GUSTARD H10 High-current Discrete Class A Stage Headphone Amplifier

General Information

Technical Specifications:
Signal Input: 2x XLR female, balance
2x RCA, unbalanced
AC115V/230V international voltage input
Maximum input level: +21 dBu, impedance 10kohm
Input impedance: XLR: 10kohm, RCA: 68kohm
Input Sensitivity: +6 dBu
Main amplifier gain: +8 dB
Main amplifier gain adjustment range: -4 / +2 / +8 / +14 / +20 dB
Frequency response: 0-55kHz (-0.5dB)
Damping Factor:> 400 @ 50ohm
Dynamic range:> 128dB (A-weighted)
Background noise:

Latest reviews

Pros: Good build quality; Good sound as stock, and excellent sound after the Burson op-amp upgrade; Lots of power; Balanced and Single Ended inputs
Cons: No front switch for Balanced/Single Ended inputs


I bought the full Gustard Stack early this year, after long work of selection and long time spent reading the corresponding threads on head-fi as well as other sources.
The stack is composed of the U12 (a USB interface), the X12 DAC and the H10 headphone amplifier.
Recently I upgraded the H10 with a full Burson V5-OPA-D / V5-OPA-S op-amp Kit. I used both the single "S" and the Dual "D" series of the OP-AMPs. A total of four pieces, to be clear.
TL;DR: An AMAZING upgrade for an already very good amplifier!




Associated Equipment, including Hardware and Software



Dedicated Mini PC with Intel Atom D510 1.66GHz (dual core, Hyper Threading)
Hardware: Supermicro X7SPA-H mainboard
Hardware: Linear PSU from italian brand ZetaGi (set @12V)
Hardware: 1x1GB + 1x2GB RAM
Software: Currently running Ubuntu Server 15.04, 64bit, Low Latency Kernel
Software: MPD (Music Player Daemon -
Software: UPMPDCli (Upnp Renderer plugin for MPD -


Schiit Wyrd
Gustard U12 USB Interface
Gustard X12 DAC
Gustard H10 Headphone AMP
Burson V5-OPA-D
Burson V5-OPA-S

Additional software

Windows 7 desktop PC, used to run GMPC/Cantata as MPD clients and Linn Kinsky/Kazoo as UpNP control point
BubbleUpNP on Android as UpNP control point
Another Debian-based Linux box is dedicated to file sharing (via Samba and via MinimServer, a UpNP server) 


USB Cables: Audioquest Cinnamon 0.75m
HDMI Cable (I2S): Ricable HDMI Supreme F1
Balanced Cables: Neo By Oyaide D+ XLR


Headphones: Sennheiser HD650; Sennheiser Momentum On Ear; Denon AH1001; Yamaha HP-3 (Orthodynamic, modded)

The setup

All listening tests were made using the mentioned dedicated Linux box with mpd, either with the mediation of upmpdcli or natively.
The Linux box also benefits of a Schiit Wyrd, which supposedly "cleans" the usb signal and has its own separated power supply, isolating the DAC from the noisy PC environment. 
In my experience, the use of the Schiit Wyrd is very effective, altough the improvement is less evident when used before a dedicated interface like the Gustard U12. I consider the Schiit Wyrd one of my best audio purchases ever.
I find the Linux setup so clearly superior to the Windows counterpart that I do use the latter only occasionally: the Gustard X12 is connected via usb to the desktop PC, while the Gustard U12 is connected to the Linux box, with the Schiit Wyrd in the middle.
I also used upsampling @352.4kHz and @384kHz with sox, alternated with a more native configuration (a.k.a. bit perfect).

