The New Recommendation: The Yulong U100 USB DAC

yulong_u100_08

The Audinst HUD-MX1 has been the reigning champion for a $100-$200 DAC/Amp box, but now it has gotten a new challenger. After having used the Yulong U100 for a few months, and comparing it to the Audinst, I think I have a new recommendation for people looking for an entry level DAC/Amp box, though costing a bit more ($180 for the Audinst vs $240 for the Yulong U100 USB DAC).

I received the Yulong U100 from Jeffrey at coolfungadget.com, and at that time he sent me the Yulong U100 along with the Musiland 02 DAC. Upon receiving the product, I played around with both units briefly, but the Musiland with its upsampling feature and software controls were more exciting than the plain DAC/Amp box Yulong. And so I wrote about the Musiland 02 article very soon afterwards, while the Yulong stayed pretty low under the radar.

It’s logical to not get excited about the Yulong. After all, it doesn’t offer anything new to the table. It’s just another USB desktop DAC/Amp box solution coming from China. And frankly, there are just too many of them these days. To make the case worse, I’ve also been spoiled with too many higher end solutions lately.

I tried really hard to readjust my ears. One of the things that I did was to listen to the $130 Musiland 02′s DAC section and compared it to the Yulong U100. Turns out that my enthusiasm with the Musiland 02 as a DAC/Amp box (not counting its upsampling feature) dies off pretty fast once I did the comparison. The Yulong is definitely better. I needed a stronger competitor, and so I began to compare the Audinst HUD-MX1 to the Yulong. After all those evaluation times (good think I don’t have any deadlines for this article), I’ve finally gotten the sound of the Yulong and now it’s time to write the article.

I would be lying if I say that the Yulong is the new giant-killer DAC/Amp box. But please don’t look down on it, because it just happens to give enough improvements over the Audinst HUD-MX1 that I think it’s going to be a great entry level DAC to recommend to people. For $60 more, you get a better sounding DAC/Amp box and with a prettier packaging too! It’s a bit larger than the Audinst, but on my desk, the Yulong looks like a nice piece of HiFi equipment, while the Audinst looks more like a computer accessories.

Size comparison with the Audinst HUD-MX1 (top).

 

The Yulong doesn’t have the S/PDIF digital out which can be useful for some people. However it does come with an analog line in, which the Audinst doesn’t have.

 

Based on the Cirrus Logic CS4398 D/A chip, the U100 clearly gives me a better sound when compared to the Audinst’s. The only drawback seems to be soundstage width, where the Audinst is wider. But for everything else, such as soundstage depth, center focus, ambiance, detail retrieval, midrange quality, the Yulong is better. Those gotta worth more than the $60 difference between the two products.

On the headphone amp section, the use of PZT2222A and PZT2097A transistors provides a much more potent headphone out than if I were using the Audinst’s. The level of articulation in the treble, mids, and bass, is clearly superior compared to the Audinst, both driving a Senn HD650. The Yulong also drives the same headphone to much louder volumes than what the Audinst is capable of. There is simply no competition here.

You can get a little closer to the Yulong U100 if you were using a fancy opamp like the OPA627 on the Audinst. Instrument separation, articulation and mid clarity would improve. But I still find the treble and bass separation to be a little muffled in comparison to the Yulong.

What about line out signal quality? Passing the signal to a HeadAmp Pico Slim and out to the JH16Pro, again I find the Yulong to give a clearer signal through the line out, better separation, better articulation and such. Perhaps the fact that the line out signal doesn’t get passed through the analog potentiometer (unlike on the Audinst) also adds to the superior line out quality of the U100.

In terms of tonal balance, the Audinst is slightly darker while the Yulong is slightly brighter. “Slightly” is the word to notice there, as both are still well in the realm of neutral. The only time I prefer the Audinst’s headphone out is when I’m using a relatively light-bass headphone like the HD598. But even then, the superior articulation on the U100′s bass brings me back to the Yulong time and time again.

