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Affordable Digital Audio: The New DragonFly

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In part one of our series we told you about the incredibly affordable digital-to-analog converters from the California company with an unforgettable name.  The next digital audio converter (DAC) up the price scale is the Audioquest DragonFly.

We were among the first to tell you about the original version of the DragonFly last year. The tiny, portable, plug-in device is a combination USB DAC and headphone amplifier took the industry by storm.

Gordon Rankin designed the device. He's known, among other things, for his digital audio breakthroughs and patents. He worked day and night to cram all the necessary electronics into a device the size of a USB "thumb drive." The clever DragonFly logo even changed color depending on the resolution of the digital file being played.

The original version won all sorts of "Product of the Year" awards from the audio press. It was easy to install, easy to use and sounded great. Notice I keep saying original version.

That's because Gordon and the people at Audioquest have released an upgraded model Dragonfly v1.2. It looks exactly the same. The way you can tell it is the new version is by what's printed on the box.

I'm happy to report version 1.2 is even better than the original. It still handles files up to a resolution of 24/96. It's still functions as a terrific headphone amplifier (the only output is a mini headphone jack) and it still lights-up pretty.

But it's the sound quality that counts, and the new DragonFly delivers. In audio-speak, the new circuitry allows the device to sound "cleaner, clearer, tonally richer with the sound carrying more weight." To non-experts it means the redesign sounds even more like real music.

The improvements alone would be worth telling you about. But I left the best part for last. Version 1.2 of the DragonFly retails for $149.99. That's a drop of one hundred bucks from last year's model. Improving the product and reducing the price is a big deal.

Audioquest's new DragonFly is highly recommended.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

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