In my shoot out article of some time back I covered the major differences between 5 headphone DACs; AudioQuest’s DragonFly Black/Red & Cobalt, Cyrus’ Soundkey and Chord Electronics Mojo. See my article here.
I put the DragonFly Cobalt together with a JDS Labs Atom headphone amp to find out what relatively inexpensive add-ons to premium laptops like the MacBook Pro, can do for sound quality.
With Spotify new CD quality HiFi service on the horizon, this add-on system is easily good enough to hear the differences between lossy and lossless formats, the bain of many naysayer ‘music test’ websites at the moment.
There will of course be lots of similar systems you can try from brands like Schiit, Topping, and iFi and so on, but the premise is not to think that just because you have spent over a grand on a laptop, that it holds the fort on sound quality. It just won’t….
Specifications: DragonFly Cobalt
- Files Supported : MP3 to Hi-Res & MQA
- Compatible with : Apple & Windows PCs, iOS & Android
- Supported Sample Rates : 44.1/48/88.2/96kHZ & MQA
- Volume Control : 64bit, bit perfect
- Output Voltage : 2.1
- Headphone Amp : ESS Sabre 9601
- DAC : ESS Sabre ES9038Q2M
- Dimensions (HWL) : 12mm x 19mm x 57mm
AudioQuest Website Information here
Specifications: JDS Labs Atom Amp
- Frequency Response, 20Hz-20kHz+/- 0.01dB
- THD+N, 1kHz, 32 Ω0.0008%
- THD+N, 20Hz-20kHz, 32 Ω0.0012%
- IMD CCIF 19/20kHz 32 Ω0.0002%
- IMD SMPTE 32Ω0.0005%
- Noise, A-Weighted-114 dBu
- Crosstalk @ 150 Ω-87 dB
- Input Impedance10k Ω
- Output Impedance0.1 Ω
- Channel Balance< 0.6 dB
- Max Continuous Power @ 32Ω1 Watt (5.66 VRMS)
- Case Dimensions 5.0 x 5.5 x 1.4 in
- Weight 9.3 oz
JDS Labs Website information here