Gustard H20 headphone amp

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by mtoc, May 22, 2017.
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  1. mandrake50
    There are always diminishing returns with price. I guess I need to actually listen to the Gustard before I decide whether it is worth the price difference.
  2. BassDigger
    I won't be listening to it, anytime soon; I'm also waiting to read some impressions about how it sounds!

    Has anyone seen any feedback, anywhere?
  3. sebna
    Yup, did anybody had a chance to hear it? The H20? I can have it for similar price as H10 with after-market opamps so it is an alternative :)
  4. wwmhf
    How? If that is not a national secret ...
    mandrake50 likes this.
  5. sebna
    On TaoBao or what ever it is called you can have H20 for ~600 euro which is what would cost me new H10 with set of Burson OPAmps...
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  6. BassDigger
    Errr....if the H20 doesn't sound significantly better than an H10 with a full set of ultra, mega, super-duper op-amps (and maybe few other mods), then I would be disappointed!

    Sure, I'm certainly a fan of mods, upgrades, or whatever you want to call them, but they're just the icing on the cake; the garnish: they're just to fine tune and get the best out of the equipment, not make it perform like a higher model.
    Yes, I know that there are exceptions (E.g. vintage DACs), but I don't think that a modded half-the-price amp, from the same manufacturer at the same time, could be the equal of their twice the price model.
    So, given that Gustard is yet to produce a dud (TTBOMK), get the H20 (....and tell us all about it!!!).
    Just my opinion. :)
  7. sebna
    I am not interested in being a guinea pig. H20 is not an evolution of H10 but a completely new construction so there is no grantee it will retain house sound of H10 (which was V200 clone) and I am after H10 house sound. Also H10 has low output impedance which will play nicely with my HPs which is not the case with H20.

    So no thank you I will stick with H10. Also I do need extra power of H20.
  8. BassDigger
    Interesting! You want somebody else to be the first to buy, try, and then write some impressions about the H20. Not you. Understood.
    I guess that not everyone is willing to 'take one for the team'. However, I would be happy to, if I felt the H20 was the best option for me. I'm only refraining because...., perhaps the high price (if I'm honest), but mainly because I have a 'half the price', and possibly superior, option to try first. If I had more time (and a little more cash), I might have bought one already.

    We all have different requirements, preferences, and even terminology. To me, any kind of 'sound' implies a characteristic that the equipment imparts into the music that I hear. I'm trying to move away from this. That's why I sold my H10. I enjoyed the tight, impactful, and well controlled bass, and its overall tonality. But, I could do without the rolled-off frequency extremes, and slight mid-bass hump (the V200 sound). If the H20 has all of these characteristics, I would see it as a failure on Gustard's part.

    I am curious about your emphasis of the importance of output impedance. I'd always attributed the H10's tight bass to its fairly generous power output, but perhaps the low output impedance is more responsible for this. However, I don't recall anyone ever stressing the importance of the OI, when comparing solid state amps: the H20 has an OI twice that of the H10 (indicated by 200 vs 400 DF), which isn't a world of difference for a HP amp, surely. I mean isn't an OTL tube amp, why the concern about the output impedance?
  9. sebna
    Well, there is so many reasons I went with H10 that I do not even know where to start :). It just made sense for me.

    You know already two of those reasons. But first mentioned is most important. By reading your posts and looking at your gear list I can tell that this is your hobby. Gear is as much as music is. My hobby is purely listening to the music. Gear is a sad necessity to get there. Nothing else. That is why I want to buy something which is of known quality and potentially suiting my current needs to cut down on the process of box swapping to absolute minimum hopefully to 0 (of box swapping). So H20 really does not fulfil this goal as it is of unknown quality and will not be my first choice.

    Secondly I primarily listen on my speaker system which has not changed at all in 4 years (I know unheard of on forums) after initial setup and fine-tuning of details (I got away with minimal box swapping back then). The fact of primary listening on speaker system dictates my sound signature I am after with my secondary system - HP system. My speaker system is musical yet very detailed and resolving. It was built with focus listening in mind not for a background music playback type of listening.

