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Review and Measurements of Yulong DA10 DAC & Amp

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of Yulong DA10 balanced DAC and headphone amplifier. It was kindly sent to me by Shenzhen Audio for testing. It costs USD $1,200 but is currently on sale for $1,150. Needless to say, my expectations are high at this price range.

The industrial design is unremarkable, sans a large, rather high resolution display:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Audio Review.jpg

The display seems to be designed for audio nerds in the way it highlights the sampling rate of music being played in large, center part of the display :), leaving the volume indicator to tiny font on bottom right. From usability point of view, I like to see the volume level in the middle and sample rate at the bottom.

What is nice is seeing everything at once from filter settings to different modes. A click of the volume control lets you cycle through them and by rotating, you can change them. As such, there are no submenus to get lost in.

As is evident, we have both 1/4 inch headphone jack and XLR for "balanced" connection. The volume control is a rotary encoder that works linearly.

The back panel has the usual connections you expect to see:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Back Panel Audio Review.jpg

Of note, I was pleased to see both FCC and CE safety and regulatory compliance. WIth mains input on a device, I always like to see these markings as there are high voltages running around a metal enclosure.

I let you go through the page for it on Shenzhen Audio website for additional detail.

DAC Measurements
I started testing by putting the DA10 into DAC mode and leaving everything else as set by the manufacturer. This is our dashboard view for XLR output, USB input:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


The output was a bit "hot" at 4.2 volt but close enough to the 4.0 volt nominal value I like to see. Reducing the volume to get it down to 4 volts did not improve performance. On that front, the measurements are right on the money with respect to what is published. That places the SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) at 112 which firmly plants the DA10 in our top tier of DACs tested:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier SINAD Audio Measurements.png


At this price, I would have liked to see the SINAD in the 115 dB though.

Dynamic range seems to fall short of specifications by a good bit and is likely responsible for above shortfall:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Jitter is not visible due to a) good design and b) noise floor that is a few dB high and hence hides small components:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Linearity graphically looks perfect but there was a bit of noise at the extreme bottom, slowing down the measurements a bit:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Linearity Audio Measurements.png


AKM DAC chip is used so we don't have to worry about "ESS IMD Hump:"
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Intermodulation Distortion Audio Measurements.png


Noise level though in both balanced and RCA outs is above our reference Topping DX3 Pro which retails for less than a fourth of D10's price.

We see random spikes crowding the valley between our 32 tones in multitone testing:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Multitone Audio Measurements.png


THD+N versus frequency shows some oddities:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier THD versus Frequency Audio Measurements.png


Seems like different noise/distortion mechanisms become dominant at different levels. Good news though is that at highest frequencies, it is well managed.

Frequency response is ruler flat as it should be:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Headphone Amplifier Measurements
I ran my new signal to noise ratio measurement at just 50 millivolt output to test how noisy the device might be with sensitive IEMs and this is what I get:

Headphone Amplifier 50 Millivolt Signal to Noise Ratio Ranking.png


We still don't have a lot of data to draw a big conclusion but having it land at the top of the scale is good.

I almost didn't run channel balance test, thinking that it is digitally controlled so should be perfect but was not:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Channel Imbalance Audio Measurements.png


The level of drift is small even at the limit but I did not expect to see much deviation until the end.

Output impedance from the 1/4 inch jack is excellent:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Output Impedance Audio Measurements.png


The most important test for headphone amplifiers is the power versus THD+N as that almost immediately tells us the subjective performance of the device. Let's start with our 300 ohm load:
Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power at 300 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


My minimum standard is 100 milliwatts and the D10 gets there. At this price range though, I like to see more power. Once again we see higher noise floor than reference Topping DX3 Pro for example.

Switching to the other extreme at 33 ohm, emphasizing current delivery we get much better performance:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power at 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


At 1 watt of output, I expect the subjective experience to be excellent.

Testing at 50 ohm in both regular and "balanced" headphone connections, we see the quadrupling of the power in teh latter case as expected:

Yulong DA10 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power at 50 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


In balanced mode then, the D10 should be able to drive anything.

Listening Tests
As always I start testing with my Sennheiser HD-650 headphones to see how well the amplifier performs with high impedance headphones. Here, the experience was satisfactory but not overwhelming. I could not for example get the drivers to produce any physical sensation of bass. With higher powered amplifiers, I can get my ear lobes vibrating. :) Balanced mode which I did not test should be able to remedy this.

Switching to Hifiman HE-400i was much nicer. The D10 drove them to thundering dynamics with no difficulty. Fidelity was excellent all around.

Conclusions
We are spoiled at ASR with discovery of good number of high-performing dacs and headphone amplifiers. Given the cost of Yulong D10, I expected it to match or beat those reference devices. That did not happen. A persistent high noise floor (measured, but likely not audible) persisted throughout the measurements. Power output with 1/4 inch jack at 300 ohm was also a bit disappointing.

