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 ?


@arafiq How would you compare the Zenith to the Aavik?  Reading between the lines it seems that you prefer the Aavik but the Zenith doesn’t fall very short, and I’m assuming the Aavik costs a lot more.  Appreciate your thoughts…again. 

i saw a nice used r26 locally for sale so i picked it up... for less than $1500 for r2r with built in network and wifi renderer, roon ready, mqa, external clock input, i2s (but with another incompatible pin set),  etc etc ... figured it would be fun to try it, have a listen, and see if the youtube talking heads have yet again found the newest, biggest value buy of the year in nice chi-fi digital gear...

...first reactions... it is heavy, nice serious power supply section inside... and then, the stupid menu display has ridiculous micro font... where are my reading glasses???!!! 🙄😵

@marco777 What do you mean by a little more open? If you mean more air and effortlessness, than I think the Gustard has a bit more air but the Pontus sounds a bit more relaxed to me. Not sure if this answers your question. Bass on R26 is tighter and punchier, but somehow I still prefer the Pontus even in this respect. It's just more full sounding. BTW, I've packed up the Gustard and sending back this weekend.

@soix Yes, I prefer the Aavik but to be honest I would be hard pressed to justify the extra cost. I hate to use the term, but the Aavik S-280 is a bit more 'analog' sounding. It's more relaxed and brings out the nuance in the music a bit better. Innuos has better clarity and definition but still has a hint of digital artifacts which I never knew existed until I heard the Aavik. The differences are noticeable but subtle. I do miss Sense 2.0 though ... definitely better sound quality than Roon.

@jjss49 Did you happen to see the Eversolo dac+streamer combo review by Steve Huff? Yes, I know we're talking about Steve Huff, so the usual caveats, grain of salt, etc. apply as always :)

But still looks to be fantastic value for what you pay for.

Hi arafiq,

I do not use roon. An expense I don’t need.

Inuos pulse mini is fed from ethernet, with the long 25 ft run between router and mini converter to fiber, then back to ethernet.  I wanted strictly a streamer, it can send to many dacs. In the sense app, just choose setting standalone and choose mini out to another dac.. make sure the dac, if using as preamp, is turned down, before connecting.  On pulse mini, choose the dac you want to be playing, must set mini’s volume out to max, and enjoy (i have two dacs I switched between going into preamp..). I have an smsl su-10 for the electronica stuff.. for me some type of music sounds “better” on a delta sigma, while almost all of what I listen to sounds better on r2r.  By the way, you can really hear the difference twixt fast and slow if playing iron maiden or metallica at… unhealthy levels   ;-p   The dac included with the mini will be ok if I ever have an issue with the gustard, so it is a “decent” back up.

The only other “streamer” I’ve ever had was a bluesound node 2i and there is just no comparison there.

I am still exploring all the features of the mini though.  

but, I can for sure say that I am happy with the pulse mini and it doing what I wanted it to do… hardwired network streaming…. nothing else.

And I could not care less what places like asr say, I can hear the difference and I know what is pleasing to me.