You will know, after months of my going on about it, that you really need an external digital analogue converter to enhance the quality of music from your computer. A DAC is the audio equivalent of rose-tinted spectacles. All good DACs are a blessing; each has its own quirks and benefits, but any of them will give a genuine sound boost.
Often, then, the choice of which DAC to go with rests with its physical design. Earlier in the year, I loved Meridian’s Explorer, mostly because of the wonderful sound improvement, but also because I found it especially practical in a cramped space, such as an airline seat. It plugs into a USB port on a flexible lead, and you plug your headphones into it, so it just forms a bulge in your headphone lead.
The AudioQuest DragonFly is far smaller than the diminutive Explorer – around the size of a USB stick. It does a similar job to the Explorer, and almost to the same standard. The difference with the DragonFly is that your headphones plug into a hard protrusion of around 5cm (depending on the laptop casing) from your laptop. This means you need to be careful that as you shift around, your laptop doesn’t move, too. But it’s not a major issue, and the space-saving it offers can be very helpful.