Overview DAC and headphone amplifier Yulong DA9 — a new word

Overview DAC and headphone amplifier Yulong DA9 — a new word

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Products of Yulong I have long and pleasant memories. It is their “harvester” DA8 was my first major source and has served me faithfully for many years. Traditionally, time is not standing still, Yulong decided to upgrade its flagship, releasing the model DA9, but could not resist and created a new device from scratch.

Is the ESS9018 Sabre novelty is made on the trendiest chip last time AK4497. In the role of USB interface now plays XMOS U8. Pulled up, and the amplifier part, because one of the main problems DA8 was relatively weak amplifier (very relatively, still 1 watt at 32Ω is good) that has been adjusted by the purchase of the amplifier, for example, of the same A28. In DA9, the developers decided not to go for half-measures and made a discrete headphone amplifier operating in class A, and emits up to 3 watts into 32Ω (backstage heard the enthusiastic cries of fans ISO-dynamics). Since it’s already 2017, the flagship processor could not do without a balanced output, and, thanks Yulong, DA9 it is. In the past, remain distortions connecting headphones to 3-pin XLR line output.

In other respects the company applies the same proven approach, familiar from previous models: quality parts, good Board layout, well-organized nutrition.

Special thanks to the producers I want to say for that not to raise the price of the updated model, it is fashionable to do now. Price in DA9 is $ 1289 in the world, the Russian distributor it can be purchased for 65 000 (at the time) and get a USB-wire Yulong Cu2.

Specifications

  • DAC: AK4497
  • USB: XMOS U8
  • Digital interfaces: SA8804
  • Volume control: PGA2311
  • Gain: OPA1611 and OPA1612 in the role of LPF, OPA1622 filter
  • Headphone amplifier: discrete class A
  • The ratio signal/noise: -130 dB
  • Dynamic range: 115 dB
  • Total harmonic distortion+noise: 0,0003%
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 30 kHz (-0,15 dB)
  • Channel separation: 120 dB
  • The balanced output level: 4.2 V
  • The power of the headphone amp: normal output of 110 mW @ 600Ω, 2000 W @ 32Ω; balanced output — 230 mW @ 600Ω, 3000 W @ 32Ω
  • Maximum resolution: USB — up to 32 bit/384 kHz, DoP to DoP128, NativeDSD to DSD256; for Coaxial/Optical/AES up to 24 bit/384 kHz, DoP to DoP128
  • Power consumption: <30 W
  • Dimension: 248 mm × 210 mm × 60 mm
  • Weight: 4 kg

Packing and delivery

With box were not too much bother, DA9 sold in the usual cardboard made from recycled paper (we assume that this concern for nature). Inside, protected by soft inserts, is the booster itself, a power cord, USB cable and spare film to protect the front panel (the one already glued from the factory). Also put the user manual, without which it is difficult to understand all the nuances, and warranty card.

Design and management

Personally, I am very sorry that Yulong has moved away from its old design. He certainly looked a bit archaic, but it had a certain charm. DA9 done in the style of recent models ADA1, the same massive case of black (or white for choice) of aluminium, but this time the front panel is made from metal coated with a superthin layer of gold (at least so say the developers).

In the past has gone and the bright color screen DA8, and separate buttons for all functions. In DA9 screen is monochrome, with low for comfort brightness. If the display is not so pathetic (well, actually, why a color screen in the DAC?), here ergonomic buttons I would like to return. In DA9 all the control is built around rotating and to-push wheels, and due to the congestion functions to manipulate them is not trivial.

By default the knob adjusts the volume, DA9 did the 99 steps adjustment, on the positive side — now the control is performed not by the DAC, and a separate chip, which should benefit the sound quality. Short pressing the wheel switch inputs, which combine many (about them below). A longer press (about 2 seconds) allows you to select the output mode (the setting which now is going to change, starts blinking on the screen). Output modes there are three: headphones, line out, adjustable and non-adjustable line output. More long tap allows to choose from three digital filters AK4497 (why not all 5 filters available to the DAC, is a mystery). Finally, a longer depression allows you to select one of the sound modes. This option works only for PCM signal, and if I understand correctly, only for a linear output (on headphones at least, I’m not much of a difference you hear, but on AC — Yes). The developers have made 3 different versions of the AFR, slightly altering the flow: neutral, V-shaped with emphasis on bass and treble and curved in the opposite direction, emphasizing the mid-range. Changes in the frequency response is very small, somewhere a little less than 2 dB, but sometimes they give very nice results when listening.

Also on the front panel sports two headphone output: 6.3 mm and a 4-pin XLR.

At the bottom of the chassis are high quality pads that protects the device from slip, however, given the significant weight of 4 kg to brush it off just like that on the floor will not work. In General, despite the weight, DA9 compact enough he placed on the table and quite suitable for “computer audiophiles”, the main source of which is the PC.

