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Gustard X16 Balanced MQA DAC Review

Roland68

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Yeah that would be my workaround, maybe they can reach out to more people
with hdmi than i2s, just as a thought.
i2s is a standardized interface for the (internal) transmission of digital audio data.
i2s over HDMI has nothing to do with normal HDMI and is not compatible with it.

Usually i2s is used for internal transmission in a device over short distances.
But in order to be able to transmit it over longer distances, the i2s signal is converted into LVDS (low voltage differential signaling) for transport via HDMI (cable). Similar to balanced, every signal is transmitted in + / - / ground.

However, this also means that data from i2s to i2s via HDMI (or vice versa) cannot be transmitted directly, but requires converter i2s to HDMI or HDMI to i2s)
Devices with i2s over HDMI interface can transmit the digital data to one another via an HDMI cable. For example, media players, external USB interfaces, etc. can transmit their data to a DAC, even over several meters.
Boards with i2s output or input (such as XMOS / Amanero USB interfaces, receiver boards, DAC boards, various DIY areas) can be connected to devices with i2s over HDMI interface using converters.
Or two i2s devices with two converters can be connected over several meters.

The HDMI connector was used for the external transmission of the i2s signal because it had enough contacts, was cheap and the HDMI cables were also available.
 

frankh

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If you want a cheap work-around. Buy a Topping D10s, plug coaxical or optical into X16. Then you get your desired volume control.
This is not the first DAC where I have zero volume control on OSX btw. It has to do with decisions in the design/firmware, I believe..
But considering Windows always has it, and OSX does not, you can indeed partly blame OSX ;)
I certainly don't need a Topping D10s because I already have the DX3 Pro. I can of course opt for Topping DACs that are equivalent to X16 and I'm seriously contemplating in replacing the X16 if Gustard refuse to enable volume control in Mac OS.
 

Frio

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i2s over HDMI has nothing to do with normal HDMI and is not compatible with it.
I know that all. It is just the plug that looks like hdmi but aside from that more people could and would use hdmi. Sure it costs licence fees and many audio companies try to avoid it but it has a value for the consumers that's all I wanted to say. I2s not do much.
 

frankh

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It's not a lame excuse, but rather exactly what I responded to you after your original post and now confirmed by Gustard: When you adjust volume on your PC keyboard, Windows simply adjusts the amplitude in the stream (software volume control) which loses resolution and sound quality and breaks MQA and DoP.

The Macs are smarter: They understand not to damage the audio stream, and instead they use USB hardware volume. BUT as it turns out, that is implemented in the XMOS chip which merely performs the same software volume control before passing the stream to the DAC, so it too loses resolution (although it possibly preserves MQA).

Therefore Gustard disabled USB "hardware volume", since it is actually just another software volume in disguise.

If you use Asio on Windows you will see the same as on Mac: No actual volume change, because Asio is smart enough to know not to damage the stream.
Thank you for your explanation which is definitely more understandable. Since I won't be using MQA therefore I prefer to get another DAC that gives their customers a choice to choose functionality over quality whenever he/she needs it, and if they so decide to choose quality over functionality then they are free to switch back. Looks like X16 is a bad choice for me and I believe for many others who wants to be able to switch between functionality and quality at will.

Imagine going to a restaurant and you requested for a sauce and the waiter tells you that they don't serve any sauce because their food taste best without sauce. Heck, I still want my sauce because I know my own taste, not the waiter.
 
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wood634

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The new Gustard X16 DAC arrived today. That’s got to be a record from Shenzhen China to my door (UK) in just less than 48 hours! Good on you DHL - outstanding service. £20 import fees were due before delivery.

The box itself is a solid feeling metal device with a (very) small mono display. Settings are fairly rudimentary - will tinker over the coming days and months. Left it all at defaults for initial testing.

So I now run a Gustard X16, using a pi4 and VitOS as the Roon endpoint. The Gustard is doing the full MQA decode - may change that later. Seems to work as advertised with test materials. I also get DSD playback now in addition to MQA full decode (my prior DAC didn’t support either). I can also send Bluetooth from the phone if needs be - bonus, if a somewhat crappy quality bonus...

Externally this feeds using RCAinto a Cyrus XPd QX preamp and then a Stereo200 hybrid class D amp hooked up to B&W 702S2 speakers... Interconnects and speaker cable are homemade 99.99 silver stranded (look up TweakerMan on YouTube). Will try using the Gustard to drive the amp directly using balanced XLR in due course.

Damn this thing sounds “crispy”... (that’s good). The highs are delicate and articulate with the bass hitting the lows whilst retaining presence without getting stodgy and bogged down. The sound stage seems more focused with singers more upfront and stage center than before. I run B&W speakers and they don’t have a wide sound stage - this remains basically the same with no sudden amazing projection of sound further left or right than before.

Damn I sound like John Darko!!!!

First impressions very positive.

Pink Floyd sound ace and the neighbours love the new DAC ;-)
 
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Dannemand

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I certainly don't need a Topping D10s because I already have the DX3 Pro. I can of course opt for Topping DACs that are equivalent to X16 and I'm seriously contemplating in replacing the X16 if Gustard refuse to enable volume control in Mac OS.

Just to make sure: @Veri' suggestion wasn't to use Topping D10s INSTEAD of the X16, but as a bridge to the X16, connecting the Coax/Toslink output from D10s into X16. It's a cheap approach to get USB hardware volume through the D10s while still using the superior DAC of the X16. (I've never used D10s, but I trust his recommendation).

