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Dedicated Source Components item created by customNuts, Jul 10, 2014
Pros - Stunning sound quality & value, Multi featured.
Cons - None that I could find or hear.
My privileged Yulong adventure started several years ago with the highly regarded D100. At the time I owned the $2500usd Antelope zodiac+ so it really was just a bit of fun to see what all the hype was about. Needless to say, I was very impressed with the D100. Of course it didn’t have that last bit of fidelity, sizzle and depth that the hi-end Zodiac+ did - however - to my surprise, they really weren’t that far apart, thus, my love affair with the outstanding value that Yulong seemed to offer began.
Since it was becoming more and more acceptable that very hi-end DAC’s & Amps could come from China along with highly attractive price tags to match - I ventured into that market. Of course the other big player in this echelon is Audio-GD.
So the Zodiac+ went up for sale and I tried out the Dual Wolfson NFB-10SE which I believe was his second or even third release of that model. With a fully balanced DAC & Amp, & a hefty R-core to-boot, I was really very impressed. Amazing value. So I sold that and went to the top. I bought their flagship Ref 7.1 (last model before Master 7) with 8 x PCM1704UK DAC chips, and the Master 5 to match. It was a huge system with 6 r-cores all up and it sounded great. Although it was clearly superior the NOS DAC, it didn’t have that snap,sizzle & downright musicality that I heard a snippet of in the sigma-delta AD1955 DAC in the D100 & of course more of in the Zodiac+.
About 5 months later Yulong released the D18 & A18. With the Sabre DAC 9018 chip and a promised ‘musical’ presentation along with a money back guarantee from Grant Fidelity, I had to bite. Needless to say I was simply blown away. I’m a self confessed musicality and bass lover although I don’t want any of the other frequencies to suffer and that can sometimes be quite an ask. Well Yulong pulled it off, in a big way. So much so, I decided to sell the AGD combo that dwarfed these two little Yulong cases. I couldn’t get my head around how so much over-enginered psu’s and 8 flagship NOS DAC chips, plus size/cost - could be even in the same class as the far cheaper, smaller Yulong solution. Thats when I really came to appreciate the skill of Yulong’s design and implementations. Obviously the $4000 AGD setup was superior in several areas technically, and I’m sure many would have chosen it over the Yulong set. But the point is that they were in a very similar league, and that was downright impressive.
I moved from the extremely, almost hauntingly musical D18 to the new and improved DA8. Straight up, the DA8 is an absolutely stunning DAC. It was by far the best DAC I had ever heard or owned. It had all the traits of a true high end piece.
When AGD released the nfb-28, I couldn’t resist. It was, what I thought, King-wa taking the nfb-10 design to it limits - so to speak. Bigger r-core, OCC wiring, updated clocks (optional) XLR & RCA inputs and the venerable 9018 chip. This thing did everything. Balanced DAC & AMP, separate balanced amp and/or balanced preamp. I bought it and I really liked it. It took the infamous ‘long burn in’ that his units seem to need. It was a little hard sounding at the start and definitely quite a neutral piece - but in a good way. After the burn in, it smoothed out, the hardness disappeared and that lovely, endless extension either way shone through. Great piece of kit but after several months, I had to sell it to buy the D8&A8.
Now… to the D200. I wanted to paint a picture of some popular AGD and Yulong units as briefly as I could because they pretty much are the go to guys for hi value DAC/AMP’s from China. And since I’ve owned quite a few of them - I thought it puts me in good standing I believe, to now review the D200.
So Grant fidelity - who btw are just fantastic to deal with, with prices to match - have always been & will be my first choice when Yulong brings out something special (which is everything lately).
So I jumped on this interesting & seemingly very hi value D200 straight away. It sports the 9016 sabre DAC chip with 384khz & DSD over usb. It has a class A single ended amp in the front (which I believe is very similar to the DA8 amp) with 2 switchable Filter settings and also two Jitter eliminator settings both via buttons on the front panel right next to the input selector button. A nice, useful screen - similar to the D100, which shows input & volume, but most importantly imo, the sample rate. I hate guessing if you are truly getting the sample rate your supposed to be from your software. And last but not least, you get a buffered xlr out option to drive balanced headphones out of the rear. Its basically a toned down version of the DA8. You can also switch off the amp/pre amp section to use as a pure DAC.
Well I've been burning in my D200 for over 2-3 weeks now and she is really starting to show some bravado. In fact it did quite quickly. After about 10 hours, most of the burn in was done imo, & it matured slowly and slightly from then on. It just so happens that I have the special order D8 sitting next to it. So it's been interesting comparing the astonishing value of the d200 with the finesse of Yulongs Statement DAC.
First off, the D200 is very musical. Its an absolute joy to listen to. The lows are deep, tight, punchy and generous, the mids are full, slightly forward and clear, the highs are smooth yet open, airy and by no means smothered. Awesome. I tried my low impedance D7000 balanced out of the back and the results were toe tapping and certainly gave me a few eyes wide open moments. However I find with all the DACS I've tried that buffer the xlr outs to lower the impedance in order to allow headphone use - still seem to work best with higher impedance cans. For example, my denons just didn't touch my 600ohm T1's. If you want an all in one balanced headphone system - the T1's are simply stunning with it.
Running my 650’s single ended out of the amp, is just lovely. The 9016 DAC in my experience is a lively & musical chip - more so than the TOTL, refined 9018 flagship sabre DAC. And in a nutshell, thats how I would compare it to the DA8. The D200 sacrifices that last bit of performance that you only achieve with the truly special & legitimately hi-end gear - however, not only is the D200 biting at the heels of the DA8, it also cost about half the price and has a sense of jive to it that makes it so enjoyable. 5 years ago, in fact 2 years ago, it would be unheard of to get this kind of performance & features for this of money. Yulong has really produced an amazing piece of kit that - with some high impedance headphones - is a stellar all in one fully balanced solution.
Another thing I have to mention is the usb input. Its XMOS based and is right up there with the best implementations I’ve come across. I’m a sucker for hi-end usb to SPDIF converters & owned the maxxed out off ramp 5 at one stage, however it would be such a shame to miss out on that DSD, 384khz wielding usb input. For those that also prefer to use usb (now that it’s getting so good) I have to deviate for 1 sec and recommend the Paul Pang Audio usb card for PC. That PCI-e card lifted the d200 a clear level or 2. What a bargain. So with full burn-in, the hi-end usb card and a nice power cord, This little bargain literally sits at the big boys table.
Lastly, a quick comparison to the deservedly popular nfb-28. First off, they are in different price brackets. The D200 is all inclusive (paypal fees & express world wide post) at $699 - however on special at $629 at Grant Fidelity. Where as with paypal fees, post & the mandatory hi-end clocks (imo) the nfb-28 comes in around $800. I’ve already described the nfb-28, but in comparison I’ll say, with it’s 9018 chip, it is more neutral, slightly more extended both ways and maybe a touch more refined. I would expect it to considering the price difference - but it doesn’t end there. The D200 has serious musicality and toe tapping factor without sacrificing anything that I can hear personally. Again, the fact that Yulong can get such performance from such a little box astounds me. Personally, I prefer the D200 for the price. There is definitely a place for both units for different preferences and wants however one thing stays true - Yulong has some secret sauce & I absolutely love it!