Home Amp/DAC Comparisons [Definitive Guide] AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

[Definitive Guide] AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

by Stuart Charles Black
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Shout out to inToit Reviews for the DACportHD loaner, and Audio Advice for the Cobalt and Mojo loaners!

Greetings bloke, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo vs. CEntrance DACport HD, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..

I’m Here to Help!!

Table of Contents

Click to navigate the article!

Features & Usage
Video Shootout
Photo Gallery
Final Word
Album List
Stu’s Notepad

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling, shall we?


I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a DragonFly Cobalt for quite some time.

Every year, my local Audio Advice in Raleigh, N.C. holds what they call “Music Matters”, a small audio get-together showcasing different companies and the new products that they have coming out.

I’ve met some really cool people there including my friend Luke Wagoner.

I also see some of the same reps, including the one from AudioQuest who was super excited about the Cobalt.

Like, really, really excited. He told us that it was a marked improvement over the Red and sounded even better.

At that point, I still had not demoed one (Oct. 2019) but was itching to compare it to the Red and see if the hype was warranted.

My boy Luke Wagoner demoing the beautiful Focal Stellia – Music Matters 2019.

A Closer Look.

Outside of his impressions, Luke’s impressions, as well as another of my subscribers on YouTube, I haven’t read any reviews, watched any content, or asked anyone their opinion on the Cobalt.

Even despite the fact that I’m 100% immersed in the audiophile world nearly 24/7, I wanted this shootout/comparison to be as unbiased as possible.

I realize that in this day and age, that’s almost impossible, but again: I haven’t researched any opinions, and anything that I may have heard from others wasn’t sought after.

With a product as highly anticipated as the Cobalt, it became fairly difficult NOT to hear at least something in passing about it.

But I digress.

I own a DragonFly Red, I’m demoing a Cobalt now, I have spent a few months with the DACport HD, and I’ve also tried the Chord Mojo on a few different occasions (for console gaming and music).

I have a very good idea of how the 4 sound in relation to each other.

So, is the Cobalt better than the Red? Is it worth the extra $100? How does the Mojo stack up?

What about the ugly duckling DACport HD?

We’ll completely dissect all of these questions and more from A-Z.

By the time you’re finished reading this, you should A) Be fairly exhausted, B) Be laughing, and C) Have an excellent idea of which Amp/DAC is the most worthy of your hard-earned dollar. This guide will attempt to answer any and all questions you may have!

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First up? Let’s take a gander at the build…

Build & Aesthetic

In one of my other shootouts, I compared the DragonFly with that of a standard USB flash drive.

That isn’t incorrect, but it had been a while since I actually held a Flash Drive in my hand.

For this comparison, I thought I’d whip out the old storage stick to compare. Lo and behold, the Fly is actually quite a bit heavier, at least it feels like it is.

I’ve always loved how a Red feels in my hand.

It doesn’t come across as cheap by any measure, while a Cruzer Micro 4GB does.

Keep in mind that the DragonFly is indeed an Amplifier and DAC rolled into an absolutely minuscule package, so there’s that.

The Cruzer simply stores a small amount of information and isn’t called upon to convert digital information into analog sound.

Whipped out the trusty old Flash Drives.

The point is that the Red is built very well.

The Cobalt is too!

The main difference between the 2 is that the Cobalt is smaller (some claim even more portable), and weighs a bit less.

Look, both fit into your pocket. Who cares. To me it’s a marketing tactic:

“Look! It’s even smaller! You can take it anywhere! And when we say anywhere, we mean .. ANYWHERE.”

Lol. Yes, the Cobalt has a smaller form factor and bears a sleeker, more elegant-looking profile.

Are we runway modeling, or listening to music? It’s a DAC made out of inanimate objects for F’s sake, not Anna Kournikova.

That said, I still actually prefer the look of the DragonFly Red, but that’s just me.

The Cobalt is shorter in height, and also slimmer in width. Both the DragonFly logo and LED illumination of said Cobalt are smaller as well.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

The Big Stage.

Both have the “aq” on the bottom in lowercase letters, but the Red version has a sort of grip/protrusion jutting outward.

