Sound – single-ended
Dragon 2+ projects a decidedly upscale – if not downright audiophile – sound. The biggest difference is how far, how wide, and how well spread the soundstage is, especially where mids, upper mids, and highs reach, reach, and reach in wide, lateral arcs.
Part of this is the earphone design. I say part because lots of earphones – at any price point and location on the audiophile scale – can’t do. Apple’s AirPods for one don’t put out such a wide, stable soundstage. Sunrise earbuds certainly didn’t. Dragon 2+’s soundstage and general stereo spread is almost as wide and controlled sounding as a quality open headphone. It doesn’t project fore or aft the head as well as, say, a DT880, but it sure as hell gets out of the head. Way out.
Imaging, as you can guess, is excellent. Bass elements anchor neatly below the chin and go no wider than the shoulders, and their stereo transition to mids is smooth as spring-time butter.
Speaking of bass, it’s not the overpowering, big type that really pounds mids. At the ear, it is neutral. Above it is are mids and upper mids. Before them, slightly wet mids sort of steal the show. Not by sound pressure, but by positioning. Midrange stereo spreads wide, opening lots of space around vocals, which keep damn good pressure against bright-ish highs.
The highs don’t do great peaks above what your ear might expect to maintain equal loudness curves, but Dragon 2+ is brighter than it is truly disciplined. It isn’t in any way piercing. It is in no way sibilant. But it can get a bit hot around chime and high-hat fades, especially in live recordings. For trance, this keeps senses heightened, which then lead to that ‘trancy’ feel, though not as well as if the signature was u-shaped in favour of bass. It mimes trance’s most important midrange cues, setting the mood. You just have to follow. Which is to say: apart from stereo width and sparkly highs, Dragon 2+ won’t put you in the club.
Thanks to its wettish upper mids and the shy, incremental slide of highs into the upper mids, it puts you in the concert. And it loves those twangy 1980’s Bruce Springsteen guitar edges. Ladies and gents, Darlington County it is from here to eternity as far as Dragon 2+ is concerned.
If you’re into electronic music, you may want a big more bass. If you’re a club-life trance purist, you’ll find a lot to love, but may wish for more bass. Personally, I’m happy with Dragon 2+’s straddling of the lines. Trance has been my music since around 2000, but I do hella love Bruce Springsteen. And gosh darn, does that wettish upper midrange rule horns, chimes, and sundry organic instruments.
I dig it.
A note on power: Interestingly, Dragon 2+ is sensitive. I get more than enough volume from my iPhone for at-home listening at five bars from the bottom.
Giving it a balanced signal can extend the z-axis a step or two and upper midrange crispiness softens up somewhat, probably in spatially diffusing through the z-axis space.
319$ isn’t a lot to ask: Simphonio Dragon 2+ sounds great. It’s not targeting the ‘neutral is all’ crowd. Its sights are set on air, space, and sound stage spread. The illusion of being right in there, music swirling all around you mesmerises. I wish its cable was more robust. I sort of wish its chassis was metal. And apart from that I’d change nothing.