The Tracks

For this review, I mostly used the following tracks:
Carlos Santana - 'Aqua Marine' from 'The Ultimate Collection'
Miles Davis - 'So What' from the 1959 album 'Kind of blue', purchased on HDTracks (24bit/192kHz)
Eric Clapton - 'Tears in Heaven', 'Running on Faith', 'Layla', and really most tracks from the 'Unplugged' album
Dire Straits - 'Money for nothing' and 'Brothers in Arms' from the omonimous album; 'Fade to Black', 'Planet of New Orleans', 'My Parties' from the album 'On Every Street'
Janine Jansen - 'Le quattro stagioni' (Antonio Vivaldi), purchased on HDTracks (24bit/96kHz)
Rebecca Pidgeon - '24 hours of love', 'Primitive Man' from the album 'The New York Girl's Club', also purchased on HDTracks (16bit/44.1kHz only, sadly)
Sting - 'Consider me gone', Moon over Bourbon street', 'Fortress around your heart' from the album 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'; 'They dance alone', 'Little wing', 'History will teach us nothing' from the album '... Nothing like the sun'
Sting - 'A thousand years' from the album 'Brand New Day'.
All the tracks come from flac files ripped from my precious personal CD collection with Exact Audio Copy, except when otherwise noted (HDTracks downloads).
Of course other tracks were used, these being the most relevant ones.

The Listening

The H10 is currently my best headphone amp. I like it a lot. It has the power to drive my current headphones (the best being the Sennheiser HD650) effortlessly. It can also drive my vintage Yamaha HP-3 (orthodynamic) quite well.
Before the H10, I was using the headphone output of the Yulong D200 DAC/Amp. Switching to the Gustard U12/X12/H10 has been a very relevant upgrade, in terms of both transparency of the DAC and output power of the amplifier.
My favourite albums now sound smooth and lush, and more dynamic than before. Also detail retrieval is on higher levels than with the Yulong D200 (a unit I still love though).
I never noticed any channel imbalance, even at low volumes. 
The H10 is very equilibrate, not bright, but not even too dark. 
The bass impact is notable but not bloated or muddy; instead, I would say it's precise and tight. Also, the bass response is tight even with low-impedance headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear: those phones may sound quite muddy if the amplifier has high output impedance. For example, they don't sound good with the SMSL SAP-III, which in reality is targeted to high-impedance headphones only.
There is a good extension on higher frequencies (as far as I my hearing can sense) with no harshness.
Quite a nice amp though. 
Then the Burson Op-Amps came in.
Here you can find some photos (already show on this post:


The installation has been very simple and straightforward.
So, what changed?
Well, pretty much everything, and for better!
The most obvious enhancements are, IMO, in clarity and smoothness. Details are not lost in this smoothness, and instead I actually noticed more details than with the stock op-amps.
Every track I played is now more 'live', more real and definitely more natural. 
All the tracks from the album 'Unplugged' by Eric Clapton have never sounded so natural and detailed to my ears. Toe-tapping and the sense of rhythm is at its best.
The bass on the beginning of the track 'A thousand years' from Sting's album 'Brand New Day' is simply amazing now.
I realize how good the H10 sounds also by the fact I need less volume to enjoy good sound. This, IMO, indicates a clearly better clarity level given by the Burson Supreme V5 Op-Amp sets.
It's like having a completely new amp!!!
Don't get me wrong, I still think the H10 is a complete bargain. The thing is that with these op-amps it really reaches a new level.
The good thing is that you can start (relatively) cheap and upgrade it very easily.