The Cobalt does not. Instead, the top of the Cobalt slopes in a gentle downward trajectory, resembling that of an extremely shallow hill.

If you turn it and look from the side you can see it. It’s rounded off toward the base, while the Red is squared.

The Red however isn’t a square, which we’ll find out more about later. 😛

The DragonFly Red by contrast is also very boxy looking, similar to the relationship between the FiiO K3 vs. E10K.

One looks more industrial, while the other looks more sleek and modernized. The Cobalt is very futuristic-looking and curvy.

One small issue I had with the Cobalt is its 3.5mm jack and USB male end that plugs into your PC.

Both feel a tad too jiggly for my liking, similar to Jiggly Puff.

If you look at the 3.5mm jack on the Cobalt, it protrudes slightly outside of the unit itself.

You can move it around with your finger. I’m not really sure how I feel about that, though it hasn’t affected the sound any.

By contrast,

the DragonFly Red’s 3.5mm jack is depressed a bit inside the unit itself, and doesn’t move at all.

I much prefer this configuration.

The other issue is that of the USB male end. Again, on the Cobalt it kind of wiggles around a bit too much for my liking.

The good news is that it fits much more flush into the USB port on my Lenovo X1 Extreme.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

Cobalt isn’t as photogenic, but you can see how the Red is kind of showing a little skin. Oh, behave!!

The DragonFly Red by contrast kind of sticks out a little.

Still, no effect on sound with either so I suppose it’s not really a big deal.

What I do like better with the Cobalt is that it doesn’t hang down as my Red does.

It fits flush, but also sticks out straight rather than sagging.

Still, with a headphone plugged into either DAC, it will hang a bit.

No effect on the sound, but again: something to keep in mind.

Both come with a leather-looking sleeve to put in while you’re on the go, but the Cobalt also comes with the Dragon Tail adapter for your phone.

It is Type-C, so if you have a phone with Micro USB, you’ll need an adapter like this one.


  • If you end up purchasing the Cobalt but have an Android with Micro USB input, the cheapest way to get music playing would be to get this small adapter.
  • If you get the Cobalt and already have an Android with Type-C, you’re good to go.
  • If you purchase the DragonFly Red, I would just go with iFi’s OTG linked above. It comes in Type-C or Micro USB options.
  • If you have an Android with Type-C and don’t want to spend the money on the iFi OTG, go with the Anker that’s linked above.

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Let’s now take a look at how the DACport HD stacks up!

CEntrance DACport HD

  • Asynchronous USB: Yes
  • Support: Up to 32-bit/384kHz
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. CEntrace DACport HD

Lego men seeing what all the hubbub is about.

Audioquest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo vs. CEntrance DACport HD

Taking note of the DACport HD.

The DACport by contrast is a bit heavier, but also a bit larger in stature.

It resembles a slightly bulkier BIC lighter, with its rounded-off corner and conveniently placed volume rotary dial.

Neither the Cobalt nor Red have a volume dial on them. You’ll simply use your laptop/PC’s controls.

The DACport also has a 3.5mm jack, but I was personally having issues with the sound cutting out.

Confirmed: it is the jack itself.

I’ve tried it with various different headphones and I’m having problems with all of them.

At first, I thought it was the HE4XX‘s jack, but both the Sennheiser HD600 and AKG K702 have been giving me fits.

I’m not sure if inToit Reviews was having the same issue.

I also had an issue with a simple 3.5mm interconnect from the DACport HD into the Bravo Ocean, so I’m 100% certain it’s a faulty jack.

On the side of the DACport, you’ll find a gain switch. I find it necessary to keep it on high gain most of the time for a couple of reasons.

  1. It requires a toothpick, paperclip, or something similar to switch from high gain to low (or vice versa). The switch is depressed inside the unit.
  2. I found that I need all of the power supplied by the DACport with headphones like the K702, HD600, and HE4XX.

I don’t fault CEntrance for configuring the unit in this way.

It prevents damage to the switch while in your pocket or on the go, and it also prevents blowing your eardrums out if you accidentally tick the gain on at full volume.

Chord Mojo

Note: I’m linking the Mojo 2 because the original has been discontinued.

