Monthly Archives: July 2019

AudioQuest’s new Dragonfly Cobalt – Worth the upgrade?

AudioQuest introduced their first portable headphone DAC and amplifier seven years ago in 2012. The Dragonfly Black allowed music lovers to bring their music anywhere, with a high-resolution DAC and powerful headphone amp. Shortly after, the Black was joined by the Dragonfly Red. Boasting a higher output for more demanding headphones, as well as a more sophisticated and capable DAC chip.

As of July 2019, the Dragonfly line-up has expanded. Introducing the Dragonfly Cobalt, AudioQuest’s newest and arguably best portable DAC and headphone amp to date.

The Cobalt promises superior performance thanks to a wide range of improvements. Such as a new ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip, delivering a more expressive, detailed sound. As well as a PIC32MX274 microcontroller, which draws less current than the Dragonfly Red, while increasing the processing speed by a third. The new Dragonfly also features improved power supply filtering, reminiscent of AudioQuest’s dedicated JitterBug USB Noise Filter, which reduces unwanted noise inherent in Wifi, Bluetooth and Cellular devices.

The new Dragonfly is capable of powering even the most demanding of headphones, thanks to its 2.1-volt output. It is also capable of MQA rendering, which worked perfectly with Tidal Masters on my phone. The DAC is capable of handling high-res audio up to 24 bit 96kHz, and while the ESS DAC chip is capable of a much higher sample rate (As high as 384kHz), the Cobalts sample rate is limited to 96kHz due to the Microchips USB receiver. Allowing for a wide range of compatibility, without the need to install any driver software to your device, whether you are using Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android or Linux. AudioQuest would have to sacrifice compatibility and ease of use to increase the Cobalts maximum sample rate and realistically, how much music do you listen to with a sample rate higher than 96kHz?

I listened to all three Dragonfly’s, the Black, Red and Cobalt, using a variety of headphones. Pictured, are the AudioQuest Nighthawk headphones. I also listened to the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures and the Quad ERA-1’s.

The Cobalt is 10% smaller than its predecessor and perfectly matches the included Dragontail USB C adapter. Making an already small DAC, even more portable.

Is it worth the upgrade?

If you just read the Cobalt’s specs you may think it’s just a Dragonfly Red with a newer DAC chip, however, the whole product has been completely redesigned and is a real improvement on its predecessors. Improving in overall volume output, clarity and detail. The Cobalt can be considered a grown-up, more refined Dragonfly Red.

One of the highest compliments we can give the Cobalt is that it can stand up to the more costly and incredibly well-reviewed Chord Electronics Mojo, and while the Mojo excels thanks to its high sample rate compatibility and fantastic detail, the Cobalt can sound more musical and easy to listen to in some cases. When it comes to portability, the Cobalt is much smaller than Chords portable DAC and also doesn’t require charging, unlike the Mojo. This may be an unfair comparison, as both DAC’s are priced differently and are aimed at different audiences, but it is interesting nevertheless.

The Cobalt is an upgrade well worth considering whether you are already a Dragonfly owner or not. I would definitely suggest heading to your nearest Hifi shop and trying one out. You won’t be disappointed.

Products Mentioned

AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt – USB DAC & Headphone Amp

AudioQuest Dragonfly Red – USB DAC & Headphone Amp

AudioQuest Dragonfly Black – USB DAC & Headphone Amp

Chord Electronics Mojo – USB DAC & Headphone Amp

AudioQuest Nighthawk – Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature – Headphones

Quad ERA-1 – Headphones

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Creek Audio 100CD USB Driver Software

Creek Evolution 100CD & 100P
Creek Evolution 100CD & 100P

Connecting to the Creek Evolution 100CD via a PC requires additional (ASIO) driver software to be installed and potentially a USB2 driver if the PC you are using hasn’t already got one. A Mac computer running OSX won’t need any additional drivers.

Drivers for Windows-based computers can be downloaded via the links below:]

Evolution 100CD USB Driver

Evolution 100CD SaviAudio Driver

If you require help installing this software, an installation guide can be found via the following link:

Creek USB Driver Installation Guide

Creek Evolution 100CD
Creek Evolution 100CD

Who is Creek Audio?

Creek Audio is a British based and family-run hifi component manufacturer, boasting over three decades worth of history and professional experience. Creek Audio began in the back bedroom of the family’s home, and now reaches all corners of the globe thanks to their well-built distribution network. Creek Audio retain a common design philosophy with every product, and claim that the company was founded entirely on the same three principles; Sound Quality, Build Quality and Honest Pricing. These elements are found within every model of their current catalogue, as well as past models, giving Creek Audio a revered and well-respected name within the hi-fi industry.

Products mentioned

Creek Audio Evolution 100CD

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Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly – Portable Hi-Fi?

Chord Electronics is widely renowned for making the best DAC’s on the market and their pocket-sized Mojo is no exception.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly

Using technology from Chords Hugo Series and their flagship Dave reference converter, the Mojo features a custom made FPGA DAC, DSD capability and support for sample rates up to a whopping 768kHz. All squeezed into an aluminium chassis no bigger than your wallet.

Chord Electronics Hugo 2 Headphone Amplifier and DAC
Chord Electronics Hugo 2 Headphone Amplifier and DAC

The Mojo also features a headphone amp, powerful enough to drive any pair of headphones. I listened to a range of headphones from the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature’s, Quad ERA 1’s and the Sennheiser HD660S’s, all of which were driven effortlessly by the Mojo.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly with Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly with Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones

On the one side of the Mojo you will find two 3.5mm headphone jack outputs. With the other side featuring a micro USB input and a 3.5mm digital COAX input (both capable of handling 768kHz/32-bit audio). Alongside an optical TOSLINK 96kHz/24-bit Capable Input and the Micro USB charging port.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly

If you don’t want to keep all your music files on your phone or if you’re looking to connect to the Mojo without wires, the Chord Poly has you covered.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly

With a Micro SD card slot to hold all the music you could ever want, along with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, the Poly is the perfect companion for Chord’s pocket-sized DAC.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly

After connecting to the Poly via Bluetooth, I could control playback of the music stored locally on the SD card using my phone. The feature I was most excited for however, was Poly’s integration with Tidal. Which has recently been enabled via the Poly 2.0 software update. Along with an improved WiFi & Bluetooth connection and support for Roon, Qobuz and Internet Radio.

This update has completely transformed the Poly, from an SD card and Bluetooth player to a very capable streamer, to rival any other on the market. Pairing with the Mojo, makes this an unbeatable combination, for your train journey, walk in the park or sit-down listening session at home.

Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly with Sennheiser HD660S Headphones
Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly with Sennheiser HD660S Headphones

As expected from any Chord Electronics product, the Mojo and Poly sound fantastic. With high-res Tidal support, a beautifully detailed, clean and musical DAC and a headphone amp capable of powering any pair of headphones. The Mojo and Poly seem almost unbeatable.

Product Links

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