Home Amps/DACS Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review | TAKE IT ANYWHERE!!

Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review | TAKE IT ANYWHERE!!

by Stuart Charles Black
The Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review

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  • 9/10/19
  • 12/29/19. Article cleanup.

1,805 word post, approx. 3-4 min read.

Aloha friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..

You’ve come to the right place!!

The Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review

It’s so fly.

Table of Contents

Click to navigate the review!

The DragonFly: A Deeper Look
Video Comparison with DragonFly Black
Photo Gallery
Thoughts From Stu’s Notepad
Final Word


Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!

The Dragonfly: A Deeper Look

On the surface, the name Dragonfly given to a portable Amp/DAC as small as this seems fairly straightforward. It’s lightweight, extremely portable, and can literally go anywhere much like a real Dragonfly.

When I first wrote this article, I didn’t give it much of a second thought. But as I was creating the graphic for the article months later, I became interested in the backstory of the insect itself. It turns out that these somewhat erratic creatures are extremely fascinating upon further examination.

Took this at the pool. The poor guy got obliterated. Not sure what happened, but you can see a wing missing.

Let’s take a gander.

You may recognize the predator Dragonfly as almost an afterthought, even though it’s been around for about 300 million years! Whenever I see them during the summer they always have this tendency of darting around aimlessly (so it seems), and because they don’t pose a threat and never bother others, I just sort of ignore them. They’re really peaceful as well. One even landed on my lap while I was at the pool and I wasn’t scared at all. And no, it wasn’t the one pictured to the right. How could you even insinuate that I would harm a Dragonfly! Lol.

But really, imagine that, an insect that doesn’t bother you. Wow. What a concept. I wish Bumblebees and Wasps would take note. Lol.

What’s incredible about a Dragonfly is the fact that it can move at speeds of 45 mph, hover, fly backward like a hummingbird, fly straight up, straight down, and side to side. Uh, I guess humans are pretty cool too. We can attempt to walk in a straight line after being pulled over by the cops. Lol. What’s even more impressive is that it can do all these things while only flapping it’s wings 30 times per minute. For perspective’s sake, a Mosquito must flap 600 times and a Housefly 1000 times!

The beautiful Dragonfly also showcases iridescent, opaque wings that reveal what’s called Structural Coloration: The ability to reflect many different colors as the angle or view of illumination changes.

Though we see them as flying insects, only a small portion of this time (a few days to a few weeks) is spent in the air. The majority of their 6-7 month lifespan occurs as larvae (or nymph) in the freshwater regions.

Its metamorphosis takes form when the larva comes out of the water to hang from the bank or some sort of stem while enjoying the warm sunshine and eventually turning into an adult Dragonfly. Before it can take flight, its wings have to dry; in this state it’s referred to as the Latin word teneral, meaning tender, soft or delicate.

Many “tenerals” in this critical stage die out due to strong force winds, boats, other predators, and even other larvae! How sinister is that? A soon-to-be Dragonfly can be taken out by a larva in its infancy. Mind blown. Call it not-so-friendly fire.

Though the Dragonfly in flight is a formidable predator, it must constantly be on the lookout for other predators like birds, lizards, frogs, fish, and more. Because of these dangers, the Dragonfly is naturally well equipped with 360-degree vision, extremely agile flight, and a fast speed as discussed earlier. That’s God’s handy work!

Unfortunately, the mature Dragonfly’s life is short-lived, only surviving for a maximum of 6-7 months in ideal conditions, and sometimes as little as just a few weeks!

If there were ever a creature to live in the moment, it’s the Dragonfly. Let that be a lesson to us as humans. We tend to live in the past or future a lot of the time, always worried about our “plans” and constantly looking ahead for better days. Even worse, some of us can’t stop reflecting on past mistakes and what we could have done better. The fact is that it’s hard to live in the here and now, but it is possible.

Life is but a fleeting moment, so let’s make the best of it by being grateful for what we do have, and loving ourselves right where we are.

With that, let’s get into the device itself!

