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      12-28-2016, 01:06 PM   #1
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DragonFly Red + B&O

For those willing to mess with the inconvenience of not being able to control your music from your steering wheel or stereo unit, I recommend trying out the AudioQuest DragonFly Red digital-to-analog converter (DAC) / amplifier unit to complement your B&O sound system.

The DragonFly Red is a small USB headphone DAC / amp, but if you tether it to your mobile device and use the car's auxiliary input, there is a noticeable improvement in sound. It's essentially double-amping, but the benefit that's realized is via the unit's DAC section, which renders digital music better than your phone or stereo unit can.

That said, crappy recordings will sound crappy, but if you have well-recorded music or stream Tidal HiFi, it'll sound great. AudioQuest also makes the DragonFly Black, but in my experience, the Red is much better (and $100 more expensive).


Last edited by ConsumerFanatics; 01-27-2017 at 01:23 AM..
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      12-28-2016, 01:31 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand the purpose of this unless you're using a non-iPhone device. When using Lightning-to-USB from the iPhone, you're sending a true digital signal to the BMW unit and subsequently amplified by the B&O. This will be notably better sound quality than any re-amplified auxilliary output source IMHO.

Have you compared using the Dragonfly Red vs. streaming Bluetooth using high quality source material (e.g. 320kbps MP3 from Spotify or iPhone internal storage)?

Thanks,
Brad
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      12-28-2016, 01:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilb View Post
I'm not sure I understand the purpose of this unless you're using a non-iPhone device. When using Lightning-to-USB from the iPhone, you're sending a true digital signal to the BMW unit and subsequently amplified by the B&O. This will be notably better sound quality than any re-amplified auxilliary output source IMHO.

Have you compared using the Dragonfly Red vs. streaming Bluetooth using high quality source material (e.g. 320kbps MP3 from Spotify or iPhone internal storage)?

Thanks,
Brad
IMO without knowing the specs of the B&O system, the DAC section of the DragonFly Red is better than the B&O system with the phone plugged into the USB. It just sounds better to me.

I have compared the DragonFly Red vs. streaming Bluetooth or iPhone internal using lossless FLAC files (16bit / 44.1 KHz), and the DFR plugged in via auxiliary is better.

YMMV. I just happen to have the DFR and tried it out and liked the results. I'm not trying to convince anyone to spend $200 just for this purpose. I use the DFR mainly with my headphones at work.




Last edited by ConsumerFanatics; 12-28-2016 at 01:58 PM..
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      12-28-2016, 01:57 PM   #4
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Using the Apple CCK, you are also outputting a true digital signal. You're simply replacing the digital rendering done by the phone or car system and enhancing it (IMO).
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      12-28-2016, 02:24 PM   #5
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Is that metal or wood on those earbuds? I've been trying to get some that I'm happy eith but continuing to fall short. I use Jaybird X2's for the gym, and they're decent for what they are. But still need something for at-home that isn't a huge pair of cans like the Sennheisers I have collecting dust.
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      12-28-2016, 02:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilb View Post
Is that metal or wood on those earbuds? I've been trying to get some that I'm happy eith but continuing to fall short. I use Jaybird X2's for the gym, and they're decent for what they are. But still need something for at-home that isn't a huge pair of cans like the Sennheisers I have collecting dust.
It's metal. Those are Elecom HH1000, which I bought when I was in Taiwan. You can find them on eBay for around $180. I highly recommend them.

Speaking of wood, I want to try out the JVC Kenwood HA-FX1100. It's supposed to have good bass, but they may not work well with heavy metal.

Tons of real-world opinions on IEMs at Head-Fi.

With IEMs, fit is very important. I had pair of Sony MDR-7550, which sounded fantastic but the over-the-ear thing never worked with me and I never got a good seal, even when trying different ear tips.
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      12-30-2016, 12:14 AM   #7
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Why don't you simply have 6 ch flac on USB that you plug into the system?
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      12-30-2016, 12:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by isakhnov View Post
Why don't you simply have 6 ch flac on USB that you plug into the system?
Why would I? I have an iPhone that has Tidal HiFi streaming, a Apple CCK and a DragonFly Red unit. If I put music files onto a USB stick, I wouldn't get nearly the amount of flexibility I do with a streaming service.

Your suggestion, for me at least, is way more cumbersome and it simply wouldn't sound as good because the DragonFly Red is a DAC that replaces the digital conversion that the car's system would do (i.e., it's better than the car).
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      12-30-2016, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
Why would I? I have an iPhone that has Tidal HiFi streaming, a Apple CCK and a DragonFly Red unit. If I put music files onto a USB stick, I wouldn't get nearly the amount of flexibility I do with a streaming service.

