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Gustard X16 VS X18 DACs

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Danddd

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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.
I am happy you find the b;uetooth indistinguishable on the X16. I use the mac mini for the bluetooth option. That being said it is something I never use.
 
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Danddd

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In my system X16 has very deep and detailed Bass (more than my Audio GD NFB 29).
I think it is the synergy with the Sonus faber Liuto Towers that makes the bass less apparent with the X16. I decided to pull the trigger on the Denafrips Ares 2 (yep, more expensive), but I note more presence and low end with the music. The Ares also seems more involving to me as I pay attention increased and was piqued to how the instruments play off each other. This was there with the X16, but not as pronounced. I was looking for a Dac to hold me for five plus years. I think I found it.
 

A Surfer

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@Danddd Seriously, this is not the right community to say such unsupportable things. Well you can say them of course, but please don't get too upset when people here, such as I'm about to do, tell you straight up, you're just imagining this. You can't make such bold claims without blind, level matched, multiple trials testing.

You are essentially proposing that the X16 somehow selectively targets certain frequencies to reproduce differently. Or, you are proposing that it is the Ares 2 that is doing it. Those are extraordinary claims and require proof. At least here. On head-fi you can claim any bold thing you like and a legion of people will get together and act as your echo-chamber. Mercifully here we are allowed to ask for the evidence. Which I am.
 
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Danddd

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@Danddd Seriously, this is not the right community to say such unsupportable things. Well you can say them of course, but please don't get too upset when people here, such as I'm about to do, tell you straight up, you're just imagining this. You can't make such bold claims without blind, level matched, multiple trials testing.

You are essentially proposing that the X16 somehow selectively targets certain frequencies to reproduce differently. Or, you are proposing that it is the Ares 2 that is doing it. Those are extraordinary claims and require proof. At least here. On head-fi you can claim any bold thing you like and a legion of people will get together and act as your echo-chamber. Mercifully here we are allowed to ask for the evidence. Which I am.
I came to this community because I read Amir's (and others) review f the Gustard X16 and bought it. But I noticed after it had time to burn in that the bass seemed to be dull. So I bought the Ares 2 to see if that had any improvement as the Ares 2 gets rave reviews. There was definitely improvement in the bass and there were other subtle differences so I returned the X16. Maybe it's the difference of a R2R vs a chip DAC. Maybe it's the dry January...but there is an audible difference.

I am mostly on another audio site for 15 years that is a mix of people and a pretty good one. ASR does have a reputation as being only measurement oriented and not very tolerant of other views outside of that (this is the nice way of saying it). You have shown that to be true. I am a science oriented person, but I still acknowledge that science has current limits that is being extended on a daily basis. Metaphysics is tomorrows science. I think people should be more reasonably tolerant of others views when it comes to a hobby, I am guessing, we all enjoy.
 

BDWoody

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ASR does have a reputation as being only measurement oriented and not very tolerant of other views outside of that (this is the nice way of saying it).

I think saying we are more evidence oriented, than measurements oriented would be closer. The measurements give evidence of what should be reliably predicted, based on understanding what they do and don't mean, and how that correlates to what we understand about what we can or can't hear.

Yes...actual evidence is important here when people make particularly unlikely claims based on that understanding.

If people can't be bothered to provide more than anecdotal stories when making unlikely claims, they shouldn't get upset when their claims are dismissed.
 

Lupin

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ASR does have a reputation as being only measurement oriented and not very tolerant of other views outside of that (this is the nice way of saying it)
Head-Fi is just the same but than in the opposite direction.
Call out to a "sponsor" like FiiO for spreading unfounded audiophile snake oil claims in chase of more sales will get you banned fast.
Be critical and ask for evidence when a member there claims that his new 8000 dollar power cable makes a night and day difference with his old not worthy 2000 dollar cable with get you banned from the thread in record time.

So if you ask me Head-Fi is not any more "tolerant" than ASR in their respective areas.
 
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Danddd

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Head-Fi is just the same but than in the opposite direction.
Call out to a "sponsor" like FiiO for spreading unfounded audiophile snake oil claims in chase of more sales will get you banned fast.
Be critical and ask for evidence when a member there claims that his new 8000 dollar power cable makes a night and day difference with his old not worthy 2000 dollar cable with get you banned from the thread in record time.

So if you ask me Head-Fi is not any more "tolerant" than ASR in their respective areas.
I've only been on Head Fi if a review pops up in a search. I like AudioKarma a lot as it is enthusiast driven. I have found new friends locally that are on AK. AK is more tolerant and the mods enforce that. Still, there are always cable arguments LOL.
 

A Surfer

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@Danddd Sorry mate, but if you found my post proof of unfriendliness, all I can say is that you may want to reflect and ask if perhaps you are being a little more sensitive than needed. This community has a very clear mandate. People can make unsupported claims if they like, but those claims will be challenged. As was pointed out by another member, objectively orientated audio enthusiast, such as myself, are treated extremely discriminatorily in other audio communities. I have spent time on AK, but not too much so I can't speak to that community with a great deal of confidence. At head-fi I have over 12000 posts and been a member for over a decade. Head-fi is extremely intolerant towards objectivity.

