Best upgrade from Dragonfly Red

So just purchased the Audeze LCD X and really enjoying them but my question is this, I have the WA7 fireflies gen one powering them and using dragonfly red as a dac from my MacBook Pro.
Is there a better dac in the 500.00 range that would perform better or would the difference be minimal?
The reason I’m not using the integrated dac in the WA7 is that it lacks something.
Any help would once again be much appreciated.

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I was considering this one prior to spending a bit more for a A&K Kann DAP.

If you shop around you can find it for under $500. Not sure how sigificant an improvement it would be over the AQ red, but the Chord gets lots of high marks in the reviews.

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Thanks for the info, was looking into the Mojo and the thing that I’d be a little worried about is the fact that it’s battery powered and if it needs to be charged while using then an additional cable is needed for charging.

I second the Chord Mojo, doesn’t get much better for the price point.


Consider the common implementations of the DAC chipsets as well as specific products. Also, dual-DACs allow balance amp experimentation.

@Torq posted his experienced views on chipsets here:

Also, this site has many low-level tests of DACs and amps. It offers a more “objectivist” view than many.

This $33 DAC/Amp (when sold as XtremPro in the US) crushed the Dragonfly Black in the tests:

I myself perceive better high-end definition and clarity with other DACs (vs. ESS Sabre of the Dragonflys). But in the end, I mainly care about clear/neutral sound and taming shrieking/sibilance.

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Well, DAC-to-DAC variations tend to be smaller than those you’ll find between different amplifiers, and much smaller than between different headphones, but they do exist.

Assuming you’re wanting to keep the WA7 (such a pretty unit), I would probably not go for a Chord Mojo in this case. It’s a very nice little DAC/amp, but it has similar spectral traits to the WA7, so they tend to exacerbate each other’s weak-points rather than being complimentary. It’s also a bit of an ergonomic nightmare for desktop use.

The first unit I’d likely consider for this case, while also considering budget, would be the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label and then the Schiit Modi MB.

If you want something that can still be used in a purely mobile role, the Meridian Explorer 2 is an interesting alternative to the Dragonfly Red. They’re more different than they are better/worse though.

The Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital is an interesting unit, for which I have a somewhat tonque-in-cheek review here. You’ll need to scroll down a bit in that thread to find my thoughts on how it sounds (past all the silliness).

There’s also the iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black Label … which is a very nice unit though, again, might wind up with similar sonic traits to the WA7 so isn’t necessarily the best pairing with it.

Thanks for the valuable info, I really value your opinion, especially after reading a lot of what you have posted on this forum.
The Prp jest s2 is still not available here in Canada, although market place sellers on Amazon are offering it for a high price.
What about Topping D50?

It is a nice unit, but I wouldn’t pay more than it’s nominal MSRP for it. Either wait for local distribution or pass on it. Especially if you’ll only use it as a DAC.

“For people who like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing they like.”

I found it to be a bit shouty/excitable with female vocals, maybe even astringent. Overall presentation was pretty clinical and dry. A bit on the bright side, and there’s something off-putting about the midrange - which is hard to pin down without more listening, which I’m disinclined to do.

The Pro-Ject unit, which is based on the same core components, was a lot more enjoyable.

I will, at some point in the near future, post a comparative review between the Topping D10, D30, D50 and DX7s.

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So I was on the Schiit website and if you want to use the Modi MB in advanced mode you need to install drivers, unfortunately there are no drivers for Mac.
Just narrowing down my options, I did find an open box deal on the explorer 2 so might try it out.

You do NOT need ANY drivers to get the full capability from the Modi MB on a Mac.

In general, DACs do not require drivers to get their full-functionality on macOS/OS X … since almost all of them are UAC2 compliant, and OS X has supported that for years.

It’s Windows (prior to version 10, “Creators Edition”) that needs drivers for support beyond 24/96. This is due to Microsoft being 16 years late to the USB 2.0 audio party. Even Linux has had full support for years here.

Ok, thank you for letting me know.
I have lots to learn about all this.

Played with one of these over the weekend-- sound was great, but I can’t get over the coloured marble controls.

Not really. The D’fly red is very near perfect for its price, form factor and connectivity.
If you really want “better”, stretch yourself a little and buy a Chord Mojo. You’ll be happy to grow old with it.

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Thanks, although my wife would rather I grow old with her;)
Although a few have mentioned the Chord and I’ve always wanted one , I’m not sure it would pair well with my WA7.
I’d rather look just for a dac, but it’s actually not that easy.

@marek Probably way late with this or redundant, but just in case…

Being a fellow Kranadian here I just wanted to make sure you were aware of Canuck Audio Mart. That $500 budget will get you something closer to $1K…or save you on a new MB Schitt dac as they pop up quite often. Cheers : )

Thanks, I’ve already purchased the Pro-Ject prebox s2 and really like it, better than using the Dragonfly in my setup.
But yes I do look for items on Canuck audio mart.

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Very good choice,

I can certainly relate to that. I had the Fireflies also. I did enjoy the Amp with my Lcd2s. The dac did not impress me. It was like it yielded body to my music. I replaced with my Matrix xSabre. It was the best they had at the time and had the es 9028 dacs. I found it neutral with exceptional conversion. It totally got out of the way and allowed my other gear to shine. I have since upgraded to the Matrix xSabre Pro with the es9038 dacs.
I highly recommend this dac. Many say it is a true giant killer beating out many in the $7-8 thousand range.
I see them from time to time on head-fi go for $1000 which is a huge bargain.

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