Yulong Canary DAC/AMP – Cleanest I’ve heard

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Video review

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INTRODUCTION

What do you look for in a good dac/amp? well, many things but firstly we got to have good components. (check) What else? We got to have the right circuitry and quality people making it sound good. (check). If you are a crazy one, you may want a Class A amp. (check). Name anything you may be expecting because…. Check. In fact, this dac/amp may be “check mate” for many audio enthusiasts out there. Must be crazy expensive right? Nope.

ABOUT YULONG 

from their website:

Founded in 2009, ShenZhen YuLong Electronics Co., Ltd, is a company specializes in designing and manufacturing High-end audio equipments. The R&D of the company consists of senior audiophiles and a team with proven experience of electronic product development for more than a decade. From the very beginning of the company, we’ve invested in various professional testing instruments, making sure our experience and passion for music is supported by state-of-the-art hardware in the R&D. YuLong is devoted to produce Hi-Fi components that are not only sonically superb on the ear, but also economically affordable on the wallet, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy more.
YuLong Audio is the brand name of the company and we are vertically integrated from bench testing, careful fine-tuning to final assembly. Other than promoting our own brand, the company also offers OEM/ODM services.

DISCLAIMER

 This unit was sent to me for review purposes. As usual, my reviews are unbiased.

 SPECS

●Design Inspired by the nature. Extremely detailed.
●Precision volume knob with defined texture and turning feel.
●Single button selection and display in a 18K gold plated panel
●Plenty inputs and outputs- USB, Optical, Line in, line out, headphone out
●Can use as a headphone amplifier or a pure DAC
●High performance ESS9018K2M+XMOS U8 solution
●CLC power filtering and high power conversion
●V_ref regulated separately with ultra low noise LDOs
●Fully discrete, DC coupled, JFET input class A headphone amplifier
USB input supports DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256, PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
Coaxial and Toslink input supports PCM 16-24bit,44.1-384KHz
S/N ratio: -128dB
Dynamic range: 120dB
Distortion: 0.0004%
Frequency response: 20-30KHz -0.15dB
Crosstalk: -120dB
Headphone output: 100mW @ 600 Ohm, 200mW @ 300 Ohm, 400mW @ 150 Ohm, 1000mW @ 32 Ohm
THE BUILD QUALITY

External:

Solid Metal. Form and shape of a class A amp.

18K gold plated input indication panel. Quite cool, doesn’t look cheap. I am not very fond of gold things on my gear because they look cheap but I will make this one an exception. It looks quite nice and adds benefits to the overall signal conduction. Not the biggest deal but it is something nice to have.

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Interestingly, at this price point they go quite beyond what I would expect. They include a power cable that is a  universal 100-240V external power supply custom made from a Taiwan based supplier with excellent reputation. They also include a USB cable that looks fancy and premium, as for functionality, they make the sound more punchy and dynamic and and and just so much better. NO, they function like a good USB cable.

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Now, I dig the Knob. It feels nice to touch and turn. It just a solid soft knob that allows you to change volume easily. In fact, it makes you want to change volume just because you want to touch it again and you need a good excuse for it.

input panel allows you to navigate easily between USB, Optical, Coaxial, line in/out. Wonderful and its in the front so its effortless to switch inputs.

On/off switch is at the back. Just like schiit audio’s stuff. I am completely fine with it but I can imagine it might be inconvenient for many people since they would usually tuck it in somewhere.

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Internal:

The USB input features proven XMOS solution which supports DSD256 and PCM384KHz. Our years of experience with XMOS plus a custom made low phase

DAC is based on ESS9018MK2. One of the best dac. Used in many of other expensive dac/amps.

There are 5 groups of low noise LDOs feeding its digital, analogue and V_ref power supplies for optimized performance. Output features ADA4705 and high current opamp OPA1688 for buffer. It sounded more clean coming from my Jotunheim + schiit modi 2 combo. Powered HD650, HD800s, and other planar headphones like the LCD series quite nicely

The headphone amplifier is full discrete, FET input DC coupling class A design. There is no capacitor in signal path from the decoder to headphone output which might degrade the audio performance. Again, it sounded exceptionally clean.

SOUND QUALITY

 I probably said this more than I should have but it sounds clean. It tends to open up the highs in more darker headphones, which made me think that they would not do well with already slightly bright headphones but they were fine with some beyerdynamics. And if you do not know beyerdynamics, a lot people find these headphones bright, specifically the dt 990. After some tests, it seemed like the canary did not add or subtract to the brightness. All in one, I found these to pair up with quite a large range of headphones pleasantly due to the fact that they are solid state and scales well. They do not add or subtract from the bass or the mids. I find the effect on the highs is also due to the clean amp, not that it extends. It delivers clean and natural sound that you would expect from a good uncolored dac/amp, which is quite rare to find at this price range.

Overall Thoughts

I believe Yulong nailed it with their canary dac/amp and for anyone on a budget but wants a much higher quality in a compact design,  I would recommend this dac/amp over my past budget recommendations.

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