That doesn't mean that this community has a license to be intolerant. As Gandhi famously said, "an eye for an eye makes the world blind". Saying that, I don't feel that how you were treated in this thread was at all inappropriate or unfriendly. It may not have been what you wanted to hear, but it really shouldn't be surprising either.
 

Snoopy

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Head-Fi is just the same but than in the opposite direction.
Call out to a "sponsor" like FiiO for spreading unfounded audiophile snake oil claims in chase of more sales will get you banned fast.
Be critical and ask for evidence when a member there claims that his new 8000 dollar power cable makes a night and day difference with his old not worthy 2000 dollar cable with get you banned from the thread in record time.

So if you ask me Head-Fi is not any more "tolerant" than ASR in their respective areas.


I've always wondered why measurements are accepted when it comes to TVs but audio seems to be all about feelings and emotions.
 

Hapo

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...beacuse music...

...I don't often learn much from those I agree with, eh...
 

guzkiy

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That's funny. I am an engineer and do not believe in 'magic' cables and that sort of things of course. But stating that all DACs should sound the same is a bit... simplistic. Even if they built on the same ESS chip. If one has any technical background they surely understand there is a lot of supporting circuits to make the chip work and, chances are all those would be implemented differently in different DACs. So IMHO stating they *all should sound the same* is plain wrong even from technical prospective. That's not far from saying *all speakers should sound the same* cause they build with the same principles.

On more practical/subjective side, if people compare 3 DACs listening to Apple Earpods - surely they'd sound the same. One has to test on a proper sound reproduction rig to make conclusions about subjective experience. Many people think that THX AAA 789 Amp is the golden standard of the sound reproduction, and make conclusions based on that one plus entry level headphones. It is kind of pointless in my view...
I did compare Gustard X18 to Topping 90se. They do sound differently. I do not think the reason for that is their respective frequency responses.
 
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A Surfer

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That's funny. I am an engineer and do not believe in 'magic' cables and that sort of things of course. But stating that all DACs should sound the same is a bit... simplistic. Even if they built on the same ESS chip. If one has any technical background they surely understand there is a lot of supporting circuits to make the chip work and, chances are all those would be implemented differently in different DACs. So IMHO stating they *all should sound the same* is plain wrong even from technical prospective. That's not far from saying *all speakers should sound the same* cause they build with the same principles.

On more practical/subjective side, if people compare 3 DACs listening to Apple Earpods - surely they'd sound the same. One has to test on a proper sound reproduction rig to make conclusions about subjective experience. Many people think that THX AAA 789 Amp is the golden standard of the sound reproduction, and make conclusions based on that one plus entry level headphones. It is kind of pointless in my view...
I did compare Gustard X18 to Topping 90se. They do sound differently. I do not think the reason for that is their respective frequency responses.
Regardless, if the different contributing circuits are also properly designed and implemented, which means audibly transparent, the end result is the same. Our hearing brain as remarkable as it is, is still objectively speaking very limited so suggesting that our hearing brain is somehow sensitive to extremely small variations is a rather bold claim. What is your evidence that these different circuits produce audible differences implementation to implementation?
 

guzkiy

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Regardless, if the different contributing circuits are also properly designed and implemented, which means audibly transparent, the end result is the same. Our hearing brain as remarkable as it is, is still objectively speaking very limited so suggesting that our hearing brain is somehow sensitive to extremely small variations is a rather bold claim. What is your evidence that these different circuits produce audible differences implementation to implementation?
What is your evidence that these different circuits produce the same signal? As an engineer I'd rather assume the opposite. We don't have to go far - even the same implementation in a stereo amp can produce channels imbalance. There is a variation for every capacitor, transistor and other elements.
Our hearing brain is sensitive to many thing, FR is only one thing. Take harmonic specter differences for instance. That's the main reason why tube amps sound different.
The following statement is nonsense IMHO:
'if the different contributing circuits are also properly designed and implemented, which means audibly transparent, the end result is the same.'
Too many baseless assumptions. Sorry for being direct.
 
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Lupin

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That's funny. I am an engineer and do not believe in 'magic' cables and that sort of things of course. But stating that all DACs should sound the same is a bit... simplistic. Even if they built on the same ESS chip. If one has any technical background they surely understand there is a lot of supporting circuits to make the chip work and, chances are all those would be implemented differently in different DACs. So IMHO stating they *all should sound the same* is plain wrong even from technical prospective. That's not far from saying *all speakers should sound the same* cause they build with the same principles.
Most of the times post starting with who or what a person is don't bode well.
That you're an engineer doesn't make everything you post on the internet automatically true nor make your opinion automatically the only right opinion to have. Supply data and/or research if you feel you have something to prove. That you're an engineer is totally irrelevant and doesn't prove or make your statement anymore right.

Amir doesn't measure the chip or the supporting circuits, he measures the output, the signal that comes out of the DAC.
Who cares if it's DAC chip "X", "Y" or what/how all those circuits are implemented. What matters is the signal that comes out of the DAC. Those electrical signals are measured by Amir and so far there is not a measurement that shows that one DAC should sound different then another DAC. Please supply measurements, research or results from properly conducted double blind tests and I will be the first one to admit I was wrong. Until then you stating you're an engineer and there for it is true means absolutely nothing.

