Gustard X18 Review By Audio science review extremely good performance

Gustard X18 Review By Audio science review extremely good performance


Gustard X18 Review Balanced Stereo USB DAC.jpg

As you see style is very much the same as other Gustard products. I like the high resolution display with larger volume indicator.

Back panel shows the usual connections:

Gustard X18 Review Bluetooth Balanced Stereo USB DAC.jpg

Gustard X18 Measurements
Let’s start with our usual dashboard with balanced output with digital input adjusted by -2 dB to get nominal 4 volt output:

Gustard X18 Measurements Stereo USB DAC.png

That is extremely good performance. The second harmonic dominates distortion profile but it is down -135 dB (25 dB below threshold of hearing). This easily qualifies X18 as state-of-the-art, placing it in top 3 DACs ever measured:

Best stereo USB DAC.png

EDIT: post these measurements, the company advised that the X18 has a high performance post DAC attenuator and as such, performs better using its volume control than attenuating the input signal. So I tested that with volume set to -2:

Gustard X18 Measurements Volume -2 Stereo USB DAC.png

As you see, the attenuation is slightly less than making the same change in the source. I usually allow 0.1 volt variation but this is a bit much as far as fairness to other DACs. Still, going with it, the X18 changes position to #2 best DAC ever tested:

Top 20 stere DAC Reviewed.png

Switching to unbalanced RCA output, we still get superb performance:

Gustard X18 Measurements RCA Stereo USB DAC.png

Allowing the output to get up to 5.4 volt, we get even better performance due to increased dynamic range:

Gustard X18 Measurements THD+N vs Level Stereo USB DAC.png

Dynamic range is exceptional:

Gustard X18 Measurements DNR Stereo USB DAC.png

Intermodulation+noise performance is superb as expected:

Gustard X18 Measurements IMD Distortion Stereo USB DAC.png

Jitter test over USB is great:

Gustard X18 Measurements Jitter Stereo USB DAC.png

But there is some inconsequential jitter components if you use Toslink or Coax:

Gustard X18 Measurements Jitter Coax Toslink Stereo USB DAC.png

Linearity is nailed:

Gustard X18 Measurements Linearity Balanced Stereo USB DAC.png

As usual, you have an array of reconstruction filters to choose from:

Gustard X18 Measurements Filter Stereo USB DAC.png

Using default L-FAST, we get extremely clean wideband distortion+noise performance:

Gustard X18 Measurements THD+N vs frequency  Stereo USB DAC.png

Edit: forgot the multitone test initially:

Gustard X18 Measurements Multitone Stereo USB DAC.png

I live for happy days like this: another instrument grade, exceptionally well engineered audio product in the form of X18. It is clear a ton of effort has gone into providing full transparency to input signal. Yes, the cost is up there but if you want the best, you now have one more option.

It is my pleasure to recommend the Gustard X18 DAC.

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