One thing that I really enjoy is the vocal presentation on the Yulong. I am not a big vocal fan, but the vocals on the Yulong just captivates me. It matches beautifully with the HD598 and the HD650. The vocal is quite forward, giving me a good presence without being glaring. It’s very clear and with a slight touch of warmth. Definitely one of the most special vocal presentation in the price range.

Of course, the U100 is not totally superior on all aspects. For instance, I love the fact that you can use the Audinst without a separate power supply as it takes the 5V it needs out of the USB bus. The U100, on the other hand, requires a power adaptor, and that does come out as a negative for me (I love simplicity). Next, the Audinst comes with a dual output: 1/4″ and 1/8″, so that you don’t need to use an adaptor between headphones and IEMs. The U100 only comes with a 1/4″. Yes, it looks more “serious” that way, but I probably would add in the 1/8″ for the sake of convenience, if I was designing the product. If I were using an IEM, the Audinst gives me better control range on the volume, where the Yulong is more limited due to the higher gain level. Lastly, the Audinst comes with rollable opamp and optical S/PDIF out where the U100 doesn’t. This may be important to some, and less so for others.

Looking inside the enclosure reveals a very clean PCB layout, indeed a very refreshing look compared to the cramped Audinst. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but the Yulong is just nice to look at.I find a Tenor TE7022L chip that handles the USB data, and next to it is the Cirrus Logic CS4389 D/A chip. Two separate ADA4075-2 opamps serve as an output stage to the D/A chip, and finally passed on to the four 2222A amplifier chips before finally reaching the headphone out socket. The potentiometer used is a Taiwanese brand Alpha, which gives a nice stepping effect unlike the regular smooth turning pots you see normally. There is also an analog line in by the means of a tiny 3.5mm jack which gives you an option of using a different source (say an Ipod) with the U100.

Very clean layout.

 

Tenor USB receiver.

 

Cirrus Logic CS4398: 120dB, 24/192 D/A chip.

 

ADA4075-2 dual low noise opamp.

 

Output stage consists of PZT2222A and PZT2907A transistors.

 

I think the build quality of the Yulong is really worth mentioning. It’s one of the nicer looking builds I’ve seen coming out of China, and definitely better than the Audinst HUD-MX1. The chassis is anodized aluminum all around, with a thick front plate of 5mm. The anodizing quality is not quite on par with something from Ray Samuels or Burson, but for a $200 product, the finishing can be considered one of the best. The volume knob feels solid and the ribbed pattern feels very nice as well. Overall, I would get the Yulong over the Audinst just purely based on the superior build quality and pay the extra $60.

One thing that I have to mention is that the USB connectivity doesn’t seem to be as robust as the one on the Audinst, or all the other Mac-compatible DACs. Sometimes, plugging in the Yulong to my MacPro will immediately give a “bleep bleep bleep” sound on the headphones, the sound that you get when you’re hitting the volume level button on your Mac. Unplugging and plugging the USB cable back would solve the problem, so it’s not a big deal, but I am obliged to tell you about it. It also helps if you’re using a USB cable with ferrite magnet on it. I don’t know why this is, seeing that both the Audinst and the Yulong comes with the same TE7022L receiver chip. Moreover, on my Mac, the Yulong is only recognized as a 48/24 USB device, though the TE7022L receiver should be good for 24/92.

Warning to Mac Users:
I have been having issues using the U100 with Mac computers. On my MacPro I can make the problem go away by turning on the computer AFTER the U100 is connected and on.
However, I haven’t had any success with my Powerbook and a friend’s MacBook.
So, I wouldn’t recommend it to Mac Users.

All pluses and minuses considered, I think I find far more pluses than I do minuses. So, if you can handle the extra $60, and you don’t need the extra functions on the Audinst, then the Yulong U100 is the box you should get for your headphones.