Final thoughts 

The H10 is a wonderful amplifier. It can drive pretty much every headphone, maybe with the exclusion of the Hifiman HE-6: anyway those headphones are on the extreme of the range.
It will deliver hours of pleasure and will let you discover again your music collection. At a price lower than 400USD, it is really a no-brainer: I think you will not regret it.
With the Burson Supreme V5 Op-Amps, it becomes even better, under every possible aspect. 
This amp has a good number of fans (myself included). You can find a dedicated thread on head-fi at this URL:
Well the d200 is the unit I would still buy if I were looking for a dac/amp combo. Great value.
I bought a new dac also because the d200 nos happily lives on another system.
That said, the custard stack is superior IMO, but again the D200 is very good too.
Ah ok. i guess i'll stick with my original plan and get the X20 upgrade later on & keep the D200 as a dac amp combo. Thanks!
If you dont mind me asking how much did the upgrade cost in parts. And 4 years later do you srill feel strongly about this headphone amp
Pros: SQ, Price, Build Quality, Gain Options
Cons: Quality Control, Hard to find Stateside
The H10 from Gustard is the best solid state amplifier I've heard that retails for under $500. It's better than most that retail for under $1000. This thing deserves a quality review so here it is!
The Breakdown:
Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):
Limit to Your Love - James Blake - James Blake
What About Me, Kite, Lingus - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here
Faith, I Want You Back - Lake Street Dive - Fun Machine
Prelude from Cello Suite #4 - Yo Yo Ma
Hot for Teacher - Van Halen - 1984
The Table - Chris Tomlin - Love Ran Red
Make It Mine - Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
Fugue, from Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Ben Britten - Simon Rattle and the BPO
MBP running Fidelia > DacMagic 100
Sound: Powerful and clean.
Bass: Textured and punchy. The low end on the H10 is just awesome! Very linear, very natural, and very impactful. Kick drums have not just presence, but palpable weight! Bass guitars in the Snarky Puppy and Lake Street tunes are incredibly well-textured and deep! I never felt like I was missing a thing in the low end from this amp. My main headphone is the HE500 and to really capitalize on it's extremely linear bass response, you need some healthy current from a stout amplifier. Enter the H10. Check out the LSD tune:

Mids: Rich. Seeing as how this amp isn't particularly colored (maybe just a hair on the warm side), there's not much to say about the midrange. It's just clean. Vocals are very present in all the vocal test tunes and the rich, lush tones of Ma's cello come through as naturally as I've ever heard. That's all I have to say about that. 
Treble: Clean and clear! Just like Windex baby! Solid state amps often get a bad rap for being too cold in their sound and this usually manifests itself the most in the upper range. Trebles are too far forward and come off as abrasive and unnatural. Let me tell you - not the case here. The texture on guitar slides in "Make is Mine" and "Kite" are great. I can hear everything. Rachel's vocals in the George Michael cover sound oh-so natural and clean. Not a trace of sibilance or artificiality. Could not be happier with how controlled and natural the upper end sounds on the HE500s. Well done Gustard!
Soundstage/Imaging/Separation: Superb. The power this amp can throw is commanding and clean which also means that it can cleanly differentiate between all instruments, spaces, and musicians in the mix. Nice wide soundstage that never seems unnatural or distorted. Front to back imaging is great, especially on the classical end of things. Being able to pick up on these sorts of things is what makes this hobby fun for me. Glad to see that I can do that without having to sell a liver!

Aesthetics/Build Quality/Accessories: Amp looks great. Very sturdy and clean looking and feeling. No unneeded text or frills, which if you ask me, is something we should be seeing more of... Nice big volume control, easy to reach and read inputs on the back (including a slew of gain options). Not really anything to say about packaging or accessories, as well, there aren't any! Just a box and power cord. No paperwork, no nothing! Heaven forbid you get a faulty unit!
Qualms: Here's the device's only con. Quality control. Even though this amp represents an incredible bang for your buck, that's no excuse to let units with poorly turning volume pots, or faulty power buttons out of the factory. Mine was purchased secondhand and the volume turned unevenly because the internal rod was warped. I realize that these aren't all premium parts, but having issues like this make an otherwise top-tier feeling amp feel like it's price tag. A little disappointing. 
Final Thoughts: I'll spell it out for you. If you don't want to mess with tubes and you already have a DAC, the Gustard H10 should be on your short list. It's inexpensive, built like a tank, versatile, powerful, and just sounds great. Better than Asgard, better than O2, better than Conductor, and just about anything else I've heard that retails for under $5-700. It's various gain settings means it can play well just just about everything, especially planars! I cannot recommend this little beast enough for anyone looking for a solid state desktop solution!
Nice review. Can anyone compare the H10 to the Corda Jazz? 
Great review! At the +- $250 used price it is a real bargain. Add some Burson V4/V5s opamps - now it's in a different league. Fantastic value imho.
And I had just talked myself out of buying one. Great review, I am now pressing "Buy It Now"!


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