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The Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review

The Lab Rat Version

Audioquest DragonFly Red


  • Price: Check Amazon | Check eBay!
  • Input: USB
  • Output: Headphone, 2.1 volts
  • Dimensions: 12 mm x 19 mm x 82 mm
  • Resolution: Up to 24-bit / 96 kHz
  • MicroController: Microchip PIC32MX
  • DAC Chip: ESS 9016 32-bit
  • Volume Control: Digital: 64-bit Bit Perfect Volume Control


I knew before even demoing this baby that it was going to sound good. What I didn’t realize is just how good it really is. As far as value and price to performance, I would almost rank it ahead of both the Oppo HA-2 and a Chord Mojo. Why?

Because it’s about the size of a Tic-Tac.

Learn more:

Okay maybe not that small, but you get the idea. 😛 You can literally take it anywhere! You can also pair it with your phone, but an adapter is needed. More on that later.

If the sound of your laptop’s internal Soundcard sucks (most do), and you don’t feel like investing in a desktop solution, but still want to experience what an Amp/DAC combo is all about, I would buy this almost instantly without hesitation. What is a Soundcard?

What makes it so valuable is the fact that it will improve the resolution and clarity of almost any song via it’s powerful Digital to Analog Converter. How the heck can something so small be so amazing? We’ll delve into that in a bit. First, learn more about how your PC processes sound: Bit Depth vs. Sample Rate.

A DAC’s primary function is to convert the 1’s and 0’s (digital data) from your computer, phone, mobile device, etc., into sound that you can understand (analog). If you’re screaming obscene rap lyrics into your mic, your computer understands it in a binary way and doesn’t judge you. 😛

But if the DAC is crap, then the sound is no good. My laptop’s DAC (or Soundcard) isn’t bad per se, but it doesn’t provide a sound that’s loud enough.

A solution like the Dragonfly Red provides a quick fix by not only amplifying the sound to a listenable level but making the quality of the conversion itself better in the process. A double whammy of goodness!

Let’s take a look at its features…

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Dragonfly Features

The cool thing about the Dragonfly is its ability to light up in different colors according to the source file. This is done via a 1mm LED inside the device that illuminates the logo on the outside.

  • Green = 44.1 kHz
  • Blue = 48 kHz
  • Amber = 88.2 kHz
  • Magenta = 96 kHz

The other cool thing about the DragonFly is that as soon as you plug it in its volume is controlled by your laptop. No-fuss no muss! Even on my crappy old Lenovo T510 (soon to be retired), I’m able to use the onboard volume buttons. Suddenly the laptop has lots more value 😛 It feels cool to adjust the volume on the laptop and not be using the poopy internal Soundcard while doing so.


  • Ultra-convenient and Portable.
  • Great build even for such a small piece.
  • Remarkable sound quality.


  • None.

Check out the video!

My Video Comparison

Here I did an in-depth A/B comparison of the Black & Red version, as well as a Shootout between the FiiO E10K, DragonFly Red, and HA-2! You can also get to the Cobalt/Red comparison from there.

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. Any support is much appreciated! 🙂

Let’s take a look at some photos…

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Photo Gallery

Click to see the DragonFly Red!

FiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly RedFiiO Q1 vs. E10K vs. DragonFly Red

Shoot 2

DragonFly Red goes to the beach

Audioquest DragonFly Red
DF Red goes to the Beach.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red
DF Red goes to the beach.
Audioquest DragonFly Red
Fun in the Sun.


Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

So as promised, it is possible to use the Dragonfly Red with your phone, and you have a few options at your disposal:

If you’re on a MAC, the USB ports on the back may fare better as far as sound quality goes. The ports on the side are said to be not as good and may result in a slight degradation in quality.

As for why such a small piece of equipment can sound so amazing? The secret lies in its 32 bit ESS 9016 chip, which provides a more realistic sound and an upgrade from the Dragonfly Black’s 32 bit ESS 9010 chip.

Also, its 2.1V output provides more power for higher-end audiophile-type headphones with a lower sensitivity. What is Sensitivity in Headphones? For instance, the Dragonfly powers my Sennheiser HD 600’s with relative ease, something I was completely taken aback by. Learn more: Sennheiser HD600 Review.

