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Gustard X20 DAC

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by stuartmc, Sep 8, 2015.
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  1. stuartmc

    On the X20, the AB5100s was not placed directly onto the transformers, like on the X12. The X12 had blue plastic cases covering it's smaller transformers. Those were more easily covered with the 5100s. The X20's transformers have a separate compartment that is much easier to treat as described on page 1.

    The Tanly is also treated with 5100S. It has a Talema transformer similar to those in the X12, so I applied it accordingly. No stabilant 22 was used on the Tanly.

    I leave the X20 and Tanly on all the time. The only piece that generates any real heat is the H10, so I will shut that one off. The H10 is given at least an hour of warm up time before I do any critical listening.
  2. guilders0
    Do you have any experience using the X20 as only a DAC connected to a preamp, so no use of its volume control, and using spdif input ?
    Can the volume control be switched off ?
  3. GioF71

    Hello guilders0.
    I own a x12 but afaik I think this aspect is not different.
    The volume control is in the digital domain, so setting it to 0 should be equivalent to 'disabling' volume control.
  4. guilders
    "should be" ?
    Does the DAC not ship with a manual ?
  5. GioF71
    Is this the same as the 'guilders0' account?

    Anyway, no, the x12 came without manual, don't know if it's the same for the x20.
  6. stuartmc
    My X20 didn't come with a manual either. GioF71 is quite right about the volume function. It is a volume attenuator in the digital domain. It has 100 steps from 0 to -99DB.  When at 0 it passes the signal to your amps at line level, which is  2.3 Vrms @ 0dBFS for the rca's and 4.6 Vrms @ 0dBFS for the xlr outputs.
  7. Mashi-Maro
    Hi. Has anyone had chance to compare the Gustard X20 vs the LKS MHA003? Or even the ifi idsd micro?
  8. guilders0
    OK, thanks.
    So volume set to zero when used with an external preamp.
    Do you know if a Synology NAS can be directly connected to the USB input of a gustard (model X20) ?
    This would be great if it was possible.
  9. GioF71
    That's not how a nas generally works.
    The NAS should only serve files (in multiple ways, the upnp/dlna being the most convenient in my opinion).
    What you need is a network player which supports USB Audio (like, for example, an Aurender) or a computer.
    There are significantly cheaper network players which connect to the DAC via coaxial/optical SPDIF. For example look at the Cambridge Audio product range.
    The network player (or the computer) uses the files served by the NAS and creates the correct data flow to the DAC (via USB, Coax, Opt...).
    That said, to be honest, it's not completely impossible to connect a NAS directly to the DAC, but I doubt you can always do it with any commercial DAC NAS.
    But a custom DIY NAS might include MPD.
    Also in your specific case, it seems there is an option to install mpd directly on the NAS:
    FWIW, I wouldn't use such a setup for a number of reasons, I can elaborate if you're interested.
    P.S.: of course, I am not affilated with any of the mentioned brands.
    Edit: some corrections
  10. guilders0
    Well I am not totaly ok with your view.
    In my view, the best way is to connect directly the NAS to a DAC in order to avoid any additionnal cabling and components that can only degrade the signal.
    Some small interfaces like hiface evo2 exists to convert USB to spdif and then go into a DAC.
    But again, in my view, the best is a direct connexion.
    Why not using a computer?
    Because if you connect your computer to the DAC, you can not use it anymore (except if you want to stay close to your dac or use a 10meter long USB cable!)
    The more convenient is: you want to listen to some music, you switch on your DAC/preamp/amp, switch on your laptop or tablet, launch audio station and navigate into your discs from your couch.
    That is easy and user-friendly. Then, once music is playing, I can surf the web or wathever I want to do.
  11. guilders0
    thanks for the link on MPD, this seems to make what I have in mind possible
  12. GioF71
    Hello guilder0.
    There are some drawbacks in using the nas as a network streamer/player.
    Some might not be relevant to you but this is not necessarily everyone's case.
    Here are some:
    1) The solution you propose requires the NAS to be close to the hi-fi setup. Even in the case your storage in on SSDs (expensive), NAS boxes have fans, which produce audible noise. Also, which additional cabling should degrade the signal? Unless you think to use a very long usb cable: this is definitely not advisable for any worthy audio setup.
    2) A NAS is designed to do different things. It may not have the necessary CPU power to stream audio to your dac reliably. Also, they usually have a very little amount of RAM, less than what you would put on a custom box built for the purpouse. Try setting high-quality upsampling (via the samplerate_converter "Best Sinc Interpolator" setting of mpd) and see what happens. Chances are the NAS simply can't keep up and play music correctly.
    3) Power Supply. The PSU of a NAS is certainly not designed for audio. The electrical noise produced by a sub-optimal PSU might (in my opinion, does) degrade audio quality.
    4) Usually NAS boxes use custom operating systems, so it is not certain that at some time you might not be able to mantain your solution, maybe after some software upgrades. It's not a supported use-case of the NAS itself.
    My suggestion is to use a dedicated box for audio. You won't regret it. Surf with your desktop, but play with a dedicated streamer/player (it may definitely be a PC). 
    Audio playback does not benefit from other processes running on the same machine. Audibly. I have experienced it in person. 
    All the claims like "a computer can process lots of tasks" simply do not apply, because audio playback is a real-time process. Even if any general purpouse PC can play audio, it does not mean that it must always play well by-definition. The more loaded is the PC, the more the signal is degraded by jitter (time-domain deviations).
    Instead, it is better to optimize the software to give priority to audio itselft. This can be done, for example, with linux and a low-latency kernel.
    In my setup, a significant upgrade was obtained when I created a dedicated box (with an old mainboard with intel atom D510, an SSD, ubuntu server, mpd and upmpdcli) and start using that box instead of the PC I use to do other stuff. If you build something from scratch, a new generation, faster, but low-tdp cpu is advisable. With the correct case you can make the setup passive (no fans, like my atom setup) very easily, although it might not be as cheap as a matching intel NUC box). Also, you can use a linear PSU, which is a considerable upgrade compared to the standard switching power supply bricks.
    My .02€
  13. guilders0
    Thanks for your reply.
    Indded I didn't think of all that and I totaly agree with your comments.
    I have to admit that on my side my NAS stands indeed one meter from the audio setup :wink:
    Building a dedicated box looks a great way to go.
    And I assume you can pilot it from your laptop/tablet, probably via a webbased application ?
  14. GioF71
    you're welcome. 
    As I told you in the previous post, in my opinion this is not an advisable option. Obviously the choice is yours, and your solution is surely possible.
  15. GioF71
    Of course! :)
    For example mpd (music player daemon), with the help of upmpdcli (http://www.lesbonscomptes.com/upmpdcli/) becomes a Upnp renderer, which you can pilot with apps like BubbleUpnp Player on your tablet. There are many other interfaces, also web based.
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