Review DAC with headphone amplifier Yulong Daart Aquila

Yulong company for many years pleases fans of iron with a good ratio of price and quality, confidently offering products in a wide range of initial-high end to budget decisions. The company decided to make its best technology available, releasing a new model called Daart Aquila.

If slightly to exaggerate the situation, “eagle” (so translated the name of the new product) is almost the same DA9 with a modified headphone amp, to replace the discrete elements came TPA6120A2. Just a little reduced power, but 1 watt at 32Ω it’s still more than enough. Otherwise, everything remained almost the same: from AK4497 in the role of DAC and ending corporate power schemes and testowania created to ensure the highest quality sound. A set of inputs and outputs, design and management is largely copied from the older model, not forgetting three modes of “flow”, presented in DA9.

Of course, all this was done to reduce prices, and new costs about $ 800 (depending on taxes and duties), which is about 25% less than the flagship. Let’s see, is it worth the savings.

Specifications

  • DAC: AK4497
  • USB: XMOS U8
  • Digital interfaces: SA8804
  • Volume control: PGA2311
  • Gain: OPA1611 + OPA1688
  • Headphone amplifier: TPA6120A2
  • The ratio signal/noise: -130 dB
  • Dynamic range: 125 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 — 100 mW @ 600Ω, 1000 mW @ 32Ω; balanced output — 200 mW @ 600Ω, 1500 mW @ 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

Packaging in Yulong wise, especially not steel, apparently pretentious box inheritance either portable equipment or “luxury segment” of the hospital. Aquila is sold in conventional packaging from recycled brown cardboard with inserts of foam material inside. In addition to the amplifier you will receive a user manual, power cable and a good USB wire. Simply put — everything you need for the operation of the product.

Design and management

Appearance decided to make a simpler and almost completely repeated design of the older model. Of course, then removed the gold plated front panel, replacing it with a normal tone case and put another screen is noticeably brighter than the older model, but other connectors and controls remain the same.

Combine body in one piece, it is made of thick metal, which gives considerable weight to 4 pounds and a feeling of safety. High quality silicone feet this provides a secure hold on the table, even the most rigid headphones to shift that thing won’t work.

For connoisseurs available one of three colors: black, silver and red, each is good in its own right. The build quality is impeccable, no flaws or problems I have not identified.

The front panel is reserved for the “basic” controls. There are two headphone jacks: normal 6.3 mm TRS and balanced 4-pin XLR, volume knob, also used to control the settings of the DAC and screen. The screen is noticeably brighter than DA9 and a little bigger on the one hand it improves readability in bright light, on the other hand, in the dark he’s a bit garish.

By the way, Yulong reworked the controls, so in that aspect Aquila prefer his older brother. Where DA9 needed pressing of different duration, the Junior model is the schema easier. By pressing the knob you choose the desired item on the screen, the rotation changes it, and pressing apply settings. Of the options available to the user:

  • input selection
  • the choice of the digital filter
  • the choice of sound mode (neutral, emphasis on midrange and focus on LF/HF)
  • the choice of mode (headphone amplifier, DAC, DAC with volume control)

The controller uses encoder with very good quality: smooth rotation, with pronounced clicks, fixing the rotation and clicks — correct.

On the back put all the rest of the controls:

  • power connector, close to the switch, socket and fuse switch voltage
  • USB, optical, coaxial and AES/EBU inputs
  • conventional (2 × RCA) and balanced (2 x 3-pin XLR) outputs

As you can see, a more affordable model has retained the versatility of the DA9 in the management plan and the availability of all possible inputs / outputs. The processor also supports almost all modern formats of signals, including high definition.

Sound

To listen to the device used the following headphones: iBasso IT04, 99 Meze Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Andromeda Audio, Unique Melody Mason V3, HUM Pristine and others.

Despite my skeptical attitude to the different Eqs, I note that three “kinds of sound” is built into Aquila viable and do not contribute to the supply of synthetic the hue that is characteristic of the equalizers most sources. Elevated midrange sound good with vocals, or instrumental music, and the accents on the edges of the band adds vividness to rock and similar styles. Of course, the description of the sound below to the “zero” option, which provides the maximum flat frequency response.

If you do not compare directly, the Aquila is a little different from DA9 — the same detailed and technical submission without pronounced accents, backed by a powerful enough amp in the signal path. Testing mapping still makes it clear that a discrete amplifier older model sounds more massively across the range by adding a little bit of emotion and “liveliness”. It’s hard to formulate words, the difference is, however, clearly heard on top headphones, but always worth the overpayment. Yulong very carefully lit the two models, the youngest — for those who want the optimum ratio of price and quality and top — of-selecting for “high at any cost.”

Bass is very fast, with a good level of detail. They are slightly shifted in the direction of dryness, not trying to add weight, but the fact that is — played well, largely due to power. The bass is deep enough, it is well controlled and not creeps on mid. Textures are transferred reliably, the instruments of the lower registers are separated very well.

CQ default is not painted, so if you’re used to some additional emphasis on the midrange, the model may not be suitable. However, before a cold sound like the same Audinst hero of today’s review does not reach. Emotions are relayed very well, the level of detail is excellent. The harvester is sensitive to recording quality, but this is typical for this segment. An imaginary scene — a good, more average in width and depth, while the width of a little more depth. Plans are separated naturally, the tools are the correct size and positioning.

HF is another area where the difference is most noticeable with the DA9. “Top” here is a good resolution, but slightly shorter than it should be to attack and attenuation. Plus the DAC has a little less than the older model layering, but for this price range for this indicator everything is fine.

Comparison this time I will not paint, as there is nothing similar in “level” I have no difference with the “big brother” I’ve painted, and to do the mapping disparate options — not particularly useful.

Compatibility

Of course, Aquila falls behind a little on power from the older models in the lineup, but let’s be honest — his “exhaust” is still enough for most headphones except, perhaps, quite so tight istinam. Due to digital volume control, the “eagle” also works well with IEM, a small noise is present, but only with sensitive models.

Stylistically, the processor is universal, it has no genre preferences. The recording quality it is quite critical, somewhere in the 8 points on the conditional 10-point scale of “fault-finding”.

As usual — several tracks for example

Kansas — Dust in the Wind long Ago, when the trees were large, rock — progressive band Kansas (guess where they come from) the song, which became one of the most popular ballads in the world. Decades passed, and the song still sounds like a breath of fresh air, especially on good source so as to convey all the nuances of the vocals and background accompaniment. Oh, what’s the violin…

Emerson, Lake, Palmer — From the Beginning Perhaps make this a selection of themed. So here is another ballad from one of the titans of the genre of art and prog. What I love about these tracks is that for the quiet and simple melody hides a lot of nuances and subtleties that can be opened over and over again pereslushival track. Aquila is perfect for such a pastime, meticulously conveying all of the musical discoveries of the great trio.

The Moody Blues — Nights in White Satin is Not something that is clearly Prahova or art-rock team, but The Moody Blues still tried to play more complicated music, and “Nights in white satin” is a clear example. For 1967 this track was simply the pinnacle of intelligent music, comparable only to that released around the same time, “Whiter Shade of Pale” (I thought not to include it in a compilation, but decided that it’s just too predictable). So here’s one perfectly suited to the combine Yulong composition with beautiful vocals and poignant orchestration with the choir, which the hero of this review perfectly plays.

Insights

What could be pohvalina the willingness of the manufacturer to give a good sound at a more affordable price? So I do not know. Of course, in “absolute” comparison Aquila loses the older model in the face DA9, but regarding the price, this processor definitely comes out ahead.

Buy Yulong Daart Aquila here:

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