    My HP system is build in mind with backdrop type of listening in mind when I learn, browse the internet and also for gaming (which I rarely have time for but when I do I would use it for it as well). So I am looking for sound signature which will allow for long fatigue-less sessions. This is the priority. I am sensitive to HF harshness (I am still quite young and can still hear extended HF - something which most of designers of high-end gear cannot hear because of their age so that is why so many devices have harsh top end - that is my theory anyway). 2nd place takes musicality and 3rd as much detail and resolution I can pack without affecting point 1 and 2 (because why not?).

    So I think H10 (with its 0.0625 output impedance) and D7200 fits nicely into this plan (I will know for sure once it all arrives and is nicely burned in). Also your description why you looked for changed from H10 seems to confirm it because this is exactly what I am looking for ATM (until and if I change my mind when I hear it :wink:)

    Another reason why I prefer H10 is that, other then speakers and HPs, I very much like to buy my audio gear 2nd hand which was possible with H10 and is not possible with H20 :)

    To answer your question about impedance - low output impedance design is always better then high impedance one because it is universal. It will be a good match for all HPs when high impedance one will be only good match for high impedance HPs. D7200 are 25 ohms so very low impedance. H20 is listed as 200ohm output impedance and there is no damping factor listed. It has however dedicated low impedance SE 1/4 inch jack and also high impedance SE 1/4 jack but the spec list just do not tell anything else then 200ohm so it is hard to say what is what exactly and how low is the SE low impedance 1/4 jack. It is probably very low impedance and they just messed up their spec list? But as I said I am not interested in being a guinea pig. Also at 600 - 1000e mark there is even more choice of well known and tested 2nd hand gear, which I would have to research (and I cannot be bothered to do at this stage) so I am happy to go for cheap and cheerful H10 for close to nothing 2nd hand when it is proven tested and well regarded option considered to be the best or one of the best of entry quality amp options?.

    Finally as mentioned earlier H20 is their own Chinese design while H10 was a copy cat of V200 so of western design. I just do not know how good they are at their own. Again I do not want to be a guinea pig as gear is not my hobby and I want to cut this stage to minimum and move on to music listening. I still may need to swap H10 for something else if I do not like it but well this seems like a good choice for what I need from my HP system now.

    I will be able to very easily assess H10 as I can feed to it quality signal from my main system so really what I will hear is the H10 and D7200 as the upstream is quite pure and well known to me.

    What I did not mention before. I need the sound to be fast and dynamic as it is a must for gaming part (hence D7200). I also joined Sen HD-6XX drop because I never liked Sennheiser house sound :) and I though I will give it one more shot at this price tag and completely different sound characteristics to D7200 (I never owned Sennheiser top-end models but auditioned them on numerous occasions). Do not ask me where is logic in this thinking but I guess that is the power of promotion which the massdrop price is... :wink:

    BTW best HPs I heard were LCD 3 with 20k Woo audio amp. Still quite far off my speaker system in some regards (and a bit better in intimacy!)... but very, very good sound never the less which I would be happy to have at home.

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  10. sebna
    One more thing.

    I do not like and neither one us should that with introduction of H20 they discontinued H10... those are not competing in same segment so why kill such successful product when there is clearly still demand for it?

    Lets hope that is not because H10 is close enough in performance to H20 so it would be stealing the clients from H20 crowd?

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  11. BassDigger
    I've always been a bit slow on the uptake, so please forgive me if I misunderstand, but this appears to be the comment of someone with a few bucks to spend and is trying to decide between a new $1000ish H20, or a H10 with opamps that would cost around the same.

    Even if you forget about the H20, buying a H10 with the intention of spending significantly more on op-amps to put in it is not the best use of available funds. As I said, opamps will only make a small change (which you may not even like) to the sound signature. Despite what some people preach, except in certain equipment opamps do not effect the sound to the same extent as tube-rolling.

