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Gustard X16 VS X18 DACs

Danddd

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This is my first post here and am glad I found this site.

I'd be curious of the differences between the X16 and X18. I have the X16 in my system and find it a little too polite. Has anyone had the chance to compare the two DACs? I had used the Beresford Caiman SEG DAC previously. It was not as detailed, but had a solid low end that the Gustard X16 doesn't seem to have.

I have a full range system with a late 2014 Mac Mini using Qobuz through Audirvana using the USB port, a VTL 2.5 preamp, McCormack DNA 0.5 amp and Sonus faber Liuto tower speakers.
 

A Surfer

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There is no way that a DAC can attenuate frequency response unless it was completely defective/poorly designed or the output stage was deliberately designed to do that. Sorry, and not to be rude, but this is absolutely your imagination. I own the X16 and have owned many DACs. There is no reduction in the bass.
 
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Danddd

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There is no way that a DAC can attenuate frequency response unless it was completely defective/poorly designed or the output stage was deliberately designed to do that. Sorry, and not to be rude, but this is absolutely your imagination. I own the X16 and have owned many DACs. There is no reduction in the bass.
So you don't think DACs can have different signature sounds between them? Because this is the point I am making. Have you compared DACs and found no difference in the way they sound?
 

A Surfer

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Nope. If a DAC is audibly transparent, and not deliberately designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound there is no scientifically valid reason it will sound different than another such designed DAC. Now a poorly designed DAC with some issues could in theory sound different from a properly designed, audibly transparent DAC, sure, but those differences are due to poor engineering, not due to designer skill.

Not to sound harsh or condescending, but are you completely sure that you understand exactly what it is that a DAC does? I say that as it seems over at head-fi many people think a DAC can somehow change the converted stream audibly while still doing it's job properly which an audibly transparent DAC doesn't do. It simply reconstructs a digital stream and prepares it for output, unadulterated in any audible sense.

Yes I have compared DACs and never heard a difference. At one time I had three DACs at the same time ranging from a high of $3000 down to $149. After really trying to just hear a difference that could justify keeping the more expensive DACs, I just couldn't so I sold the two more expensive ones and kept the less expensive one.

I have since sold that one and settled down with the X16 and an M200 in a secondary system.
 

A Surfer

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There are even very misinformed people who think they can hear the difference in DAC clocks where the precision is into several decimal places. None of these people ever use scientifically valid testing procedures. They all "trust their ears" and use sighted listening tests which is absolute garbage. If you are hearing such differences without having rigorously used a multiple trial, level matched blind test procedure (which implies that you had impartial help to do) then you have zero evidence.

Again, not to be harsh, it doesn't matter how much you think the differences you hear outside of proper testing are obvious, you would have no evidence at all. Over at head-fi such claims get people cheered and slapped on the back for drinking the Koolaid but not here. Here we couldn't care less what people say they hear unless they are using a valid testing procedure which forgive me, I doubt that you are. That doubt stems from experience. I have almost 13 000 posts over at head-fi and more than a decade of time spent there.
 

tvrgeek

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ASurfer,
I would agree on DACS all having incredibly flat response and something as gross as "weight" should be a wash on anything with any sort of decent output buffer. I mean just a reasonable 15 cent OP-amp. The 10 cent one may not do. Should, that does not mean all do. Most modern DACS are very good. THD numbers I would have a hard time believing 10 years ago, but commodity produced now.

But don't tell me I can't hear the difference in the midrange sibilance and harshness. I can. Reliably and it is not even close. My wife can from the other room even when she does not know I swapped them. Don't tell Dan he does not hear a difference because you can't. Only he knows.

Everyone hears differently. To blanketly dismiss others hearing is naïve at best and darn right arrogant actually. There is more to learn, but when you know you are absolutely right and dismiss everyone else, you will never learn anything. You have no evidence we can't hear either. Science is about learning. What I hear in DACS is most obvious on Ladies of The Canyon and Billy Joel 42 St. Many other recordings do sound identical. What causes the difference I do not know so I do not ascribe magic or some feature like the clock with no basis even if I suspect it may be related.

My number of posts do not make me any smarter, and neither do yours you. Someday everything may be so good they will all sound the same. Not quite yet. Close, but not yet. Maybe close enough for you to the benefit of your budget. For me, I found a DAC and AMP that to my ears are "good enough:" They also measure well. So I can concern myself with the next speaker build.
 
OP
D

Danddd

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There are even very misinformed people who think they can hear the difference in DAC clocks where the precision is into several decimal places. None of these people ever use scientifically valid testing procedures. They all "trust their ears" and use sighted listening tests which is absolute garbage. If you are hearing such differences without having rigorously used a multiple trial, level matched blind test procedure (which implies that you had impartial help to do) then you have zero evidence.

