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Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt DAC PreAmp Headphone Amp

Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt DAC PreAmp Headphone Amp

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List Price: $329.95
Our Price: $329.95

Product Code: AUD0000061


From MP3 to MQA and High-Res: Naturally Beautiful Sound at Your Fingertips—
Whenever and Wherever You Want It

Cobalt takes everything DragonFly Red is
famous for — the same drives-anything 2.1-
volt output, bit-perfect digital volume con-
trol, seamless compatibility with Apple and
Android devices, and MQA-rendering and
Hi-Res capability—and incorporates some
important new upgrades:

New, more advanced ESS ES9038Q2M DAC
chip with a minimum-phase slow roll-of
filter for more natural sound

More sophisticated Microchip PIC32MX274
microprocessor that reduces current draw
and increases processing speed by 33%
over DragonFlys Black and Red

Improved power-supply filtering, specifically
designed to reduce WiFi, Bluetooth, and
cellular noise

Includes a form- fitting DragonTail USB-C
to USB-A adaptor—like all DragonTails,
using AQ’s Carbon-level USB cable

From MP3 to MQA and Hi-Res, DragonFly
DAC/Amplifiers preserve the body, warmth,
and natural color in all your music. Experi-
ence more beauty at home and everywhere
you listen.

Meet Cobalt: The Most Beautiful-Sounding DragonFly Yet!

DragonFly Cobalt, Audioquests new flagship DAC, takes what music lovers around the world have come to expect from the multi-award-winning DragonFly family— naturally beautiful, seductive sound—and strips away fuzz and fog that weren't even noticeable until Cobalt removed them.

How is this possible? Like the critically acclaimed DragonFly Red, Cobalt has the robust 2.1-volt output to drive almost any headphone, uses a bit-perfect digital volume control for outstanding signal-to-noise ratio, enables seamless compatibility with Apple and Android devices, and is an exceptionally competent and affordable MQA Renderer.

Cobalt's precedent-setting performance is made possible by multiple significant upgrades:

  • New, more advanced ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with a minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound.
  • Microchip's superb PIC32MX274 microprocessor draws less current and increases processing speed by 33%.
  • Improved power-supply filtering that specifically increases immunity to WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular noise.
  • Includes a form-fitting DragonTail female USB-A to male USB-C Adaptor.
    All DragonTails use AQ's Carbon-level USB cable.

AudioQuest, Gordon Rankin: A Beautiful Partnership

Like all previous DragonFly models, Cobalt uses Gordon Rankin's precedent-setting StreamLength ® asynchronous-transfer USB code. Further, in Gordon's monoClock® technology, a single ultra-low-jitter clock generated from the ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip runs the ESS chip functions as well as all microcontroller functions. This superior clock enables DragonFly Cobalt to provide greater resolution and clarity than DACs with multiple clocks.

Why the "Slow Roll...?"

Cobalt employs ESS's new flagship ES9038Q2M DAC chip. While the chips used in DragonFlys Black and Red are unbeatable for the price, the minimum-phase slow roll-off filter in the 9038 results in naturally expressive sound that is always emotionally engaging and never fatiguing—a beautiful combination of warmth and detail that we find equally exciting and soothing.

Killing the Noise

In Cobalt, we've taken what we've learned from our recent research and development in noise dissipation to employ power-supply filtering specifically designed to dramatically reduce the increasingly prevalent noise from WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals. Successfully combating this noise is absolutely crucial to the preservation of the lowest-level musical details, particularly when it comes to high-res audio—and especially when applied to a portable-audio device such as DragonFly.

Bit-Perfect Volume Control and 2.1-Volt Output

Cobalt features the same ESS Sabre 9601 headphone amp and bit-perfect volume control that give DragonFly Red its unique combination of power and grip over the music. This solution ensures maximum fidelity, thrilling dynamic contrast, and excellent signal-to-noise ratio. The 2.1-volt output makes Cobalt and Red compatible with a wide range of headphones, including power-hungry, low-efficiency models.

Firmware Upgradeable

DragonFlys Black, Red, and Cobalt are firmware upgradeable via our free Desktop Device Manager. In today's fast-paced digital world, longevity in a hi-fi component is increasingly rare—at any price. AudioQuest believes that today's digital devices should evolve as technology itself evolves, thereby delivering musical pleasure for many years to come. Our Desktop Device Manager will also allow you to identify your DragonFly's serial number and software version to ensure that the device is up to date. Click here to download the latest Device Manager available for your operating system.

Beautiful Sound in a Smaller Package...
and now with a Tail

All this goodness is packed into a sleek new case that measures just 2.26" x 0.73" x 0.47" (57.5mm x 18.6mm x 11.9mm), making the latest DragonFly 10% smaller and even a bit more pocket-friendly.

Finally, to easily accommodate the increasing number of electronic devices that feature USB-C ports, DragonFly Cobalt comes with AudioQuest's USB-A to USB-C adaptor.


