Best-in-Class Signal-to-Noise and Distortion
It seems like every time a major DAC manufacturer releases a new chip, Gustard is there to implement it. Back in May, they released the A18 DAC, the most affordable implementation of AKM’s AK4499 chip to date. Now they’re back with the X16, an amp that implements ESS’ latest offering: a DAC chip that renders MQA files.
The X16 is that rare DAC that boasts summit-fi abilities at a mid-tier price. Stacked against the competition, it outperforms every DAC on the market except the Okto Dac8 Stereo--a DAC that costs more than double the X16. It’s an excellent DAC for anyone who wants to graduate from entry-level or mid-tier equipment without paying a fortune.
Best-in-class clarity and transparency
Gustard’s DACs are known for their clarity and transparency, but no DAC of theirs has come close to the measurements of the X16. “It produces some of the best measurements I have seen out of some 350+ DACs I have tested!” says audiosciencereviews.com . In fact, the only DAC that beats the X16 in terms of objective measurements is the Okto Dac8 Stereo, a DAC that costs $1,300--over twice that of the X16.
With THD+N at less than 0.0001%@1kHz and crosstalk at less than 130dB@1kHz, you can rest assured that X16 isn’t going to add any noise or distortion to your system. In the words of Audio Science Reviews: “If you have noise in your system, this is NOT the place to look.”
A DAC chip that renders MQA
The X16 implements two all-new ESS ES9068S DAC chips. Unlike most DACs being manufactured today that allow consumers to add MQA decoding for an additional cost, the DAC chip itself decodes MQA. So what’s the benefit for you? Savings. Hardware-integrated MQA rendering is cost-efficient.
Master Quality Authenticated, or MQA, is all the rage in audio circles, but what does it mean? Put very simply, MQA is a technology that delivers the full, uncompressed sound of the original master recordings. MP3 files, on the other hand, deliver just about 10% of the original source recordings. That’s one-tenth of the nuance, depth, and richness that the artist intended for you to hear. (For more information on MQA, check out this article by What HiFi. )
Simple user interface
Gustard provides a full-function remote, complete with a d-pad, volume buttons, and menu options, for easy navigation. If worse comes to worst and you lose the remote or your dog devours it or something, the large rotary control on the front panel makes navigation a breeze.
Plenty of connections for all your gear
The X16 lets you connect multiple sources to your audio system. A coaxial input is ideal for connecting a CD or DVD player, Sonos Connect, or any other digital component with a coax out. An optical input is ideal for HDTVs and game consoles. A USB input is the best way to connect your laptop or desktop computer. IIS and AES are ideal for connecting balanced sources.
Two ES9068S DACs
XMOS’ xCORE-200 series 16-core XU216 processor
Supports native DSD 32-bit PCM
2 American ACCUSILICON femtosecond crystal oscillators
Digital processing system uses Intel’s ALTERA’s large high-speed CPLD logic array chip
MQA full expansion decoding.
COAX/AES/OPT/IIS supports MQA hardware rendering
White light OLED display
Simple user interface
Full-function remote control
High-quality toroidal transformer, multiple sets of linear voltage regulators, and TI high-current ultra-low noise LDO chips used in key parts
VISHAY MELF high-precision low-temperature drift resistance is used in key part of the analog circuit part
OPA1612A high-performance operational amplifier composes analog circuit
COAX: PCM 16-24bit/44.1-192kHz; DSD DOP64
AES: PCM 16-24bit/44.1-192kHz; DSD DOP64
OPT: PCM 16-24bit/44.1-192kHz; DSD DOP64
USB: PCM 16-24bit/44.1-768kHz; DSD DOP64-DOP256; Native DSD: DSD64-DSD512
IIS: PCM 16-24bit/44.1-768kHz; DSD DOP64-DOP256; Native DSD: DSD64-DSD512
Bluetooth 5.0: PCM LDAC, AAC, SBC, APTX, APTX LL, APTX HD, and other high frequency encoding, LDAC can achieve 24B/96K high code transmission
Amplitude frequency response: 20-20,000Hz / ±0.08dB
Crosstalk: -130dB @ 1kHz
THD+N: <0.0001% @ 1kHz
IMD: <0.0004% @-1dBFs
RCA output level: 1Vrms (volume 00dB), output impedance: 100Ω
XLR output level: 4Vrms (volume 00dB), output impedance: 300Ω
AC power supply: AC 115V/230V 50/60Hz
Power consumption: <15W
Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.9 x 6.6” (220 x 50 x 170mm)
Weight: 5.5lbs (2.5kgs) (including packaging)
Gustard X16 DAC