Gears used for review:
Headphones: Sennheiser HD650, HD598, Audio Technica M-50, JHAudio JH16Pro
Amplifiers: HeadAmp Pico Slim
Transport: MacPro

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  • Nicol

    While my previous critique of the U100 still holds true (completely hopeless with the A2000X, a standard sound-card was better), I want to commend it for sounding very very nice with with the HiFiMAN RE252 IEM with an extra 75 ohm impedance adaptor cable, I’m going to miss this experience.

    For anyone reading these comments considering the U100, if you have high impedance IEM’s, it should sound very good (imho). If you have a delicate low impedance easy-to-drive HP, proceed with caution.

    /Nicol

  • Jeff

    Hi Mike,
    I’m using the Alessandro Ms1′s right now, and their pretty easy to run, and sound alright already. but would buying the Yulong improve my sound quality drastically? I don’t have a dedicated source or an amp right now. Just using my crappy laptop as a source.

    Thanks in advance.

  • http://twitter.com/DodgersKings323 DodgersKings323

    Found a couple type-o’s headfonia
    (good think = thing
    Those gotta worth = gotta be ?
    I’ve got some decisions to make, but to me they both look like slick Hi-Fi products and from i read they are Giant Killers :P
    We also need Audio-GD added to the mix.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, DodgersKings.

      The Yulong is awesome, I’m just a bit hesitant to recommend it due to the driver issues.

  • Larry

    I know it’s called Heafonia, but it would have been nice if  the reviewer could have given us some comments on the sound quality of  the Yulong U100 using the RCA jacks into speakers.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Larry I agree. Sorry we’re a bit limited in that sense.

  • Hancu Catalin

    Hi, what would you recommend for Sennheiser HD 598 ?

    Option 1 : AMP – JDS Labs Cmoy (~70$ ) + DAC – HRT Music Streamer II (~150$ )
    Option 2 : Yulong U100 (~240 )

    Both options are about the same price.

    Thx .

    • Anonymous

      Hi Hancu,
      Option one would be better for the HD598.

  • HuKuTo

    Hi Headphonia,

    Thanks for the great review (once again). I was determined to buy the u100, but these lines in your review make me wonder, if I am making the right decision:
    “The only time I prefer the Audinst’s headphone out is when I’m using a relatively light-bass headphone like the HD598″
    Could you please give me a little bit more details/info about why would you prefer the HUD-MX1 with the 598?
    Many people (including you too) describe the u100 as just a little bit on the bright side. As the hd 598 is on the bright side too, do you think that pairing them will make the sound too bright and hard to listen?
    Your opinion on this is highly appreciated!

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome!

      I think just based on the tonal balance, the Audinst will be a better match sonically with the HD598. The Yulong indeed is a bit on the bright side and I’d prefer the pairing with Audinst for the HD598.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1098267962 Matt Draluck

    Long time reader and advice-taker here, first time poster.

    I know you haven’t gotten around to a review of the Dt990 250 ohm but how do you think it would do with one of these?

    Or with a possible HE-300?

    • Anonymous

      Matt,
      From what I understand the DT990 is even brighter than the DT880, and so I don’t think it’ll be a good match with the Yulong. I suggest you go with something like the Audinst HUD-MX1 instead.
      http://www.headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

      If you still want to go with the Yulong, then the HE-300 would be a better pairing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1098267962 Matt Draluck

        I have some Dt990′s on the way already… I have an iBasso D6 currently, but a line in for an iPod or Xbox is pretty important. Any other suggestions? 24/96 is preferred too but not a necessity.

        Hifiman EF2?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702075698 Steven M. Prego

    Hi Mike – appreicate all the work you’ve put in here.

    Would you recommend this goes well with the Beyerdynamic DT770s? (80Ohm)

    Kind of stuck between a rock and hard place with prices of the D2000 so high right now… only option at this point are the A900 and DT770.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Steven,
      The DT770 80 ohms.. I don’t know, I feel that headphone to have a loose bass and overall just average sound quality not like the higher impedance DT770s.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702075698 Steven M. Prego

        Ah… Do you recommend the 250Ohm version then? I’ve got about 500-700 for a decent PC Headphone set-up and I’m really frustrated. Can’t decide whether or not to get the u100 and pair it with a DT770, or build up a set-up with an HRT Music Streamer II and Matrix M-Stage. (DT770 again) I’m up for suggestions, but it seems it’s almost impossible to get a solid recommendation from most people.  Aside from that, if I could find cheap D2000s, I’d be a bit more confidant in my future headphone purchase!

