Gustard X20pro DAC (ES9028Pro)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by mtoc, Nov 2, 2016.
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  1. indieke
    What is wrong with that? I also have the Sony MDR 1 A. Why use hf, if I got good speakers? On the go, I need other kind of quality, like listening to it for awhile without fatigue. And not bother my fellow traveller’s with open cans.
    So both HF, do very well. The only reason to buy better and expensive, would be to not suffer from acoustic imperfecties. But at home, I not like headphones, and music playing mostly in my head.
  2. johangrb
    Maybe a tip for those struggling with the brightness on the X20 Pro: I use mine with a Singxer SU-1 (I2S) and Regen both on the same Ultracap LPS-1 and it sounds fantastic. Not a hint of brightness with my HD800 or Th900s. (also have an Intona & SOTM Pci-e USB card in the chain).

    You can also try upsampling (using HQPlayer or Roon) to DSD.

    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  3. trappedintime
    I second the regen. My X20P and X20 are both connected to the same model amp - Ragnarok but the pro just hadn't lost the brightness after over a month of burn-in and probably 300+ hours of audio run through it. Adding the regen + ultra cap lps1 not only added more depth to the more refined bass, but the treble was now shining in a very natural way.
  4. fjc36
    Hi guys, may I ask a question? To avoid the pitful USB XMOS U8 input and cost a lot to build a better USB DDC with clean power, how can I use coax, RCA, or HDMi from my portable PC (widow 10) to the Gustard X20 pro (no U)? Can you disclose the sequence/ steps here if it is possible, thanks.
  5. canthearyou
    I recently had both the Gustard X20u Pro and the Matrix Audio X-Saber Pro. I listened to both of them for a week and was able to make a decision on the better unit. I originally bought the Gustard direct from Shortly after my Gustard order was confirmed I found a great deal on a X-Saber Pro in the classifieds that I couldn't pass up. I took the plunge and bought it as well.

    First unit to arrive was the X20 Pro(less than a week from China is not bad at all). This big, black, boxy, behemoth is very utilitarian in appearance. Two knobs and a small OLED screen on the front of the unit. The usual inputs and outputs of a modern DAC finish the rear of the unit. Sharp, squared edges and many(all) allen head screws visible give it an all business look. I connected it directly to my laptop using the supplied USB cable. Turned the power knob to the on position and heard a few loud relays switch on and she powered right up. I used the same old driver for my recently sold Gustard X12/U12. It worked without a hitch. I was greeted with a powerful, dynamic sound. I was truly stunned at the difference in sound quality compared to my old DAC. It was as if a veil was lifted and everything was crystal clear. Powerful, clean bass, well balanced mids and an almost too bright top end. I quickly got used to the highs and started listening to all my favorite songs/albums for the first time, again. I really, really liked the sound. I went ahead and removed the old drivers and installed the ones provided on the thumbdrive from Gustard. 20170608_195958.jpg

    A few days later I received the X-Saber Pro and quickly opened to box to see a sleek, sexy, DAC! Smooth lines, no knobs or buttons, no visible screws. The back of the unit had the normal connections of a DAC. Just all around a very nice looking unit that was much smaller than I expected, but it weighed almost 10lbs! I installed the drivers from the website and used the same USB cable from Gustard. Once I started listening to some of my favorite songs I realized I liked the X20 Pro more. The X-Saber had a more toned down approach to reproducing the music. I also felt the soundstage was smaller in all directions. I decided to look at the menu to check out the settings. This is a rather cumbersome deal which requires holding your finger on the power button. This shuts the unit off and enters the menu. Then you have to navigate using a series of button presses. I did not like menu approach at all! After I fiddled with some menu options(filters) I turned it back on but was still underwhelmed with the sound. 20170608_195648.jpg

