AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC/AMP - Official Thread

Higher impedances are less of a concern; you’ll just be volume limited if they’re high-impedance and low-sensitivity.

With low-impedance headphones/IEMs (lower-impedance means more current draw, i.e. harder to drive, for the same sensitivity), the Cobalt can wind up drawing more power than the iPhone will permit, and it gets shutdown (usually with a message, but sometimes it just stops working).

I ran into that even with super-sensitive 9 ohm IEMs with the iPhone/Cobalt combination.

For higher-impedance cans it is less of an issue. You have a hard limit of 2.1V of output from the Cobalt (no matter what you drive it from), so all you really have to do is make sure that their impedance, coupled with their sensitivity, lets you hit the volume levels you want - with a bit of headroom for peaks (and so the unit isn’t running against its rails).

A 300 ohm Sennheiser HD650 will give you about 110 dB/SPL before the Cobalt runs out of steam. That’d be a ~90 dB/SPL listening level, with 20 dB headroom.

There are some tools here that can help you figure out what you need to drive a given headphone. I’d add the AQ Dragonfly series, but AQ do not officially publish an actual power-output specification … and I’m much too lazy to measure them at this point (for reference it’s about 130 mW based on the last time I checked, but I am not confident enough in that number to put those units into my data set).

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The shutoff problem can also be avoided by using the version 3 of the connector card (camera card, whatever they call it now) and supplying some power.

FWIW, I don’t think I ever played things so loudly that I encountered the problem more than once.

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@Torq As someone who is not proficient in this space, I can not tell you how appreciative I am that you are sharing this level of detail in your response. So thanks a million. Now I am still left with a decision that I guess is more in the realm of subjectivity and that is… which headphones to buy.

Roon has presets in the DSP function and they are all for Audeze. So it would make my life simple to find a pair I like. @pennstac suggested the LCDi series which are in-ear and I would prefer an over the ear pair. Another challenge is finding a place to demo the products.

Anyway, I realize that I am asking a subjective question at this point but what headphones should I buy? And here is some additional criteria to consider. I don’t want to spend more than 1500 and I love ALL types of music… almost. Mainly though Jazz, opera, classical and rock.

Thanks again for the great information!!!


One of the questions that @Torq asked was what you plan to connect the Cobalt to - is it an iPhone? The question I was implying is how important is portability. I bought a Dragonfly (Black) early on and a Cobalt later - but primarily so I could walk around, travel, etc. and not have to carry a lot. I do use an iPhone.

For a while, I used the DFC (Dragonfly Cobalt) and Grado RS1e headphones as my travel kit. The Grados are lightweight and over-ear with the pads I use.

ROON does only have Audeze pre-sets, but you are able to do EQ and save different configurations. Many reviewers have suggested starting points for ROON’s EQ with different headphones. Note that it was because you mentioned the included Audeze ones that I suggested the LCDi series. And they are only “sort-of” in ear. People either love them or don’t care for the fit - mostly I think because they need to find the right eartip for you. I find them both comfortable and competent. If I’m listening while laying down, I’d rather have the LCDi3 or 4 on than my Rosson RAD-0. The other reason I suggested the LCDi series is that there is less sound leakage than with a typical full-size open back. I don’t know if you wanted closed-back to shut out the world or to not disturb others, or both.

It helps that you are giving some more information about what you like to listen to. The best advice will try and analyze your use case. I think you did also say you like closed-back. I’ve found that most closed back headphones really bother me because I seem to hear two different spaces - the one on the recording and the one in the headphones. Maybe I’m sensitive to this. But it means I don’t have any first hand recommendations for you in an over-ear closed back that will pair well with the DFC.


Hi @pennstac , As a guy that has never posted on a thread of any sort, I have nothing but thanks to you and others that are giving great advice.

Your point about the closed-back and hearing two different spaces has me thinking. That is, don’t discount things until you try it. My real big challenge is finding a place to go and demo these things side by side. Maybe this question should be added to my original question… how have people made choices when you can’t get to do a real test of your options??

Anyway, many thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience, it is greatly appreciated.

All the best,


In brief, many buy blind from reviews or brand reputation.

Some of us:

  • Tie up a bunch of money in products that we quickly sell
  • Travel to cities with big headphone retail stores
  • Travel to annual audio shows in the major cities (LA, SF, Chicago, DC, NYC, Miami, etc.)
  • Buy used / trade and then sell for basically shipping costs

I’ve done all of the above myself. For example, see the Capital Audiofest thread from November 2022.

Some also set up local hobby meetings. I haven’t attended any of those yet.


The built-in presets are all for Audeze, yes.

However, you can create your own; including using the pre-built convolution filters (very EQ for your purposes) from the AutoEQ project, which cover almost all the headphones you’re ever likely to come across.

You can also use AutoEQ to create customized convolution filters, using the pre-built models as a basis. Or you can take the PEQ settings and apply them to EQ settings in Roon manually (and tweak them to your heart’s content).

So, you don’t have to limit yourself to Audeze headphones on that basis; though the built-in presets are very convenient.

