The DragonFly series changed the Head-Fi game for good, proving that an amplifier with such small proportions can be used in Head Fi for drastic improvement. The initial release of the Red and Black amplifiers were an easy yet high end way to give extra power to headphones. Now AudioQuest are once again changing the game again with their release of the Cobalt DAC Amplifier.
The DragonFly Cobalt takes what music lovers around the world have come to expect from the multi-award-winning DragonFly family – naturally beautiful, seductive sound – and strips away fuzz and fog that weren’t even noticeable until Cobalt removed them.
Like the critically acclaimed DragonFly Red, Cobalt has the robust 2.1-volt output to drive almost any headphone, uses a bit-perfect digital volume control for outstanding signal-to-noise ratio, enables seamless compatibility with Apple and Android devices and is an exceptionally competent and affordable MQA Renderer.
AudioQuest and 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 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 amplifier 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.
- Advanced ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip
- 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
- Includes a form-fitting DragonTail female USB-A to male USB-C Adaptor
- All DragonTails use AQ’s Carbon-level USB cable
- Upgradable Firmware with rolling updates
- High output (2.1 volts) drives almost all headphones, including power-hungry models
- Bit-perfect digital volume control
- Compatible with Apple and Windows PCs, as well as iOS and Android devices (requires Apple Camera Adapter or Made for Android/OTG adaptor)
Check out this Review – Darko Audio
Check out the manual for more detailed information – Audioquest DragonFly Cobalt Manual
AudioQuest DragonFly Black, Red and Cobalt comparison – AudioQuest Dragonfly Model Comparison Chart