Need a DAC Recommendation.

Im retired and can only spend $1200 to $1500 on a DAC. What would you recommend? I assume I will be in the Used market.  Thanks!

The Gustard 'X-22' is a brilliant DAC ! ($1099. USD). It is a much better DAC than the Chord 'Qutest' -and by a wide margin. 

Similarly, the 9038PRO/ESS chip-set is head/shoulders above Gustard's older 9028-PRO chip set (i.e. 'X-20PRO'). The resolution/layering, fluidity of playback is immediately and obviously improved in the 9038/Gustard implementation. 






2,850 posts

"The Gustard X26 Pro is compared to the new Topping D90SE in the Topping review linked below. The Gustard was favored. Try out the Gustard on the 30 day home trial., I sold an almost $3K tube DAC that people here love after I compared it with the Gustard X26 Pro."

yyz, good call (favoring X-26PRO): And yet, I'd bet the Gustard 'X-22' would  trounce the Topping 90SE. In fact, the 'X-22' handily out-classes the Chord 'Qutest'; the brand/model often referred to as the "one-to-beat"? 

Anyway you wish to look at it (design, build/parts quality, output stage type & sophistication, Digital I/O's: Wrd. Clk, i2S) the 'X-26PRO' Gustard represents an excellent well respected/reviewed DAC that has earned its reputation since the original 'X-20/PRO' that debuted many years ago.  


@allhifi +1 on Gustard

I have two Gustard DACs, A22/A20H, both are well designed / built, class A balanced - unbalanced (RCA) output stages suitable for 5k+ price class, very low noise power supply block' based on two toroidal-low EM leak transformers, with separated digital and analog paths etc.

Update, i now have an Audio GD r7he mkii dac and it is fantastic. RME still sounds great but the AGD is much more relaxed and musical. Going to have my Cambridge Audio Cxn v2 upgraded with a Modwright tube stage and linear power supply.

Also highly recommend the Gustard X26 Pro. Only had it a few days and so much detail revealed that I wasn't hearing before. Have a Cambridge 200m in my outside system that I will ride for a bit longer, but will eventually replace with another one. The details I'm now getting from my regular ripped 16/44 Cds is amazing, let alone SACDs or Bluray Audio discs. Was using Krell's DAC previously.