Your suggestion, for me at least, is way more cumbersome and it simply wouldn't sound as good because the DragonFly Red is a DAC that replaces the digital conversion that the car's system would do (i.e., it's better than the car).
Completely agree on the hassle with the USB, although it probably gets negated with all of the connections and wires you have to live with in suggested setup. I have 128Gb stick permanently in the car with all of the convenience of the integrated setup as well as 7 channel flac fully integrated. I do not have DFR so it is impossible for me to comment on the audio quality, I do know that playing multi channel lossless on B&O comes very close to my untrained ear to the mid end custom setups (specifically the one my brother took three years to complete with full trunk devoted to amps, converters and other things I have very little understanding in with the second place in Ukraine competition couple of years back).
You do have a perfect opportunity to compare it, would love to hear you observations on the side by side comparison of the same content played through both.
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      01-02-2017, 11:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
For those willing to mess with the inconvenience of not being able to control your music from your steering wheel or stereo unit, I recommend trying out the AudioQuest DragonFly Red digital-to-analog converter (DAC) / amplifier unit to complement your B&O sound system.

The DragonFly Red is a small USB headphone DAC / amp, but if you tether it to your mobile device and use the car's auxiliary input, there is a noticeable improvement in sound. It's essentially double-amping, but the benefit that's realized is via the unit's DAC section, which renders digital music better than your phone or stereo unit can.

That said, crappy recordings will sound crappy, but if you have well-recorded music or stream Tidal HiFi, it'll sound great. AudioQuest also makes the DragonFly Black, but in my experience, the Red is much better (and $100 more expensive).

I have been using this option for a few years now. It works great. I also use a Dac Portable from centrance.

Both are great options for those who would like a much wider range of sound.
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      01-15-2017, 09:42 AM   #11
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I wrote a review about the DragonFly Red: https://consumerfanatics.com/2017/01/08/audioquest-dragonfly-red-product-review/
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      01-18-2017, 03:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
IMO without knowing the specs of the B&O system, the DAC section of the DragonFly Red is better than the B&O system with the phone plugged into the USB. It just sounds better to me.

I have compared the DragonFly Red vs. streaming Bluetooth or iPhone internal using lossless FLAC files (16bit / 44.1 KHz), and the DFR plugged in via auxiliary is better.

YMMV. I just happen to have the DFR and tried it out and liked the results. I'm not trying to convince anyone to spend $200 just for this purpose. I use the DFR mainly with my headphones at work.
I neither have DragonFly or an IPhone, so I am not sure what either does.

BT Streaming and 3.5mm (alone) will always sound worse than USB; you might as well be listening to HD Radio or Satellite. If you do not wish to use USB and insist on playing from iphone, I assume DragonFly is the way to go.

It would be interesting to hear your comparison on same FLAC files using DragonFly vs USB flash drive/External HD. I am also curious if DragonFly USB end can be plugged into vehicle. Are music files not processed twice, once with device and second time through vehicle?
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      01-18-2017, 01:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
IMO without knowing the specs of the B&O system, the DAC section of the DragonFly Red is better than the B&O system with the phone plugged into the USB. It just sounds better to me.

...
How can you say one DAC is better than another without also knowing its specs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
I wrote a review about the DragonFly Red: https://consumerfanatics.com/2017/01...roduct-review/
It sounds like you're trying to help sell a few AQ DRs.

With all this said, I'll give it a shot with my own FiiO E17 unit.
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      01-19-2017, 01:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister2d View Post
How can you say one DAC is better than another without also knowing its specs?



It sounds like you're trying to help sell a few AQ DRs.

With all this said, I'll give it a shot with my own FiiO E17 unit.
Ha, I guarantee you that I'm not trying to help sell anything. There's no benefit in it for me. I'm a writer, so I write.

I've had the FiiO E17 before and that's also a solid unit. Definitely give it a try!
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      01-19-2017, 02:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Almaretto View Post
I neither have DragonFly or an IPhone, so I am not sure what either does.

BT Streaming and 3.5mm (alone) will always sound worse than USB; you might as well be listening to HD Radio or Satellite. If you do not wish to use USB and insist on playing from iphone, I assume DragonFly is the way to go.

It would be interesting to hear your comparison on same FLAC files using DragonFly vs USB flash drive/External HD. I am also curious if DragonFly USB end can be plugged into vehicle. Are music files not processed twice, once with device and second time through vehicle?
Thanks for your comment. I don't insist on anyone doing anything, but should M5 owners have a DragonFly or any portable USB DAC, I'd encourage them to give it a try, as I think it complements the B&O system quite well.

I would compare FLAC files on USB if I actually owned FLAC files. I don't have a way to rip CDs. I know I can download these, but the extent of my experiment is limited by my laziness .