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          So this is for gaming right?

          I would just get an Audinst HUD MX-1 and plug the DT770 directly into that. No need to go all the way out with the budget.
          Also for the DT770, you don’t need something with the M-Stage’s power level.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702075698 Steven M. Prego

            I play games, but my focus is on audio quality and music. Music always comes first. I just can’t get a solid headphone recommendation so I figured I’d stick with the DT770 since most people don’t have TOO many bad things to say about it. I’d like to future-proof a bit so I’m thinking about picking up a Matrix Cube along with the DT770 250ohm version (I hear this is slightly more neutral with a bit more clarity). Thoughts? Really appreciate the help!

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Hi Steven,
            The DT770 250 ohm is indeed more neutral and clearer than the 80 ohms. I don’t know anything about the Matrix Cube, so I would just go back to my first recommendation which is the Audinst.

  • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

    The Audinst RCA out is volume controlled and the Yulong is not?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Audinst yes, but the Yulong, I don’t remember to be honest.

      • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

        Thanks for the info. I need an unctrolled output to connect to my HiFi amp.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Yes, sorry can’t remember.

    • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

      I can answer myself now: the RCA output is not volume controlled.

  • Heyjupiter84

    Hi Mike,
    Looking at either this or the Audinst to replace sound card on a laptop. My phones are Beyer DT440, SM PL50 and Brainwavz M3. If portablity wasn’t a problem and this was going to be a one off purchase with no upgrades what would you buy? Seems on pure SQ/amp the U100 is the way to go.
    Cheers

    • Heyjupiter84

      Should add that i prefer a more laid back, warmer sound and soft spot for great vocals. After reading more comments it might be that the U100 is brighter than i’d generally like. Have a broad range of music but given a taste for a lot of acoustic and chill out music is the U100 the better way to go?

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        If you are into laid back and warmer sound then the U100 definitely is not it. 

        Should go with something warm like the HRT MS2 + Schiit Asgard.  

        • Heyjupiter84

          Thanks. To keep things simple how would the Matrix Cube or mini i compare to that combo?

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            The Matrix would be simpler, but the combo should sound better.

            Sorry for the spelling mistakes, not very good with typing from the Ipad’s screen.

        • Heyjupiter84

          Really appreciate this Mike. How would the HRT MS2 sound with the Fiio E9 until i could upgrade to the Asgard?

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Sure it should be good. The E9 is a good amp, it’s just that the Asgard will give you a better sound. 

  • Chris

    Okay, so you recommend it more then the Audinst.  My question is, is the DAC a good one enough for the Schiit Asgard?  Also, is the two amps considerably different?  I know its a dumb question to ask but I kinda want to make sure I get my money’s worth on these two.  I’d have Yulong U100>Schiit Asgard>HD598.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Chris

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Chris, 
      What DAC are you asking about? 

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!

      • Chris

        Sorry about that, I meant the Yulong.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Hi Chris, 
          The DAC is definitely good enough and likewise the amplifier. My question is, if you are going to go with a separate amplifier then it’s probably better to go with a pure DAC since you won’t be using the Yulong’s built in amplifier. 

          • Chris

            Thanks Mike, would the HRT MS2 work perfectly fine?

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes it would be good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stas-Ka/100002693046638 Stas Ka

    Hi Mike,
    I’m trying to decide between Yulong U100 & DR DAC2 DX. Is the performance improvement in the DR DAC2 DX worth the cost different ($225 vs $298) ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stas-Ka/100002693046638 Stas Ka

    Hi Mike,
    I’m trying to decide between Yulong U100 & DR DAC2 DX. Is the performance improvement in the DR DAC2 DX worth the cost different ($225 vs $298) ?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Stas,
      It’s more of a different sound signature, I wouldn’t say one is better than the other.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stas-Ka/100002693046638 Stas Ka

        Ok! Thanks for your response.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23408556 Sammy Bravo

    What dac/amp under $300 would you recommend for the closed Audio Technica A700s? I was looking between the Yulong and the Audinst but I am open to other suggestions.  

