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Yulong Aquila II DAC and Headphone Amp Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Yulong Aquila II USB DAC and headphone amplifier. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me for testing. It costs US $640.

The Auila II breaks the mold of rectangular boxes for desktop DACs with compound angles:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier stereo review.jpg


The volume control also navigates the menus by first pushing it in multiple times until you land on the on screen item to modify and then turning the dial. The display is IPS and has very fine resolution which I appreciated.

The back panel has the usual connectivity:

Best USB DAC Balanced with Headphone Amp Back Panel Inputs XLR RCA Review.jpg


The unit was plug and play with Windows over USB connection. Operationally it ran somewhat warm but no worse than other high performance DAC and amps.

Balanced DAC Audio Measurements
For the DAC portion I focused on performance of the XLR output only. Here is our dashboard:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Audio Measurements.png


Two years ago I would jump with joy at such low distortion and noise rating as reflected by the SINAD. But today, SINAD of 111 dB is not very competitive:

Best USB DAC Balanced with Headphone Amp Review.png


Best USB DAC Balanced with Headphone Amp Zoomed Review.png


Noise by itself seems to be a bit of an issue:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


This reflects just the same in IMD distortion versus level:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier IMD Audio Measurements.png


The DX3 Pro (dashed blue) is one third the price so having more noise than it is not very good.

There is some jitter that is caused by power supply noise:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Not remotely an audible issue though.

An option people wondering about has been the ASRC mode being on and off. This is exposed in Auila but as you see, it made no difference with USB as the source.

Linearity was very good:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Filter Audio Measurements.png


There are only three filters exposed:
YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Linearity Audio Measurements.png


I used the sharp one for the following test:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png


Company measurements are a few dBs better than what I am getting (0.0002% versus 0.0006%). I don't know what explains the discrepancy.

Finally here is our multitone:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Good bit of power is provided especially in balanced mode:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Power into 300 ohm Audio Measurements.png


Alas, once again noise is higher than it should be. The volume control is analog though (but digitally controlled) so perhaps at lower settings it would show less noise.

Here is unbalanced performance into 33 ohm:

YULONG Aquila II USB DAC headphone amplifier Power into 33 ohm Audio Measurements.png


I did not have time to listen to it but I suspect it will sound good given the ample amount of power as long as you don't use an overly sensitive headphone/IEM.

Conclusions
Expectations is everything and at this price, I expect "instrument grade" measurement results and sadly we don't get it. Subjectively it will sound fine with its powerful headphone amp. So if you like its looks, it would make an OK purchase. It doesn't meet the bar for me though from engineering point of view so I can't recommend it.

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

Have to help my wife can more tomatoes but took a break to do this review. Shows you how much I value the money you all put in my pocket! So donate what you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Martin

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#2
Thanks! That's somewhat of a disappointment. I like the looks but I listen with my ears, not my eyes. It doesn't have the ESS hump but then the intermodulation distortion is above that of the Topping DX7 Pro. Looks like it has less than half the power of the DX7 Pro, too. Unfortunate.

Martin
 

Veri

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#3
To be fair, it performs near the same as the previously measured Yulong DA10 (which received a lying-down pink panther). Aquila 2 is $640 while DA10 was $1000+. Imo, the mains noise when using XLR out is kinda problematic... and for an all-in-one the headphone outputs are also a little elevated in noise. So while quite good, not stellar.
 

restorer-john

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#9
Company measurements are a few dBs better than what I am getting (0.0002% versus 0.0006%). I don't know what explains the discrepancy.
Bandwidth maybe. Yours is 90KHz, theirs could be much lower and/or using a filter with artifacts at HF above the 30KHz on your plots.
 

PeteL

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#10
We are getting spoiled, having difficulties seing this as an unrecommended product. It's got a Sinad in the first tier, It looks good, It's a dac, a fairly powerful head amp and a preamp with balanced out AND AES/EBU in.("The back panel has the usual connectivity") is it THAT usual to get those features for this price?
 

Martin

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#11
If anyone wants it I’ll sell it for the $640 I have in it. I’ll throw in free shipping and eat the PayPal fees.

Martin
 

Jimbob54

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#14
We are getting spoiled, having difficulties seing this as an unrecommended product. It's got a Sinad in the first tier, It looks good, It's a dac, a fairly powerful head amp and a preamp with balanced out AND AES/EBU in.("The back panel has the usual connectivity") is it THAT usual to get those features for this price?
We are getting spoiled, having difficulties seing this as an unrecommended product. It's got a Sinad in the first tier, It looks good, It's a dac, a fairly powerful head amp and a preamp with balanced out AND AES/EBU in.("The back panel has the usual connectivity") is it THAT usual to get those features for this price?
Im not sure if being a sound purchase is the same as a recommendation. I think Martin nailed it. Its not the DX7 pro. Is the Yulong a (relatively) new product? If it is significantly younger than the Topping then its something of a weak sister and shouldnt be the $600 DAC/amp recommendation
 

pozz

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Jimbob54

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#17
19 "dB" of dynamic range certainly "isn't very competitive" :)
He's a better technician than a typist, for sure. Lets just all blink whilst he changes it to 19 "bits" .
 

PeteL

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#18
input jitter shouldn't be an issue with USB. If anything this ARSC thing sould be tested with SPDIF/AES
 
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