$299 AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt Enhances the Sound of Smart Devices and Other Gear

The reasonably priced AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt can be used with Apple and Android devices, as well as computers to improve the quality of digital audio through its MQA compatibility.

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Since 2012 when the first Dragonfly product was introduced, AudioQuest has set the bar for affordable, high-quality digital-to-analog converters (DACs). Adding to its legacy, the new $299 AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt DAC/headphone amp improves the sound of portable devices.

AudioQuest explains that through the Cobalt's 2.1-volt output, its latest product can drive nearly any pair of headphones.

The portable DAC/headphone amp features a “bit-perfect” digital volume control to support its seamless compatibility with Apple and Android, and it provides the ability to play MQA content.

Highlighting some of the improvements it has made to the cobalt, AudioQuest says its latest DAC offers these upgrades to its latest DAC/headphone amp:

  • The Cobalt features an ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a minimum-phase slow roll-off filter
  • A Microchip PIC32MX274 microprocessor that is said to draw less current, while increasing processing speed by 33%
  • AudioQuest improved the DAC's power supply filtering to better protect against Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular noise
  • Other improvements include the company's new DragonTail USB-A (female) to USB-C (male) adapter to better accommodate the growing amount of products that now employ USB-C ports
  • The Dragonfly Cobalt utilizes an enclosure that is 10% smaller than previous versions

AudioQuest Cobalt Employs Unique Digital Audio Technologies

The Calif.-based audio manufacturer states that like its other Dragonfly products, the Cobalt incorporates the StreamLength asynchronous-transfer USB code technology that was developed by engineer Gordon Rankin. 

According to AudioQuest, building on StreamLength, the Cobalt uses Rankin's monoClock technology to allow a single low-jitter clock from the ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip to run the ESS chip functions, as well as all of the chip's microcontroller functions. 

Related: For High-Performance Audio, Don’t Skimp on Power Cords, Conditioners

These functions, the company emphasizes, enable the Cobalt to provide high levels of resolution and clarity. 

In addition, AudioQuest notes the first 10,000 units will come with packaged vouchers for trial subscriptions to the TIDAL and Qobuz streaming music services. 

About the Author

Robert Archer
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Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass.

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