On the positive front, if you use balanced output, you should be able to drive any headphone to very high levels of fidelity. Most of our reference level DACs lack headphone amplifiers and that is integrated here in the D10. In addition, it is good to see regulatory certifications on the D10.

Overall, the Yulong D10 leaves me just a bit cold so I can't fully recommend it. It is up to you to decide if its feature set, availability, etc. makes it better than other recommended products.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Veri

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#2
I suppose this makes it the best measuring AK4497 device reviewed here so far :) since it seems rather hard to get the most out of this chip I would say good job Yulong.

That j-test reminds a lot of the better ESS chips with proper ASRC! And funny how spoiled we are by good performers, that this Yulong falls into "very good but not state of the art" category.

BTW, the PCB on this thing looks pretty cool:
 
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#3
I owned a Yulong D18 DAC with the ESS 9018 chip for a couple of years starting in 2011. It was all the rage on Head-fi at the time. Price was about $700 back then as I recall. Sold it a couple of years later.

Haven't heard much about Yulong of late. Thanks for the review.
 

la2ygoo

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#5
hi,amirm.
Da10 use PGA2311 to volume control , PGA2311 is Analog , so balance isn't perfect.
Can you use the knob(preamp mode) to measurement dynamic range ? Maybe it will be better.
And i want to know use knob to volume control , will the Output impedance change or not?

And i think the sound mode 2 sound better , can you measurement it , thd+n and 32 tones ?
 
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la2ygoo

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#6
I suppose this makes it the best measuring AK4497 device reviewed here so far :) since it seems rather hard to get the most out of this chip I would say good job Yulong.

That j-test reminds a lot of the better ESS chips with proper ASRC! And funny how spoiled we are by good performers, that this Yulong falls into "very good but not state of the art" category.

BTW, the PCB on this thing looks pretty cool:
But Yulong da10's headphone amplifier was defeated by dx3pro :facepalm:
 

amirm

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#7
Da10 use PGA2311 to volume control , PGA2311 is Analog , so balance isn't perfect.
Ah, that explains it. That likely cost them a few dB of noise figure.
 
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#8
hi,amirm.
Da10 use PGA2311 to volume control , PGA2311 is Analog , so balance isn't perfect.
Can you use the knob(preamp mode) to measurement dynamic range ? Maybe it will be better.
And i want to know use knob to volume control , will the Output impedance change or not?

And i think the sound mode 2 sound better , can you measurement it , thd+n and 32 tones ?
So something like "Pure DAC" mode vs. "DAC with volume control" per the DA9 review from https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/yulong-da9.22525/reviews ?
 

gvl

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#9
The 500Hz or just below and 1600Hz or so spikes look odd, but likely inaudible.
 

amirm

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#10
Can you use the knob(preamp mode) to measurement dynamic range ? Maybe it will be better.
As I noted in the review, I put it in that mode and adjusted the level down. I could not get anything better than the dashboard posted.
 

amirm

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#11
The 500Hz or just below and 1600Hz or so spikes look odd, but likely inaudible.
Yeh, I forgot to note that. The 500 Hz may be 480 Hz which would be multiples of the mains frequency. Why it is shooting up there instead of 120 Hz is a mystery.
 
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#14
What exactly is needed (cables or adapters) to test these "balanced" amps off their designed balanced XLR jacks? It may be that the noise represented would be somewhat minimized if the amp was tested in the best case scenario off the balanced XLR jack? It is just odd, to continue to test XLR IN, and SE OUT, on so many amps that have the XLR jack built in.

Are folks really buying balanced amps to run them single ended?
 
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garbulky

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#15
I'm surprised you didn't recommend it! Was it the price that made you hesitate? I do want to know how these types of brands are able to push out such good performance? Are they OEM's for US brands?
 

amirm

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#17
It may be that the noise represented would be somewhat minimized if the amp was tested in the best case scenario off the balanced XLR jack?
I tested using using balanced/XLR in the dashboard (and noted RCA performance).
 

Snafu

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#18
Yulong is popular on some Chinese forum, say erji.net
off topic question here, sorry

do they talk about Kinki-Studio DAC-1 at erji, thanks

it's been on my short list of imightgetitwithoutknowingmuchaboutit...
https://www.kinki-studio.com/dac-1

GOODBYE NOISE, WELCOME DARKNESS
The two UK-made AMPLIMO transformers are encapsulated in the CNC-machined aluminum block, it's extremely rare to see such design at this price point. The DAC main board is enclosed with 8mm thick of anodized aluminum ‘wall’, effectively eliminate the nasty EMI/EMC induced from the surrounding equipment.
S/N Ratio: 116db
Dynamic Range: 122dbA
THDN%: 0.008% @ 2Vrms
Frequency Response: 3-150KHz (0-3db)

[/offtopic]
 

777

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#20
GOODBYE NOISE, WELCOME DARKNESS
The two UK-made AMPLIMO transformers are encapsulated in the CNC-machined aluminum block, it's extremely rare to see such design at this price point.

[/offtopic]
Aluminum ? :facepalm:
 
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