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Gustard X18 Review (Stereo DAC)

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 2.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 2 0.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 21 8.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 211 87.6%

  • Total voters
    241

Alt-Wrong

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2019
Messages
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Location
portland, oregon
The same dropouts are an issue with the Topping D90se. It has to do with the choice of input receiver they’re using, it’s a hardware issue, and there is no workaround. It’s entirely dependent on the coaxial hardware of the source you’re connecting to the DAC.

I had this issue while connecting my Oppo UDP-203 to the D90se via Coax. The only way I could resolve the problem was to buy an HDMI extractor (the Kanex Pro HAECOAX) and connect the Oppo to the Topping with the extractor instead of using the Oppo’s native Coax jack. It works fine and sounds great, but for other devices without HDMI outputs I think you’re SOL, unfortunately. :/
hi srkbear-
i’ve been using a kanex haecoax with my bdp-103 and apple tv3 since jan.‘17, mostly for movie watching.
and feeding either an auralic vega or lavry da11 from its coax out.
it’s a solid little unit, and with >5yrs of almost daily use, pretty reliable.
in 5.1 mode, and watching/listening to surround-sound movies thru it, you only hear the left and right channels- no center/dialog sound.
you have to switch it to 2.0 mode, which converts surround (e.g., dolby, dts, hd-ma, etc.) to two channel (limited to no higher than 48khz), and is how i watch/listen to most movies with it.
though some, especially concerts (e.g., david gilmour-remember that night), will offer a 2-channel LPCM option in addition to surround, and the 5.1 kanex option will allow the full hi-res 2-channel sound to come thru.
some good kanex info in this article…
…including this bit…
“John Siau at Benchmark Media Systems notes that his measurements show the unit to be bit-transparent in the 5.1-channel mode. One “undocumented” feature is that 16-bit sources are re-mapped to 24-bit, as indicated by the front-panel display on my Benchmark DAC2 DX”.

cheers

PS re: your Big Star avatar- i caught them live at their show at the crystal ballroom, portland in the ‘00’s.
and their “Nothing can hurt me” documentary is in my itunes collection.
 

srkbear

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
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635
Location
Dallas, TX
hi srkbear-
i’ve been using a kanex haecoax with my bdp-103 and apple tv3 since jan.‘17, mostly for movie watching.
and feeding either an auralic vega or lavry da11 from its coax out.
it’s a solid little unit, and with >5yrs of almost daily use, pretty reliable.
in 5.1 mode, and watching/listening to surround-sound movies thru it, you only hear the left and right channels- no center/dialog sound.
you have to switch it to 2.0 mode, which converts surround (e.g., dolby, dts, hd-ma, etc.) to two channel (limited to no higher than 48khz), and is how i watch/listen to most movies with it.
though some, especially concerts (e.g., david gilmour-remember that night), will offer a 2-channel LPCM option in addition to surround, and the 5.1 kanex option will allow the full hi-res 2-channel sound to come thru.
some good kanex info in this article…
…including this bit…
“John Siau at Benchmark Media Systems notes that his measurements show the unit to be bit-transparent in the 5.1-channel mode. One “undocumented” feature is that 16-bit sources are re-mapped to 24-bit, as indicated by the front-panel display on my Benchmark DAC2 DX”.

cheers

PS re: your Big Star avatar- i caught them live at their show at the crystal ballroom, portland in the ‘00’s.
and their “Nothing can hurt me” documentary is in my itunes collection.
I’m glad that someone else likes this little Kanex box! I too have found the multichannel selection to provide the highest sampling rates (not sure what their definition of “multichannel” is, but hey, it works). I’m using it currently to extract audio from a Sony UBP-x1000ES blu-ray/SACD player to the coaxial input on my Topping d90se, and with the “DSEE Extreme” upsampling engine engaged, I’m getting 88.2khz on Red Book CDs, 176.4khz on SACDs and 96khz on Blu Ray Audio, and to my ears it sounds great—although I’ve never seen any formal measurements of Sony’s upsampling tech.