As for plugging the DFR into the car's USB. You can, but I don't know what the practical purpose would be; you'd be limited to listening to your car's music through your headphones.
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      01-19-2017, 02:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
Thanks for your comment. I don't insist on anyone doing anything, but should M5 owners have a DragonFly or any portable USB DAC, I'd encourage them to give it a try, as I think it complements the B&O system quite well.
I just do not see it being a true test until you compare the same flac files via usb flash drive to using DragonFly device and iphone. Comparing DragonFly to BT streaming is misleading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
I would compare FLAC files on USB if I actually owned FLAC files. I don't have a way to rip CDs. I know I can download these, but the extent of my experiment is limited by my laziness .
I guess I misread the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
I have compared the DragonFly Red vs. streaming Bluetooth or iPhone internal using lossless FLAC files (16bit / 44.1 KHz)....
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
As for plugging the DFR into the car's USB. You can, but I don't know what the practical purpose would be; you'd be limited to listening to your car's music through your headphones.
Phone --> 3.5mm (male to male) --> DragonFly --> car.
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      01-19-2017, 03:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
Ha, I guarantee you that I'm not trying to help sell anything. There's no benefit in it for me. I'm a writer, so I write.

I've had the FiiO E17 before and that's also a solid unit. Definitely give it a try!
So I gave it a go with my FiiO DAC and it wasn't as good as my B&O. Even trying to match sound levels it sounded a bit shrill.

Phone --> USB --> FiiO E17 --> car aux

I'll stick to the B&O since it sounds better. I have FLACs loaded onto my M5's hard drive and they sound quite nice! I also have TIDAL HiFi.
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      01-20-2017, 07:05 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister2d View Post
So I gave it a go with my FiiO DAC and it wasn't as good as my B&O. Even trying to match sound levels it sounded a bit shrill.

Phone --> USB --> FiiO E17 --> car aux

I'll stick to the B&O since it sounds better. I have FLACs loaded onto my M5's hard drive and they sound quite nice! I also have TIDAL HiFi.
Interesting, thanks for the feedback! Well, I can say with certainty that the DFR is better than the FiiO E17, but I don't know why one DAC would sound worse than the stock system. I guess it just depends. Something about the DFR makes it very versatile and makes any device I've tried it on sound better.

Last edited by ConsumerFanatics; 01-20-2017 at 07:16 PM..
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      01-20-2017, 07:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Almaretto View Post
I just do not see it being a true test until you compare the same flac files via usb flash drive to using DragonFly device and iphone. Comparing DragonFly to BT streaming is misleading.
Just to clarify, I never compared the DFR to BT streaming until I was asked about it by a subsequent member. The only thing I've tested is using my iPhone directly plugged into the car's USB vs. hooking up the DFR to my phone and into the car's aux. I personally find the latter better sounding, but as I mentioned, YMMV.

You can download Tidal HiFi files to your phone, but its use is limited to your subscription to Tidal and with the Tidal app. That's what I meant by local FLAC files on my iPhone. Sorry for any confusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Almaretto View Post
IPhone --> 3.5mm (male to male) --> DragonFly --> car.
The chain should be iPhone > Apple CCK > DragonFly Red > 3.5mm > car

Last edited by ConsumerFanatics; 01-20-2017 at 07:18 PM..
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      01-20-2017, 07:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
Just to clarify, I never compared the DFR to BT streaming until I was asked about it by a subsequent member. The only thing I've tested is using my iPhone directly plugged into the car's USB vs. hooking up the DFR to my phone and into the car's aux. I personally find the latter better sounding, but as I mentioned, YMMV.

The chain should be iPhone > Apple CCK > DragonFly Red > 3.5mm > car
I know you did not initially compare until asked; I was just pointing out that BT streaming is inferior and your original comparison is a much better test with a few additions. I do not know anything about what happens, if anything, to sound files on Iphone through OEM USB charger to car vs Apple CCK. Yet, it is my understanding that anything plugged into 3.5mm or USB gets processed by vehicle.

I also understand the connection order you use in your vehicle. I was just curious if you ever tried music files without Phone (ie just on USB flash drive) as well as whether DFR could be used in the order I described.

Nevertheless, it sounds like DFR is a good option for using with headphones at least and possibly an alternative for those that like to load their phones with music to play in vehicle.
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      01-20-2017, 07:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Almaretto View Post
I know you did not initially compare until asked; I was just pointing out that BT streaming is inferior and your original comparison is a much better test with a few additions. I do not know anything about what happens, if anything, to sound files on Iphone through OEM USB charger to car vs Apple CCK. Yet, it is my understanding that anything plugged into 3.5mm or USB gets processed by vehicle.

I also understand the connection order you use in your vehicle. I was just curious if you ever tried music files without Phone (ie just on USB flash drive) as well as whether DFR could be used in the order I described.

Nevertheless, it sounds like DFR is a good option for using with headphones at least and possibly an alternative for those that like to load their phones with music to play in vehicle.
Gotcha. I will have to try FLAC files with USB stick eventually. Thanks for all the comments. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend.
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      01-23-2017, 03:47 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConsumerFanatics View Post
Interesting, thanks for the feedback! Well, I can say with certainty that the DFR is better than the FiiO E17, but I don't know why one DAC would sound worse than the stock system. I guess it just depends. Something about the DFR makes it very versatile and makes any device I've tried it on sound better.
Perhaps it's just that the DFR matches the line level the way it should. The FiiO is an external DAC with preamp and volume controls. Probably too much fiddling to get right while the DFR is just a USB dongle with no switches or controls.
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