That’s one area I won’t be of much help, as you say you have a preference for closed-back headphones. At least in the Audeze realm, I’ve not heard their latest closed-back models, but I didn’t care for any of their prior closed-back models.

I’ve actually not heard any closed-back planar headphone that I’d be willing to buy.

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@generic Great suggestions. Thanks! I did some Googling and found this. It’s a bit off in time but I may wait.


Wow. @Torq, just went to AutoEq to look for my old pair of Grado’s and now I am in way over my head. I’ll take my time to read how to create these custom filters for the Grado’s. I’ll let you know how it goes. Such amazing advice. Thank you all.


You can use the pre-built AutoEQ convolution filters, you don’t have to create your own nor customize them. Just have to pull the two .wav files for the relevant headphone (I think the majority are under the oratory1990 folder), add them as convolution filters in Roon, and save that setting as a preset.

Hi, now I could throw numbers or data around here, but I just want to give you my personal recommendations based on practice and my own listening pleasure.

In my opinion, headphones with biocellulose drivers pair exceptionally well with the Cobalt & iPhone, iPad, Mac…….

As a closed version I recommend the Denon AH-D9200.

:heart_hands: :+1:

As an alternative to close-back headphones, my recommendation would be the Campfire Audio Andromeda, as Campfire Audio in-ears harmonizes excellently with the Dragonfly products.

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@Torq So again… unbelievable… I’m am getting quite the education :-). I found the PEQ settings for my Grado’s, went into the DSP settings in Roon and the difference is staggering. Now I don’t feel so tied to the Audeze, as I thought that would make my life simple since the settings were predefined. Now I’ll go hunt for the pre-built convolution filters. This is fun and rewarding. Thanks a million. Also, thanks @Lothar_Wolf for the recommendation on the Denons. For now, I am rediscovering my Grado’s. At this point any headphone recommendations for my setup seem to options.


WOW, you are my man!

:+1: :rofl:

However, Grados are probably the least closed-back headphones on the market, it almost doesn’t get any more open……

:fist_right: :fist_left:

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Nah, that’d be Stax:


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That’s why I said almost :wink:

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Happy Cake Day @Lothar_Wolf


Happy Cake Day @Lothar_Wolf!


@Lothar_Wolf Geez… that’s some collection. I was heavily influenced on closed by listening to a friends. But I’ve loved my Grado’s for years, then when I got the Cobalt they sounded flat. But now that I understand a little bit on how to tune Roon, things have changed thanks to the help from this group. What is your favorite pair of Grado’s to pair with the Cobalt/Roon/Mac? (And I guess the type of music would be another variable).

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First, I’d like you to know that I trust the ears of @Lothar_Wolf, @generic, and @Torq very much. I find that @Torq’s ears are much more highly trained than mine, and that I am certain that he hears things that I do not. With regard to the other two, @generic seems to have more irritation with high frequencies if they are the least bit shouty, whereas both @Lothar_Wolf and I seem - at least to me to have similar tolerances. You can rely on the advice of any of these people given that they (we) are all careful to note about differences in use cases and individuals.

I thought that I was more sensitive than most regarding the two-space issue with closed backs. I’d not seen @Torq’s commentary about closed back planars before. As I think back the only closed back that I ever liked was years ago, the KOSS ESP-6, and electrostatic. It had a rather deep dish construction.

@Lothar_Wolf and I both like Grados, but he’s had many more of them than I have. Personally, my favorite is the RS1e with Beautiful Audio hybrid pads. These pads improve bass, help tame treble, and make the RS1e an over-ear. I’ve not heard any of the closed back headphones that @Lothar_Wolf mentions, but I trust his judgment that they would be less awful than the ones I have heard. I did my on ROON EQ for my Grados, as I was never really inclined to delve deep into the convolution filters.

Like @generic, if I have the setup handy, I’d just as soon turn a knob on a Lokius as needed for my EQ.

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For $1,500 or less in the Audeze line, sounds like a new ($1,200) or used (around $850ish) pair of LCD-X 2021 version would hit your sweet spot. Just make sure it’s the 2021 version.

The LCD-X is a very, very good all-arounder. Fine detail, soundstage, imaging, tone. Very easy to drive; your DragonFly should be able to handle it.

Stock tonality of the LCD-X is fine but even better with a bit of EQ. And like nearly all Audeze headphones, the LCD-X takes EQ like a champ.

Only negative of LCD-X, like with most Audezes, is weight. They’re heavy. They’re also built like damn tanks and should last a LONG time with proper care.

You should be able to snag a used Audeze MM-500 for less than $1,500. Audeze’s latest over-ear model. Lighter, fairly neutral with even more detail than the LCD-X, designed for studio work. Other than tight clamping force, I’ve read and seen nothing but good things about them although I’ve never heard them.

If you want a less expensive option, the venerable Sennheiser-Drop HD 6XX is a constant recommendation at $220. An industry standard and classic, with some of the best mids in the business. That would mesh well with your jazz, classical and opera.

Only negative of the HD 6XX is that it’s a high-impedance headphone, so your DragonFly could struggle with it. I use mine with a JDS Atom+ desktop amp, so I can’t comment on HD 6XX performance with dongles. Hopefully someone can help you here!