Of course it would still be software volume control, degrading the stream before it reaches the DAC.

Edit: Oops, just saw your last post. I understand. I don't know if any of the DACs with pre-amp stages actually control that through USB. That would be ideal. I tested an SMSL M200 which does have such a stage, and which DOES implement USB hardware volume. But it too uses XMOS, and I suspect its USB hardware volume is really the same as discussed here, i.e. another form of software volume.
 
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frankh

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Just to make sure: @Veri' suggestion wasn't to use Topping D10s INSTEAD of the X16, but as a bridge to the X16, connecting the Coax/Toslink output from D10s into X16. It's a cheap approach to get USB hardware volume through the D10s while still using the superior DAC of the X16. ( I've never used D10s, but I trust his recommendation).

Of course it would still be software volume control, degrading the stream before or reaches the DAC.
Thank you again for the clarification. Anyway I prefer getting a single unit DAC that allows me to switch between functionality (practicality) or quality at will. I'm sure there are many other DACs around that are equivalent or better than X16 and far more flexible. I don't like going to restaurants that tell me what I should eat and what I shouldn't eat :rolleyes:
 
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lizhuoyin

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Thank you again for the clarification. Anyway I prefer getting a single unit DAC that allows me to switch between functionality (practicality) or quality at will. I'm sure there are many other DACs around that is equivalent or better than X16 and far more flexible. I don't like going to restaurants that tell me what I should eat and what I shouldn't eat :rolleyes:
I suspect you can use Topping D90 MQA mac driver for X16 since they are using the same XMOS board. It looks like D90 'fixed' the issue with that driver. See the link I referred before.
 

Pdxwayne

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Regarding RCA output DC issue when turn on and off x16, would an amp with DC Servo and relay protection circuits prevent the speakers from making large pop noise?
 

frankh

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I suspect you can use Topping D90 MQA mac driver for X16 since they are using the same XMOS board. It looks like D90 'fixed' the issue with that driver. See the link I referred before.
Thank you for the recommendation lizhuoyin. I'll keep my option open and check out a few more options before purchasing. I don't want to make another big mistake again.
 

Atanasi

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I suspect you can use Topping D90 MQA mac driver for X16 since they are using the same XMOS board. It looks like D90 'fixed' the issue with that driver. See the link I referred before.
I suspect drivers associate to USB identifiers and don't work with other devices without modification.
 

Veri

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I suspect you can use Topping D90 MQA mac driver for X16 since they are using the same XMOS board. It looks like D90 'fixed' the issue with that driver. See the link I referred before.
That won't work (!)
 

Roland68

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I know that all. It is just the plug that looks like hdmi but aside from that more people could and would use hdmi. Sure it costs licence fees and many audio companies try to avoid it but it has a value for the consumers that's all I wanted to say. I2s not do much.
Sorry, I didn't understand why a DAC should have an HDMI interface.
It has nothing to do with license fees.
With the HDMI standard, digital picture and audio signals are interlaced (multiplexing) and transmitted with one another.
What sense would it make to implement such a complex interface in a DAC that only outputs 2-channel audio?
I don't even know whether such a DAC can do anything with the multi-channel data.
Devices that have an HDMI output usually also output a digital audio signal via Toslink, Coax or AES.
 

ABall

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Regarding RCA output DC issue when turn on and off x16, would an amp with DC Servo and relay protection circuits prevent the speakers from making large pop noise?
My amps have DC servo, it's not fast enough. Relay on the output would almost certainly work as they are normally on a short delay timer. I did build a couple of Velleman K4700 speaker protection kits for my gain clone amps and they would probably have worked a treat.
 

Frio

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What sense would it make to implement such a complex interface in a DAC that only outputs 2-channel audio?
Once you can add a steaming dongle you can add streaming of for example amazon music hd or tidal via chromecast without an expensive streamer from your mobile. Cheap way to get a decent quality. Hdmi is just the current standard for streaming services.
 

Pdxwayne

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My amps have DC servo, it's not fast enough. Relay on the output would almost certainly work as they are normally on a short delay timer. I did build a couple of Velleman K4700 speaker protection kits for my gain clone amps and they would probably have worked a treat.
I see. Thanks!

Parasound A21 web page mentioned it has DC Servo and relay protection circuits. I am feeling a bit safer now. But I won't test it out anytime soon and will always turn off the amp before powering on and off x16.
: )
 

Roland68

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Once you can add a steaming dongle you can add streaming of for example amazon music hd or tidal via chromecast without an expensive streamer from your mobile. Cheap way to get a decent quality. Hdmi is just the current standard for streaming services.
Then you have to complain to HDMI.org. At that time they did not consider using HDMI only for audio.
The HDMI interface can not only transmit audio data, as these have to be embedded in the video signal.
If devices such as Chromecast or Fire-TV Stick cannot receive or output a video signal, the device switches off. These devices could also have a digital interface for audio output, but why don't they have this interface?
The DAC manufacturers would have to deal with an additional complex interface and its many standards (and problems), although this is not approved for the purpose. That would make the DAC significantly more expensive.

But the problem, as far as it is one, can be solved with an HDMI audio extractor. These output the digital and analog audio signal and cost around $ 20 - 25. The hdmi audio extractor must be able to emulate a video output device.
 
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