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Gustard X16 VS X18 DACs

BDWoody

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A Surfer

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@Danddd Sorry if the community comes off as a tad inflexible and or harsh, but please do keep in mind that a significant number of the membership here (such as myself) are likely to have landed here after being driven out of subjectivist audio enthusiast communities such as head-fi. In those settings if one even attempts to discuss scientifically valid testing procedures, or even why they are required, more often than not you get ganged up on, shouted down and sometimes even banned (though I have never experienced a banning).

As a result this is a scientific oasis where those of us who gravitate to a scientifically based inquiry into what makes for great audio reproduction gear come to join the like minded. I would think that we are open minded, but not to the extent where bold claims such as being able to hear the differences between two audibly transparent DACs (for example) will not be challenged. That is asking too much of the general community.

And the idea that being scientifically minded within our appreciation for audio means that we don't enjoy music, or our gear and have an emotional response to them is a ridiculous charge that the subjectivist only camp likes to promote so that we can be discredited as soul-less measurement people. Absolute tripe at it's best. First and foremost I am, and I am also sure the vast majority of the membership here at ASR are as well, a true lover of music in all of forms.
 
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Danddd

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@A Surfer: No problem. I actually spoke with the Gustard people. They said their wouldn't be much of an audible difference between the X16 and X18 that is noticeable. Makes you wonder why the developed the X18 unless they just like to exercise their DAC building skills and incorporate some things they would have liked to have done in the X16. Oh and get some more $ for an improved margin. By the way I am usually on AudioKarma...seems ok, and they do ackowledge that ASR is science based mostly.
 

Pdxwayne

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@Danddd, typically, if you can hear a difference between DAC, it is because you did not voltage match the DAC when you switched the DAC for comparison.

Please note that DAC don't all output same voltage when being fed same signals.

Here is a measurements from topping engineer for difference DAC, when being fed same signal:

Also, there could be differences between filters used and there could be channel imbalance. Those can also make you sense a difference between dac.

If you have a voltage meter, you can easily check that for your dac.
 

LaL

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designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound

"designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound"

Surely this is what most people are describing when they talk about the slightly different sound signatures from Dac manufactures.
Technically there may be no difference between the output of actual Dac circuits but there sure is a difference when each manufacturer takes that weak signal and puts it through their preferred amplification circuitry and takes it up to 2 or 4 volts.
 

BDWoody

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Surely this is what most people are describing when they talk about the slightly different sound signatures from Dac manufactures.
Technically there may be no difference between the output of actual Dac circuits but there sure is a difference when each manufacturer takes that weak signal and puts it through their preferred amplification circuitry and takes it up to 2 or 4 volts.

That final output is what is being measured.

The chip isn't getting broken out of the box for separate measurements.

Different 'sound signatures' between competent DAC's has yet to be actually demonstrated.
 

Hapo

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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.

...I am glad you found this site too and wish I found this thread a little sooner...LoL... .!.:D.!.
 

Hapo

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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.

...I don't generaly learn much from people I agree with...I do agree with you on the subject of hearing for sure...I have lost more than some people had to start with...(grin)

...I will be doing my best to hear the differences between a Modi 3+ and a Monolith today...I am wondering if it will be worth the bother...

...I grabbed one because the audiophools were liking the "sound" of it...

...at this point the deciding factor might be if the head phone amp I am not especialy intersted in hums or not...
 
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Hapo

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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.

...magic is a word for exactly that, (things we ain't figgered yet), eh...

...the most likely explination is excacly that...magic...(Schitt we ain't figgered yet)

...one thing I got out of this thread is maybe I should try a Gustard X16...I like polite...A Surfer likes Gustard X16...

...will it sound 5X better than Schitt Modi 3+...???...it will cost 5X more...

...at one point in my life I could hear you breathing 50 feet away...now you have to speak up some....but not too much please...!!!...you'll hurt me ears...

...this could simplify my choices...but when do we stop messing with our piles of junk and just enjoy the music...?!?...does that ever happen...???...

...componetnts in the current pile range in age from 20+ years to less than a week...
 
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Danddd

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...I am glad you found this site too and wish I found this thread a little sooner...LoL... .!.:D.!.
I appreciate your replies. I'd be curious about your Schiit vs Monolith. I'm more of a buy and hold person. My amp is from 1996 and my pre from 2002, Both bought used, but only 6 months old at the time.

I'm going to compare the Denaprips Ares II against the Gustard X16 this coming week. It won't be a blind test, but I'll do my best to see which one I prefer listening too. It seems since the Gustard measures better than the Denafrips, it should be the winner. But in my circles, it's about what I like best. The Gustard is on right now as I watch the Rams vs Bucs and I could easily live with it. Once I find which one I like best, that's what I'll go with and not revisit DACs in a long while, as my main pleasure is listening to the music.
 

Hapo

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...the Momolith stopped working on me...in the brief time I heard it it didn't sound differnt than the Modi...

...this could be a funtion of my modest equipment or impaired hearing...

...I am more than curiuos aboot the Ares II as well but I just grabbed an Earman Tradutto...

...I bet they just love this guy 'round hea'...( 13:05 - "Juicy paplable tones that are present in space...) "...LoL...