On the back side is all the other interfaces. Power socket next to it — the mains switch, fuse and voltage switch (make sure it is in the correct position). I wish the power switch was removed from the front of the harvester, but in our time it is almost the norm. Of inputs include: USB, AES/EBU, optical and coaxial S/PDIF. A set of line outputs — standard: RCA and 3 pin XLR. Sorry, of course, the developers have not provided line-in Jack, but a DA9 is already overloaded with functionality and possibilities.

Sound

To listen following equipment was used.

Overall, the Yulong is not among the companies that by any means trying to achieve their own “brand” of sound. The developers bring the model up to the level that believes a good team of experts and released to the market. Sometimes, as happened with the DA8, based on user feedback there have been some adjustments. For example, the amplifying part DA8-II added some treble to provide supply closer to neutral. In turn, DA9 turned out different from the previous model, which is not surprising because the filling is also completely changed. “Nine” sounds exactly closer to neutral sound, but, due to its characteristic feeding mid, not turn into harsh or analytical-dry apparatus.

Bass in the new model was slightly less than in the first generation DA8, which can be attributed to devices with dark sound character, but it has become deeper, and better tekturna in the transfer of nuances of low-end instruments register. Don’t know whether to thank for that redesigned the amplifier, but the fact remains that bass a bit “dry”, which allowed them to show the topography and dynamics. DA9 — model is not for those who like accented or added bass, the bass here just as much as laid in the entry, but if necessary, this processor is quite able to play beats and claps.

The mid-frequency range is served musically and with a small (very small) mitigation that provides involving the flow that does not cause fatigue. Despite this smoothness, loss of resolution is not observed, all the small nuances are present. The construction of an imaginary scene depends on the selected output — balanced she is definitely deeper and reaches nearly the reference depth, while the usual 6.3 mm sounds more flat. However, both have a very good width and separation plans, but I would still advised to think about changing the cable to balanced. The effect I got by replacing the wire of my Audio Zenith PMx2v2 to balanced from Era-in-ear, really pleased, neutral and space-sounding “the Zenith” of additional depth to enhance the effect of the dip. For midrange device manage well the transmission of vocals and instruments, which adds to its sound vitality.

Supply high frequency range (and overall sound processor) is quite noticeable changes when switching filters. Traditionally for me, it was Super Slow provides the live feed of the entire range and the most comfortable frequency (this filter on some dB presses the upper range, but it is good for him). RF DA9 with this filter are different natural attacks and attenuation, which gives a very natural transfer of overtones and nuances of small timbral rich records. Other filters make the sound more aggressive treble, which to my ears gives a more broad stage, but degrades the “General perception” of music.

Compatibility

The main thing that I want to mention in this section the universality DA9, he copes with almost any existing headphones, starting with sensitive IEM and ending with a tight pornogratherapy. Exceptions can only be the most sensitive in-ear headphones, where the noise (in my opinion, a perfectly acceptable level) and frankly tight panoramer. Everything else DA9 shakes without problems, and the digital volume control allows in any condition to choose an acceptable volume.

It should be noted that in comparison with the top “individual” amplifiers built-in solution DA9 still loses on the scale and dynamics, but among harvesters, I heard, amplifier DA9 is clearly among the leaders.

If we talk about genres, the hero of today’s review — quite universal (adjusted for taste preferences of the owner), will not do it only for those who like colored sound in the field of NCH or dry monitor the flow. The quality of the recording DA9 sensitive enough 8 out of 10.

Traditionally some tracks for example

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats — Shake. Most often a good musical works are born at the junction of genres. And this track is a perfect example of combining rock, American folk and sometimes even jazz. Add to this the excellent quality writing, it turns out exactly what you need to DA9 — a live track with beautiful percussion, airy and voluminous.

Pain of Salvation — Full Throttle Tribe. Perhaps no one in this year failed to produce more interesting work in slightly passed the position of the genre of prog metal. PoS all skillfully add to the intricate fabric of their tracks, all that came to hand — from jazz to nu, getting a thick, rich sound and interesting melodies. To honor the team it is worth noting that the album is very well recorded, allowing for good equipment (DA9) with care and taste to rasslushat all parties of this composition.

The Alan Parsons Project — Eye in the Sky. The case when the track is heard most, but not all, students will learn who is its author. Tortured by many “followers” the melody still sounds great and the recording quality provided by Alan, allows her, like dozens of years ago to act as a benchmark for testing surround sound. To honor DA9 this test, it passes without much effort.

Insights

Yulong is not standing still and are developing actively, not afraid to abandon old practices. Of course, fans of “signature sound” it can push, but I think that they made a movement vector in the right, DA9 and was very successful. Plenty of inputs, a powerful headphone amplifier with balanced output, compact size and stylish appearance — all this is clearly there in device assets.