Again, not to be harsh, it doesn't matter how much you think the differences you hear outside of proper testing are obvious, you would have no evidence at all. Over at head-fi such claims get people cheered and slapped on the back for drinking the Koolaid but not here. Here we couldn't care less what people say they hear unless they are using a valid testing procedure which forgive me, I doubt that you are. That doubt stems from experience. I have almost 13 000 posts over at head-fi and more than a decade of time spent there.
Nope. If a DAC is audibly transparent, and not deliberately designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound there is no scientifically valid reason it will sound different than another such designed DAC. Now a poorly designed DAC with some issues could in theory sound different from a properly designed, audibly transparent DAC, sure, but those differences are due to poor engineering, not due to designer skill.

Not to sound harsh or condescending, but are you completely sure that you understand exactly what it is that a DAC does? I say that as it seems over at head-fi many people think a DAC can somehow change the converted stream audibly while still doing it's job properly which an audibly transparent DAC doesn't do. It simply reconstructs a digital stream and prepares it for output, unadulterated in any audible sense.

Yes I have compared DACs and never heard a difference. At one time I had three DACs at the same time ranging from a high of $3000 down to $149. After really trying to just hear a difference that could justify keeping the more expensive DACs, I just couldn't so I sold the two more expensive ones and kept the less expensive one.

I have since sold that one and settled down with the X16 and an M200 in a secondary system.
Look, I may be new to this site, but I’ve been an audio/stereo fan since the late 60s. I’m a member of another audio site for many years. I came to this site as I liked the amount of DAC and computer audio information available to peruse and discus. I’ve really moved heavily into computer audio.

I don’t think your being condescending as much as not aware of the fact that this is a hobby that people enjoy and have differing opinions.

I’ve listened to many DACs and can easily hear differences. A friend owns an audio store and I was listening between a $2K NAD and a Rega model. The differences were amazing. One wasn’t better, just different to me. I ended up preferring the Beresford at the time as the music was more pleasing to me.

Even the computer programs such as Amarra Luxe and Audirvana which feed the DAC I use sound different.

Maybe just be open to other peoples opinion. Your choice.
 

Beave

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Look, I may be new to this site, but I’ve been an audio/stereo fan since the late 60s. I’m a member of another audio site for many years. I came to this site as I liked the amount of DAC and computer audio information available to peruse and discus. I’ve really moved heavily into computer audio.

I don’t think your being condescending as much as not aware of the fact that this is a hobby that people enjoy and have differing opinions.

I’ve listened to many DACs and can easily hear differences. A friend owns an audio store and I was listening between a $2K NAD and a Rega model. The differences were amazing. One wasn’t better, just different to me. I ended up preferring the Beresford at the time as the music was more pleasing to me.

Even the computer programs such as Amarra Luxe and Audirvana which feed the DAC I use sound different.

Maybe just be open to other peoples opinion. Your choice.

When you listened to those DACs at your friend's audio store, how did you go about level-matching? And then what were the blinding procedures you used?
 

Beave

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ASurfer,
I would agree on DACS all having incredibly flat response and something as gross as "weight" should be a wash on anything with any sort of decent output buffer. I mean just a reasonable 15 cent OP-amp. The 10 cent one may not do. Should, that does not mean all do. Most modern DACS are very good. THD numbers I would have a hard time believing 10 years ago, but commodity produced now.

But don't tell me I can't hear the difference in the midrange sibilance and harshness. I can. Reliably and it is not even close. My wife can from the other room even when she does not know I swapped them. Don't tell Dan he does not hear a difference because you can't. Only he knows.

Everyone hears differently. To blanketly dismiss others hearing is naïve at best and darn right arrogant actually. There is more to learn, but when you know you are absolutely right and dismiss everyone else, you will never learn anything. You have no evidence we can't hear either. Science is about learning. What I hear in DACS is most obvious on Ladies of The Canyon and Billy Joel 42 St. Many other recordings do sound identical. What causes the difference I do not know so I do not ascribe magic or some feature like the clock with no basis even if I suspect it may be related.

My number of posts do not make me any smarter, and neither do yours you. Someday everything may be so good they will all sound the same. Not quite yet. Close, but not yet. Maybe close enough for you to the benefit of your budget. For me, I found a DAC and AMP that to my ears are "good enough:" They also measure well. So I can concern myself with the next speaker build.

If you level-matched, and compared blinded, and can reliably tell the two DACs apart, then there will be a measurement that shows the difference. Have you done any measurements on the DACs? For all we know, one might be out of spec. Before deciding that there's some magical property that we haven't yet figured out how to measure, we first need to consider more likely possibilities.
 