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

  • Asynchronous USB: Yes
  • Support: Up to 32-bit/768kHz

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

The Mojo is quite a bit heftier than either the Cobalt, Red, or DACport, coming in at a solid 180g.

By contrast:

  • The DragonFly Cobalt is the lightest at 19g.
  • The DragonFly Red is a bit heavier at 23g.
  • The DACport HD is a bit heavier than that at 36g.
  • The Mojo is the heaviest at 180g.

Aside from that, the Mojo and DACport HD do have some extra features to speak of.

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While we’re on the subject, let’s discuss it!

Features & Usage

AudioQuest DragonFly Red & Cobalt

  • Asynchronous USB: Yes
  • Support: Up to 24-bit/96kHz

What I like about the Cobalt and Red is that they have an illuminated logo that displays different LED colors depending on the source file.

Both are also MQA enabled with Tidal, but make sure that you set them to Exclusive mode inside the program or the colors will not change.

To do so is simple:

  • Head up to the very top left of the screen and you’ll see 3 small bars/lines.
  • Click and go to File > Settings.
  • Now you’re inside the Matrix. Just kidding.
  • Click the Streaming Tab.
  • Scroll down until you see “Sound Output.” First, make sure it’s on either the Cobalt or Red (Whichever you’re using). The cool thing about both is that they don’t require drivers. Simply plug and play!
  • Right next to Sound Output, you’ll see “More Settings.” Click that.
  • Tick the switch to enable exclusive mode.

Now you’re all set! The colors will change according to the source file. Let’s take a look:

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt


AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

I Got Greens. Anthony’s Got Browns.

DragonFly Red

  • Red: Standby
  • Green: 44.1kHz
  • Blue: 48kHz
  • Amber: 88.2kHz
  • Magenta: 96kHz
  • Purple: MQA. Give me some of that purple!

DragonFly Cobalt

  • Red: Standby
  • Green: 44.1kHz
  • Blue: 48kHz
  • Yellow: 88.2kHz
  • Light Blue: 96kHz
  • Purple: MQA.

So as you can see, they changed the colors around a little.

Outside of that, there aren’t any other real “features” to speak of.

AudioQuest almost exclusively relies on the sound of the DragonFly itself to deliver an engaging and beautiful experience.


No gain either. xD

You won’t really need it though.

That said, either Cobalt or Red can be used as solely a DAC in a separate Amp.

Right now I’m using the DF Red with a 3.5mm interconnect into the Bravo Audio Ocean. It sounds marvelous!

Bravo Audio Ocean

As mentioned above, the CEntrance does have a gain switch, and it also functions as just a DAC via its line in/out.

Chord Mojo

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

Volume Globes and Power Globe.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

Dual 3.5mm Headphone Jacks.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

Coax, Optical, Charging, Listening.

The Mojo is a bit different in that it has an Optical Input (which can be used for Console Gaming), 2 sets of 3.5mm headphone jacks, and a coaxial input as well as 2 micro USB slots.

One is for charging and the other is for listening. Keep in mind you can listen to and charge it at the same time.

Instead of having a rotary volume dial like the DACport, the Mojo opts to utilize small rolling globes that you essentially press.

One increases volume, the other decreases it.

The third volume globe is the power button and also represents the source file according to color.

This time there’s an even wider array of colors due to the Mojo being able to support up to 32-bit/768kHz files.

I’ve read some people b*tching and complaining about it, but it’s really not that difficult to grasp if you’re educated above a second-grade level. 🙂

Let’s take a peek.

Hold down the power button globe ball thingy for 2 seconds.

After this, the Mojo will turn on, and the volume globes will also display colors.

The unit should be recognized by your PC almost instantaneously.

Once it is, find it in your Control Panel’s Sound section. It should say “Chord Async USB 44.1kHz – 768kHz.” Right-click and set it as your default device!

  • Take note of the different colors on the power button and what they refer to.

When you’re playing back music, the power button globe will display many colors depending on the sample rate of the song in question.

Red = 44.1kHz. Orange = 48. Yellow = 88.2 Green = 96. Light Blue = 176. Dark Blue = 192. Light Purple = 352. Purple = 384. Plum = 768. Light Plum = DSD.

  • Take note of the volume colors.

