Gustard X18 Review: Is It Worth the Investment?

gustard x18 review

Are you considering investing in the Gustard X18 Pro DAC? If so, you have come to the right place. In this Gustard X18 review, we will look into the features of the Gustard X18 and answer the question: is the Gustard X18 worth the investment? The Gustard X18 Pro DAC is a digital-to-analog converter with excellent sound quality, a wide range of connectivity options, and a variety of features that make it an attractive choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.

Unboxing

The Gustard X18 Pro DAC is a highly anticipated piece of audio equipment. Unboxing the unit is an experience in itself. With its clean design and sturdy construction, it’s clear why many people are eager to review it. Inside the box, you will find the DAC unit, power cable, USB cable, and the manual. All of these pieces together make up the complete package that is the Gustard X18 Pro DAC. Once everything is unboxed, you can easily start your gustard x18 review and experience the top-notch sound quality of this pro dac.

DESIGN

Since the X18 DAC design has nearly identical dimensions to the X16 at 22 x 5 x 17cm and 2.5Kg in weight, it is fair to say that it is more of the same. That means a CNC’ed aluminum box that is pleasingly small, stackable, and won’t ever take up a lot of room on your desktop or HiFi rack.

Existing Gustard H16 amp owners should appreciate the dimensions because they should stack neatly on top of one another. In addition, I’ve been finding it to be a really cool DAC alternative to the more expensive Ferrum Audio OOR/HYPSOS amp and PSU combo, though since the company’s ERCO DAC was recently released, it’s once again out there on its own, feeding some other amplifiers.

gustard x18 review
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The design is very clean, low-profile, and minimalistic with rounded corners and is available in two finishes: silver and black. Although I personally find black to be much more attractive, beauty is subjective.

The familiar partition-like lines to the right that divide an almost flush but grippy multifunction dial remain because Gustard did not significantly alter the original X16 design. Together, they form a multifunction control system for preamp volume control and menu operation. The function button for menu operation is located in the center of the dial.

Similar positioning can be found for the various inputs and outputs, which are all located on the rear panel, as well as the small, slightly off-center black and white OLED display panel on the front panel.

In terms of style, the X18 DAC OLED display employs a larger font and an off-white tone, which enhances legibility over the X16 screen’s tiny font and lessens potential eye strain.

The addition of a front panel power button on the X18 is new though the main power circuit is still activated by a fused 1/0 flick switch to the rear much like the X16. Gone is the X16 multi-circle machining on the far left front panel of the X18 which I honestly kind of liked as it added a bit of character to the minimalist styling.

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Features

The Gustard X18 is a digital to analog converter (DAC) that is designed to provide an optimal audio listening experience. It has a plethora of features, starting with an integrated ESS Sabre DAC that supports a sample rate up to 32-bit/384kHz and also DSD256. The X18 also boasts selectable filters for tuning the sound to your preference, as well as user adjustable digital volume control.

In addition, it has both balanced and unbalanced outputs, allowing you to connect to a wide range of headphones, speakers, and other audio equipment. The Gustard X18 is a full-featured DAC that can definitely deliver a great audio listening experience. From its design to its features, it’s certainly worth the investment if you are in the market for a high-quality DAC.

gustard x18 review
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Range

When using LDAC from a Samsung Z Flip 3 smartphone in the same location, the range and stability within that range from the transmitting source to the X18 DAC are good but not quite as strong as the X16.

On the X16, I can easily travel up to 10 meters with just one wall in the way, but when I reach 10 meters from the X18 DAC, the signal starts to stutter and drop out a little.

My initial assumption was that the new stubby antennae, which are shorter and possibly weaker than the longer X16 version, were to blame, but after switching the antennae around, the outcome remained the same.

This could be a modification to the internal layout that weakens the transmission or a lower transmission power setting that lowers the risk of EMI.

Setup

Setting up the Gustard X18 is a simple process that won’t take long. First, plug in the power adapter and make sure it’s properly connected. Then, use your preferred audio connection to connect the X18 to your system. Finally, adjust the settings for the desired sound. Depending on what type of system you have, the setup may vary slightly but overall, the process is straightforward.

When it comes to using the Gustard X18, the user interface is quite intuitive. You can easily access and adjust all of the settings in a few simple clicks. You can also customize various sound profiles and save them for later use. This feature allows you to create personalized sound experiences tailored to your specific listening preferences. Once you have set up your Gustard X18 and adjusted the settings, you can enjoy your favorite music or movies with rich, dynamic sound.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, the Gustard X18 does not disappoint. This pro DAC offers a wide range of features, including a variety of sound enhancement options. The ESS Sabre 9018Q2C is capable of decoding 32bit/768kHz PCM and up to 22.5 MHz DSD with an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of 118dB. The output stage also features a zero-feedback design, which ensures accurate and dynamic reproduction of audio signals.

In our gustard x18 review, we tested the DAC with a variety of different headphones and speakers, and were very pleased with the results. The overall sound signature was balanced, with clear mids and highs, and tight bass response. The soundstage was surprisingly wide for its price point, and the imaging was precise and detailed. The Gustard X18 offers a great listening experience and is definitely worth the investment.

Pros and Cons of Gustard X18

The Gustard X18 is a professional digital-to-analog converter (DAC) designed to provide high quality audio playback from digital sources. It features a high sampling rate, low noise floor, and adjustable sound profiles for optimal performance. The X18 is an excellent choice for those who want a top-of-the-line DAC for their audio setup.

• High Sampling Rate: The X18 is capable of decoding audio files up to 32-bit/384kHz resolution. This ensures that your music will sound detailed and dynamic.

• Low Noise Floor: The X18 has an impressive noise floor rating of -117 dBFS, which means you won’t hear any hissing or buzzing in the background.

• Adjustable Sound Profiles: With the X18’s adjustable sound profiles, you can customize your listening experience to fit your preferences.

• Multiple Inputs: The X18 supports both digital and analog inputs, making it easy to connect to your audio source of choice.

• Expensive: The Gustard X18 is priced higher than many other DACs on the market, so it may not be the best option for those on a budget.

• Lack of Software Support: The X18 does not come with any dedicated software or drivers, so some users may find it difficult to customize its settings.

• Large Size: The X18 is quite large compared to other DACs, so it may take up more space than some users are willing to dedicate to their audio setup.

Conclusion

The Gustard X18 is a great value for money DAC that delivers amazing sound quality and features. It has a solid build, with good connectivity options and ease of setup. The sound quality is excellent for its price range, making it a worthwhile investment for any audiophile. Overall, the Gustard X18 is an outstanding DAC that provides great value for the money and is highly recommended for anyone looking for a quality digital-to-analog converter.

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