Do I need a Dragonfly as an Endpoint?

I know enough by this info, this NAD is an amplifier with a dac. The dragonfly I have one myself is a DAC that needs to be connected to a USB 2.0 output of a streamer. So, you say lets replace the DAC from your NAD, by the audioquest dragonfly and what sounds better?

But back to basics: dragonflys are no roon endpoints, dragonflys are DACS. What you can do to make sound on your NAD amplifier is this: plug a dragonfly in the USB port of your computer and hook it to your NAD amp. What is wrong with this setup? yes it plays. However: The power supply of a computer is not great at all and that does influence the sound. What the normal way is: hook your pc with the Roon core on your router via a network cable, and hook a Roon endpoint (the streaming device), on the router,

Secondly: the dragonfly: I have one myself, it is a good sounding dac, especially for the price, but there are many more, in all different price classes. You cannot expect that the dragonfly sounds as good as a 4k costing DAC.


I am confused. My current setup influences the sound? I should have and endpoint/streaming device?
Replace the NAD DAC?

My guess would be that a Dragonfly would not be a significant improvement over the DAC that’s in your NAD.

That’s a little misleading. Price has little or nothing to do with the quality of a DAC. There are bad DACs that are very expensive, and good ones that aren’t. Take a look at the chart @David_Snyder posted above, and look at the variability in price there.

The thing is, price is the only hard number about a DAC that most consumers have to go on, so they (wrongly) presume it’s a proxy for quality.


That list, I know it Excists is the wrong way to compare, but don’t want to start a discussion on this

Lets talk about TS: I think we should help him answering his question: it does not help if we are argueing about these dac specs

My point is, really to help TS

This is how Roon should work

  1. You need a pc with the roon core installed. This pc is hooked to a router
  2. You need a roon endpoint, so the streamer. This streamer can be either a streamer with a separate dac, or a streamer and dac in once
  3. The analog signal to the amp goes further is amplified and goes to the speakers

What TS is missing is 2, the streamer and that one needs to be roon endpoint and of course, the streamer needs to have a dac either in build, or separate outside. That dac can be a dragonfly of course, but there are so many other choices. So back to the TS title, no a dragonfly is not needed, a roon dedicated endpoint streamer is needed combined with a dac. If that dac is inbuild or separate, and if it better sounds, of course it matters, You can
use a dragonfly for that but there are so many other ones, but please do not start a discussion here about dac comparison numbers, this whole list I don’t agree

TS needs a roon endpoint streamer,
Help him!

1 Like

Yeah, I doubt he needs that, either. You have this fixed idea about “how Roon should work”, but really, it’s just your opinion. I still don’t know if that would work any better for the OP.

George, let me ask again, what makes you wonder if you need a Dragonfly as an endpoint? Or any other change? Did someone say that to you? Are you hearing things you don’t like? In what way do you think your current sound quality could improve by making some changes?

In general, the thing that makes the most difference is your speakers and how they interact with your room. Some simple changes to the room itself can produce dramatic improvements in perceived sound. You might want to read this thread for a bit:

Roon also supports DSP processing which can tailor the sound coming through your system to match the room. There’s more on that here:


Do I need a Dragonfly as an Endpoint?



Just to add, “What Hi-Fi” was impressed with the DAC that’s in that NAD, calling it “an excellent DAC module”. So it’s already pretty good.


I have a Dragonfly Cobalt DAC I sometimes use with Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. It sounds really good to me, but I doubt it would sound any better than the DAC you already have. I do like the fact that it is MQA capable.

I also have a Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier and Power Supply that does MQA and sounds great. However, I’m not sure if it sounds any better than my Dragonfly or not.

In my opinion, unless something is wrong with the DAC you have or it doesn’t have the capabilities you want/need, I doubt you’re going to get a perceptible improvement by just switching DAC’s within a similiar price range. As has already been said, it’s more about your speakers and room acoustics, etc.

1 Like

I feel like I did that rather well. What are you saying that I missed?

1 Like

It’s not just an opinion. This is what Roon Labs say in their own knowledge base. Have you found a better way to do it than what Roon Labs says here?

If so, please share. :slight_smile:

I was reading about Roon HQ Player and followed links, most of which I did not completely understand. I started looking at my system in the audio Roon section. I had seen Dragonfly listed in some audio setup images.
As I have Audioquest cable and Jitterbug, I was curious if I needed the Dragonfly. I was unaware it was also a DAC.

1 Like

I want to thank everyone for the valuable information. My NAD DAC is working fine. I have no issues with the sound quality. I will look further into the above information. I learned a lot about Roon today.


Ah, OK. Be careful following those links. There’s a great deal of misinformation floating around these audiophile forums, and most of it seems to be designed to sell you things you don’t actually need.

1 Like

Thanks for the advice. I am researching the “streamer” concept opposed to what I am doing.

Somewhat as an aside, but if you use Tidal and/or Qubuz, a Dragonfly streaming from an iPhone makes a great “away from home” listening experience. I spend two weeks every other month away from home, so this is what I use. Of course, you need a healthy cellular data plan. You also need one of these and a good pair of headphones.

EDIT: And, just to add, when away from home using this setup instead of a “future” Roon mobile system, I’m only using cellular data, not cellular “hotspot” data. I’m also only using data to stream music, not metadata. I can view the metadata when at home.


If you want to improve sound quality, you should consider your analog devices instead of a new DAC. You didn’t say what speakers you were using or what your listening space was like. Changes in these areas will yield much more improvement than a new DAC.

1 Like

Take the copy on streamers with a hefty grain of salt.

If you go that path, buy from a place that will accept your return when you found out a streamer doesn’t improve SQ.

1 Like

The only reason I moved Roon core from a Windows 10 Dell XPS 15 laptop to Roon Nucleus was for convenience and reliability, not SQ. I also, previously, fooled with a Node 2i (before Roon), but return it the same day I bought it.

If you wanted to try an Audioquest Dragonfly, just order one from amazon and return it if it does not sound better than the DAC in your integrated amplifier. One thing that the Dragonfly will give you is MQA decoding from Tidal. Here is what my ears tell me (which does not mean it is true for your ears). I had an NAD C 368 (which is a different beast from your 356) and compared the following. Speakers are B&W 607s with SVS SB-1000 sub in small room.:

  1. using the integrated DAC
  2. using a dragonfly Red $200 new
  3. using a dragonfly Cobalt $300 new
  4. using Pro-ject Pre S2 Digital $400 new
  5. using Ifi Zen DAC $129 (with latest firmware that has the new filter on it)
    #'s 2 through 5 can be “borrowed” from amazon for your listening pleasure.
    #4 and #5 support DSD, #2 and #3 do not
    Endpoint is a raspberry pi 3b with ropieexl

All #2-5 support MQA. Not to debate whether MQA is good or bad , but I think that any current product should support it.

My thoughts from my ears:

  • All the external DACs were better to my ears than the one built into the NAD. NAD was weaker in the mid and bass with clear but non-engaging treble to my ears
  • Personally I could tell little difference between #2,3,4, so winner = dragonfly red due to the lower cost
    I think that the Zen sounds different from dragonfly Red, a bit warmer perhaps.
  • So I returned 2,3,4 to amazon, bought a dragonfly red on ebay for $135 and kept the Ifi Zen. Sometimes I listen with Zen sometimes with Dragonfly
  • Ifi Zen with version 5.3c firmware is very nice for the cost. I recommend everyone interested take this one for a spin
  • I compared running off the rasberry pi to running of a PC. Could definitely dell the difference the Pi is better