Gustard Amplifiers and DACs
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BassDigger

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  I will agree with you that the H10 is a value for the money amp but everyone here talks endlessly about how great it is, especially with low impedance planar magnetic headphones. Also I didn't have much a choice with the amp in this case. I got a really good deal on a site called massdrop where I got the LCD-X with the H10 and I ended up getting the H10 for free sooo it was tough to pass up. And I'm just going to hope that my experience with the X's differs from your 2's.  But I am looking forward to learning about your testing new amps
 
 
You've previously mentioned knowing nothing about audio. This kind of suggests that you also lack experience with audio (hifi) gear. So, if that's the case, I doubt that your experience, with the Audeze phones, will mimic mine; I'm sure that you'll be very happy, and will feel that there's nothing missing. I'm just saying, that despite much adoration, the amp is not perfect, and that other amps will reproduce a noticeably more resolved treble, than the H10.
Although, one user has just reported (on the other thread) a marked improvement with the treble, by swapping op-amps.
 
Whatever, I'm sure that you'll have plenty of fun and the H10 is an excellent starting point, for planar 'phone amp experimentation, especially if it's for free. 
 
 
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post-11871637
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stuartmc

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I tried+failed to do the free registration on taobao.  The phone texting verification doesn't fly.
I emailed Tanly and name-dropped Stuartmc in the subject line.
 
$450 does indeed seem like a lot for a Chinese transport.  PUC2 (AES) is the same price.
But if I2S is the name of the game, and this unit will compete with a $1500 Hydra-Z + power module then I suppose the pricing is on par.
 
I'm following your lead Stuart.  I hope I don't spend much time on an HDMI cable hamster wheel.
With regard to HDMI cables and I2S, I have found that the short lengths aren't necessarily the best.  I had a .5M length of Pangea silver and a 1.5m length of Analysis Plus was far superior.  The Analysis Plus HDMI CL2 didn't even use any special copper or pixie dust, just very well built 24 AWG stuff.  I also had a Neotech cable and a few no-name hdmi's of various lengths. The Analysis Plus CL2 sounded better than any of them.  It does make me wonder about how I2S is implemented in the Gustard gear.
 
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post-11871708
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Jozurr

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You've previously mentioned knowing nothing about audio. This kind of suggests that you also lack experience with audio (hifi) gear. So, if that's the case, I doubt that your experience, with the Audeze phones, will mimic mine; I'm sure that you'll be very happy, and will feel that there's nothing missing. I'm just saying, that despite much adoration, the amp is not perfect, and that other amps will reproduce a noticeably more resolved treble, than the H10.
Although, one user has just reported (on the other thread) a marked improvement with the treble, by swapping op-amps.
 
Whatever, I'm sure that you'll have plenty of fun and the H10 is an excellent starting point, for planar 'phone amp experimentation, especially if it's for free. 
 
 
What are you currently using as your amp and have you modified it in some way? I'm asking because I dig bass too 

 
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post-11871946
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Wynnytsky

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  With regard to HDMI cables and I2S, I have found that the short lengths aren't necessarily the best.  I had a .5M length of Pangea silver and a 1.5m length of Analysis Plus was far superior.  The Analysis Plus HDMI CL2 didn't even use any special copper or pixie dust, just very well built 24 AWG stuff.  I also had a Neotech cable and a few no-name hdmi's of various lengths. The Analysis Plus CL2 sounded better than any of them.  It does make me wonder about how I2S is implemented in the Gustard gear.
I don't doubt it.  The only time I saw an issue with length was when I needed a 2nd USB cable for my iFi iUSB.  The cable entering the iFi has to be damn short or else no hand shake.  My friend uses a 9ft whiplash polestar which I always anticipated to become an issue but never was.  I'm loving my 4 meter BlueJean AES, but XLR is designed for long runs.
 
