Short review of Gustard U12

rsjaurr

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Hello friends

When I shifted to stereo audio from ICE all I wanted to buy was an all in one player like Oppo205 and active speakers like ATC SCM40A. But now I have ended up with 8-9 boxes and thinking of adding one more. I was also of the opinion that keeping the music files in the shortest possible journey to DAC from source is the way to go to avoid it being degraded due to noise and other unknown (to me) problems.

But now I would like to add a DDC between my DAC and custom-built computer audio transport. There are two reasons for that, first is the poor USB input implementation in my otherwise great-sounding Metrum acoustics Adagio DAC as compared to other inputs as per the folks who have knowledge about these DACs. 2nd reason is that I am not happy with the sound as compared with the sound from the Marantz SA10 SACD player.
But coz I was a bit skeptical about the claims of these DDCs I wanted to try a cheaper/used piece before I move to a higher-end model. The plan was to avoid the use of noisy USB input on Metrum and use AES input instead. That's is when I came across a very humble FM selling his Gustard U12. Immediately I bought it and installed it between DAC and transport. But ap-Linux 4 installed on transport did not recognize U12 which was kind of expected. This is how this OS has behaved ever since it was installed last year.

Last weekend, after about a month I tried again, and not to my surprise this time it was recognized by ap-Linux. The sound which I heard though surprised me a lot. U12 is an entry-level DDC and there are much better DDC available in the market but true to online reviews it performed exceptionally well in my system.
The first thing I noticed was an improvement in the upper range which was a bit lacking earlier. So it sounded a bit more detailed without the change in overall timbre. The second but less obvious was the improvement in overall refinement. This difference was subtle though and needed a bit more time to come to the conclusion.

Sometimes we have to compare various pieces of equipment just to know the difference and keep "improving" our system. So now I have also found a way to better my system with a relatively inexpensive upgrade otherwise, I was planning to buy either Aurender N10, dCS network bridge, Aurelic G2, Innuos Zenith or Lumin U1 as a source feeding to DAC. So I plan to save close to $5K.

So now either Denafrips GAIA/Hermes or Audio-gd DI-20HE are on my want to buy list. Both are having good user reviews to back these products. I will have to buy the i2S module for Matrum DAC to make full use of this output from both DDCs. In the coming days, I will be reading more reviews and hopefully placing an order within a few weeks.

Thanks for reading guys.

Rest of components in the chain:
EAR 868 preamp
Threshold SA1 monoblocks
Focal Electra 1038 BE
 

rsjaurr

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Just wonder what you were using in your ICE.


Now with the addition of Gustard U12, How is the sound compared with SA10.
Helix P6 DSP
Audison LRx 5.1
Morel Ultimo 12" sub
HAT L1 Pro R2
HAR L3 Pro
Exodus Anarchy
Planning to take it out and sell it as I drive only for 10 minutes a day and has not powered it for the last two years.

Earlier I could tell the difference easily but now I can not. Right now I'm using marantz as a trasnport to DAC but will use its internal DAC in future once my analog cables are ready. BTW marantz is connected to the DAC with Amazon basic optical cable.
 

rsjaurr

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These two are marvelous combo. They do well with class A amp or baised amp. I tried them with Soundstream Reference Picasso and Adcom GFA 4304 .
Yeah, very underrated though. And these are as neutral as one can get.

Ah...been a long time since I have heard of these. Monstrous midbass drivers.

I do not plan to sell these as I had to spend $400 to get these. I will probably use these in bookshelves with matched tweeters.
 

rsjaurr

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Update- I had bought Matrix PCIE to USB card in 2019 to install it in my server but it did not work. A few weeks back I found that it was actually the 12V fixed output on my HDPlex LPS that was not working. So I installed it again and powered it from other output and it worked.

I also did a short listening test between this card and U12 but my ears could not pick any difference in the sound quality. Also adding both did not improve the sound over what I heard them individually.

In a nutshell, either of these improved the sound noticeably, both sounded the same individually and did not complement each other's company. Currently both are installed in the chain though.
 
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