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Initial Data On The Dual-AK4499-Based Gustard DAC-A22

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#1
I've been in the market for a new DAC, specifically one that supports i2s-over-HDMI (for my new Oppo modification) & also AES3 (for a Panasonic DAT unit). Since the new AK4499 IC is rolling out with some really nice theoretical specs, I thought I'd wait for an implementation of it. It seems like everyone is waiting for the Topping D90 & assuming that will be the first AK4499 implementation (myself included); however, it looks like Gustard might be out the door first with the DAC-A22 as preorders just came up on ShenzhenAudio.

What really bugs me about Gustard is the fact that the company has near-zero presence. They have no dedicated website, social media, or, in general, contact information. So I wanted to do some research on the company. Thanks to some of the folks on the DAC-X26 thread, I discovered that their storefront is on TaoBao...but what I also discovered is that all the listings on ShenzhenAudio, while being almost word for word identical/translated to that on TaoBao, are completely stripped from the rather nice measurements that Gustard makes publicly available! And wouldn't you know it, they had data on their upcoming DAC-A22! I thought I'd share this data with you guys as the first example of AP data from an AK4499-based device. One thing to note is that Gustard DAC-A22 uses a AK4499 for each channel (2 x AK4499) & a discrete class-A output stage (no opamps), but drops the DAC-X26's discrete SHARC DSP (and the price!)

1K FFT with some nice looking harmonics:


THD+N which (in an unusual move) decreases above 6kHz and looks much better than the wonky ES9038PRO:


A-weighted SNR of ~-128dbA


While not record setting, these readings are great!

Since all these measurements are supplied by Gustard, I thought there could be some bias. However, if we compare the measurements between Amir's measurements of the DAC-X26 to Gustard's measurements on their TaoBao listing of the DAC-X26...

Amir's:


Gustard:


We can see that all of Gustard's DAC-X26 measurements equal or perform worse than Amir's. I would like to believe we can trust the DAC-A22 measurements as a result.

All in all, while performance of a DAC is heavily dependent upon circuit design; hopefully, the Gustard DAC-A22 is indicative of the performance of other upcoming AK4499-based products!

What do my Audio Science Review friends think? Will AKM once again become the choice for next gen DAC designs?

Sources:
DAC-A22 TaoBao listing: https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?sp...17995500133.27.4b20401aj99a9Q&id=607536370396


DAC-X26 TaoBao listing: https://world.taobao.com/item/586482347218.htm

Amir's review of the DAC-X26: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...iew-and-measurements-of-gustard-dac-x26.7007/

EDIT: Looks like @Tks posted a video with some measurements of the Topping D90 a couple days ago so it looks like this isn't the first AK4499 DAC data out there...but it is interesting none-the-less.
 
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#3
Any listening impressions about this A22 dac?
No, it is unlikely anyone other than Wolf has due these still being in the "pre-order" stage months after the expected release date. It is likely none have shipped. Perhaps they are using the feedback from Wolf and others in the greater Shenzhen area to improve the product before widespread release! (At least that is what I'm telling myself :) )
 
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#4
Does anyone know whether the Gustard's are able to select between the XLR and RCA output? Or are both always on at the same time

In an ideal world, the XLR could be varaible and the RCA output could be configurable to DAC only and you could choose between. Then the XLRs connect to studio monitors and the RCAs to a headphone amp.

Noone seems to have realised this would be useful yet, Topping and SMSL are close but not quite at this level of performance!
 
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JohnYang1997

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#5
Does anyone know whether the Gustard's are able to select between the XLR and RCA output? Or are both always on at the same time

In an ideal world, the XLR could be varaible and the RCA output could be configurable to DAC only and you could choose between. Then the XLRs connect to studio monitors and the RCAs to a headphone amp.

Noone seems to have realised this would be useful yet, Topping and SMSL are close but not quite at this level of performance!
What did you mean by performance?
 
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#6
Well, the analogue output of A22 is full class A which sounds nicer than OP Amps and a SINAD of 128 compared to the D90's 122.

Also has complete dual DAC circuitry including dual transformers.

I imagine all this adds up to a better sound than a topping D90, but the topping can select between RCA and XLR output
 
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JohnYang1997

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#7
Well, the analogue output of A22 is full class A which sounds nicer than OP Amps and a SINAD of 128 compared to the D90's 122.

Also has complete dual DAC circuitry including dual transformers.

I imagine all this adds up to a better sound than a topping D90.
Opamp sounding worse than class A is a myth. In contrast often time discrete designs suffer from higher distortion, and especially at high frequencies.
On the SINAD. 128dB of A22 here is SNR not SINAD. SINAD of A22 is only 116dB. And SNR is actually 124 instead of 128dB.
source: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-gustard-daca22-4499-first-show-at-asr.10146/

D90 has 14dB lower individual distortion harmonics than A22 and 6dB better SINAD.
 

Veri

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Opamp sounding worse than class A is a myth. In contrast often time discrete designs suffer from higher distortion, and especially at high frequencies.
On the SINAD. 128dB of A22 here is SNR not SINAD. SINAD of A22 is only 116dB. And SNR is actually 124 instead of 128dB.
source: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-gustard-daca22-4499-first-show-at-asr.10146/

D90 has 14dB lower individual distortion harmonics than A22 and 6dB better SINAD.
D90 looks simply better than A22. Honestly.
 
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