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Sammy,
      Something warm and full sounding would be good I suppose. Definitely not the Yulong. The Audinst is more like it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_N5AGI32X2RUYX2KJGJR3Q3OBTA C.H.

    Dear Mike,
    I have HD25-I, AKG K240S and a JBS Lab CMOY ampfilier. I am thinking about yulong u100, Audinst HUD-mx1 USB DAC and HRT MS2 for my desktop setup, any suggestion? I am win7 user.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      C.H,
      DAC wise, the HRT is best among those three. The U100 comes second and the Audinst last. Do you need built in amps?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_N5AGI32X2RUYX2KJGJR3Q3OBTA C.H.

        I see. For the desktop setup, I prefer to have a all-in-one solution, to minimize the number of cables….. Thank you for your advice.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          The U100 or the Audinst should work then.

  • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

    Now I’ve ordered a Yulong U100 for 165 €. I could buy it with shipping from Germany. The Audinst is only available in Asia, so there would be long shipping time and I would have to pay customs.
    Finally I’ve thought the other two alternatives (Matrix Cube and M-Stage are to expensive).
    The DAC will replace my Pro-Ject USB Box connected to a modded Bravo/Indeed style tube amp. I hope it will be an improvement.
    The Pro-Ject DAC obviously has a problem with my Linux system as there sometimes appears very loud noise. I have to reconnect the DAC then. I didn’t have this problem with a cheap 5 € USB soundcard.
    The main problem with the tube amp is a ticking noise avery second, which I guess is caused by the cheap power supply. Otherwise it is a nice amp.

    • Johan Steenhoven

      Mind to share the shop URL? Thanks.

      • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

        It was a eBay shop, but it seems they don’t sell anymore. Only available in Asia now (+customs).

        • Johan Steenhoven

          Ok, thanks.

  • Richard Crepy

    Hi Mike and first of all thanks for your in depth review !

    My question is simple as i intend to buy a Grado sr225i, i would like to know if the combination with the Yulong U100 would be satisfying, in your opinion ?

    thanks !

  • manicmindtrick

    How would you recon this thing to be driving a pair of HE-500?
    Any better dac/amp combo or a seperate dac amps option under 300 that will be better suited for this headphone? 

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I didn’t try the Yulong with the HE-500, sorry. I think when I did the Yulong review, the HE-500 was not out yet.
      I did try the Fiio E11 amp and to my surprise it drove the HE-500 very well. You can take a look at that amp, and add a good DAC on top of it. Please don’t be fooled by its tiny little build.
      http://www.headfonia.com/fiio-e11-portable-amplifier/

  • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

    I’ll probably sell my Yulong U100 next week. It’s in mint condition, I’ve bought it at the end of 2011. Location: Germany. Perhaps someone is interested.

    • Johan Steenhoven

      Hi, I live next door (Netherlands). It it still for sale?

      One question though: does it work with an iPod/iPad > USB > Yulong?

      • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

        I’ve replied here, too. But it seems the reply did not show up. I still have the Yulong, I’ve bought it for 175 € (including shipping) and I would sell it for 135 € (+ 10 € shipping I guess). No idea about the i devices, I don’t have any.

  • Johan Steenhoven

    Thanks for the nice review. I’m gonna buy it :)

    One question remains though; does it work with an iPod/iPad USB connector > Yulong like the Audinst does?

  • http://www.facebook.com/doorlessgamer DoorlessPlastic Di

    Would u recommend Yulong U100 for K701??

  • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

    Selling my black Yulong U100, mint condition, 130 € plus shipping from Germany: http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/9832/rimg0001g.jpg

    • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

      Sold.

      • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

        To one of our readers?

        • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

          Yes, maybe a market section would be a nice idea here ;)

          • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

            and a 10% share for us?

            • http://www.alkopedia.net Biergourmet

              LOL, 10% share is the reason why I don’t sell on eBay anymore ;-)

              • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                OK but you still owe us the 10% of this sale ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/imackler Isaiah Mackler

    Has the Yulong U100 aged well since it came out? Anything else I should be considering for this budget in a desktop dac/amp package?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I think the U100 is still a good product, Isaiah. But there are a lot of newer DACs being released, and last time I check the U100 still has driver issues (though they may have solved it by now).

      Something I recently review is the Matrix Portable. Also good DAC/Amp package, much darker sound than the Yulong, fuller bass and mids.

      http://www.headfonia.com/the-320-portable-dacamp-matrix-mini-portable/

  • breizh

    hi Mike,
    I already own the yulong U100 (thanks to your review) which i like a lot, and i’m currently looking for another dac/amp combo, to drive both AKG K550 and Beyer DT880 (+ Senn PX100-2)
    I was wondering if the Fostex HP-A3 would be a good choice ? how does it compare to the Yulong and does the amp provide as much power ?
    Would you think of any other combo in the price range of the Fostex ? (300€ in France)
    Thanks a lot for your great reviews !
    richard (from France)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The Fostex DAC is much better than the U100. The amplifier should be powerful enough for the K550 and the PX100, but not sure about the DT880.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Personally I feel I still need an external amp if I use the Fostex HP-A3.

  • breizh

    ok Mike,

    so, do you identify something else than the Fostex in this price range ?
    a dac/amp with a little more juice, and similar sound quality ?

    thanks again

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

      As already mentioned in the Fostex article, the Dacport and the Dacmagic are the competitors in the price range. There’s also a whole bunch of Chinese products and Audio-Gd products but you’re diving into the unknown there.

      • Trent_D

        If you don’t need a dac/amp combo, you could mix and match to better results.

        • breizh

          yes i could mix but i think the price would hit my budget ;-)

          • Trent_D

            What is your budget, if I can ask?

            • breizh

              my budget is quite thin: 300- 350 € (let’s say 350 – 400 $)

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                im thinking HRT MS2 and Crack lol…

                • Trent_D

                  That would put him slightly over his budget of 400. MS2 and and Asgard would be right there. Or, if he can deal with the dark, the Matrix Mini Portable for 320.

                  • breizh

                    Thanks guys
                    Oh that’s exactly what i was thinking about after reading the asgard reviews: the asgard + hrt ms2 seems to be a very appealing combination ! and i’m also eying the Yulong D100, or even the hrt ms2 with little dot 3…actually i’m completely lost ! ;-) would you give a preference to one of these 3 options ? are they better than the Fostex ?

                    • Trent_D

                      Well, from what I have read, the Fostex is the best DAC of the group, however the Fostex amp isn’t suppose to be that good. I just know that the MS2/Asgrad seems to be the tired and true $400 combo. Also, where do you live? I haven’t seen the Fostex for less than $500 in the USA. Although I haven’t looked that hard.

                    • breizh

                      I live in France but the Fostex is priced 300€ on a german site

                    • Trent_D

                      The Fostex amp isn’t suppose to be very punchy. What headphones do you use? Music types?

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      I think it was mentioned before that the Fostex is better off as a all in one solution as the DacPort LX and MS2+ are somewhat better.

                    • Trent_D

                      it was, but if he wants punch, better off going with a separate amp, don’t you think?

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Yea which is why I wouldn’t recommend the Fostex to him, Asgard + MS2 is the way to go for his tight tight tight budget. Probably a good idea not to recommend the Crack since you won’t be able to stop yourself from “upgrading” it with mods too so… not a good option if you’re on a budget in the first place.

