Apr 20, 2019119 views

Better DAC than Dragonfly Red?

In an affordable (sub $500) DAC-amp, can I do significantly better than my Dragonfly Red? Headphones are Massdrop Mezze 99 Noir, but I might eventually get something more detailed. Listening to acoustic music and voice on Spotify Premium and Tidal, on a Macbook. The DAC doesn't need to be portable.

Take your pick of DAC (the higher the number, the better in terms of not having noise or distortion). With a $500 budget, you have many many great options. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?attachments/best-audio-dacs-reviewed-2019-png.25198/
Interesting. So of the ones on this list, which do you recommend from Massdrop? Looks like the Topping D50 might be my best affordable option in a combo DAC-amp.
There are none of these essentially on Massdrop currently, so I don't know what advice I could really give if you must buy from Massdrop :\
There are much better DACs for less than $500. For $500 you can get, not only a better DAC, but a decent amp to go with it. Dragonflies don't come with USB decrapifiers and are volume controlled by DSP, which does terrible things for the dynamic range of the tracks you're listening to. For only $200 you can get the iFi iDSD Nano BL which is, IMO, the best mobile DAC/amp at the price point by miles. It has real analog volume control and built in USB decrapifier along with being MQA certified which is great if you're using tidal, which I am not. The amp portion is very well implemented as well. It is super quiet and supplies more than enough power for your cans without needing to go to a balanced configuration. If you actually want to spend that full $500 you could get a Chord Mojo, which is purported to be much better still, although I can't speak from experience on that one. If you want to go the desktop unit route, there are even more options. Honestly I have never understood the draw to the dragonfly DACs. Are they better than a typical onboard 3.5mm output, sure, but are they "good?" To me, no; but that, as always, is a highly subjective answer.
Thanks for the tips. Actually I'm using Audioquest's USB decrapifier with the Dragonfly. Haven't noticed a huge difference. Generally I've noticed USB audio output from the Mac sounds mushy. I get a cleaner sound listening on my Galaxy S8+ cellphone. I'd love a Chord Mojo. I don't know whether I can justify the price compared to less expensive options. I'm fine with a desktop unit if it gives better value.
I still suggest you try out the iFi nano bl. It really is a great DAC/amp for the price. I also suggest the Aune T1SE mk3. Honestly, I think I like the nano bl better though.
for that price i would get the dx3 pro
I also own those headphones, and they will not benefit much from anything more powerful than the dragonfly red. That being said, they do sound a little bit better with a balanced source amp. But I am not sure its worth the extra money when you already have a dragonfly red, wich is one of the best sub 500 headphone dac/amps already. I would wait until the day comes that you get more cans, if you ever do.