  • Plays all music files: MP3 to MQA and High-Res
  • Compatible with Apple® and Windows® PCs
  • Compatible with iOS devices (requires Apple Camera Adapter/Connection Kit)
  • Compatible with Android devices (requires DragonTail or other USB Adaptor for Android Devices)
  • MQA Rendering
  • Drives headphones directly
  • Fixed output feeds preamp or AV receiver
  • Asynchronous transfer ensures digital timing integrity


  • Sample rates supported (LED indicator color code): 44.1kHz (Green), 48kHz (Blue), 88.2kHz (Amber), 96kHz (Magenta), MQA (Purple)
  • Volume Control: Analog Volume Control (Black); 64-position, 64-bit, bit-perfect (Red, Cobalt)
  • Output voltage: 1.2 (Black); 2.1 (Red, Cobalt)
  • Headphone Amp: Texas Instruments TPA6130 (Black); ESS Sabre 9601 (Red, Cobalt)
  • DAC Chip: 32-bit ESS 9010 with minimum-phase fast roll-off filter (Black); 32-bit ESS 9016 with minimum-phase fast roll-off filter (Red); ESS ES9038Q2M with minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound (Cobalt)
  • Microcontroller: Microchip PIC32MX (Black, Red); Microchip PIC32MX274 reduces current draw and increases processing speed by 33% over DragonFlys Black and Red (Cobalt)
  • Dimensions: 12mm H x 19mm W x 62mm L (Black, Red); 12mm H x 19mm W by 57mm L (Cobalt)

Suggested Accessories

DragonFly Cobalt Press

Monday, July 8


Winner: Darko Knock Out Award

  • “Cobalt is one of the best solutions out there for portable audio—getting the best from your phone or the best from your laptop whilst out on the go.” [11:15]
  • Regarding concerns about power usage: “I can’t stress this enough, actually: The DragonFly does not hammer the battery of the host phone… So, if you think this is going to kill your battery, you’re wrong.” [7:58]
  • Comparing Cobalt to Red: “Cobalt gives us a larger, fuller sound, and it’s more effortless with dynamics.” [11:47]
  • Comparing Cobalt to other DACs: “I can’t think of another DAC that let alone sounds as good for its price point, but also can be used with computers and with smartphones… I think that is absolutely bloody fantastic… I cannot enthuse about this product enough. It’s bloody amazing.” [12:57]

The Absolute Sound


WiFi HiFi


Audiophile Style


Twittering Machines


Major HiFi




SoundNews (Romania)


AV Tech Media Sweepstakes

Coinciding with the launch, AV Tech Media’s North American websites ( Stereophile, AnalogPlanet, AudioStream, InnerFidelity, and Sound & Vision ) launched their Cobalt Sweepstakes.

In total, at the time of writing, there have been more than 1200 entries into the Sweepstakes , with Stereophile.com’s 469 entries leading the way.

Tuesday, July 9

10 More Thoughts from Darko

John Darko went into deeper technical territory with this follow-up to Monday’s video: “ 10 more thoughts on the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt .”



  • “The first thing you notice is how clean and clear the new Cobalt is delivering the sound. And not only that, it does it without any effort, making it sound wide, natural, and realistic.”
  • “Compared to the RED, the Cobalt sounds better, more precise, wider and more spacious, but also cleaner and more natural. The separation is better, the soundstage wider, the extension better in all directions and the presentation airier. Bass is a bit less thick, the mids more spacious, the treble more energetic and further extended.”

What HiFi (Great Britain)


Stereo & Video (Russia)


Tinhte (Vietnam)


hxos + Sound Vision (Greece)


AV Plus (Finland)


Fidelity (Germany)


Modern HiFi (Germany)


Sempre Audio (Austria)


HiFi (Netherlands)


Wednesday, July 10

HD Blog (Italy)


On Mag (France)


AF Digitale (Italy)


Like HiFi (Germany)


AV2D (Belgium)


Thursday, July 11

TwitteringMachines (USA)


Friday, July 12

Gonzalo Varas (Chile)


Xataka SmartHome (Spain)


Saturday, July 13

HiFi Trends (USA)


  • “I can’t wait to get my hands on one!”

Stereo (Vietnam)


Sunday, July 14

MacTechNews (Germany)


Monday, July 15

HiFi Live (Spain)


Tuesday, July 16

HiFi.nl (Netherlands)

5-star rating


  • “The AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt is a game changer that plays on a completely different level.”
  • “The DragonFly Cobalt is a must-have!”

Alpha-Audio.nl (Netherlands), Jaap Veenstra

5-star rating

Winner: Alpha-Audio Approved

Review: https://www.alpha-audio.nl/review/video-audioquest-cobalt-usb-dac/

Video: https://youtu.be/LKSkDNMwPvM

  • “The DragonFly Cobalt takes a serious step beyond the Red…”
  • “Quieter… quieter… more musical.”
  • “…more air in the presentation, more detail, and a nicer flow.”

Wednesday, July 17

CEPro https://www.cepro.com/article/299_audioquest_dragonfly_cobalt_sound_smart_devices

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hi-Files (Russia)


HiFi Show (China)


Audiophile (Norway)


HiFi+ (UK), Alan Sircom: “Good, better, bloody hell!”


  • “If the Black opened the window, and the Red cleaned the window, then the Cobalt builds a bigger window and brings industrial window-cleaning products to the window-cleaning party.”

  • “If you have a demonstration of two or more DragonFlys (DragonFlies?), it takes longer to swap the DACs over than it does to hear the benefits of the Cobalt. Whenever there are three products in a line, there’s a temptation to class them, ‘good, better, best!’ but in this case, it’s, ‘good, better, bloody hell!’

  • “Get one. Now!”

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