Thursday, March 19, 2015

Audioquest DragonFly

1012dragon promo

I’ve been rediscovering the joys of audio. Helped by the ease with which you can now (legally) stream audio, I’ve been playing around with various output devices. My trusty default is a pair of Klipsch Image X10i’s, which are superlative but not value for money. They’re so good, I have a pair that is with me permanently and another pair that lives at home (both pairs were bought for some tech work I did for a friend, who insisted on paying me for it).


When I travel, I use a pair of Bose QC3’s, which do a great job of blocking out the outside world (mainly the droning that is inevitable on a plane). When I’m not traveling, I have started using a pair of wireless Bose Soundlink headphones instead of the wired Klipsch (technically in ear monitors) which are great, and I think my default for day-to-day listening. But I find something lacking with wireless headphones. They’re good for listening with half an ear, the kind of music that requires no concentration or is more to drown out the foreground while you’re concentrating than listening for pleasure as your primary activity.


So I’ve invested in a setup which I want to use at the office, a pair of AKG 550’s. I haven’t reviewed them yet because I haven’t listened to them enough to justify a review, and I don’t think they’ve been burnt in / listened in properly yet. But the second part of that setup is a Audioquest DragonFly USB DAC.


Holy moses, I’m not sure why I didn’t get a USB DAC earlier. Its one of those experiences that I can only compare to trying to tell someone who has only ever used Apple’s stock ear buds that there are better options. Its the same source music, playing with the same output equipment (at the time of writing, the Klipsch IEM's). Vocal’s are cleaner, there is more defined mid-bass, and I’m hearing a subtlety and widening of the stage that I didn’t think was possible with such an amateurish setup. Wow.


Get one, you won’t be disappointed. At all.

Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth speakers

Soundlink color full 11

Its not often that I buy something, and have nothing bad or critical to say about it. The Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth speaker is one of these products.


It does exactly what its supposed to do; it pairs quickly and painlessly, remembers up to the last 8 devices its paired to, tells you via voice prompt what its connected to and just does its job.


Sound quality is superlative, for a speaker this size. Its typical Bose, good for most people but annoying to audiophiles. I’m not one, and this sounds damn good to me. Its a little expensive, but unlike normal pricing for this manufacturer, only a slight premium over the frankly cheap and nasty equivalents. In this price range, its the best product that fits value/performance/size. Adding a microphone so that you could use it as a speakerphone would make this the obvious no-brainer. Something for version 2 ? 


As an aside, I think Bose have circumvented nuclear material proliferation rules. I have no idea how they are so efficient at battery power management. These, along with their noise canceling headphones, sip juice - I’ve not managed to get them to run out, no matter how hard I try.


There is only one thing that I find annoying about this; it falls into the same category as the dumb user who doesn’t switch off his car alarm and sets it off every morning. But this is a case of “stupid user” rather than stupid design problem. You have to push the power button lightly, once. If you hold it down, nothing happens. I’ve cursed the thing a few times thinking the batteries have died (usually after long periods of non use), when the light bulb goes off and I push and release quickly, and up it comes. Go figure. Stupid user.