@Jeep as much as i like the netherlands more than my own country (and folk more often than i like to say) i dont get why you throw out so many racistic hints to "the German" since there is no such clishee thing in reality.
Sure i like precision and accuracy. And of course not being involved in trying to scam the customs of their taxes which these chinese sellers do when they declare it wrong. It can lead to alot of problems in this country here. And higher costs anyway as when everything is right. Im not speaking about 0.00x Euro but a few hundred Euro are a whole different story.
And i got this "Valab" DAC now after a long journey and a lot of problems with ebay / customs. The high praised Vintage Audio Seller didnt care anyway.
So this non labled Valab Dac has a big name on it on the front as expected which is "GUSTARD" and some other crap like "full balanced digital audio compress" and "Dac-X10". The Backside is also full of letters and the model name Dac-X.
So beside your racism to Germans cause of the 2nd worldwar as you said they sent the wrong unit and not the Valab DAC but the Gustard Version of it. Which means you are wrong with your pro Valab assumptions. ...I dont want to join the racism ride since i have nothing to do with that at all.
Not even my grandfather had may he RIP.
But i recommend you to read some books or try a psychologist since racism is often only a compensation of deeper problems.
(edit 24.11.13 : Did the admins remove some of your 2nd worldwar racistic statements or did you?)
Review starts here:
Anyway let me try to describe this Gustard aka Valab Dac X-10 for the people who are curious here.
After switching from 110 V to 220 V by a friend who knows about electronics more than me i have connected it with my XLR SC Galileo 238 cables to my Genelec Monitors.
Im using a double ferrit core USB cable to connect the DAC directly to an USB 3.0 port of my notebook. After easy installation of the drivers which were in the package i let it burn in the whole night.
Before i start my comparison let me tell you who are interested in this Dac that the Valab and the Gustard are slightly different from the quality. For example the non labled version shall be using a better masterclock with 100.000 Mhz while the Gustard only has a 80.000 Mhz one inside. The Gustard looks in reality a bit cheaper than on the pics not only cause the display is different and looks like a gameboy greyish display but black like on the pics. Also the rubber feet are not even. The Gustard Dac X-10 needs corrections to not drop to one or the other side (sry for my english).
All together it doesnt look as valuable / elegant as on the pics but ok... The cheaper ES9018 i own looks better.
Comparing: M-Dac vs Gustard aka Valab Dac X-10 vs No Name ES9018 from Minishow0328
Soundstage: First i like my M-Dac for its great soundstage and dont think any Dac but maybe the X-Sabre can reach that in a near pricerange. The Gustard X-10 cant compete in this theritory with my M-Dac at all and even lose slightly vs the cheap ES9018 from minishow0328 i bought before.
Neutrality: This on the other hand is a pure win for the Gustard Dac X-10. I never heard a more neutral Dac than this one. The M-Dac adds some kind of signature to every music no matter what source or quality it has while i feel the X-10 is as neutral as it can get. The No Name ES9018 also adds some kind of colouring to the sound but more subtile than the M-Dac id say.
Musical: Well this is hard to say even in a pure subjective perspective. The X-10 is so neutral it depends heavily on the record id say. If the record is good or very good the musicality of this Dac is "good". When i compare the same good record on my M-Dac it sounds more pleasing more living but less natural and less neutral. The cheap ES9018 is on the lose side here. Its musicality is still good but the other 2 are better by a decent amount (depending on record ofc).
Sound Spectrum (Mid/High/Low): No Name ES9018 is the loser here.
Highs can get a bit harsh, mids a bit dull and lows not as fast and accurate as the other 2. But i compare 3 ES9018 so its still better than most DACs with older chips like Wolfsons. The X-10 has near perfect highs while the M-Dac has a not too low colouring to make the highs sound pleasing. In some tracks and specially at classic music i prefer the M-Dac because the X-10 is for the price very good for Highs but can hurt depending on the tracks. For recordings it might be better to use the X-10 tho.
For pure Listening id say M-Dac wins in Highs.
Mids are best on the M-Dac too even with the slight colouring. Again for recording id say the X-10 might be better cause its more natural and non pleasing. No Name Dac is nearly the same as the X-10 in mids id say.
Lows are the thing for the X-10. The lows are more precice and faster than on both other Dacs. The deeper it gets on my Genelec Sub the better in favor for the X-10. The M-Dac sounds a bit dull on the lows the deeper it gets and the No Name ES9018 is not exactly as precise as the X-10 but surprisingly better than the M-Dac.
Stereo Imaging: This is where the M-Dac slightly wins vs the X-10 but only marginally or not to say they might be even. The No Name ES9018 is also slightly better than the X-10 and my measurements tell me my ears are still very good.
DSD / DXD: This cant be compared cause only the X-10 can do it (somehow). After installing the DSD plugin in foobar i tested some classics with 352khz (best i could find) and yes it is audible better than CD or even 192khz. Specially in classic music its very nice and makes the illusion of sitting in a room where the violins are on the right side and the trumpets on the left side even more realistic than on the other 2 DACs at ofc lower res.
Problem with the Gustard at higher than 96khz sample rates! When you set it to 192khz there are dropouts every now and then. It sounds like a hicup and is maybe caused by the lower masterclock contrary to the advertised 100.000 Mhz they offer. I can only think of the 80.000 Mhz clock of the Gustard Version has problems with that high sample rates. Any suggestions are welcome to fix that. I tried every buffer and latency setting and couldnt get rid of it.
Fazit: In neutrality and non-colouring the X-10 wins vs both Dacs hands down. But when it comes to pure listening the M-Dac is more pleasing my ears and the No Name ES9018 is somewhere in the middle. I think the biggest advantage of the X-10 vs many other Dacs specially for the price is not for Hi Fi listening but for the Studio where you need as neutral and precise output as possible specially in the low end.
Dont get me wrong its not clinical or what people tend to say in other threads its just that what got recorded and how it can sound without colouring. Maybe cause its discrete and no opamps i dunno.
If you cant afford the X-Sabre and need higher res than the M-Dac at a higher neutrality the X-10 is good for you. I wouldnt buy it again and if anyone want to buy it for the price i paid im glad to get rid of it and buy the X-Sabre for not even double the price (including taxes).
Please no more stupid racism - questions about the DAC are welcome of course.
Edited by Lyra5 - 11/24/13 at 12:53pm