Last night I heard a 2m mapleshade vivilink 2 plus with only 2hours of break in and it was very impressive.  Where ordinary cables come in a plastic jacket, this thing comes in a fuzzy sweater (really, it's yarn).  For less than stellar recordings that got bright I would switch inputs to AES and ahhh it rounded the edges just the right amount without any roll off or dips in frequency response.  I can see myself wanting a remote on the X20U to jump inputs from the listening position.  Also tried the Audioquest Vodka which sounded excellent in my friends system, but had the tone all wrong in mine.  Next we'll be trying out a Harmonic Tech cable and I'd like to try the monoprice redmere again (didn't hand shake the first time).  Also expecting the PUC2 next week (and I forgot which AES he ordered).  It's nice having a trigger happy audiophile friend!
 
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post-11872644
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stuartmc

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@stuartmc, does your X20U play DSD ? Please, let me know.

There is no way for me. I  think i tried every possible set up, getting always the same playback error "could not query sample rate". I installed the latest ASIO Proxy driver v0.8.1

Another question about the SACD menu: is it normal that those three voices out of five become inactive after skipping the output mode from PCM to DSD ??? No matter what file i’m going to play, it stays as you can see here: http://i1230.photobucket.com/albums/ee483/Uomo_Avvisato/Videoproiettore/Problema%20foobar%20ASIO%20DSD%203_zps67l8dvex.png .

Thanks

Yes indeed, my X20 plays DSD. I'm using JRiver and also a modified Thysecon driver for my Tanly USB-DDC. To get DSD to play correctly is quite a dance between the JRiver settings and the chosen ASIO driver. I got the same sort of notices all the time before I got things set up properly. Make sure your ASIO driver can handle the type of DSD files your playing and then you're on your own depending on whatever player software you're using with it. You're going to have to Google the crap out of it to get the right configuration information.
 
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post-11872655
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BassDigger

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  With regard to HDMI cables and I2S, I have found that the short lengths aren't necessarily the best.  I had a .5M length of Pangea silver and a 1.5m length of Analysis Plus was far superior.  The Analysis Plus HDMI CL2 didn't even use any special copper or pixie dust, just very well built 24 AWG stuff.  I also had a Neotech cable and a few no-name hdmi's of various lengths. The Analysis Plus CL2 sounded better than any of them.  It does make me wonder about how I2S is implemented in the Gustard gear.
 
That's the thing; I was always told that I2S runs have to be kept short. This seemed to be for a normal (whatever that is) I2S signal, the same as the internal transport to dac connection in a CD player.
 
I understand that there are different signals and protocols being used today. But they're all called I2S. This is confusing. Maybe some of them are ok over longer lengths.
Incidentally, I've also heard that short runs aren't so good for digital cables. Now it's even more confusing! 

 
Quote:
 
What are you currently using as your amp and have you modified it in some way? I'm asking because I dig bass too 
 
I'm sorry, I can't give you much help; I'm still looking for the right set-up. I'm using a standard H10. It has plenty of control and punch, for the bass. But I think that the lcd2 fazors roll-off the deepest notes.
Unfortunately, the standard H10 rolls-off the treble as well. Sometime, hopefully soon, i'll be testing what an op-amp swap will do for the overall sound.
 
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post-11872737
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Wynnytsky

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Hey, you're in luck. You do know that the X20u comes with a full function remote, right?
Now I have the Don Draper WFT face on
Why on earth would Gustard omit both the photo and the word "remote" from their listing?
 
 
Incidentally, I've also heard that short runs aren't so good for digital cables. Now it's even more confusing!
yup network and USB cables must fall within a certain length for the impedance to fall within some tolerable range.  And if the impedance isn't right the signal might bounce off the receiving end, and return to the start of the cable, where it bounces once again to return to the receiver a 2nd or 3rd time.  John Kenny was explaining how this happens with coax and he recommends a special inline filter at the end of the cable to stop these reflections (which I think constitute jitter).  What's crazy about this is that you can have an expensive AES cable who's impedance is exactly 110.000ohm, but your Yggy's AES input impedance might measure 107ohm, and so a $5 monoprice AES measuring 108ohm would have better synergy on your system!
 
I think the recommended minimum for network and USB is around 3 to 4ft.  I remember making a 4in ethernet cable and I couldn't figure out for the life of me why my internet was dropping intermittently.  A little googling and I see some suggestion of near and far end crosstalk when digital cables are too short/long.  I'll know next week if I screwed myself getting this 1ft hdmi cable.
 