The volume buttons also change colors depending on how loud or quiet you’re listening. The pattern seems to mimic the above pattern for sample rate upon intense examination.

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With that out of the way, what about Ergonomics? What can you expect with regard to power output and the like?

Ergonomics & Power Output

The DragonFly Red and Cobalt provide 2.1V of power across the board which comes out to around 135mW (PLENTY).

With this much juice, you’ll never have to worry.

Both will drive most headphones to more than acceptable listening levels.

I’ve never had an issue with anything I’ve come across, ranging from any HiFiMan (400i/400S/4XX/Ananda/Sundara) to the Sennheiser HD600, 650, 6XX, to an AKG K702, K240, and really anything in between.

The DACport provides 775mW of total power, touting the ability to drive 600 Ohm headphones as well.

The Mojo?

  • Output Power @ 1kHz – 600Ω 35mW
  • Output Power @ 1kHz – 8Ω 720mW

As you can see, you won’t lack power with any of these.

They all provide more than enough in the majority of cases and match up well with 99% of headphones.

What about the most important part, the sound? Hold onto your butts folks, because sh** is about to get real.


  • Headphones: HIFIMAN HE4XX, Sennheiser HD600, AKG K702
  • Source: Tidal Hi-Fi, Spotify Premium (FLAC, MQA, 1,411 kbps, etc.)

I did some extensive back and forth with the DragonFly Red and Cobalt, and I have some news that you may or may not like.

The sound of both is roughly the same.

I know it’s hard to swallow like you’re at the dentist, but we’re going to take the Red pill today (no pun intended).

Do you see? The Blue Pill is the Cobalt. It’s a comfortable lie.

It’s what you take when you want to convince yourself that the extra money you spent was justified.

The DragonFly Red is the Red pill.

It’s the uncomfortable truth of realizing that all of this sh** is overrated and we’re living in the Matrix.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

Lol. Morpheus makes his return to my blog.

*Deep Breaths*

I did an extensive back-and-forth with quite a few MQA albums inside Tidal, and I can assure you that the differences are almost non-existent.

In fact, I went back and forth for the entire duration of the Grateful Dead’s “Terrapin Station” in real-time, trying to discern a difference.

That’s over 16 minutes of switching DACs fast, rewinding to double-check the Timbre of the drums, the overall expansiveness of the sound, vocal inflections, resolution, detail, air, etc., etc. (insert snobby audiophile term here ____ ).

Like Dynamism. What HIFI? likes to use that one a lot. Wow. Many Dynamism. Such Audiophile. Please stop.

There was hardly anything to speak of.

If there are any differences, they’re minuscule and in a blind test won’t even be discernible to 99% of people.

To me, the release of the Cobalt was more marketing and hype than it was substance.

In my opinion, all of the accolades it’s gotten were the direct result of its reputation.

“It’s an AudioQuest product. It must be good! We must help market it immediately! You know people love dem there shiny new objects!”

Well, that’s not untrue. The Cobalt does sound good, but: what exactly about it is better?


It has an updated 9038Q2M DAC Chip. Cool. The older Red had a 9016ESS and the old old Black had a 9010. So … what?

Should that make me believe it’s better? Because technically, it may be, but in practice, it’s not.

That said, don’t get me wrong – I love the sound of both. As musical devices for new listeners looking for an upgrade from their crappy motherboard/phone DAC, they are fantastic.

It’s just that the Cobalt isn’t worth the extra $100. Not by a long shot.

The sound of both you ask? Open, crisp, airy, cool, etc.

If there is a difference between these 2, I only perceived it during the very first track, “Estimated Prophet”, off of the aforementioned Terrapin Station.

From my notes:

“The vocal inflection of Hunter’s voice (meant to say Bob Weir*) seemed more revealing through the Cobalt vs. Red. At 33 seconds, the decay of his voice seemed to be better and more fully fleshed out. The overall resolution on the Cobalt does seem slightly improved. It’s especially apparent with vocals. You can hear more subtlety going on in the mix.”

Notice I said “seemed” twice for a reason without really even being consciously aware while I was writing.