...he compares this diretly to Gustard X18...


 

Hapo

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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.

...if you are still here I am thinking that no one could tell the differnce between the X16 and X18 with their ears even though the X18 is measuably superior...

...the rest is pretty much over my head...

...did you get to check out the Denifrips ...???...

...check this out...it's like he made this for Hapo...LoL...I was looking at both of these and this is his latest review...

...is this all bullschitt...???...FWIW I have decided to just enjoy the music for a while...

 
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prerich

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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.
You said something key that very few people mention...some DAC's are deliberately designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound. I have a friend that has listened to my system and when I put the x16 into the mix - he stated the amount of detail is amazing, but he likes his sound a little "dirty". This is where subjectivity plays into the picture....not everyone is looking for accurate sound, many are looking for pleasing sound. It's like artistic styles - one style is photorealism - trying to paint or draw a picture identically to a photo. Then you have styles like impressionist, cubist, dadaism, and others - they may not be accurate to the original model but they cause a delite in particular viewers. It's just my take on this, as I believe if they measure the same, they should sound the same...unless something else has taken place to colour the sound.
 

LaL

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" some DAC's are deliberately designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound "
This is how Burson Audio and iFi Audio and many others are still in business.
It sounds pleasing to the human ear.
"some DAC's are deliberately designed at the analogue output stage to colour the sound"
 

prerich

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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.
The one piece of data that I NEVER see supplied by extreme objectivist or subjectivist is their own auditory exams . The equipment can measure perfect, but the final piece of gear ...the human ear, has a piece of science behind it as well. If your ears are deficient you will hear differently, if your ears are in extremely good health you will hear differently from the average person. Testing data on equipment tells me the gear is within specs, that it has low noise, low distortion etc. How my ears translate that, my auditory exam can play into that. Do I tend to up tip the highs because I've lost that part of my hearing range? Do the test reveal that I'm sensitive to low frequencies? During my exam....my VA doctor could tell I was experiencing an episode tinnitus during the exam!!! I was very impressed! There's science and then there's the science of the human body - let alone psychology. The measurements don't lie ....but they don't tell the entire story of what the human preceives.
 

Hapo

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@Danddd Sorry if the community comes off as a tad inflexible and or harsh, but please do keep in mind that a significant number of the membership here (such as myself) are likely to have landed here after being driven out of subjectivist audio enthusiast communities such as head-fi. In those settings if one even attempts to discuss scientifically valid testing procedures, or even why they are required, more often than not you get ganged up on, shouted down and sometimes even banned (though I have never experienced a banning).

As a result this is a scientific oasis where those of us who gravitate to a scientifically based inquiry into what makes for great audio reproduction gear come to join the like minded. I would think that we are open minded, but not to the extent where bold claims such as being able to hear the differences between two audibly transparent DACs (for example) will not be challenged. That is asking too much of the general community.

And the idea that being scientifically minded within our appreciation for audio means that we don't enjoy music, or our gear and have an emotional response to them is a ridiculous charge that the subjectivist only camp likes to promote so that we can be discredited as soul-less measurement people. Absolute tripe at it's best. First and foremost I am, and I am also sure the vast majority of the membership here at ASR are as well, a true lover of music in all of forms.
...I am starting to appriciate this after watching the amirm interveiw video @ 1/26/2022...

...I have forwarded that to everyone I know who might care...canceled DAC order...bought better speakers...

 

Hapo

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...still obessing over DACs though...I don't know why...

...it took me all of 100 miniutes to sort out new speakers and headphones once I saw a glimmer of light and just gave up on buying a new DAC...

...it can be very liberating to just give up... (grin)

...an oppertunity emerged when the ELAC Carina FS247.4 book shelf speakers went on sale everywere...they must be getting ready to release some great new thing...

...there is no reason for me to upgrade from the Modi 3+ but if I had it to do over I would likely buy the Gustard X16 and, if the 6000 CDT didn't choke it, not know any better...
 
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A Surfer

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Well, if the bug just won't go away you can consider some additional benefits of a new DAC such as the X16. I cannot stress enough how perfectly audibly transparent and amazingly convenient Bluetooth is. Despite still owning all my original CDs and having a wonderful Rega Apollo CD player, I digitized all of my music and used to use USB to my DACs. Then I started using Bluetooth for all of my portable listening which was most of my listening time for a number of years (I returned to university late in life and used public transit frequently).

I quickly realized that Bluetooth sounded indistinguishable from wired. When I had that epiphany keep in mind that I was using as my portable rig some Oppo PM3, balanced from my Onkyo DP-X1 DAP with lossless flac files (i had to have a balanced cable made for the PM3). My wired experience was pretty solid clearly so when I moved to just Bluetooth from my phone to various quality Bluetooth headphones I was struck by how wonderful the audio quality was, and the convenience was orders of magnitude superior to a wire tether.

I have since done so with my home system and stream from my phone to my X16 and it is blissful. There isn't any difference as compared with wired so if you ever wish to declutter your rig, and or enjoy a significant step up in convenience, perhaps you can justify a new DAC.
 

FOB69

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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.

In my system X16 has very deep and detailed Bass (more than my Audio GD NFB 29).
 
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