Review: Yulong DA10 DSD Balanced DAC/Headphone Amplifer

Firstly I would like to thank Yulong and Shenzhen Audio for sending me this sample to review.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings

Gear Used:
DA10 > HiFiMan Sundara / HE-500 / Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Gen / Oriolus Finschi and various others...
DA10 > JDS Labs Atom > Assorted headphones

Technical Specifications:
●   DoP64 and DoP128 support over SPDIF/Optical/AES.
●   PCM 384KHz 24bit over SPDIF/Optical/AES.
●   DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256 /512and PCM 16-32bit, 32-768KHz over USB.
●   SNR: -130dB.
●   Dynamic Range:  125dB.
●   THD+N: 0.0003%.
●   Frequency Response: 20-30KHz-0.15dB.
●   Crosstalk < -120dB.
●   Balanced Output level: 4.2V.
●   Single-end headphone amp 600ohm:110mW  300ohm:230mW  150 ohm:460mW  32 ohm:2W
●   Balanced headphone amp 600 ohm:230mW  300 ohm:460mW  150 ohm:930mW  32 ohm:3W
●   Headphone output THD+N< 0.001% at full power.
●   Power consumption: <30W.
●   Size: 248*210*60mm.
●   Weight: 4Kg.

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The DA10 comes in pretty simple and plain packaging, a grey cardboard box with the brand name and Audio DAC printed on the outside. Inside you will find the DA10 securely held in place by a foam insert. The box is super simple but functional, and once you take the DA10 out it will most likely be put into storage. There are brands out there who go all out on the packaging, but Yulong keep things toned down, and to be honest I don't really mind at all.

Build quality is really solid, the casing is aluminium with a nicely machined faceplate, the back of the unit has the digital inputs along with analogue outputs and the front has the volume knob/source selector, screen and headphone outputs. Everything is sturdy and the inputs and outputs are all tight and secure, even if it looks a little industrial.

Accessory wise you get a USB cable (quite a nice one at that), along with the power cable and a user manual. Nothing lavish here, but the basics are covered, Yulong are one company that seem to not include a remote for their products which is something I would like to see change as it would be handy if you want to use it as a pre-amp.

The DA10 is a balanced DAC/Amp that only accepts digital inputs, I do sometimes wish more companies included analogue inputs as well for flexibility, especially if they can be used as a pre-amp. It has the usual USB, Optical, Coaxial along with an AES input, output wise you get RCA and XLR variable/fixed line outputs, a 6.3mm and a 4-pin XLR headphone output. 

The front screen is good quality and displays all the info you need (input, format, bit rate, digital filter, sound profiles, function and volume), the only odd thing is that they display the bitrate in large font and the volume in small font. The volume control is also the menu select switch so you press it in and rotate to go through the options.

The DA10 has 3 digital filters and 3 sound profiles. The 3 filters are Sharp, Slow and SSlow. The sound profiles are: Mode 1 is balanced; and mode 2 is delicate and firm which might be preferred for classical music; mode 3 is laid back with stronger voice presence which might be beneficial to jazz vocal and similar. All of these have a very subtle effect on the sound signature.

From the specs you can see that the DA10 supports pretty much every bitrate out there, along with having quite impressive power output in terms of its headphone amp section. This means it does a fair job at powering most headphones.

The DA10 is by all accounts a reference sounding DAC/Amp, which I appreciate. I doesn't emphasize anything, keeping everything exceptionally well balanced and neutral with a sense of control and composure. Directly comparing it to my Keces S3, I find the DA10 to present detail a little more up front whereas the S3 is a little smoother but with equal resolving capabilites and detail.

The DA10 works with a huge range of headphones, there is a tiny amount of hiss when using the most sensitive of IEM's, but not enough to ever annoy me (I do detest hiss). However it has the raw power to do most planar headphones justice, bringing out the best in my HiFiMan Sundara's and HE-500's (especially when used in balanced mode). The DA10 just effortlessly delivers plenty of clean power, the soundstage is not altered and instead depends largely on the headphones and recording to create the space. There is never a hint of veil or congestion when using it, and as an all-in-one desktop unit it functions exceptionally well.

The digital filters offer very subtle adjustments, I find the Sharp roll-off setting to be the most analytical, whilst Slow is a little warmer and lush, SSlow rolls off the top end a little too much for my tastes. The sound profiles again allow you to tune the sound a little, but again they are quite subtle and I tend to just keep it on 1 for a neutral and balanced sound signature.

The DA10 can be used as a pure DAC too, retaining the same qualities as it does when used as a DAC/Amp. A linear and detailed sounding DAC that gets out of the way and just does it's job of converting Digital signals into Analogue with no added artifacts or colouration. You can also run it as a pre-amp for powered monitors or into a power amp, no issues here either, just pure, clean and noise free signal.

The DA10 has handled every pair of headphones I have thrown at it with ease, and never has it sounded muddy or strained. The flexibility and versatility (minus points for no analogue inputs) are what impress me the most about the DA10. The way it plays well with IEM's all the way up to power hungry planars, without colouring or distorting the sound is really impressive.

Having the Keces S3 and the DA10 really show how implementation is key when it comes to DAC/Amps. The Keces uses an ESS chip and does not have the stereotypical ESS Glare, yet the DA10 has an AKM chip and does not sound as laid back and slightly warm as they are, again, stereotypically known for. People need to stop judging by chip, and listening with their ears.

Conclusion: If you are looking for a nice, all-in-one unit that will power most headphones and offer a neutral and balanced sound signature you should definitely look in to the DA10. It is not cheap, but it does offer a fair amount of features and flexibility for the price. The DA10 might not win awards for its looks, but based on sound quality alone it is an excellent unit, plus it makes a great reference point when testing other equipment.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8.5/10 (Excellent sound quality, well built but lacking a remote and analogue inputs).