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Portable AudioQuest DACs Connect To Smartphones

Two new thumb-size portable USB DACS are on tap from AudioQuest for on-the-go listening from laptops and mobile devices. A compact tabletop DAC is also on display, all with the ability to handle 196/24 resolution.

The two portable models, the $199-suggested DragonFly Red and $99 DragonFly Black, connect to laptops via asynchronous USB and have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other end. Both are the company’s first thumb-size DACs to be compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices, thanks to reduced power consumption over the current $149 Dragon-Fly v1.2.

The current DragonFly gets its power from a host computer’s USB bus, but the company needed a new USB microcontroller in the new models to provide lower power consumption without sacrificing performance, said a spokesman. “Our new microchip microcontrollers offer extremely low noise and low power consumption, successfully enabling compatibility with Apple and Android mobile devices.”

In another enhancement, the new DragonFly models will be software-upgradeable to ensure compatibility with developments in music-player applications, streaming protocols, or other associated software, he said.

To connect to Apple mobile devices to receive PCM audio, the DACs require Apple’s Lightning-to-USB camera connector kit; for Android devices, users need a USB On-The-Go adapter, which is a fivepin microUSB to four-pin USB-A (female) adapter, to receive PCM audio.

Both models will outperform the current DragonFly, he said. The $99 Black features ESS 9010 DAC and medium output of 1.2 volts. The $199 step-up provides greater output at 1.9 volts, step-up ESS 9016 DAC, and a 64-bit digital volume control instead of an analog volume control.

For the home, the $199 Beetle DAC features Toslink, asynchronous USB, and asynchronous Bluetooth. “To our knowledge, Beetle is the first DAC to offer asynchronous Bluetooth technology for unprecedented wireless sound,” the spokesman said. Like the new DragonFly models, Beetle uses the new microcontroller, will be software updatable, and will be compatible with Apple and Android mobile devices.

“We see Beetle as an outstanding complement to televisions, gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets, media streamers, computers, and more,” he said. The optical input can be used to connect to TVs, game consoles, set-top media streamers and the like.