I’m as interested in a good “desk” audio system as the next guy, and I have dabbled in assembling various small systems in my office over the last few years. Thanks to my old buddy Arnold Martinez of Tweak Studio in Chicago and LA, I’ve just experienced a small computer-based audio system with a very satisfying overall sound, so much so that I could use it as my primary system for quite some time without missing a beat. I know, I even feel weird saying it.
The Dragonfire Acoustics Complete System bundle retails for $10,000, which at first sounds like a relatively high price for this market segment. That includes a pair of the Dragonfire Mini Dragon Satellites ($4998/pair), which are panel speakers no bigger or heavier than your average iPad, as well as the Dragonfire MD-4 amp with DSP ($3498), the SHD digital preamp/headphone amp/streamer ($998), room correction software and all cabling.
Arnold’s booth for Tweak Studio was right at the entrance to the marketplace for AXPONA 2019, which means he was able to distract me several times during the show as I was moving from point A to point B. I smiled politely when he first showed me the Dragonfire Acoustics bundle, thinking that it was the kind of computer audio product I’ve seen many times before, but I changed my mind once I sat and listened. While playing many favorites through the various streaming services, I was treated to a deeply layered and well-anchored sound that seemed to exist in a realistic space, despite the huge, open size of the hotel’s conference space. Let me put this more succinctly–I didn’t hear any other $10,000 systems at AXPONA 2019 that sounded this balanced, this detailed, this seamless from top to bottom.
$10,000 might sound like an expensive system for your laptop. But if you’re like me, you’re gradually succumbing to the various digital streaming services and you’re spending way more time playing around on Tidal, Qobuz and Roon than you’re willing to admit. Before AXPONA 2019, I would have asked myself “Would I spend ten grand on a system for my office, based around my laptop?” I would balk at half that amount. But here’s the secret–these products aren’t from a fly-by-night tech company. The designs come from the magnificent Dr. C of Audeze fame, and the DSP engine was developed by my old friends at Danville Signal Processing. (More on Danville in a future report.)
Everything changes once you sit down and listen to your favorite streaming service through the Dragonfire. You realize that you’ve been waiting for this kind of product for quite a while, a complete system, not quite portable but compact and simple, something you can bring just about anywhere. (Maybe a customized case for all the components will be available?) It’s something that sounds crazy good within a small space, something that a true audiophile can love and respect as an in-case-of-emergency-break-glass sort of system where you can always listen to real high-end sound with a very minimal amount of set-up time or space. It’s high-end audio on the fly.
Does this sound like something you’ve been expecting for a long time? It sounds like that to me.