Also, keep in mind it was the first track, and my very first time listening to the Cobalt. A couple of things could have happened:

  1. My brain expected a more expensive product to sound better, and thus it compensated by believing it actually did sound better (when in reality it probably didn’t).
  2. After that initial high and wow factor wore off, my brain became acclimated to the new stimulus, and all further comparisons therein yielded the same overall impression: That they sound basically identical.

As mentioned earlier, in a blind test 99% of people won’t be able to discern a difference. I fully believe that.

I also plan on trying it out on my unsuspecting dad.

He knows nothing about these products, isn’t an audiophile, and listens to music almost exclusively through speakers. He’s the perfect guinea pig for this experiment. Stay tuned for that as well.

What about the CEntrance DACport HD? Does it sound better than either the Cobalt or Red?


In fact, the sound is extremely similar to both the Red and Cobalt. Neither of the 3 is better than the other.

It’s all in your mind, and more about the perception of the brand, product, etc. than any real tangible sound differences.

You want to believe it sounds better, so your brain conjures up reasons to support that conclusion. It’s simple psychology.

Can UFOs actually be Unidentified Flying Objects, if we’ve identified them as Unidentified Flying Objects?

The problem with DACs is not that they aren’t important.

Rather, in the hierarchy of importance, they are a distant fourth.

People like to make a mountain out of a molehill when deciding on one, and that issue has only become magnified as time passes on and more companies throw their products into the ever-growing cesspool at large.

This only serves to confuse the F out of your average homie who just wants to listen to music and AAAAHAHSGDLKDSUl!!!!ke$$&!$*(@^&!!$#(%@#(*)#%#^!!!!!!!!!

^This is what the average person looks like when they’re researching audio equipment.

The fact of the matter is that you’re not going to give a damn about which one you go with when you sit down and actually listen to music.

At least I hope you’re not. If you do, you have serious issues and need help.

“Wahh, the strings on Beethoven’s fourth symphony in B. minor Op. 5 don’t sound syrupy enough!!

I need a better DAC! Wahh! *cries*

If syrup is what you’re after, purchase this. Then douse it all over yourself while you’re listening to music.

It’s like that spoiled little girl in Willy Wonka who turned out to be a bad egg.

She ended up falling down the chute. Good. Riddance.

The average person doesn’t have 7+ Amps & DACs around at their disposal to go back and forth with.

I do, but that doesn’t make me special.

It just means I write about it and expose these things, but my goal has always been to help. If there’s a cheaper DAC that does the same thing, I’d rather you just purchase that and be done with it (i.e. never buy one ever again, because DACs are stupid and overrated).

Whew. That felt nice.

One last thing: Anyone who writes or makes videos drooling over the Cobalt as if it’s the second coming of Jesus, is shilling for your cash. And I’m out.

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Rant aside, what about the Mojo? Does it sound better than the other 3?

Chord Mojo

The Best Headphone Amps & DACS

This is where things get a bit dicey, because in my opinion, yes. It does sound better.

So disregard all of the above memes. Sorta. No, don’t. They’re funny.

The Mojo, along with the Bryston BHA-1 are 2 amps that do stand out amongst the crowd per my own experience.

Both are the best that I have personally heard, but it’s still only my opinion and doesn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of things.

Why do you ask? Because DACs are stupid, and we’re but a grain of sand in the entire scope of the universe. So who cares.

The sound of the Mojo is fluid, lush, and liquid sounding, with gobs of detail to boot.

It’s the type of sound that will be immediately mind-blowing to not only a newcomer just starting out, but perhaps also a more experienced enthusiast looking to garner the title of “Audiophile Snob.”

On the subject of the Audiophile Snob title, It’s definitely something to strive for. So make sure that when you give your opinion on social media, it comes off as douchey as humanly possible.

Everyone should know that you’re right. So be loud and proud about it! Take no prisoners! Show those fake Audiophiles that you. mean. business. Go all James Scott Farrin on that ass. Don’t hold back. Your voice deserves to be heard, no matter how arrogant it sounds.

Hey, I’m talking about myself too! XD

Anyways, back to the Mojo.

Such was the case the first time I sat down and listened to one with a MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed.

It immediately sounded better than anything I’d heard at that point in a lower-tiered category.