Excellent 5 - if your reading this...
When you picked the output mode DSD you are telling JRiver that you DON'T want it to convert to PCM on the fly, because your DAC's hardware can handle DSD natively.
That's why the PCM parameters are being disabled.
 
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post-11872900
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post-11873247
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GioF71

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That's what I suggested you one week ago!
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/752522/gustard-amplifiers-and-dacs/390#post_11844976
 
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post-11873929
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@Gio, sorry: i mean that it started working with an old version (0.7.2); it doesn’t with the latest ones 0.7.3 and 0.8.1. I don't know why.
 
:)
 
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post-11874530
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GioF71

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@Gio, sorry: i mean that it started working with an old version (0.7.2); it doesn’t with the latest ones 0.7.3 and 0.8.1. I don't know why.
 
:)
 
Oops... this does not seem nice, keep us informed with your findings please
 
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post-11875986
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GioF71

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Replying here to avoid off topic on the H10 thread.
Original post is here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/735828/gustard-h10-high-current-discrete-class-a-output-stage-headphone-amplifier/2895#post_11801664
 
So this morning I finally did one test Rynsin asked me: I connected my U12 to the desktop PC, to verify which component gives the greater improvements
 
So the new chains were:
 
Chain 1)
Atom PC (linux, mpd + upmpdcli) with linear PSU -> AudioQuest USB -> Schiit Wyrd -> AudioQuest USB -> Gustard U12 -> HDMI I2S Ricable -> Gustard X12 -> Balanced -> Gustard H10 -> Sennheiser HD650
 
Chain 2)
Desktop Windows PC -> AQVox linear USB power -> AudioQuest USB -> Gustard U12 -> HDMI I2S Ricable -> Gustard X12 -> Balanced -> Gustard H10 -> Sennheiser HD650
 
Unfortunately, I did not remember to take the AQVox off the chain. More, I could not get the Wyrd working with the desktop PC, maybe due to the presence of the AQVox.
So, this test is not 100% what I meant to do. I will repeat it more accurately ASAP.
 
However, in this conditions, the difference is still very noticeable. Chain 1 sounds a lot better. IMO there is no contest.
Due to a mistake, I also tried Chain 1 without the Wyrd. It sounds very well anyway; when I connected the Wyrd, it appeared to me to have an improvement. I am pretty sure the Wyrd does not hurt even with the U12 dedicated interface.
 
I will try again with a more accurate test as I mentioned, as well as the final test with the X12 directly connected to the Atom PC.
 
Aside note: the Windows PC uses Foobar 2000 with ASIO (foo_dsd_asio). No directsound, no resampling, no DSPs active.
 
----------------
 
Edit: some typing errors.
 
 

 Quote:
  I believe the improvement in sound quality from the 1st setup mentioned above could be from any number of factors, but has nothing to do with how many tasks are running on either of the devices. Some of these factors that could be making your first system sound better could be the digital media player that it uses, the bit/sample-rate at which it's playing,  the fact that you are using both Wyrd and U12, and even the volume which being louder can actually make something sound better.
 
In all my approx. 20 years of listening to music with computers, I have never perceived one slightest inkling of difference on sound quality whether the computer is at an extremely low vs. extremely high CPU usage - except of course when the CPU / RAM gets full enough to the point that it causes audible stuttering or in-out signal loss. Otherwise, ALL modern computers use (vague approximation) about 30-50 processes / tasks, and around 2-3x more service running simultaneously - even the PC that you thought had only the digital media player running must have had at least half that many running concurrently. Modern computers are designed to be elaborate multi-tasking machines, and a simple digital audio player may only account for less than 1% of your computers' total processing power.
 
I will call this one a hypothesis, unless serious scientific testing is done with data show otherwise; -AND- if that difference is audible in a blind test.
 
Totally off-topic, but I wanted to point out that your approximation of 30-50 processes and 2-3x more services running is almost exactly spot on for a machine operating with ~8 applications open at once. On a Mac (or Linux, or nearly any *nix system), you can get an exact number by opening up a terminal and running "ps aux | wc -l". Currently, my machine has around 230 processes running at once.
 
