Yulong DAART Canary

The Yulong DAART line has been defined as a new collaboration between Yulong engineers, musicians and music producers.
The Canary is the first product in the DAART line: it’s a transportable DAC with integrated headphone amplifier for computer audio, in the 250-300$ price bracket.
The Canary has a peculiar shape and can be found in rose gold, white or black colors: my unit is in rose gold color, which makes it an eye catching device, thought for young people.

Specifications

The Canary uses a high performance ESS9018K2M chipset, with XMOS U8 receiver for the USB input. Such chipset solution supports several music protocols, depending on the digital inputs:
ll PCM and DSD music protocols up to DSD 256 and PCM384 kHz from the USB .
– USB: supports native DSD64/128/256, DSD-over-PCM (DoP) P64, DoP 128, PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
– Coaxial: supports PCM 16-24bit,44.1-384KHz
– Optical: supports PCM 16-24bit,44.1-384KHz
 

Yulong DAART Canary

 
The Canary can work as a stand alone DAC, with RCA outputs; as DAC/headphone amplifier, through the dedicated headphone jack; or as headphone only, through the analogue line in. The volume control has a very solid feel for the size.
The Canary has a SNR of -128dB.

The Canary comes with a 12V power source, upgradeable to a regulated supply or even battery supply.

Soundwise

The Canary is a very warm sounding player, its signature reminding that of a vintage CD player. It has a very natural treble roll off, which prevents it to ever sound harsh or sibilant; this way, the Canary sets itself apart from the devices that show detail retrieval with an U shaped (and hollow) signature, opting for a full tonality, bloomy midrange, cohesive and musical tone.
Obviously, such source pairs much better with neutral, bass light or bright headphones, such as Sennheiser HD598, Etymotic ER4, Audio Technica AD2000, Stax Lambda Signature, Hifiman HM-560. These headphones take advantage of the rich midrange and full body of the Canary, improving their midrange presence and overall “live” feeling.
Because of its defined personality, the Canary matches less well with headphones with a darker tonality, with sirupy signature, dominant bass response or excessively smooth treble: Sennheiser HD580, Sennheiser Momentum over-ear 1 and 2, Westone UM3x (and their evolutions, Pro30 and Pro50), Hifiman HM400i, TFZ Balance 2M. The nature of such headophones would be exaggerated.
 

DAART Canary

 
I have tested the Canary both with the USB input and coaxial input (through the Halide Bridge USB-SPDIF converter), and I didn’t detect a significant difference.
I can relate this to the Sabre chipset, which is quite insensitive to the digital input when well implemented.
I have also tried the Yulong CU2 upgrade USB cable, but I didn’t detect any difference compared to the provided stock cable. This is good news because there is no need for an upgrade over the provided USB cable.

Although very musical, the Canary DAC has some limitation compared to, say the Yulong DA8. The Canary can’t reach the exceptional clarity of the DA8, the ultra-fast transients, ease to follow the details patterns, or wide soundstage. Still, it’s not in the same category and doesn’t aim for the same audience / gear.

Conclusion

The DAART Canary is a source/amp combo that offers much in a cheap, tiny package. It’s ideal for a wide range of headphones, and its musicality never spoils the listening with unwanted traits (such as sibilance). It’s rounded, smooth, pleasant and enveloping. With an elegant color, such as black, it’s very low profile even in a work environment.
The fact that it’s compatible with basically all existing music protocols (both high res and low res), makes it quite hassle free and easy to use.