A Surfer

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ASurfer,
I would agree on DACS all having incredibly flat response and something as gross as "weight" should be a wash on anything with any sort of decent output buffer. I mean just a reasonable 15 cent OP-amp. The 10 cent one may not do. Should, that does not mean all do. Most modern DACS are very good. THD numbers I would have a hard time believing 10 years ago, but commodity produced now.

But don't tell me I can't hear the difference in the midrange sibilance and harshness. I can. Reliably and it is not even close. My wife can from the other room even when she does not know I swapped them. Don't tell Dan he does not hear a difference because you can't. Only he knows.

Everyone hears differently. To blanketly dismiss others hearing is naïve at best and darn right arrogant actually. There is more to learn, but when you know you are absolutely right and dismiss everyone else, you will never learn anything. You have no evidence we can't hear either. Science is about learning. What I hear in DACS is most obvious on Ladies of The Canyon and Billy Joel 42 St. Many other recordings do sound identical. What causes the difference I do not know so I do not ascribe magic or some feature like the clock with no basis even if I suspect it may be related.

My number of posts do not make me any smarter, and neither do yours you. Someday everything may be so good they will all sound the same. Not quite yet. Close, but not yet. Maybe close enough for you to the benefit of your budget. For me, I found a DAC and AMP that to my ears are "good enough:" They also measure well. So I can concern myself with the next speaker build.
My mention of posts numbers wasn't about knowing more, because I know full well that there are many members here, and at head-fi with less posts who know far more than I'll ever know. I accept that, and frankly don't care. My point was that I've read thousands of posts from the subjectivists who are immune to science and here I don't have to pretend that it is all about what people feel. I believe in the scientific method, I believe in valid testing procedures producing valid evidence. I don't care at all about who thinks they hear what. If they haven't proven it through proper testing they might as well spit in the wind.

I don't think there is much evidence to support a special minority of people with extra special hearing. I accept that there will be a degree of variability with some people being in the upper ranges, some in the lower ranges and even some extreme outliers. Saying that, all will still be fairly tightly bound by the very finite abilities of the hearing brain wherever they occur on the continuum of hearing acuity. Regardless, if they have no evidence their claims of special discriminatory ability means nothing. Talk is always cheap in that respect, action speaks louder than words they say. If people want to make extraordinary claims, no problem, just don't tell me I have to believe their claims and that I am not allowed to point out the difference between assumption and evidence. At head-fi I'm not allowed, here, it is actually welcomed.

There was nothing in my posts that were challenging or controversial. If you have two audibly transparent DACs without coloured analogue output stages, you will not have audible differences.
 
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D

Danddd

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When you listened to those DACs at your friend's audio store, how did you go about level-matching? And then what were the blinding procedures you used?
I had the DACs at home in my system. I switched them out. There was a jazz album, I can't remember which where on one track the stand up bass being played with the NAD was barely audible and on the Rega easily heard. The NAD had a smooth sound where the Rega was a tad course. The two were very different DACs with music being played through them utilizing Qobuz through Audirvana. I listen to music with my ears. I know what sounds good to me and what I like and that's what I go for. Actually at the store we do take pains to match up correctly. It is a high end store and you can easily hear the differences between DACS.
 

Beave

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I had the DACs at home in my system. I switched them out. There was a jazz album, I can't remember which where on one track the stand up bass being played with the NAD was barely audible and on the Rega easily heard. The NAD had a smooth sound where the Rega was a tad course. The two were very different DACs with music being played through them utilizing Qobuz through Audirvana. I listen to music with my ears. I know what sounds good to me and what I like and that's what I go for. Actually at the store we do take pains to match up correctly. It is a high end store and you can easily hear the differences between DACS.

OK, so you didn't level-match at all. You didn't do your comparison single-blinded, much less double-blinded. And you didn't have a mechanism for quickly switching between the two DACs.

You might think you listened with your ears, but your brain was doing a lot of background processing during your comparison, some you might have been aware of but much of it you were not aware of.
 
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Danddd

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OK, so you didn't level-match at all. You didn't do your comparison single-blinded, much less double-blinded. And you didn't have a mechanism for quickly switching between the two DACs.

You might think you listened with your ears, but your brain was doing a lot of background processing during your comparison, some you might have been aware of but much of it you were not aware of.
I think your more into proving your point than reading what I said. Listening in your home is the best way to see what you like. The Rega was irritating to me at any volume level after an hour or so. Matching levels would have no impact here.
 

Beave

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I think your more into proving your point than reading what I said. Listening in your home is the best way to see what you like. The Rega was irritating to me at any volume level after an hour or so. Matching levels would have no impact here.
Pot, meet kettle.

Try a controlled comparison, with matched levels and with you unaware of which one you're listening to.

Then get back to us with results.
 