I'm starting to write my own audio engine, so I've recently had some experience with possible factors that can influence playback. It's worth noting that audio playback itself is not a single process, but actually at least three simultaneous processes (although it may appear in programs like the task manager as a single application). One process* reads in your media (say FLAC) from your filesystem and pushes it to the decoder process. The decoder process decodes that FLAC file into PCM audio (similar to WAV format), and sends it to a mixer process. The mixer process accepts the PCM-encoded audio and sends to the hardware mixer, in this case over USB. If you have a spectral analyzer or a VU meter or another visualizer, that might be another link in the chain, or it might be computed in parallel.
 
Since processors are tasked with running over 200 simultaneous tasks at once, but generally only have 1 - 8 cores, the operating system will do something called "context switching." Essentially, the operating system will, thousands of times per second (potentially), "evict" a process from the CPU and swap in a process that has been waiting. By doing this extremely quickly, the operating system creates an illusion that all 200+ tasks are running at the same time.
 
So, if one is streaming 192Hz audio, which samples 192 times per second, couldn't such context switching be a problem if any of the three required processes aren't allowed to cycle at least 192 times per second? Absolutely. But, most good audio players tell the scheduler "hey, I'm a real-time media application playing at sample rate X" and the scheduler says "OK, I'll make sure you get enough time." And generally, the scheduler does this pretty well (it's worth noting that the scheduler used in the Linux kernel -- a multi-level queue with some advanced features -- is *substantially* better at doing this than the Windows scheduler). As DecentLevi noted, sometimes the computer gets so bogged down that the scheduler can't make its commitment, which generally happens when the computer experiences significant loads.
 
The Atom processor is a special case. It is designed to use extremely low power and is not very good at multi-tasking. Even running the scheduling algorithm itself can be stressful to these lightweight cores. They also tend to work with much lower voltage gaps (the amount of measured difference in a transistor to decide if a bit is a 0 or a 1), which makes them more susceptible to noise. This could potentially be a problem in an audio scenario, although I highly doubt it. Even these processes are executing cycles in gigahertz -- well above any sampling rate a human can discern. My only point here is that while a scheduler on a "full" CPU is almost certainly never going to give a media process less cycles than it needs unless the CPU is about to keel over. An Atom CPU, on the other hand... you can still be almost entirely certain, but not to the same extent.
 
Now, what kinds of degradation are actually possible? CPUs and RAM have ECC (error correcting codes) and a lot of fault-detection methods. Essentially, when a fault is detected, the required value is recomputed. That means that noise in an Atom system can result in a lot of redundant cycles, and a possible gap in the music. It is absolutely absurd to imply that the bits coming out of the USB could be any different. So the degradation from load on a machine (or noise in the power supply) is only going to show itself as either "skips" or "gaps" in the music, or as sub-discrete noise in the USB connection itself (which your Wyrd will take care of).
 
GioF71, it seems like you know what's going on computer wise (MPD + Linux) -- I'd love to get your opinion. And of course anyone else in the thread as well. :)
 
* I say process here, but more than likely they are implemented as threads.
 
 
   
Hello, while I cannot give a final answer, I can share my current experience with the Gustard X12 DAC.
The DAC is currently connected to 2 distinct computers:
 
1) Dedicated music player (ubuntu server + mpd + upmpdcli) with a dedicated Linear PSU, FT 146 from italian brand ZetaGI
Atom PC with ubuntu server/mpd/upmpdcli -> AudioQuest Cinnamon USB 0.75m -> Schiit Wyrd -> AudioQuest Cinnamon USB 0.75m -> Gustard U12 -> Ricable 0.5m HDMI Cable (italian brand again) -> Gustard X12 
 
2) General purpose PC (i5 3300K IIRC)
PC -> AQVox linear USB PSU -> Audioquest Cinnamon USB 1.5m -> Gustard X12.
 
The DAC is then connected (via XLR) to a Gustard H10 which I use to drive my current best headphones, a pair of Sennheiser HD650. All listening impressions are done with these headphones.
Also, a desktop amplifier (SMSL SA50) is connected via RCA to the X12. I am using JBL Control One speakers.
 
Well, the first chain sounds quite a lot better than the second.
 
