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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 58  

post #856 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Alright folks, I have now been testing the Yulong DA-8 against the DM Source (representing the Indistinguishables) long enough to form some opinions.  First, let me say that this one is a bit more complicated than the others, in part because I'm now using the Benchmark DAC 2 as a switch, and have to assume that it is not discriminating between the two analog inputs.  I don't believe it is, but I needed to state the changes in conditions for the record.  I also can only test two DACs at a time, so this makes comparing more DACs than that more difficult. 

 

In addition, the Yulong has multiple settings, with filters, polarity and jitter reduction all configurable.   I started with the polarity set to negative, the filter set to sharp and jitter reduction on, since that's the way the DAC was set out of the box. 

 

The Yulong was level-matched to the DM Source, and I played a couple dozen songs, many on the same playlist, but I brought in a couple of DSD recordings to see if I could hear a distinction.

 

As set up out of the box, with most file types, the Yulong sounds just like the DM Source -- it is among the Indistinguishables.  However, it sounds significantly louder playing DSD files.  I don't know if I can characterize this sound as better or not, because I don't trust the volume change.  There is no way I can level-match the DSD because I don't have a DSD noise track. So all I can say is that the Yulong sounds VERY different vs. the DM Source playing DSD tracks.  I would prefer to avoid characterizing the differences any more than that.

 

Next, playing with all of the settings just a few times, on a few songs, I heard no difference on any tracks with the polarity changed.  According to my understanding of the Yulong manual (which is not well-translated) there is supposed to be some difference on older recordings, but I didn't hear any.  I also heard absolutely no difference with the jitter reduction on or off.  I heard no repeatable difference with the 50, 60 or 70Hz cutoff filter Yulong uses for DSD.  Sometimes I thought I heard something, but then when I went back, I couldn't consistently find that difference.  I definitely heard a difference  with the filters set to fast or slow, which is the choice for all other types of files.  More on that below, but suffice to say right now that there is an audible difference.

 

For the first time I also tested the headphone jacks on the two DACs.  Both are respectably good HP amps, but the differences there are significant. Level-matched, particularly with the fast filter on, the Yulong is much leaner sounding, much more analytical, with much faster decay times than the DM Source,  The Yulong sounds a bit more sizzly in the highs and sharper in the lows, or alternatively stated, there's more mid-range energy in the DM Source, up through and including upper mids.  The difference is particularly pronounced in the upper mids, as pianos and vibraphones sound much leaner with the Yulong.  Which HP amp you prefer when the Yulong's filter is set to fast depends on which sound signature you like better, or which other components/cans you will be matching them with. 

 

However, switch Yulong's the fast filter to slow while using the headphone jack and the sustain grows audibly.  Upper mids get louder and more prominent.  Voices are louder, pianos and cymbals ring.  The sound stage appears to shrink.  I wanted to turn the volume down (but couldn't without messing up the level match).  However, when I did a white noise level check just switching the filter on and off, guess what?  The slow filter is actually almost 1 dB quieter than the fast filter.  Totally counter to what I expected.  I re-checked the results at least a dozen times to make sure I hadn't screwed up.  I checked the sound levels again, this time playing through the Benchmark and the Odyssey amp.  Still a difference, but this time about 0.5 dB, and again, the slow filter is quieter.  And there is still a difference listening to music, but much more subtle.  The sound with the slow filter is close to what I remember the Metrum being, or maybe the Ciunas.  But with the #^&%ing switch broken I can't compare all of them at the same time.  I will be putting the Metrum in the system in place of the DM Source next, just to hear the difference between the Yulong and the Metrum.

 

At this point I'm not passing any judgment on any of this.  Just reporting what I heard, and measured.  I can say that the Yulong offers some interesting features, including a headphone amp that has 2 distinct flavors, and a DAC with 2 audible, if less-distinct flavors.  Otherwise it can be configured to sound as good as all of the other indistinguishables.  It doesn't have analog inputs to work as a full-fledged pre-amp, but it does have a volume control (and a filter that changes volume too... whether you think that's a good thing or not).  What I could not figure out reading the manual is whether it is a digital or analog volume control, but I am guessing it's digital, since they recommend setting it to "DAC Mode" for best sound.  I didn't understand exactly what that meant based on the poorly written manual, but it appears to mean that it sounds best with the volume set to zero attenuation, and it doesn't go above that, so I'm assuming the volume control is digital. 

 

Next, I intend to put the Metrum in the mix to see if the Yulong with the slow filter really does sound like the Metrum.  Then I need to decide which of these DACs will stay here.  The finalists, in no particular order, are the DM Source, the Yulong, the Metrum, the Emo Stealth and the Ciunas. 

post #857 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

  The finalists, in no particular order, are the DM Source, the Yulong, the Metrum, the Emo Stealth and the Ciunas. 

We are really missing Hilo in the mix, hopefully it'll get to you in time.


