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Crystal sound: test audiophile USB-DAC/amplifiers AudioQuest and Oppo for iPhone and Mac

Experts iXbt in the framework of the project “Crystal sound” conducted a comparative test of two external digital-to-analog converters. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad and Mac and is designed for lovers of quality sound.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red at first glance looks not very serious, but this is a very good product. It is based on good and very expensive ES9016 DAC and digital controller PIC32MX consumes little, making the device even compatible with mobile phones. Oppo HA-2SE does not give him the support any mobile devices and moreover, has an internal battery that allows you to give a more powerful sound amplifier and even recharge your mobile device in case of emergency.

With a desktop USB DAC Oppo friends are not less great, even better than the AudioQuest — I only need a separate ASIO driver support Native DSD up to 11 MHz! Inside the Oppo HA-2SE is based on the XMOS chip with proprietary firmware, with a few switchable modes of operation.

Evaluation of sound

The sound of the AudioQuest DragonFly Red and Oppo HA-2SE is very similar in nature. However, on a good instrument Oppo pulled ahead on a number of parameters — detail and openness of the sound. AudioQuest, nevertheless, be commended for the pleasant sound — for 90% of the mass of an instrument of this quality would be sufficient. That is, for any computer speakers, for the mass of the headphone models is unlikely to chase something more expensive than the AudioQuest DragonFly Red, as there is a big chance not to hear the difference — they will drown in their own high distortion of these speakers. However, if the price tag of the headphones is 10-20 thousand rubles, and speakers — more than 50 000 rubles, it makes sense to look for any source of sound. It’s fine to have balanced audio path, without any distortions.

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Oppo retains the hallmark of all devices on the ESS Sabre 32: very high detail, wide stereo panorama, the sound did not hear distortion. At the same time, the model HA-2SE no excessive synthetics and the loss of the attack — on the contrary, the sound is quite lively and energetic. This living nature “added” to the extent — not to the same extent, so they can hear the color tone or some own exotic interpretation of the music in esoteric Hi-End. In General, we can say that HA-2SE improved what primarily caused us complaints AudioQuest DragonFly Red: excessive softness and refinement.


All measurements took place in batch mode, without changing the connection and position of the wires. Sound card for measurements was in another computer. Noise in the pauses when recording a >118 dBA. Harmonic distortion <0,0002%. The reference device has balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs and discrete naushnikov amplifier. Developed in Russia in 2016, for its own needs.

By the way, this is the real answer to the question: is it possible in the computer technical sound quality at all? Basically — Yes. For a reasonable price? Yes. Do you need high settings? For measurement — Yes, you need. For music listening — not needed! For sound quality the fight is worth. High numbers should be an automatic side effect of a properly designed device, the result of knowledge and experience in the design and manufacture of equipment. High numbers as an end in itself — is unacceptable in any case! Otherwise you will inevitably get integrated sound. The limit of embedded audio — sound speakers.

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Oppo HA-2SE

Frequency response:

Noise level:

AudioQuest DragonFly Red

Frequency response:

Noise level:


In testing the winners of the previous tests AudioQuest DragonFly Red and Oppo HA-2SE victory with a tangible advantage wins product of Oppo. It not only looks stylish and has many functions, but most importantly, just sounds great. Oppo HA-2SE is a great choice for owners of quality headphones, if you need a mobile USB DAC for laptop or smartphone. And given the fact that the AudioQuest DragonFly Red is quite a strong opponent, the leader in its class of miniature DAC.

The Oppo’s engineers did a great job and updated DAC HA-2SE developed the success of the predecessor model. Looking forward to new products from a team of engineers, developers Oppo Digital.

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