As you can see, there are more differences than the simple usb vs hdmi connection, last but not least the fact the pc is dedicated to playing music. No other tasks are running on that pc.
I have found that using a general purpose PC for playing music is very detrimental to the listening experience, especially if you do stuff (browsing, but especially, in my case, heavy file transfering/manipulation).
I don't consider using software like fidelify or similar because I think they simply defeat the idea of using a general purpouse pc, so I set-up this dedicated linux machine instead.
 
Anyway for clarification, I can tell you the first chain sounds better than the second even when nothing but foobar is running on the desktop PC. The difference is more subtle, but it's still there.
 
 
My .02€
 
 
EDIT: some corrections
 
 
Alright... I have to ask about the cinnamon cables. Bits are bits. I thought the AudioQuest argument was that traditional USB cables pushed additional noise into the DAC via sub-discrete variations in the single. If that's the case, then why run Computer -> Expensive USB -> Wyrd -> Expensive USB -> Gustard when doing Computer -> Regular USB -> Wyrd -> Expensive USB -> Gustard would produce the same results? Can you tell the difference?
 
Dedicated linear PSU and the MPD setup is sweet. I've been thinking of building something like that for a long time now in a MicroITX (MiniITX? I can never remember...) case, but I would grab a more powerful CPU.
 
   
There are surely more factors differentiating the two setups, but I can definitely hear differences (for worse) depending on cpu load. This may not be due to cpu load, but from more than normal noise generated by ethernet adapter, hard disks (though there are SSDs on the PC) and whatever. I just don't know what is the exact cause.
 
But the result is a distinct degradation of the sound quality.
The player does work under load. Jitter and transmission errors probably rise in such conditions.
Maybe some expert can give us a better explaination.
 
I simply do not believe in A/B comparisons.
I know I can clearly spot when my system is playing mp3 instead of (real) lossless. My wife always ends up choosing some crappy mp3s and I immediately recognize how bad they sound.
 
But under A/B test conditions if A is very close to B I end up trying to focus on some details, so I tend to get it wrong after a few iterations. 
So I think it's a waste of time. At least for me :)
 
 
You're going to have to explain the A/B testing bit to me. I understand trying to "overfocus" and getting the wrong answer, but it still seems like some kind of blind testing is required to differentiate between confirmation bias ("I feel good about my setup, so now I will hear better things." Kind of like how food you cook yourself tastes better regardless...).
 
Have you tried A/B/X testing?
 
 
   
Well the dedicated computer is an Intel Atom D510, the other is an Intel I5 3300K. 
The difference is in what the two computers are doing, in my opinion.
 
Recording the output is a good idea. Unfortunately I do not have a dedicated recorder but I could use a third computer with a Asus Xonar Essence STX which I already used to record from analog outputs. Let's hope the STX is neutral when recording.
 
Will try to do this in the next few weeks.
 
Can you connect your i5 box to the same chain as the atom box and compare?
 
 
 
 
Also, general question about the Wyrd -- seems like BS to me. Reclocking USB? Maybe that could matter if you had a really crappy USB controller on your mobo. Or some really bad cables. Or a terrible PSU. But in normal conditions... can you describe how it changes the sound w.r.t the Gustard?
 
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post-11877218
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johnzz4

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I saw a few of you have tried some alternate opamps and I'd like to experiment.  Which op amps have been tried and what has the outcome been?  I saw the AD797s appear to be an upgrade.  Are there some full part numbers so I can order the right ones?
 
EDIT:  Sorry guys, I just found some part numbers in the H10 thread.  Looks like AD797ANZ and AD823ANZ are the suggested ones to try.  Does that sound right?
 
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post-11878140
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Wynnytsky

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I'll take two thank you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBdJvT7tpSM
 
anybody heard of an o-type transformer?
when I look at the X20's ebay listing it looks like two toroidals.  I assumed o-type was just a cute name for toroidal.
Yet I couldn't find a single web page that shared both terms o-type and toroidal.  Surely this is deliberate.
The toroidal patent was filed in 1960 by Gordon A. Shifrin and the o-type patent was filed in 1991 by non other than 张维良
But when I google o-type it looks like an exclusively Chinese technology.
 
Was the o-type conceived to dodge the toroidal patent?  If so 1 point for China, 0 for the "legal" mafioso.
 
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