On more practical/subjective side, if people compare 3 DACs listening to Apple Earpods - surely they'd sound the same. One has to test on a proper sound reproduction rig to make conclusions about subjective experience. Many people think that THX AAA 789 Amp is the golden standard of the sound reproduction, and make conclusions based on that one plus entry level headphones. It is kind of pointless in my view...
I did compare Gustard X18 to Topping 90se. They do sound differently. I do not think the reason for that is their respective frequency responses.
I don't know but to me this reads very much like; One can only hear the difference (which there isn't one) on very expensive systems because those systems are expensive and therefor more "revealing"

Recent DACs and AMPs shows that technology advanced to a level that one doesn't need to spend thousands of dollars/euros anymore to get gear that objectively measures and performs excellent.
 

Roland68

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Most of the times post starting with who or what a person is don't bode well.
That you're an engineer doesn't make everything you post on the internet automatically true nor make your opinion automatically the only right opinion to have. Supply data and/or research if you feel you have something to prove. That you're an engineer is totally irrelevant and doesn't prove or make your statement anymore right.

Amir doesn't measure the chip or the supporting circuits, he measures the output, the signal that comes out of the DAC.
Who cares if it's DAC chip "X", "Y" or what/how all those circuits are implemented. What matters is the signal that comes out of the DAC. Those electrical signals are measured by Amir and so far there is not a measurement that shows that one DAC should sound different then another DAC. Please supply measurements, research or results from properly conducted double blind tests and I will be the first one to admit I was wrong. Until then you stating you're an engineer and there for it is true means absolutely nothing.


I don't know but to me this reads very much like; One can only hear the difference (which there isn't one) on very expensive systems because those systems are expensive and therefor more "revealing"

Recent DACs and AMPs shows that technology advanced to a level that one doesn't need to spend thousands of dollars/euros anymore to get gear that objectively measures and performs excellent.
A simple yes/no question:
If you send a sine wave signal through a resistor, does the resistor start oscillating mechanically?
 

guzkiy

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Most of the times post starting with who or what a person is don't bode well.
That you're an engineer doesn't make everything you post on the internet automatically true nor make your opinion automatically the only right opinion to have. Supply data and/or research if you feel you have something to prove. That you're an engineer is totally irrelevant and doesn't prove or make your statement anymore right.

Amir doesn't measure the chip or the supporting circuits, he measures the output, the signal that comes out of the DAC.
Who cares if it's DAC chip "X", "Y" or what/how all those circuits are implemented. What matters is the signal that comes out of the DAC. Those electrical signals are measured by Amir and so far there is not a measurement that shows that one DAC should sound different then another DAC. Please supply measurements, research or results from properly conducted double blind tests and I will be the first one to admit I was wrong. Until then you stating you're an engineer and there for it is true means absolutely nothing.


I don't know but to me this reads very much like; One can only hear the difference (which there isn't one) on very expensive systems because those systems are expensive and therefor more "revealing"

Recent DACs and AMPs shows that technology advanced to a level that one doesn't need to spend thousands of dollars/euros anymore to get gear that objectively measures and performs excellent.
That's shows that you are not approaching it as an engineer. I am not diminishing your opinion, just your way of judging mine.

What Amir measurement shows is that the parameters he measures are close in a few top DACs he measures. He does not measure how they sound, does he? We imply that the only things matter are those Amir measures, only they can influence our hearing and nothing else. I find it a very bold assumption.

As we established with tube amps case for example there different things (all in technical space of course) that affect our hearing, that Amir does not measure. The measurement of FR can not completely define how hearing is affected. Tube amps' harmonic specter differences make them sound 'tube like' - that was the conclusion of the studies i've read. We do not measure that in amps (at least not in the mainstream). What is fascinating that THD<1% even in tube amps and, the difference is still audible.

And yes, I can hear more differences with my Sennheiser HD800s than with my HD650. It also happens that HD800s has a different (more advanced) driver, that is more expensive to produce (supposedly) and therefore HD800s costs more. I am not sure why you have troubles accepting there is a correlation between price and quality but that is how the progress works IMHO.

@Roland: here is the clue - we are not sending a sine wave through an amp, except the special case when Amir measures things with 1Khz. Also resistors are linear, transistors are not.
 
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flz

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I'm very interested in both the X16 & X18. The sound differences between the two may be inaudible to my ears. So looking at the differences in features, the X18 has a power/stand by button on the front and bigger display fonts. Is that all in terms of major feature differences?

I don't mind the smaller display font. Having to reach to the back to turn it on/off is a minor annoyance but I'm not sure that its a deal breaker.
 
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Danddd

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@flz I reached out to the manufacturer and they said the difference is very slight. If the X18 is in your budget, consider the Denafrips ARES II. There was quite a nice level of improvement from the X16.
 

A Surfer

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It is ridiculous to even say there is a slight difference. There is not a human being alive who could hear any difference between these DACs.
 
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