digital devices should evolve as technology itself evolves, thereby delivering musical pleasure for many years to come. AudioQuest's Desktop Device Manager will also allow you to identify your DragonFly's serial number and software version to ensure that the device is up to date.
- New, more advanced ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound.
- Microchip’s superb PIC32MX274 microprocessor draws less current and increases processing speed by 33%.
- Improved power-supply filtering that specifically increases immunity to WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular noise.
- Includes a form-fitting DragonTail female USB-A to male USB-C Adaptor. All DragonTails use AudioQuest’s Carbon-level USB cable.
|Native Resolution || Up to 24-bit / 96kHz|
|Output || 2.1 volts|
|Headphone Amp || ESS Sabre 9601|
|Microcontroller || Microchip PIC32MX274|
|DAC Chip || ESS ES9038Q2M |
|Volume Control || 64-Bit Bit-Perfect Digital Volume Control|
|Desktop / PC Compatibility || Yes|
|Mobile Compatibility || Yes|
|MQA Rendering || Yes|
|Upgradeable Firmware || Yes|
|Monoclock Technology || Yes|
|Dimensions (H x W x D) in mm || 12 x 19 x 57|