    I decided to try throwing some DSD at the DACs to see if one was better than the other. I configured Foobar for DSD. First problem was my current laptop didn't have the gusto to do much DSD. I was able to do DSD64 and 256(Gustard max). When I tried 512 the CPU usage was pegged and stutters and pops galore. So I grabbed my new laptop which has an Intel i5 chip. I still couldn't do much with DSD512 as any other background service would cause pops and stutters. So I set both units to 256 and gave it a few listening sessions. The Gustard seemed to perform better than the Matrix. The Matrix had more stutters and lock-ups during playback. Not sure if had something to do with the X20 using DoP2DSD and the Matrix using true DSD. To tell you the truth, when it was working I couldn't hear a difference between DSD and PCM. Plus the majority of my listening is on Tidal, so I went back to PCM.


    Quick summary:
    Gustard X20u Pro:Bigger, clearer, more dynamic sound. Wider, deeper soundstage. Big, boxy, all business look. Menu is super easy to navigate. $860.00

    Matrix Audio X-Saber: More neutral, intimate sound. Beautiful work of machining!! I like the touch buttons. Look sexy! Menu is goofy and awkward. $1600.00

    Clear winner IMO is the X20 Pro. I am extremely satisfied to the unit. For half the cost of the Matrix, it bests it in the areas that matter.

    I am gonna purchase a Singxer SU-1 and see what happens next.

    Amp:Modded Matrix HPA3-B
    Headphones:McIntosh MHP1000

    P.S. I am gonna try a R2R DAC next. Looking at the Denafrips Pontus.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  6. mocenigo
    Well, here I am. The remote failed, and then also the DAC. I sent it out more than two months ago and still has to come back. (This is for the X20U, not the pro version, but the two DACs are nearly identical and we are talking about the same manufacturer.)

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
  7. canthearyou
    That really sucks!
  8. indieke
    What is weird. I find the Dac , really too agressive, using the usb input. But I did some comparaisons with my old ACCUPHASE 67. FOr that, I have no other choice, then to use my Fiio player to get the signal from my computer and send it through cinch to the Accuphase. But to make the path longer, I can also from there output to the Gustard. Sound on the Accuphase, is warmer, more analog, but the Gustard is more precise and has a much better staging. Weird enough, the agressive sound, I got through Usb, and the driver on the delivered stick, seems less present. Could it be there is more jitter, using the USB input directly?
  9. trappedintime
    You don't state how you're connecting the accuphase to the x20, but as I and others have stated, some kind of USB de-crapifier tames the brightness quite a bit. I use a USB REGEN + Ultracap LPS-1 and the fatigue just drops altogether. USB is always going to have the most obstacles to overcome, especially if you're using a computer as the source and not something more audio-friendly like a microRendu. Length as well as quality of USB cable, computer power source, a host of other factors can limit the USB input on any DAC. Is the X20 Pro more sensitive? No idea as I don't have any measurements to bring to the table for the X20 or other DAC's, but with my setup on the X20 and X20 Pro, brightness is a non-issue.
  10. mocenigo
    It finally came back to me! After nearly three months. They have clearly replaced the middle board and the Amanero USB board. Now it seems to support DSD512. The Amanero USB board is still U8 based but may have different firmware. The clocks are different. It seems to sound a bit smoother, gentler and more detailed than before the repair, must be because of the updated boards - so at the end there's a bit of silver lining.

  11. canthearyou
    That's good to hear. But that's a helluva wait!
  12. mocenigo
    That's why my next DAC (when I need one or when I feel I want to change) will be from some other place. I am thinking at the new Soekris DACs. Germany<->Denmark should be easier to handle...

  13. fjc36
    I may just suggest to try the Gustard X20 (no U) +LKS USB-100+LKS LPS-25, just suggestion, not use XMOS, though USB-100 is expensive.
  14. fjc36
    or try the LKS MD003 mk2, it also has two ESS9028pro with two transformers and a different USB board (not the XMOS)..
  15. TPSRA
    Can't see any reason to buy DA003 now that they have DA004 with 20% price difference.
    Looking forward to Gustard's dual 9038 vs DA004
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