                    • Trent_D

                      Ok Breizh, Nick and I have decided. You are to buy the Music Streamer 2 and the Schiit Asgard. NO NO NO, don’t argue, just do as you are told. hehehe

                      But you are right about the Crack Nick, that’s why I just ordered a MS2+ and an Asgard for myself. I realized that the tweaked, tubed and boutiqued out Crack, with the Kingrex and HD650 are a pipe dream for the time being. So I went with a good, all around budget setup till that day I can make the pipe dream a reality.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      I swore I got my Crack and a month later it already has the value of the Burson Soloist with all that rare tubes and capacitors I threw into it… not that I regret those upgrades but as Mike says… it’s hard not to get addicted to Crack…

                    • http://twitter.com/Original_Ken Ken Stuart

                      My amp only has one tube, and yet I have already spent more on vintage tubes than the amp cost, lol ! So be careful, or your wallet will suffer.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      @facebook-692862021:disqus I still enjoy the stock sound of my Crack.. although two months ago I broke the stock Tung-Sol 6080 and now I can’t get a good replacement for it. Got another identical tube (Tung-Sol 6080), but somehow with a better build quality than the stock one yet the sound is much brighter and lacks bass body. ARRRGGHH

                      I think L told me a while ago that after all that tube rolling he still like the stock 6080 best, too. ;)

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Sadly I couldn’t. I had been using the Tung-Sol 5998 ever since because there’s that extra layer of music that’s just so evident compared to a standard RCA 6AS7G and the straight bottle 6080s. Although I’m hunting for a rare graphite plate 6080 at the moment… it seems that I could understand your preference for the 6080s as the bass is in general more punchy than the relaxed 5998.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Bass is very important, Nick. More important than that extra layer of music. ;)

                      To me at least. ;)

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      I was hoping to find a 6080 tube that has more bass but seems like there really isn’t a tube that combines both punchy bass and good layering… and then I started to go with combinations of the input tubes…

                      I know you guys aren’t much of tube rollers but you might want to try a E80CC in place of the 12AU7, gives the Crack quite a fair bit more air and clarity if you’re bored with the thick warm sound of the stock ones.

                      @headfonia_lieven:disqus I can’t seem to find 6080WAs by Tung Sol for sale anywhere strangely, only left with the 6080WBs

                    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                      Ebay? Tabao?

                      I actually like the 12AU7 clear top, I find the sound to be clear enough. I do have some E80CC and others at home, will try once I finished moving.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Heck no to Taobao. I just don’t trust them… none on eBay either. The only Tung Sol 6080s that I could get off ebay are those 6080WBs which are graphite plates (which happen to be praised to be one of the best around), should probably give those a try.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Thanks, Nick.

                      I never find the stock 12AU7 to lack air and clarity, dunno maybe I need to hear the E80CC first.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                      Yeah I still use it over the RCA 6AS7G, Tung Sol 5998, Chatham 2399 and even the GEC 6AS7G!!

                      Mike are you sure you got a 6080WA and not a regular 6080?

                      I also have 6 great NOS 2399/5998 tubes for sale guys ;-)

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      !!!!!!

                      Put them up for auction xP

                    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                      They were on ebay, nobody was interested…

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      It says JAN-CTL-6080

                    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.
                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Nope mine doesn’t have the WA writing.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      I will take a picture of the 6080 tubes, old and new and show you later.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      You sure it’s not because you haven’t broken in the new tubes yet?

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      No.. I don’t remember the stock tubes needing burn in anyway.. perhaps the first 2-3 hours but that may’ve been the whole amplifier needing an initial burn-in.

                    • breizh

                      ok, so i think i will finally go with MS2+ (available at 249€) in combination with Asgard (249€ also), unless someone tells me the Yulong D100 would be a better value for my AKG K550 and DT880 (32 ohms) – it raises my initial budget but i don’t often invest in such a piece of equipment, so…;-)
                      Can’t wait listening to my favorite albums through this !

                      Many thanks to you (Nick, Trent-D, Mike…)

                    • Trent_D

                      I will be using that same combo with the K550 myself. I do believe that we were assuming you would go with the lower priced MS2, not the MS2+. Both are suppose to be great values for their price.

