Gustard R26 vs hi end streamer


I have in plan to upgrade the source of my system:

Source: Newtork streamer Marantz NA8005
Amp: Arcam A32
Speakers: build to me
Headhone: Denon AH-D5000

Actually the options are:

1) Purchase a DAC like Gustard R26 or X26 or Schiit OG Yggdrsail (I’am bit undecided to choose one of these DACs).
2) Replace my Newtork streamer with a Hi end Streamers like: Auralyc, Cocktail Audio, Rose or coming soon new Marantz that replace ND8006.

I have a preference for a sound relaxed, warm, analog, with a deep bass, I listen only FLAC files with USB disk and no others, so I’am not interested to streamer services.

My actual Marantz match my sound preference, but lack of details, soundstage, etc...

The ideal is upgrade the Newtork streamer, but for what I read on many forums, an exterenal DAC like Gustard R26 or Schiit OG Yggdrsail sound better of every integrated streamer like: Auralyc, Cocktail Audio, Rose, etc.. and apart this is also a cheap option.

To match my sound preference do you suggest to wait the next Marantz models or consider directly an external DAC like Gustard or Schiit ?


There is also the Gustard A26 which I thought was a better sounding DAC then the R26 yet still on the warm side.

Do you use Roon or what software are you using? That could have a bearing on the choice of streamers and streamer/dacs. 

@arafiq Given the sound characteristics the OP is looking for, your observations were exactly why I recommended the Pontus II.  Plus, add an Iris or a Hermes DDC to take advantage of the Pontus’ i2S input and there is significant further upside potential to be had.  Thanks for your helpful and insightful thoughts. 

On your gustard r26:

Did you compare the fast/medium/slow?

I find the slow well suited for tracks that are heavily acoustic with the fast being better suited to electronica and/or many instruments with fast changes.. ie metallica and Iron Maiden.

Slow seems to me to give a more full and rich sound, but also seems like it “can’t keep up” when the track has many things changing quickly, especially the triplet bass kicks.. gets “muddy”... if that makes sense.. I do not have the whole jargon thing down yet.. But changing those settings does really affect how different tracks sound.  I am not really into the “medium”.. it just seems to show the worst in different tracks..

Am with you on the streamer.  I tried streaming to it first with a node2i that I could NOT, even after multiple “factory resets”, get to use the wired ethernet… it wouldn’t “forget” the wireless and would only use that connection..  which is why I got the innuos pulse mini just for streaming and the node 2i is a bookend right now.



@soix I re-read your comment and your advice is spot on! My impressions are closely aligned with what you’re proposing. However, I want to emphasize the fact that I’m not declaring the Pontus II as the superior DAC over Gustard R26. They’re both superb and offer a lot of bang for the buck. In the end, it boils down to what one is looking for in terms of sound signature. I can see someone preferring the R26 over Pontus. For me, Pontus has the edge but I could just as well live happily with the R26 if I have to.

@nevada_matt I did, albeit briefly, try out the fast and medium filters but preferred the slow filter for the type of music I listen to. I would say over 70% of my listening was done in the slow filter mode. I did switch to fast or medium when listening to classic rock or EDM (mostly James Blake) and preferred medium. Didn’t like anything when using the fast filter so honestly I never gave it a fair shake.

I’m also very interested in your impressions regarding Innuos Pulse Mini. I owned the Innuos Zenith MK3 in my main system (now replaced with Aavik S-280) and have gained tremendous respect and admiration for Innuos, especially their Sense software. For now, I’m feeding the Pontus directly from my Roon server (SMG sonicTransporter5 + LPS) via USB. Since this is my second system, I’m not too keen on dropping a bundle on streamers. Need to decide between Holo Audio Red (like the fact that it outputs IS2) and Pulse Mini (Sense 2.0 is the main draw). My Node 2i is all packed up and ready to be sold.

@arafiq do you think the Pontus II is a little more open than Gustard R26 and also have a little more bass deep ?