You’re the first person to say a word about my Big Star avatar! Don’t even get me started, I prefer not to think of my life without Chris Bell or Alex Chilton (particularly the latter, although I think they complement each other every bit as much as Lennon/McCartney or Difford/Tilbrook and think they’re equally brilliant songwriters). I am incredibly jealous that you got to see Chilton live before we lost him—I would have been an absolute mess at that concert. How did they sound?
 
Last edited:

Alt-Wrong

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2019
Messages
11
Likes
11
Location
portland, oregon
I’m glad that someone else likes this little Kanex box! I too have found the multichannel selection to provide the highest sampling rates (not sure what their definition of “multichannel” is, but hey, it works). I’m using it currently to extract audio from a Sony BDP-x1000ES blu-ray/SACD player to the coaxial input on my Topping d90se, and with the “DSEE Extreme” upsampling engine engaged, I’m getting 88.2khz on Red Book CDs, 176.4khz on SACDs and 96khz on Blu Ray Audio, and to my ears it sounds great—although I’ve never seen any formal measurements of Sony’s upsampling tech.

You’re the first person to say a word about my Big Star avatar! Don’t even get me started, I prefer not to think of my life without Chris Bell or Alex Chilton (particularly the latter, although I think they complement each other every bit as much as Lennon/McCartney or Difford/Tilbrook and think they’re equally brilliant songwriters). I am incredibly jealous that you got to see Chilton live before we lost him—I would have been an absolute mess at that concert. How did they sound?
hi bear- i can only find info on UBP-x1000es, is that what you have? i don’t know if DSEE is doing anything other than upsampling x2, but by going thru the haecoax everything gets padded up to 24-bit (that wasn’t before), which could help the the topping perform a little better. that topping is part of the latest generation of even-better noise/jitter dac performers. my (now sold) auralic vega was a generation before, and the lavry da11 even another generation earlier. the vega could still make just about any digital source sound good, but the lavry benefits from help here and there. using an audiophilleo2 w/purepower to handle usb, then into the lavry‘s spdif input is far better than using lavry’s own usb input. i also use a monarchy audio digital interface processor (DIP) 24/96 when taking the coax out from the haecoax, and let the DIP do some old-school PLL-type de-jittering, then use its aes/ebu out into the lavry’s trans-coupled/galv-iso’d aes/ebu input. it’s all highly un-sexy, but i really like the lavry’s “high-rez reel-to-reel” very natural “creamy” un-digital sound, as well as its headphone out. but i use it mainly as a dac/pre-amp to feed a pro amplifier (380wts/ch) to power my fairly inefficient Gradient Helsinki 1.5 speakers, which pretty much disappear as sound sources when i’ve done all those un-sexy tweaks.

…and now, on to the show…
the big star concert wasn’t unlike their Columbia: live at MU album, which also used Auer and Stringfellow from The Posies to fill out the rest of the band. those two were the “opening act”, then Alex and Jody came out to join them to become Star. a lot of the same songs from that album were played, and a very good time was had by all. glad you mentioned difford/tilbrook, as those guys are melody/hooks/lyrics boozy funsters.

cheers
 

BlackJub

New Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2022
Messages
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0
Having an odd issue with my X18. As I turn the volume up from 22 to 21 there is a dropout, a change in sound, and a shift in the image. Anybody else run across this?
Hi,
I am having the exact same issue. Did you find any way to fix it?
(Contacted Gustard by email, waiting for their answer)
 

BlackJub

New Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2022
Messages
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0
Hi,
I am having the exact same issue. Did you find any way to fix it?
(Contacted Gustard by email, waiting for their answer)
Small follow-up, here is the Gustard support reply:
Yes, this is analog volume decay. It can effectively reduce the loss caused by digital volume attenuation. It is a normal phenomenon, please use it with confidence.
 
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