DACs like the Oppo HA-2, DragonFly Red, FiiO E10K, etc.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

That fateful day. I’ll never look at music the same way again.

Everything about the Mojo presents music to you in a more realistic, fleshed-out way.

The decay and sustain of instruments and vocals are better, and the resolution is a bit better, with overall intimacy and warmth feeling more immediate and closer to you.

Listening with a Mojo is almost like the artist is speaking directly in front of you at times.

If the Cobalt and Red sat in a middle ground between warmth and detail, the Mojo leans more toward warmth, while still retaining all of the same detail.

Really, it’s a match made in heaven.

An example of a song that provided that sort of illusory, live vocal quality was Ekali & Medasin’s “Forever.”

As soon as her vocals started, I felt like she was sort of in front of my face, ready to give me a kiss.

It’s an experience that hasn’t been matched since, along with my story of Led Zeppelin’s Over the Hills and Far Away (with the Bryston and 400i), which I’m sure my friends and followers are really sick of hearing about. 😀

With that, both the Mojo and DACport HD do run a bit warm/hot. That may factor into your decision and it may not.

It just depends. For me, it doesn’t really matter and I don’t care. If you’re traveling a lot with the DAC in your pocket, it may. Keep that in mind before purchasing.

All of these DACs are very transportable and mobile. The Mojo after all does stand for Mobile Joy. I mostly associate it with Austin Powers though, for obvious reasons.

Do I make you horny baby? Do I? Do I make you RANDY baby?!?!”

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Alright, I’ll stop. Let’s take a break and watch a video. 😀

Video Shootout

Don’t forget to leave me some love! <3


Photo Gallery

Shoot 1

Inside Closeup (Dark).

I wanted you to get a sense of the color schemes and textures, even though you’ll mostly be on Green or Magenta. I also really like taking pictures 😀

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo
Cobalt isn't as photogenic, but you can see how the Red kind of showing a little skin.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo
I Got Greens.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo
I Got Greens. Anthony's Got Browns.
Please Stand By.

Shoot 2

Inside (Night Time)

Whipped out the trusty old Flash Drives.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. CEntrace DACport HD
DACport makes an appearance.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. CEntrace DACport HD
Lego men seeing what all the hubbub is about.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo
The Big Stage.

Shoot 3

Outside (Day Time)

AKG K702 vs. Sennheiser HD600
Portable Power.

Shoot 4

Inside (Day Time).

These are probably my favorite. The light filtering through late in the day was almost majestic. Let me know what YOU think!

Audioquest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo vs. CEntrance DACport HD
Taking note of the DACport HD.

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With that said, what’s the final word here? Which of these should you go with?

Final Word & Update

I would say if it’s between the DragonFly Cobalt and Red, the Red easily wins.

You’re not missing out on anything you’d get with the Cobalt.


I heaped a ton of praise on the Mojo. Is Austin Powers’ favorite DAC worth the money?

Well, version 1 is no longer being manufactured, and version 2 is around $775. I’d say that’s a resounding no, even though I really do love the Mojo. If you can get an original Mojo for under $300, definitely pull the trigger.

As for the DragonFly Red, I’m also not recommending it anymore as it’s a bit overpriced in today’s market.

And to be clear, I have never recommended the overpriced $300 Cobalt at any point. So there’s that.

If you’re looking for a similar DAC that contains the same Cobalt 9038 chip at roughly 1/3 the price, I have something you’ll want to heavily consider.


Learn More:


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve gotten some valuable information out of this AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo vs. DACport HD Shootout.

Which of these would you be inclined to go with? Did I convince you that the Cobalt isn’t worth the extra dough? Be sure to let me know!!

If you have any other questions or feel I’ve missed the mark on something, leave a comment down below or contact me!

I very much look forward to speaking with you…

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!

Here’s the Album List..

Album List

Grateful Dead – Terrapin Station (1977)

Tears for Fears – Songs From The Big Chair (1985)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedoes (1979)

Nujabes – Metaphorical Music (2003)

J Dilla – Donuts (2006)

Slum Village – Fantastic, Vol. 2 (2000)

Tycho – Weather (2019)

Apollo Brown - Sincerely, Detroit

Apollo Brown – Sincerely, Detroit (2019)

Finally, my notes..

