Pros: very natural, revealing and spacious sound; innovative and upgradable design
Cons: USB interface is not as good as competing DACs; relay clicking and track cut-off on sample rate changes
- Gumby brings a nice step up from the Matrix. I wouldn't call it a night and day difference, but more like a step up to the next level. More fuller sound, easier to feel the space and presence of a live recording. Highs have less digititis to them, less fatigue, but more detail! Bass is more precise, especially with the Regen. Instruments sound more realistic. Even though there is less digititus, it is still there if you compare to analog sources (90s Sony tape deck, Music Hall MMF-5 turntable). I wonder if "leftover" digititis is coming from transport/USB issues or from the source mastering/ADC.
- Auralic Vega and Ayre QB9 are closer in overall sound to Matrix than Gumby. They're more refined and more resolving than Matrix, but still, overall sound is very close to the Matrix. This makes the value proposition of Vega or QB9 as quite poor, since the Matrix is nearly as good at a fraction of the price. Gumby is better than all three.
- Don't care for the lack of DSD since I often use EQ and crossfeed/headphone DSPs that have to be processed in the PCM domain. For my use case, DSD is worse than PCM since the roundtrip(s) between PCM and DSD would add distortions and high frequency noise that has to be filtered.
- DAC clicking on sample rate changes were a bit annoying so I minimized them by upsampling 44.1/88.2 to 176.4KHz and 48/96 to 192KHz (SoX VHQ minimum phase).
- It seems that Schiit USB Gen 2 is the weakest link of Gumby. Uptone Audio's Regen gives a very nice improvement to its overall performance, like Gumby on steroids. Gumby benefits from Regen more than the Matrix. If only someone would design a USB DAC interface that would make transport jitter/voodoo/etc irrelevant, as long as bits come in bitperfect. Reclock, regenerate, isolate, buffer, re-do everything in that schiity USB.
Headphones: HD800 with Toxic Cable Black Widow, Oppo PM-3
Amplifier: Bryston BHA-1
Transport: Windows 7, Foobar2000, MusicBee in WASAPI exclusive mode
Power: Furman IT Reference 7 balanced isolation transformer
USB: Uptone Audio Regen