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Ylong DAH1 Dac and Headphone Amp Review

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Yesterday I received my newest toy, the Yulong DAH1 DAC/Amp:

This little toy is
- a DAC accepting USB, Coaxial and Optical input and providing analog out
- a Pre-Amp driven by either the DAC or an analog in and
- a headphone amp from all available inputs.
- all of this controllable via IR remote

The package
When the package arrived the first thing I noticed was the weight, it has a solid feel to it.

The content is safe behind two layers of foam and can easily survive a standard postal journey.

The first things out the box are the remote and a Users Manual (!).
Not only do you get a leaflet, it is even in English.

Apart from the unit, the user's guide and the remote package contains a power and a standard USB cable.

The DAH1
The unit feels solid and shows good craftmanship.

Obviously the first thing I had to do was open the case and take a peek inside:

All the other pictures available on the Internet show the opamps as socketed and inviting opamp rolling.

On my unit the opamps are soldered in. They are all OPA2134, not bad, but far from the best. Still they are DIP-8, so unsoldering them and putting in sockets is not a real problem apart from definitely voiding the warranty.

So, how does it sound?
Now, I am a firm believer of burn-in, so I expect the sound to change (hopefully for the better) + I have it in the office so I can neither listen as closely or as loud as I might like to.

Having said all of that I powered it on, plugged in my trusty AKG K240 Sextetts, started Foobar on the PC, connected to Radio Paradise (128KB MP3) and:
Wow, better overall then any other amp I had hooked up in the office before.
I can not really write a lot about sound, but I have to say that right from the start the DAH1 did all I expected it to:
- drive the 600Ohm K240 with authority
- tonal balance
- soundstage
At the moment all I can say is that the USB DAC / headamp combination works and works well.

Once the DAH1 has worked for a week or so, so that I will assume initial burn-in to be done I will take it home and take it through all of its paces, e.g using it only as a DAC or as a pre-amp for other amps.

The Good
The unit works as advertised and the operation is pretty straightforward.
So far the tested application - only USB input and amp output - are very good , but do not really justify the higher price tag say compared to the Zero DAC

The Bad
One thing really soured the experience for me was the fact that I could barely read the LCD display, and you can not determine the currently selected input.

Also the remote sometimes got confused between volume up and down.

I was fearing a defective unit, but decided to investigate further:
The tinted window was the culprit, almost half a cm thick it blocked not only too much of the LCD's output but the IR receptor as well

With the plastic piece removed the display can be read from a few meters away (otherwise you would not need the remote, right?), and the remote buttons work correctly every time.

The Ugly
The remote has a power button, but that does not serve any function, you can not put the DAH1 into standby.
If you switch the device off with the power button at the back it loses the current set up, so you need to select the proper input at startup again and need to set the volume as well, since it wakes up with it turned down all the way.

Would I buy again?

Sure, why not?

So far I have seen and heard nothing that would prohibit me buying the unit or recommending it to someone else.

The sonic qualities are on par with the price tag and the used materials and the two things I don't like, the tinted window and the soldered opamps I can easily rectify, indeed as with most of these things it invites modding and personalising.

I will add to here with my findings.
This is my first review, so please comment and ask if I did not express myself as clear as I wanted to.
post #2 of 4
By any chance do you a separate dedicated headphone amp?
How's the DAC sound?
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
The DAH1 has by now been playing for three (work-)days, and I have a few other insights:

Ground Noise
The amp itself can not be used with really high sensitive phones: the ground noise you hear in an IEM, at least in an Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 pro is not nice!

Heat dissipation
The whole unit gets quite warm when run for a few hours, not hot but noticably warm.
I think I will add a few ventilation holes when I disassemble it for opamp changing.

DAC usage
Today I ran the Line Out of the DAH1 into a Stax SRD-X and listened via the Stax IEM SR-003
This combo simply sounded very, very good, the weakest link clearly being the semiportable Stax amp

Current feeling
I think the DAH1 coupled with the AKG Sextetts is the best dynamic setup I have heard so far.
Other combinations (Jecklin Float I with T-Amp) is more aggressive, has more slam bass, but the DAH1 + Sextett has the overall balanced combination:
Control + Precision + Feeling
post #4 of 4
mapstec: do you still think that the DAH1 is not worth the extra over the zero dac as both are a consideration for me?
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