Stu’s Notepad

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt

Handwritten Notes.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt

Handwritten Notes.

Don't forget to share if you found it helpful!

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Gabs January 31, 2020 - 9:05 am

Hi !
Just to let you know.
Three years now with the Mojo.
Powerful (enough) and excellent sound, but less neutral than the Apple dongle (on some IEM I have 3d imaging with this dongle !).
The problem with the Mojo is that the battery is now 1hour lasting…and I could not find a spare chinese one at less than 100$…so it’s a dead end for me. Maybe I will buy the Ifi Hip-dac if it’s good enough.

Stuart Charles Black January 31, 2020 - 3:05 pm

Hey man!

Wow that’s interesting to hear! I’m really sorry that happened but it sounds like you at least got some mileage out of it. I’m wondering if yours is an isolated case or if it just happens regardless. I haven’t heard your specific situation from any others but it’s definitely something that people should keep in mind before purchase. Thanks for pointing it out!

Given the DACport’s headphone jack issue (perhaps a one off), it just further cements my belief that a DragonFly Red is the safest route to go. I’ve never heard of ANYONE having issues with one, and I own one and it works flawlessly without any problems.

Def stay tuned for a surprise regarding the Hip-DAC my friend!! Do you mind me adding you to my email list for content updates?

Jean May 2, 2023 - 2:07 am

I have the Dragonfly Black 1,5V (the 2th version) do you think the Red will give an better sound ?

Stuart Charles Black May 6, 2023 - 4:13 pm

Hey Jean!

Perhaps slightly, but I think it’s more of a volume thing as the Red has more power. The sound may be slightly cleaner and more refined, but I almost want to just chalk that up to a placebo. So in short, I would definitely not buy a more expensive DAC (in any sense, really) thinking it’s going to make the already recorded, mixed, mastered/engineered music sound better. Because it just won’t.

Now, if you have harder-to-drive headphones, then yes, an upgrade is certainly worth it as the Red can comfortably drive anything up to around 300 Ohms.

Isak Storm February 13, 2020 - 2:28 pm

Great write-up. As always. Coming of a cobalt purchase, never compared it to the red but it’s better than the black dragonfly. It’s more powerful and better sounding but not by 200$ worth though. My mojo is still unbeaten, my ceiling is 500$ for any audio purchase. More than that is potential audiophilism at it’s worst.

By the way, what’s you’re opinion on audio science review and the Amir-following? It’s sounds like a bunch of flat earthers to me, but what do I know?!

Looking forward to the ifi hip dac review. Holding off on buying the ifi zen dac, have a feeling it’s going to be better value. I’m a sucker for portability. Even if I mostly end up listening at home anyways. Options is always nice though.

Would like to be on your email list if that’s alright

Stuart Charles Black February 17, 2020 - 2:11 pm

Absolutely Isak!

Thank you so much for the comment! I will add you to the list for sure. My opinion on that type of thing is a bit mixed. I don’t think it really helps at all in terms of real world testing because honestly, who cares about measurements when they are actually sitting down and listening to music? They shouldn’t anyways. I know a lot of people will agree with me on this point. Did you happen to see my video on the subject? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoRBserXNyk

Honestly it does feel like that. How a headphone measures is much more helpful and indicative of how it’s going to sound. With dacs it’s way less important because A) Your measurements may not even accurately describe how it performs in reality, which thus leads to B) the person ends up buying something they don’t even like. I think it’s much more helpful to describe sound in terms of warm vs. cool when it comes to dacs. All of the “science” should be based on spec sheet comparisons, power output, and output impedance which is the main determining factor in decoding how a dac actually compares with others. All of the rest of that stuff is noise imo.

Figure out what you need the dac to do in your own unique situation is the most important thing. So many people overlook the basic stuff in favor of numbers. Even with headphones, a graph sometimes doesn’t tell the whole story but it’s light years more helpful with regard to bass, mid-range, and treble. Those are actual measured responses of a sound signature that can be quantified and analyzed.

Put it this way: If you buy something based on reading reviews and comparisons of others, and love it, who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t because my “scientific findings” don’t agree? This is the type of crap that’s going to ruin the experience of actually listening to music, which is the whole effing point.