If you were interested in the differences between the Black and Red models (and other iterations of the Dragonfly): Audioquest Dragonfly Black vs. Red!


The Dragonfly Red provides a portable, convenient, and highly effective solution for your desire to obtain great sound. Its price to performance ratio is astounding, and it’s built extremely well despite being so small. This is one piece of gear that I would recommend
100% of the time in any circumstance.

Final Word

Well, I’ve done enough swooning for one day.


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Well that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audioquest DragonFly Review.

What do you think about this piece? Is it worth the investment? Let me know!!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know in the comments below or Contact me!! I would love to hear from you.

Until then, all the best and God bless…





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Audioquest DragonFly Red








Ease of Use


Power Output



  • Convenient
  • Easy to Use
  • Powers 99% of Headphones
  • Can be paired with a phone
  • Sounds fantastic


  • Lack of features

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Tee May 26, 2018 - 10:33 am


Thanks for all the great information on the site!

I am looking for a portable and affordable amp/DAC for my AKG K701 – would you recommend this device? I use it for music production on my Macbook Pro Retina.


Stuart Charles Black May 26, 2018 - 3:20 pm

Thank you for your kind words 🙂 I would say certainly! Let me know how it turns out Tee!


Dave August 3, 2018 - 2:50 pm

Hi Stu,
I have a pair of older AKG K240 DF cans which I believe are 600 ohms. I am wondering if the Dragonfly Red will power these? I have found a couple of conflicting reports on the interweb. I would prefer to have a portable DAC/amp for these and the Dragonfly Red certainly would fit the bill.

If it doesn’t, any suggestions for the K240?

Stuart Charles Black August 4, 2018 - 4:01 pm


I probably would not recommend that as the 240DF’s are a special case, and the Dragonfly Red’s ceiling is about 300 Ohms. For instance, it can power my HD600’s very well, but just barely spec wise. I would never rely on it for anything more than that. Sounds like I’m ragging on it but it’s quite the opposite. I love the Dragonfly and recommend it first in 99% of situations.

For your case however, I would go with something else. Here are some options:

-Schiit Magni 3. This will provide 230mW into 600 Ohms and is more than enough for a 240DF. I have the Magni 2 but do plan on upgrading in the future.
-Musical Paradise MP-301. Read quite a bit about this guy and a few people were loving the pairing with the 240DF. Something to consider for sure.
-For something a bit more affordable, the Audioengine D1 into a Bravo Audio V2 got an endorsement as well.
-Schiit Valhalla. Might even be overkill, but provides 450mW into 600 Ohms.
-Rock n Glass. Another hidden gem of a tube amp, said to be a good pairing with the K240DF and comes in at a very reasonable price.
Darkvoice336. Great tube amp for higher impedance headphones like the 240DF.

I’ve even read that a Kenwood C2 and generally older Yamaha receivers work really well with the 240DF. Mostly this is due to the ability for you to use the tone controls on the C2, which helps out with the bass in particular.

I would probably go with either the Magni 3 or the Musical Paradise in your case. I hope that helps! Please keep me posted on your decision making process and let me know what you think of the above mentioned.


Juan December 8, 2018 - 2:45 am

Dragonfly red vs bravo v2 for he 600?

Stuart Charles Black December 8, 2018 - 2:54 pm

Hey Juan! Do you mean the HD600? What headphone are your referring to?

Andres January 9, 2021 - 8:30 am

Hi Stu, happy new year.
How well does the dragonfly red handle the AKG K702? I know those headphones lack bass but for rock, electro, pop and hip hop, how’s it going? I’m not a bass head

Stuart Charles Black January 11, 2021 - 4:03 am

Happy New Year to you as well! Love the Red with the 702! I listen to all those genres with it! 🙂

Isaque Gomes de Souza June 22, 2021 - 10:01 pm

How do i know if it will power something well?

Stuart Charles Black June 24, 2021 - 4:30 pm

Hey man, it’s got plenty of power. 2.1V which comes out to around 400mW if I’m not mistaken. What are you trying to power?


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