Over the last few years if you’ve wanted the best portable DAC then there’s a 90% chance you’ve purchased one of Audioquest’s phenomenal Dragonfly range. Not planning to rest on their laurels of outstanding budget units, Audioquest now looks to step up their range with the introduction of the higher priced Dragonfly Cobalt.
Much like previous iterations, and real life Dragonflies themselves, the Cobalt is small in size so as to easily fit in your pocket. Unlike it’s counterparts though it boasts a new ES9038Q2M DAC chip that can deliver a more natural sound thanks to its minimum-phase slow roll-off filter.
It also has a new PIC32MX274 microprocessor that has increased the processing speed by 33% whilst simultaneously drawing less current, essentially meaning that it will have less distortion because of the advanced processor and won’t drain your smartphone or laptop as much while it’s doing it.
Lastly, for internal upgrades, the power-supply filtering has also been improved and increases the inference resistance from Bluetooth, WiFi and mobile phone signals. This may sound confusing but all it means is that the cobalt stops outside signals from interfering with your daily U2 listening sessions.
Another nice addition is the inclusion of a DragonTail (USB-A to USB-C adaptor) so if you own an Android smartphone you can take advantage of pure unfiltered audiophile goodness by transmitting the raw digital data from your Android smartphone straight to the Cobalt. Unfortunately for us Apple boys you will need to buy a separate adaptor, but fortunately they’re relatively inexpensive.
Now I know what you next question is…What if you have enormous over the top headphones? Well don’t worry about that because thanks to the Cobalt’s 2.1 volt it can drive pretty much any headphone you throw at it. I myself would have loved this for my, now long lost, Grado SR80s as they were an absolute nightmare to drive with my low powered phone and the Cobalt would’ve definitely alleviated some of my Norwegian Death Metal related issues.
File size wise you’ll be looking at a max of 24/96 and it also supports Tidal Masters (MQA) as well as literally every other streaming service that you may ever listen to. And look I’m guessing there’s going to be one person who uses a service that isn’t compatible so if you do use some super unique service so please check in advance to see whether it’ll create an issue.
Now I know this is a lot of information to take but I promise there’s just one more paragraph of text and then you can get back to to making that electro album.
Like the Red and Black, the Cobalt is firmware upgradable. This means that by using Audioquest’s FREE desktop device manager you can keep it up to date offering a longevity we rarely see in smaller portable products.
In my opinion the Audioquest DragonFly Cobalt is the next step in portable DACs and definitely something you should look at if you want to improve your music on the move, or when studying in front of a computer.
I would suggest that if you are serious about purchasing this, or any other portable DAC, call or go into your local Richer Sounds store so you get the unit right for you, and more importantly get any additional connecting cables you may need.
Sorry that was three paragraphs…
Author: Hal, Plymouth store