YULONG DA-ART Aquila II, an Affordable 768kHz 4Watt All-in-One Performer
Feb 12, 2021 at 2:13 PM Post #61 of 67
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Darko Audio has just published a comprehensive review on Aquila II, check HERE.

John Grandberg (@project86 ) has explained the key Aquila II features in detail, and I enjoy reading his explanation on Dual ESS Processing Modes. I have been asked several time to compare the sound signature of the two different modes, and John has provided a very good answer to this question :

Users can easily switch back and forth using the menu, where the JIC pathway is dubbed “SYNC” and the stock ESS method called “ASRC”. This is among the very few DACs I’ve ever encountered which can totally bypass the built-in processing of the ESS chip, and it actually leaves us with two fairly distinct ways to listen. ...

... the difference between the integrated ESS processing (ASYNC mode) and the proprietary JIC system (SYNC mode) is more pronounced. I hear ASYNC as having a somewhat brighter and textbook “flat” presentation, which at times is desirable given the right combination of music and headphones. The flip side is that it can feel slightly brittle and edgy at times. Combining it with the SLOW filter helps in some cases. Direct comparison with SYNC mode reveals DA-Art’s JIC system to be more relaxed and nuanced, with midrange notes being particularly more rounded and sweet – a pleasing result in most situations. JIC also has a broader, almost zoomed-out effect, while the ASYNC mode is more up close and direct. Again, nice to have different options for various situations, but I mostly prefer JIC, combined with the PHASE digital filter for the best mixture of richness and detail.

... the Aquila II can be made to sound remarkably Liberty-like in certain configurations. Choosing the ASRC option combined with the FAST filter gives DA-Art’s machine a brilliant sense of clarity, just as described by Phil Wright in his Liberty review. I really did have a tough time separating the two, which is impressive considering the nearly three hundred US dollar advantage held by Aquila II.
The second thing I learned was that when switching to my preferred settings, I found the Aquila II to completely outpace the otherwise enjoyable Liberty. Bigger, bolder dynamics, richer tone colors, and a greater sense of ease to the presentation made for increased listening enjoyment across all genres of music. I found myself wishing I could swap the Liberty out for a Brooklyn+, as that seemed like the more appropriate challenger regardless of its price difference. ...

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Feb 12, 2021 at 5:58 PM Post #63 of 67

Mshenay

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Feb 13, 2021 at 12:14 AM Post #64 of 67
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Never knew you were Darko! Cool to have your here man! An well written content

He is John Grandberg the reviewer, not John Darko the Chief Editor of Darko Audio.

John Grandberg is my most trusted reviewer on personal audio electronics. He rooted deeply in HeadFi forum, and was snapped by Tyll Hertsens to write for InnerFidelity, you can find his reviews at Part-time audiophile and Headphone Guru but now he write almost exclusively for Darko Audio.
 
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Feb 13, 2021 at 12:30 AM Post #65 of 67
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Thanks for posting Andy!

The honour is ours.

The Aquila II and Empyrean is my main setup at home office in past three months, and I'll throw in my HD800 and Kennerton Thror occasionally. I use the battery powered Broadway when I want to take my good old HE6 out for a spin but that is getting less hours in 2021. The Empyrean and Thror together has taken up 90% of my listening hours now and Aquila II is almost perfect, consider its size and convenient, with these two headphones.

By the way, I also prefer FPGA Sync mode over ASRC mode in Aquila II, but I have one observation to share: I tend to prefer ASRC with DSD material, and stick with FPGA Sync mode with Hi-Res PCM. I didn't expect that in the very beginning, this just work out gradually and become a habit now.


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Feb 13, 2021 at 3:34 PM Post #66 of 67

ngoshawk

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He is John Grandberg the reviewer, not John Darko the Chief Editor of Darko Audio.

John Grandberg is my most trusted reviewer on personal audio electronics. He rooted deeply in HeadFi forum, and was snapped by Tyll Hertsens to write for InnerFidelity, you can find his reviews at Part-time audiophile and Headphone Guru but now he write almost exclusively for Darko Audio.


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Mar 14, 2021 at 6:01 AM Post #67 of 67

Slim1970

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