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REVIEW: Yulong DAH-1 Mk II DAC/Headphone Amp

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Description

I was sent a review sample of the Yulong DAH-1 Mk II by AudiophileChina, the exporter.


Welcome to Audiophilechina


I tested the Yulong as both a stand-alone DAC, driving my Decware CSP-2 headphone amp and alternatively Beyer DT880/600’s and the Kenwood KH1000. I also used the Yulong’s built in headphone amp (which can be switched off completely when one wants to use only the DAC, a nice feature).

Pics:






I used the DAC mostly from its optical input, being driven by my Denon CD player. I did compare the sound of the Yulong DAC to the analog outputs of the Denon (which is a $500 CDP). I tried the USB input just enough to verify that it worked, and that it essentially sounded the same as the optical input, although as usual I think the optical input sounds marginally better (this has universally been my experience with USB capable DACs). There is also a Coax input, which I did not try.


The Yulong is a nice looking unit, with a nice LCD status display. The DAH-1 worked flawlessly the whole time I had it, although it does have one operational quirk I did not like – every time it is powered on and off with its rear-panel switch)the only way to turn it off), when powered on again it defaults to the Coax input, and one has to switch inputs (unless one happens to be using Coax). It really ought to “remember” the input that is being used. Not a big deal, though.


Sound

The DAH-1, used as a DAC, provides a very clear, detailed, slightly forward and bright sound. While generally neutral sounding, it is just a little hot in the lower-to-mid treble. This gives the DAC a sense of enhanced detail, although it did not actually present any more real detail than the outputs of my Denon CDP (which again is a pretty nice deck). The DAH-1 was slightly more transparent than the Denon’s outputs though. It also had the deeper and wider soundstage than the Denon’s own output.
Bass was tight, and very well controlled, and deep where required. It was definitely not on the “ripe” side – it was slightly more on the lean side in terms of bass, but just slightly. Bass definition was very good though. For example, the double-kick-drum on “The Mind Maelstrom” from Sirenia’s excellent new album “The 13th Floor” was very tight, but not quite as punchy as I would like.


The midrange was neutral and clean, but just slightly dry. The DAH-1 is not a lush sounding device – it definitely leans more toward the articulate/detailed side, including in the mids. It sounded better connected to my CSP-2 than it did with either its own headphone amp, or with the AV123 x-head, which arrived later in the review period and got some time paired with the DAH-1’s DAC. Of course, an $800 tube amp like the CSP-2 *should* sound a lot better than the headphone amp built into the $300 DAH-1! And the DAC in the Yulong is worthy of being used with an amp like the CSP-2, which is saying a lot about it. The DAH-1 gave a little edge to Patricia Barber’s vocals, as heard on her recent release “The Cole Porter Mix”, than I am used to. And the horns on some of the tracks seemed to lack a little body. But these are some minor nits – in general the sound was clean and transparent, and using the CSP-2 as the amp made the overall experience quite good.


The soundstaging ability of the DAC was very good. Soundstage was very wide, and reasonably deep, and with the detailed sound came nice image specificity. One could definitely “hear into” recordings. Listening to a recent audience recording of a concert I attended by “The Dead” illustrated this nicely – I could hear the hall acoustics and audience sound very much like they did at the event, although the experience through the Yulong was more 2-dimentional, but not overly so. The depth of the soundstage was slightly better than my Denon CDP.


Using the headphone amp of the DAH-1 in conjunction with its DAC yielded even more of the same – literally. The headphone amp can’t be used without the DAC, but the combined unit was even more “crisp” sounding than the DAC alone when used with the CSP-2. When compared with the AV123 xHead, though, the sound of the DAH-1’s headphone amp was very, very similar. I did not think the xHead provided a meaningful improvement over the Yulong’s built-in headphone amp, which is also a good sign about the Yulong. One needs to go with a much better headphone amp to improve the sound of the Yulong.


Good headphone matching is very important, though, given the Yulong’s sonics. It sounded great with the Kenwood KH1000 – in fact this was a very good pairing, and the $400 Kenwood and the $300 Yulong make a very nice little system. But the sound with the DT880 using the Yulong as both DAC and headphone amp was just too bright. The DT880’s are a little bright to begin with, and the combination was just too much of a good thing. But with the KH-1000, the Yulong sounded great.


I did not have any other DACs around to directly compare the Yulong with. The Carat-Topaz I recently reviewed, however, did offer a bigger improvement over the Denon’s own outputs than the Yulong, and I slightly preferred the sonic flavoring offered by the StyleAudio C-T than the Yulong. However, the C-T’s headphone amp was not up to snuff, I felt, and the Yulong is $150 cheaper. As such, if I had somewhat laid-back headphones, like Kenwoods, Senn HD650’s, or Denons, I would go for the Yulong. But if I owned bright headphones like the DT880 or Grados, I would go for the Carat-Topaz. System matching is very important!


Bottom line

The Yulong DAH-1 is a very good sounding device, and for $300 is a steal. Used just as a DAC it’s worth the money. That it has a nice headphone amp built in is just icing on the cake. Just make sure you are using it in a system where it will shine, but if you do, it will reward you with excellent sonics at a nice price.
post #2 of 23
Thanks for another great and detailed review, Skylab.
post #3 of 23
Coax her OPT better than, The sound is fine, delicate, smooth, sweet and natural, suitable for bright headphones
USB so that it can become cheaper. Good music source
Thanks
post #4 of 23
post #5 of 23
dScope Series III Test DAH1 MARK II

The dScope III is a comprehensive and powerful measurement system for analogue and digital audio generation and analysis, including digital audio carrier parameters,
Frequency response :


THD+N vs frequency

SNR and weighted noise



Our photos:
post #6 of 23
A comparison to the Compass might be worthwhile if some has heard both?
post #7 of 23
Nice Review (honest and unbiased).

I wish I had a chance to audition this dac as I'd really like to know how the AD1955 sounds.
post #8 of 23
audition and purchase please contact:AudiophileChina.com Or BBS ID:Cecala
post #9 of 23
Will this output actual 24/96 music? I thought USB was not capable of that?
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have no idea - I never tried to get it to do so.
post #11 of 23
Thanks for the review Skylab. I was wondering if you could comment on the gain of the volume control. Is it configurable for high/low or fixed? If fixed do you get to use most of the dial or a just small part of it?
post #12 of 23
Looks cool. If I had not purchased the Music Fidelity V DAC I would have picked up the Yulong for a try.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by madgsf View Post
Thanks for the review Skylab. I was wondering if you could comment on the gain of the volume control. Is it configurable for high/low or fixed? If fixed do you get to use most of the dial or a just small part of it?
The volume control is for the headphone amp only. There are no adjustments to it. It seemed to have plenty of gain. But I no longer have the review sample.
post #14 of 23
Great post! It's very nice and userful. Thank you so much for Paul post.



Cool, I actually called them and they gave me a pretty good rate on the phones, I wanted to sell.
post #15 of 23
I've read some review on the net and this DAH1 MarkII seems very impressive, i've ordered one and i'm waiting to receive the parcel.

It seems that the OPA2134 are soldered on the PCB.
I plan to solder socket instead of opamps to test the MarkII with Audio-Gd discrete OPA (Moon or Sun).
, do you think it's an impossible project ?

Thanks.
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