USB Digital Analog Converter – FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

DragonFly FAQ:

How do I set volume level when using DragonFly?
When using DragonFly with headphones, powered speakers, or a power amplifier, it’s best to start at a low volume until the desired volume level is achieved. When using DragonFly in this “variable output mode” we recommend the following steps:

• Music player application (such as iTunes®) volume control should be set to maximum.
• Computer’s main (operating system) volume control should be set to 25% of maximum.
• Adjust to desired volume using the computer’s main volume control.

When the music player’s volume is set to maximum and the computer’s main volume control is used, DragonFly’s onboard 64-position analog-domain volume control is able to preserve full resolution and maximum sound quality.

DragonFly is also capable of being employed as a traditional fixed-output source component (such as a CD, DVD or Blu-ray player), and can be connected to a standard input on a receiver or preamplifier. For this application, both the music player’s volume control and the main operating system volume control should be set to maximum. This “fixed output mode” allows your audio or AV system’s volume control to be in charge.

Are there known USB-Audio issues with Windows 8 and Windows RT?
Yes, there are some known issues with external USB-Audio devices, including AudioQuest’s DragonFly, and Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system on some hardware platforms, as well as tablets running Windows RT, including occasional and/or consistent clicks and dropouts. Microsoft is aware of these issues and working toward a fix. Stay tuned to this page for updates.

Does DragonFly work with Windows Vista?
Currently, DragonFly is incompatible with Windows Vista. Microsoft is aware of incompatibility issues between the operating system and audio devices and is working towards a resolution. AudioQuest recommends using Windows XP or upgrading to Windows 7. For up-to-date information please visit audioquest.com/DragonFly/Vista

Why can’t I select 88.2kHz as the sample rate in Windows 7?
Microsoft does not offer native support for 88.2kHz with its Windows 7 operating system. While several hardware manufactures have sent requests to Microsoft asking them to support 88.2kHz sample rates, it is Microsoft’s opinion that there isn’t enough consumer demand for this sample rate to warrant an update. Fortunately, aftermarket programs such as JRiver Media Center and Foobar2000 bypass the Windows “Hardware and Sound” application and allow native 88.2kHz decoding. For more information please visit www.jriver.com or www.foobar2000.org

What is a Digital-Audio Converter (aka “DAC”)?
Anytime you’re listening to music, or watching a movie or YouTube video on a computer, the digital audio data are comprised of 1′s and 0′s. A Digital-Audio Converter (also referred to as a Digital-To-Analog Converter) is a device that converts these 1′s and 0′s to the analog waveforms that our headphones and home stereos then give to our ears as music. The sound card that’s built into your computer and feeds its headphone jack is an example of a DAC. However, much better sound is possible using a purpose-built Digital-Audio Converter like AudioQuest’s DragonFly.

Will DragonFly make my internal computer speakers sound better?
No. DragonFly does not use the internal speakers in your computer. It is designed specifically to connect to an external audio system such as headphones, powered desktop speakers, or your audio/video system.

What kind of audio content can I play through DragonFly?
DragonFly will accept any audio you want to play on your computer and make it sound dramatically better, whether your listening pleasure is iTunes®, YouTube®, Vimeo®, Streaming Music Services such as Mog®, Spotify®, or Pandora® … Anything you want to hear will sound better with DragonFly!

What is “asynchronous USB?”
Digital audio is stored on and streamed to computers and delivered to DragonFly as 1′s and 0′s. Making beautiful music out of 1′s and 0′s isn’t a case of simply getting all the audio data from point A to Point B. Maintaining subtle digital timing relationships is crucial in order to be able to reconstruct the analog waveform that we hear as dialog or music. Timing errors such as “jitter” have long been the plague of digital audio playback, never more so than in recent years as computers have been pressed into service as audio source components. DragonFly uses a very sophisticated “asynchronous*” USB audio data transfer protocol. Rather than sharing crucial audio “data clocking” functions with the computer, using asynchronous USB transfer, DragonFly alone commands the timing of the audio data transfer, dramatically reducing digital timing errors.

What is a “sample rate”?
Sample rate is a term used to describe how many “snapshots” of sound, or samples per second are captured when a digital audio file is recorded or encoded. Compact Discs have always functioned exclusively at 44.1kHz, which is 44,100 samples per second. However, recording studios often master at much higher sample rates, such as 88.2kHz or 96kHz. Recently, online music downloads at these higher sample rates have started to appear from HDTracks.com and a variety of sources, although the selection is currently limited.

DragonFly can play back audio data at four different sample rates. Which one should I choose?
DragonFly will play music or audio data at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, or 96kHz. However, for the best sonic results the computer should be configured so that it sends music and audio data to DragonFly that matches the “native rate” of the music. For example, since all CDs and music files purchased from iTunes are at a 44.1kHz sample rate, for many people 44.1kHz will be the best sample rate since this is the “native rate” of most digital music. Choosing a higher sample rate will convert your native music and audio data using mathematical approximations that can potentially decrease the sound quality. Conversely, if you have purchased high-resolution music files, such as those available from HDtracks.com, configuring your computer for 44.1kHz (or any other lower sample rate) will cause the computer to down-sample your music to a lower resolution. When possible, always configure the computer to output the native sample rate of the music you are listening to. Many music player software suites on the market manage this process for you. To learn more about music player software click HERE.

What does it mean when the DragonFly lights up in different colors?
As mentioned above, DragonFly performs best when audio data is sent to it at its native sample rate. To simplify this, DragonFly lights up different colors when it receives audio data at different sample rates: green for 44.1kHz, blue for 48kHz, amber for 88.2kHz, and magenta for 96kHz.

I purchased high-resolution music files at 24-bit/176.4kHz or 24-bit/192kHz. Can I play these files using my DragonFly?
If you have purchased a file that has a higher sample rate than 96kHz you need to configure your computer to send DragonFly audio data at a resolution no greater than 96kHz, and for the best performance the sample rate you choose should be exactly half the sample rate of the file you’re playing. For example, if you purchased a 24-bit/176.4kHz file 88.2kHz should be selected, whereas if you purchased a 24/192kHz file 96kHz should be selected. Directly divisible sample rates prevent the computer from doing sonically degrading, complex math in its conversions and allows DragonFly to sound its best.

What headphones can I use with the DragonFly?
DragonFly is versatile enough to drive virtually any headphone on the market today. DragonFly can drive any headphone from 10ohm impedance on up. DragonFly has enough output to drive even the lowest efficiency headphones.

Is DragonFly a FCC-compliant digital device?
This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a Class B digital device, pursuant to part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits are designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful interference in a residential installation. This equipment generates, uses and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful interference to radio communications. However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in a particular installation. If this equipment does cause harmful interference to radio or television reception (which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on) the user is encouraged to try to correct the interference by one or more of the following measures:

  • Reorient or relocate the receiving antenna.
  • Increase the separation between the equipment and receiver.
  • Connect the equipment into an outlet on a circuit different from that to which the receiver is connected.
  • Consult the dealer or an experienced radio/TV technician for help.

Modifications not expressly approved by the manufacturer could void the user’s authority to operated the equipment under FCC rules