Another dongle DAC for your consideration: the Chronos from German headphone amplifier manufacturer Violectric. This portable DAC / headphone amplifier is no bigger than a matchbox (44.5mm x 24mm x 10 mm) but inside its aluminium chassis, we find an internal D/A converter with support for PCM384 and DSD256 and a 3.5mm headphone output that promises 30mW into 32 Ohms or 2 x 5mW into 600 Ohms.
For reference, THX specifies 180mW into 22 Ohms for their Onyx dongle DAC and, according to Paul Miller’s Hifi News lab report, the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt gives us 53mW into 25 Ohms.
We should also note that without a third-party app like UAPP, Android devices will send nothing but a 48kHz stream into the Chronos, irrespective of the music stream’s original sample rate. The iPhone suffers no such resampling affliction but requires Lightning to USB-C cable adaption.
Fortunately, Violectric put a trio of cables in the box: Lightning to USB-C (for iPhones), USB-C to USB-C (for modern Android phones) and micro USB to USB-C (for legacy Androids). The Chronos side panel features buttons for volume up and volume down.
Dongle DACs aren’t just for smartphones. We could use the supplied USB-C to USB-C cable to hook the Chronos into any laptop with a USB-C port where – if my experience with other dongle DACs is anything to go by – it will easily surpass the sound quality of any laptop’s 3.5mm headphone socket.
Price: €199 or £169.
Further information: Violectric