The Moondrop Dawn Pro is the 2nd iteration of its kind, promising more power and enhanced clarity. Selling for only 50 bucks, will the Dawn Pro over-perform with respect to power output and sound signature? Or are you getting exactly what you pay for?
What’s in the Box?
- Moondrop Dawn Pro DAC/Amp
- USB-C to USB-C OTG Cable
- USB-A Adapter
Design and Build
While the Dawn Pro appears sturdy enough for the price, it still looks and feels around $50; Things are a bit loose under the hood, and when you shake the device, there’s a little jiggling going on. Still, the Dawn Pro has a reasonably solid build and the volume buttons, as well as the headphone outputs are firmly planted. Finally, I love that the volume control on my phone worked independently from the volume setting on the DAC.
The Dawn Pro incorporates aluminum alloy through CNC and mold forming techniques. An anodized surface treatment is implemented to enhance its feel and strength. It also features a heat dissipation system, which draws inspiration from hi-fi desktop devices. With vents for efficient cooling, the Dawn Pro is theoretically protected by thermal management to ensure longevity. But I guess time will tell.
DAWN PRO utilizes two flagship decoding amplifier chips from Cirrus Logic, namely the CS43131. It also incorporates a high-fidelity USB digital interface chip, dual crystal oscillators operating independently, and three separate power supply chips.
The Dawn Pro has 120mW of output power, delivering impressive amount of drive for such a tiny thing. To see how far I could push it, I paired it with the power hungry Beyerdynamic DT 1770, which has an impedance of 250 Ohms. While it gave me enough volume, there was almost no headroom. So, if you’re planning on driving a higher impedance or planar magnetic set of cans, you might be pushing it. That said, I also paired the DAC with the Meze Empyrean (which is admittedly not too hard to drive), and there was plenty of volume to spare.
Inputs and Outputs
The Dawn Pro features two headphone outs, accommodating both, a 3.5mm plug, as well as a balanced 4.4mm termination. The DAC uses a USB-C input, and a USB-C to USB-C OTG cable is provided in addition to a USB adapter.
The Dawn Pro supports up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256. Perhaps the Dawn Pro’s only major downfall is that it doesn’t seem to support MQA. So, Tidal users will be out of luck.
I’ll start by noting that despite this DAC’s impressive power output, there’s no noise floor to speak of, even when playing super sensitive IEMs, like the Campfire Andromeda.
With respect to its sound profile, you’ll hear a relatively neutral presentation. But I did notice a little added punch or attack, which really livened up the mix. The soundstage also felt a little airier or more open, adding a touch of height and width to the stage and injecting slightly more space between sound elements. Certainly, the Dawn Pro seems to enhance the level of separation, improving definition and overall resolution.
While the Dawn Pro may look unassuming, it does quite a bit for your sound signature, injecting energy into the delivery and expanding the soundscape. And while it may be ambitious to pair this little DAC with a higher impedance headphone, it’s perfect for IEMs that are both super sensitive as well as for those that are slightly tougher to drive. The lack of MQA support is a shame, but if you’re not a Tidal listener, who cares. Whether you’re looking for an entry level DAC that actually affects the sound signature or just something simple to replace your crappy dongle, the Dawn Pro is a great choice for the price point.