FIRST REVIEW IS IN...It's a Rave!!
From headmania.org :
"Another important step ahead is the new asynchronous usb that supports up to 384 Khz for PCM and 5.6 MHz for DSD, compared to 192 khz and 2.8 MHz in the old Silver Dragon.
The Black Dragon also has a bigger display, easier firmware update via the USB port and a 2 ohms output impedance on the 6.3 headphone jack, compared to 10 ohms on Silver Dragon.
I also love the fact that it is very generous with the inputs and that it has balanced outputs:
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my new favorite full sized dac / headphone amp combo at the moment. It has an excellent DAC, a very good and clean amplifier and a lot of nice features like a lot of inputs, a remote control, balanced DAC, pre-amplifier, digital display, very good looks, etc.
I found the DAC to be excellent and the fact that is comes with a very good clocking system (femto clock) and usb input that is taken from the top product from the mother company (Rockna) was easily felt in the quality of the sound. This is one of those products that when you start testing it, your wallet wants to quietly leave the room without notice. It knows that by the end of the testing that it may end up with a big whole inside.
It’s one of those products that makes you think of a financial plan on how to get it.
The good news is that the Black Dragon is quite cheap for what it offers. I think it would be very hard to find a good dac / headphone amp combo to beat it at 1500 eur.
While at first I didn’t have very big expectations for the amplifier section of Black Dragon, thinking it would be under Burson Conductor, it really managed to impress me. Actually I ended up liking HD800 more with Mr. Black , as the sound was more transparent and cleaner, even though Conductor is more powerful and has deeper and more controlled bass.
The Black Dragon also managed to drive LCD-X very good as well. Conductor had more control over LCD-X, offering a little more relaxed sound, more decompressed and with better bass depth, but there were still cases when I preferred the Dragon with LCD-X as the combination offered a cleaner sound overall.
I even enjoyed it with the power hungry LCD-3, as Mr. Black kept it’s clean and transparent quality, but in this case, Conductor’s superiority in power was easily felt as it presented better dynamics and energy, showing more ease in moving the membrane.
Letting the power aside, the transparency offered by the amplification section of Black Dragon is excellent and makes the product very appealing even from this angle.
DAC wise there is hardly a competition between Conductor and Black Dragon, as I thought it to be clearly superior in this department offering an excellent performance for this price and even more, as it enters in Chord Hugo category, a category that can stand their ground even near much more expensive products.
Considering all of the above, the Black Dragon earns my sincere recommendation, as overall it was the best dac/headphone amp/pre-amp combo I have ever heard until now. Besides that, it has an excellent DAC that can be used with pride in any high end system."
Go here for the full review.
The Audiobyte Black Dragon is a follow up to the Silver Dragon. What you do get is a superb headphone amp, rca and balanced use, and volume control!! (really good volume control.)
Here's the lay of the land as the Silver was concerned from the Audiobyte website. The topology and basic principals are the same, the Black has been tweaked a few levels up in the power supply and output stage. : )
Black DRAGON - DSD Digital preamplifier
Which d/a converter? Which preamp? Which headphone amplifier? These are questions that popped up many times in our "audio" life. "Integration" is what spells our friendly dragon as a response. One box instead of three? Let's see why.
The unique digital processing architecture makes the Black Dragon pretty unique at this price level. Instead of using off-the shelf chips for internal circuitry, dedicated hardware units are built inside a FPGA-chip to form together a powerful and custom front-end to the dac chips. This include digital receivers sampling input signals at 500 MHz , the clock system able to reduce timing errors to sub-picosecond level, the powerful digital filter made with 15 DSPs, the user interface.
Femtovox clock system allows jitter reduction as low as 300 fS right before entering dacs. For a detailed explanation about this technology please consult the Black Dragon white paper.
The custom hybrid-phase digital filter is a high-performance upsampling block for conditioning the incoming signals. It is especially effective on standard resolution digital signals, like 44.1/48 KHz. With a large number of taps and a carefully adjusted response, the extension and atmosphere of the recordings are virtually enhanced prior to conversion. The filter can be enabled or disabled from the menu interface. For filter detailed performance consult the technology paper.
True dual balanced conversion (2 x AK4396) is a perfect complement to the digital input stage. Each dac chip is processing one channel in fully balanced mode which leads to better analog performance and noise rejection.
Driverless USB input for Mac and Linux is natively capable of resolutions of 24bit/384 KHz sample rate and DSD64 /128. For Windows, ASIO and WASAPI/KS drivers are available under the download section. Asynchronous operation means that the dac dictates the USB audio transfers after its master clock and not the PC, resulting in minimal jitter.
Fully discrete , true balanced, zero-feedback class A output stage / headphone amplifier section will drive without problems from low to high impedance headphones.
The low noise LNS (linear power supply) - all power supplies inside are linear type. There are a total of 11 linear stabiliser IC's, 8 of them are low noise. The total filtering capacity exceeds 50.000 uF. The power supply is serviced by 2 separate toroidal transformers.
User convenience – there are 5 digital inputs available: USB, spdif, aes/ebu, i2s and optical toslink. Balanced, single ended and headphone outputs are present. The large display is easily readable from the listening point.
Easy firmware upgrade – the Black Dragon can be updated in the field by easily playing a special update track via the USB input. Any firmware updates will be available under the download section.
- Driverless for Mac and Linux
- ASIO/KS/WASAPI drivers for Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8