Edited by Andrew_WOT - 1/1/14 at 4:16pm
post #858 of 1331

Amazon has just raised the price on the Emo back to $699.  My $499 Emo arrives tomorrow.    !!!!!!!!!!!!!

post #859 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordicai View Post
 

Amazon has just raised the price on the Emo back to $699.  My $499 Emo arrives tomorrow.    !!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Emotiva web site still shows 499, but I doubt that well be the case for very long.

post #860 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordicai View Post
 

Amazon has just raised the price on the Emo back to $699.  My $499 Emo arrives tomorrow.    !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still $499 on emotiva.com, which is the seller on Amazon anyway...

post #861 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordicai View Post
 

Amazon has just raised the price on the Emo back to $699.  My $499 Emo arrives tomorrow.    !!!!!!!!!!!!!


Mine doesn't arrive til Friday :(. Emotiva is still selling them direct for $499 til this Sunday.


Edited by thegunner100 - 1/1/14 at 4:48pm
post #862 of 1331

@Gary in MD   Yes, the Yulong's volume control operates in the digital domain.  Per project86's review from last july, it "...operates in the 32 bit digital domain in 80 linear steps..."

post #863 of 1331
Assuming adequate inventory.......
post #864 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

I have a correction to make.  I thought the Shelby Lynne was DSD. It's 176K FLAC.  So the Chordette plays that176K FLAC album a bit better than the Indistinguishables do. 

 

But I've been listening to the Yulong play DSD jazz albums, including Brubeck's Take 5.  This doesn't just sound a bit better.  This is waaaaaayyyy better.  This is "Holy Schiit Dave Brubeck's Ghost is playing in my house!!!! And Duke Ellington and his orchestra too!!!" better.  Unbelievable.  I know there isn't much out there on DSD, but I don't know how I can give this up...

 

I'm still gonna put the Metrum and Ciunas in the system for comparison, because I need to be sure this is real, and not just that the DM Source is lacking on these tracks.  But daayyyummm this sounds good.  And it has equal capability to the other Indistinguishables on non-DSD tracks,   It doesn't have a volume control that I'm gonna want to use much, at least with my Odyssey amp, and there are no analog inputs, but it does have a useful headphone jack... particularly with cans that will match well with the lean sound of the fast filter. 

 

With a price that is only ~$250-$300 more than the DM Source, but $600 cheaper than the Chordette that plays DSD but has no other functional features to differentiate it, I believe we have a current leader heading into the home stretch, and it comes directly from China.  However, there are a couple of horses still in the race, and things could change pretty quickly.  I might even try to get that BMC PureDAC in here next week for a direct competition with the Yulong.  The BMC has all of the features I would be interested in, and while it is $500 more than the Yulong, it might be better in some ways (head amp, hybrid volume control, etc).  We'll see...

post #865 of 1331

Gary, can you try setting JRiver to encode everything to DSD and see how that sounds with the Yulong vs regular PCM?  I'm curious if that puts it above the indistinguishables.

 

I had the PureDAC for a couple of weeks, and it was great.  Mine had a faulty USB port, I think, because it had lots of issues getting connected without several reboots and re-plugs.  The built-in amp is adequate.  Not as dynamic as Mjolnir, and not as great in the bass region, but worked well enough with my LCD-X.  I'd love to hear what you think of it vs the Yulong.


Edited by cizx - 1/1/14 at 5:58pm
post #866 of 1331

Interesting!

 

Does anyone know if Yulong make a DA8 without the built-in headphone amp?  (A Soloist in addition to a Conductor?)

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

post #867 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

Interesting!

 

Does anyone know if Yulong make a DA8 without the built-in headphone amp?  (A Soloist in addition to a Conductor?)

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

I heard that it was in the making, called the D8 (naturally)? Not sure how reliable that is though.

post #868 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

Interesting!

 

Does anyone know if Yulong make a DA8 without the built-in headphone amp?  (A Soloist in addition to a Conductor?)

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

They do not, as of right now.

post #869 of 1331

Thanks guys!

 

Hey Gary, check this out...

 

  Quoting project86's review of the DA8:

Turning off the pre-amp and headphone stage gives a very slight hint of better sound. But only when used with a highly resolving amp in the $1K+ range. Maybe it's my imagination or placebo in action, but whatever it is I'll take it. It's not like pushing the button is difficult to do... I'm very thankful for the preamp and headphone stage, yet also thankful that they can be disabled. Best of both worlds. 

 

Mike

post #870 of 1331

Huh?

 

   This, from near the end of the same project86 review:

 

The D8, which has been in development for a while, will be roughly 5 times the size of the DA8, and cost more too. As far we've been told thus far, the D8 will be a limited release, so the DA8 should still be considered the flagship Yulong DAC.

 

Well, I guess the D8 is going to be out of my budget, too. I strictly refuse to spend more then $1k on any single component, new or used.  

 

Mike

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