    You say that you are sensitive to treble; the treble characteristic of the H10, from what I recall (with the LCD2f), is a bit rolled off: the very highest treble is missing. But, the treble that is there can be a little splashy and unrefined: just at its highest extremes. I too can be very sensitive to treble (or whatever frequency is being exaggerated), but this slight splashiness was never a problem for me.
    The truth is that it's the characteristic of the transducer that is far more important than that of the equipment downstream. So, if you're happy with sound sig of your current HPs, the H10 shouldn't do anything to upset this. If you're not so sure about your current phones, and you're hooked on the H10, then it would be worth checking out a pair of old Hifiman HE500s: they're said to have great synergy with that amp, and I believe it.

    My theory, about the unbalanced sound signature of most headphones, is that it's expensive to build transducers (speakers, and it seems even more so with headphones) that can properly reproduce bass. So, our world is filled with equipment that reproduces poor quality bass, or not much at all, and people have gotten used to this. They've even split into camps: 'details freaks', and 'bassheads'. If there was such a thriving industry in 'kit headphones', as there is in kit speakers, I'm sure that I would own a pair, before now.

    Getting back to the H20, i think that there must be some confusion with the figures: I've seen that it has twice the the output impedance of the H10, with a damping factor of 200 (vs 400 of the H10), into 50ohms. If the OI were 200 ohms, the amp would next to unusable! I have a little respect for Gustard and their products, and am able to experiment without losing money (most of the time). But, you're right to be cautious, especially when so little is known about it.
    jeffhawke likes this.
  12. sebna
    H10 with Burson V6 OPA costed my 370euro in the end (delivered).

    Cheapest H20 would cost me 670e ex. dual delivery (if even possible as I would have to find reliable forwarding company in China) and ex potential import duties.

    New H10 plus Bursons would cost me about 670 delivered.

    Money is not a problem really. I could afford both options in any config but as I said before I do not want to be a guinea pig. Also it will not be a problem to sell H10 at the price I bought it if I do not like it.

    It is not exactly the case what you have written about treble. Driver implementation has its traits but harshness in top end can and will come from any component starting from source then low quality DAC interconnects amps and finally from drivers in form of HPs or speakers. So if in general your end result is only to some extent dependant on your HPs or speakers. Of course if the HPs are excessively hot in HF range on their own it will be even more difficult to dial it in with other parts of the system (sometimes impossible). But low quality DACs and cables are usually as big if not bigger offenders in this regard as it is quite easy to get HP / Speakers which are tamed in HF spectrum but it is very difficult to find high-quality DAC and cables at reasonable prices unless you are ready to make some serious sacrifices / compromises and what has been once lost at the source / dac level you will never be able to regain downstream even when using 200k speakers and matching amps / cables. That is just the way it is.

    As to the bass I agree with you in principal but I bet we mean something else all together. Most of hi-fi and hi-end equipment has way too much bass. Live music from live instruments never produces such pronounced high pressure and separated from the rest of the spectrum bass as what most users consider a holy grail of bass reproduction in sound systems.

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  13. BassDigger
    Well, I'm not sure if we're agreeing or disagreeing either.

    I believe that transducers have a much larger variance (dB) of characteristics than amps or sources.

    It seems that you didn't follow your original idea (of paying H20 money for a H10 with opamps). No need to thank me. :beyersmile:

  14. curt jester
    Well,I've "taken one for the team" and I'm not even in the team...So,here we go,first post.I was hoping to get some feedback before purchasing the H20,however,it was available on amazon on sale at £630 delivered,so took the chance and went for it.Here's my views--It's the best amp I've heard to date,there again,I've not got many amps...lake people g109p,Violectric v90 and Gustards own H10.I'm experiencing great clarity in my music,being able to define lyrics that I'd never been able to make out before,it's musical in the sense that it portrays vocals clearly but never harsh,if I were to compare it to the H10,yes much better definition of individual instruments and vocals on tracks.I've been listening with a pair of hifiman 400i,using the supplied cable,however just got a balanced cable for the headphones and it makes a huge difference,at my preferred listening level I'm hardly moving the volume control.
    User00 and bunkbail like this.
  15. bunkbail
    Have you tried to swap the dual op-amps to a discrete ones like the Bursons or the Sparkos?
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