A Surfer

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I wonder how this will end? Joking, I've seen this conversation hundreds of times and it always seems to end the same way. Shame. You would think people would be more curious about testing their assumptions. I'm glad that I got out of the head-fi sphere where people think that the more you spend (and yes, that is the prevailing belief) you get to unlock those magical bits of missing data or that special "micro-detail retrieval". It is almost painful to hear the claims of "trust me I hear the difference, I don't need to put any proper controls in place".

For the record, I don't think people have to want to, they can enjoy their hobby anyway they like, but I wish they had enough respect for science to not make claims about what is fact when they haven't done anything to establish reasonable evidence. Since coming here I have been presented with an overwhelming body of evidence that audible transparency can be had for quite a bit less money and no audio voodoo required, just sound engineering. Refreshing, for me anyway.
 

Lupin

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ASurfer,
I would agree on DACS all having incredibly flat response and something as gross as "weight" should be a wash on anything with any sort of decent output buffer. I mean just a reasonable 15 cent OP-amp. The 10 cent one may not do. Should, that does not mean all do. Most modern DACS are very good. THD numbers I would have a hard time believing 10 years ago, but commodity produced now.

But don't tell me I can't hear the difference in the midrange sibilance and harshness. I can. Reliably and it is not even close. My wife can from the other room even when she does not know I swapped them. Don't tell Dan he does not hear a difference because you can't. Only he knows.

Everyone hears differently. To blanketly dismiss others hearing is naïve at best and darn right arrogant actually. There is more to learn, but when you know you are absolutely right and dismiss everyone else, you will never learn anything. You have no evidence we can't hear either. Science is about learning. What I hear in DACS is most obvious on Ladies of The Canyon and Billy Joel 42 St. Many other recordings do sound identical. What causes the difference I do not know so I do not ascribe magic or some feature like the clock with no basis even if I suspect it may be related.

My number of posts do not make me any smarter, and neither do yours you. Someday everything may be so good they will all sound the same. Not quite yet. Close, but not yet. Maybe close enough for you to the benefit of your budget. For me, I found a DAC and AMP that to my ears are "good enough:" They also measure well. So I can concern myself with the next speaker build.
Sorry but I can't stop laughing when people come up with this claim like it proves anything.
Judging by the number of people making this claim women must have supernatural hearing. :rolleyes:

So many subjectivists claim to be able to hear a difference, not any difference, a difference so big it's not even close. Yet not a single subjectivist can or want to supply the data by doing a controlled volume matched double blind test.. why? It should take the subjectivist like 10 seconds to pick which DAC is which if the difference is really "not even close" and prove the whole objective community wrong.. yet nobody does it.
 

BDWoody

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I think your more into proving your point than reading what I said. Listening in your home is the best way to see what you like. The Rega was irritating to me at any volume level after an hour or so. Matching levels would have no impact here.

Just throwing this out...



Maybe put it to the test, rather than getting angry.
 
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D

Danddd

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Wow,ok, I’m done here. And I’m not angry, just disappointed that the ‘science’ people aren’t open minded enough to accept that one can hear differences, even with my brain was pulling one way or the other. I am a science influenced individual, so take that out of the equation. The mind is easily tricked. But I enjoy the music first and can easily choose what I like best. It wasn’t too hard to pick between the Rega, NAD and the Beresford DACs. Even though the Beresford in all likelihood didn’t measure up to the other two DACs, I preferred it.

So now I’m listening to the Gustard X16 and as much as the detail that comes through is astonishing compared to what I’ve used in the past, I find it a bit un-involving at times. Don’t you science guys get into the emotional sense music can give you.? Because that’s what I like.

I’m not getting any real use-able feedback on my original question here.
 

Martin

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Wow,ok, I’m done here. And I’m not angry, just disappointed that the ‘science’ people aren’t open minded enough to accept that one can hear differences, even with my brain was pulling one way or the other. I am a science influenced individual, so take that out of the equation. The mind is easily tricked. But I enjoy the music first and can easily choose what I like best. It wasn’t too hard to pick between the Rega, NAD and the Beresford DACs. Even though the Beresford in all likelihood didn’t measure up to the other two DACs, I preferred it.

So now I’m listening to the Gustard X16 and as much as the detail that comes through is astonishing compared to what I’ve used in the past, I find it a bit un-involving at times. Don’t you science guys get into the emotional sense music can give you.? Because that’s what I like.

I’m not getting any real use-able feedback on my original question here.

Your original post was full of nonsensical audiophile terms that have no meaning. Everyone is free to imagine all kinds of differences. Science shows us those differences are products of our mind and not anything measurable the devices are doing. If you hear differences and are happy why go looking for validation where you will not find it. If you had spent any time on ASR before posting you would have already known the response your post was going to receive. Open your mind to science; perform true double blind testing. Then come back and share your experience.

Martin
 
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