                    • breizh

                      you were right but i’ve changed my mind since my budget has increased a little bit ;-)

                    • http://twitter.com/Original_Ken Ken Stuart

                      I have both the MS2 and the MS2+ and although I don’t have any way to audition many different amps (as Mike and L do), I would say that the difference between the MS2 and the MS2+ is more than the difference between different amps that are in the price range of the Asgard.
                      And, while I have no proof of it, I suspect that the difference between Mike’s early version of the MS2+ and the recent version with the oval end, is significant (I think that HRT may have lost some sales by not swapping his unit for a recent one).

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Unfortunately HRT is not an official sponsor so can’t expect them to be so generous… although they should :

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      You’re welcome, Breizh.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      @Trent_D:disqus Actually if you’ve gotten the MS2+, that’s already a really good solution combined with the Crack. May not have to upgrade to KingRex. Of course the KingRex is still better, but the MS2+ is good enough for me.

                    • Trent_D

                      That was my reasoning for going with that over the MS2 model. That when, on that glorious day when my pipe dream becomes a reality, I can worry about the dac last, as I will already have one that can step up and not embarrass itself.

                      The reason I went with the Asgard over the Crack for the time being is that, not being able to justify adding more headphones into the mix right now, is I needed a good all arounder. One that would add some punch to my K550. Plus, I can’t imagine that the MS2+/Asgard combo won’t be a huge step forward over the Headstage dac cable/cMoy.

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Yes, need a separate amp. The Fostex DAC is brilliant though — I’d rate it as being better than the HRT 2+

                    • Trent_D

                      Really? I thought you rated the MS2+ and the DACport lx about equal and above the Fostex.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      I second that. It was also the reason I got the HRT MS2+ to begin with… unfortunately the HRT MS2+ was unavailable for auditioning so I just went with Mike’s DAC hitlist and went with it

                    • Trent_D

                      Well, being as I just ordered a MS2+ and an Asgard, I think you will get there before I. You seem to speak highly of the MS2+, so if it is good enough for you, it is good enough for me.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Well, reason I took it over the Dacport LX and the Fostex was because the LX had the annoying 1/4″ signal out which means running an adapter and the Fostex was bouncing around $500 and was not worth it if I was running a separate amp… speaking of which the UD384 is priced exactly at $500 without the UPower

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      I’m pretty sure I’ve always rated the Fostex DAC above the Dacport and MS2+. Please let me know if I said otherwise, may have been a typo.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      Well… it wasn’t clear because you didn’t actually “rank” these 3 DACs, but I remember asking for a recommendation and you mentioned that the Dacport LX would be a better option if running line out straight from DAC stage only over the Fostex.

                    • Trent_D

                      On the Dacport LX thread, someone asks if you think the MS2+ is better than the Fostex and you say yes. Then they ranked them like this
                      1. HRT MSII +/ DAC Port LX
                      2. Hp-A3
                      3. DacPort

                      With which you agreed.

                      In the review of the dacport lx, you also say that the LX has a similar sound to the Fostex except with better instrument body and separation and leaner, less punchy bass. And you call the LX and MS2+ roughly equivalent.
                      I have poured over these reviews and boards so many times trying to make my decisions that I can recite some of them from memory (you guys must be doing something right)

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Is that right? Then I just have to apologize for the wrong information there.

                    • Trent_D

                      It has happened to me several times while cleaning that I stumble upon a paper I wrote in college a few years back, and I have to sit down and read it because I don’t remember what I had said. If I had a website of this size, I would need to make a cheat sheet with all of my opinions written down or I would never remember what I had said

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      Thanks for understanding ;)

                    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

                      I was probably the one that asked and even I don’t remember that well…

                    • Trent_D

                      There is a word for what I am. That word is “geek”.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

            so much for getting HD800s…

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  • Eyal Sade

    How is it compared to the Leckerton UHA-62-mk-II as dac/amp combined ?