Colin Lambert July 6, 2020 - 12:19 pm

Really detailed review, flecked with humour and honest opinions based on thorough testing. Thank you.
Two comments: the Mojo’s Achilles heel is it’s internal battery that will fail sooner or later and Chord need to provide an easy facility to obtain the replacement battery or provide reasonably priced replacement service. It can still be used with a power supply , so desktop use is OK but is less convenient as to portability.
Could you review devices like the Audioquest Jitterbug and Uptone Regen? My personal view is that the Jitterbug provides a noticeable low cost upgrade to the Red. Is the same true with the other DACs?

Stuart Charles Black July 12, 2020 - 3:29 am

Yeah man I heard about those issues with the battery as well. Someone had told me awhile back that after about a year it won’t hold a charge for that long. What a shame! About the Jitterbug: I can def jot that down for the future 🙂 What are you rocking right now? Are you interested in the DF Red?

Thank you so much for your kind words!!

Владимир Онищенко December 26, 2020 - 12:34 pm

WHAT if i told you that RED and Cobalt sound nearly identical?

I would reply: I don’t care since i purchased cobalt with price of Red.

Stuart Charles Black December 27, 2020 - 4:19 am

Hey cool! Great deal! Let me know how you like it.

Andres December 31, 2020 - 8:41 am

Hi dude you really has helped me to find a great buy option, I found excellent to buy the dragonfly red with AKG K702 as a upgrade of my sonata HD PRO (Has just a little bit better than the sound of my poor Xiaomi redmi note 7)
The only think here is the software, I’ve checked the app USB Audio Player Pro with my tempotec and I only can listen 9 songs… Then My cellphone didn’t recognize the dac and I had to restart the app again and again.
I bought Poweramp full, but I’ve seen the option of USB Audio Player Pro called “Bit Perfect” so I hope that issue could be a fail of my tempotec or my Xiaomi, because I have other phone (Mi9T) and the USB Audio Player Pro works pretty well with the dac.
Now my question is ¿What do you think?
¿Is super different the *bit perfect” of the USB Audio Player Pro?

I like your page and I’ll read more about this audiophile world

Stuart Charles Black January 5, 2021 - 5:07 pm

Thanks man! Bit perfect. Can’t really comment on that as I haven’t researched it. I think some o the DACS I have here are bit perfect, but I’d have to look into it more. So glad the article helped!

Ruben January 3, 2021 - 5:41 pm

Awesome review, thanks a lot!

Stuart Charles Black January 5, 2021 - 5:00 pm

My pleasure Ruben! Which one are you going with?

Juan Manuel January 19, 2021 - 7:42 pm

Hi Stuart!!
Great review!
A question for you from Madrid.
I have a Sennheiser IE80S,only I listen it with IPad at home.
Red or Cobalt?
Thanks a lot!!
Juan Manuel.

Stuart Charles Black January 19, 2021 - 10:11 pm

Hey man! Red all the way. 🙂

schnitzelking7 January 22, 2021 - 9:21 pm

Hey man,
I’m totally new in terms of music production and audiophile equipment, but I was looking for a reasonable DAC/AMP config to better my music experience (as a guitarist myself) and to help me along my production ways. Safe to say, I’m already saving up for the DF Red, but I before I went along my merry way I just wanted to tell you that you are an absolute gent and your style of writing is HILARIOUS like I’m still laughing at all those dank memes. I wish every review ever was written like this! P.s. As per your recommendations, I shall invest in a luxury bottle of Maple Syrup to further heighten my audiophile experience. Cheers mate!

Stuart Charles Black January 29, 2021 - 7:41 pm

Hahaha! Thank you, mate! I had to check this article again to see what you were referring to and had to laugh. XD I would absolutely go for the Red! Did you see my Cobalt video? Don’t say I didn’t warn you lol: https://youtu.be/6sIt2wpRhXc

M.M. June 21, 2021 - 11:13 am

Chord Mojo Battery: (Link is now broken. -HSB)
It is pretty easy to open and to replace the Battery.

Stuart Charles Black June 22, 2021 - 2:27 pm

Thank you! Should help some folks out 🙂


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