Pontus vs Gustard?

I'm looking to upgrade my Benchmark 1, and am very interested in the Gustard X26 Pro.  My only concern is the dearth of reviews (one, excellent performance and value) and Agon posts (one member, yyzsantabarbara, has it in his excellent system and loves it).  Before looking at the Gustard, I was interested in the Pontus, which is similar in price and has many high marks from users on this forum.  Has anyone here had a chance to compare them, side by side after burn-in?
Hey I thought you already bought the Gustard I was going to ask how you liked it?

Note that the Gustard is another DAC that is crap DAC direct to amp. I noticed that after several hours of playback DAC direct to amp the hiss would increase. I had to power OFF and ON the unit decrease the hiss to negligible levels. This is one of many complaints I have about DAC direct to amp. This hiss issue is specific to the Gustard. 

I now use the Gustard with the CODA 07x preamp and it is great. 

A guy I speak audio stuff in Texas is looking to try the Gustard X26 Pro after his excellent experience with a lower Gustard model. I will post his feedback here once he gets the X26.

The Benchmark DAC3B that I have in another system is dead silent and maybe something you will like if you liked the Benchmark DAC1. I owned the DAC1 long ago and think the DAC2 and DAC3 are much better.
Hi Manoj, no I haven't pulled the trigger yet.  I am concerned that you've had so much trouble using the Gustard direct to amp.  I do have a preamp (Parasound 2100), but I consider it to be the weak link in my system, and have only been using it for sporadic vinyl listening.  I don't know what would make a DAC perform poorly without a preamp (any thoughts from Agon'ers on why a DAC would have trouble driving an amp  would be appreciated), but if that is true, it would make the Gustard about $4000 more expensive, and way out of my budget. 
I would not get the Gustard X26 Pro if you need to drive it Direct to amp. It has some bug that causes it to generate louder hiss after many hours. Going into a preamp does not have this issue.

Going direct to amp is using more circuity than into a preamp. The digital volume control for one thing. I believe that when you set the volume to MAX the digital volume circuit is by-passed. For me, this is not a problem because I really dislike direct to amp in all the DACs I have used.
That’s a shame – it sounds like a great DAC. I’m still considering it, but if I have to use it with my existing preamp, It may not sound as good as it should.
The challenge with these types of DACs is that the output stage may not be beefy enough or have the ability to push enough current to drive the input impedance of amplifiers.  That is where a separate preamp can come it.  Obviously, this doesn't affect all DACs with volume controls, but there are several amps which can be difficult to drive from a DAC.

Of course, the described problem with Gustard X26 hissing may be something completely different.
The challenge with these types of DACs is that the output stage may not be beefy enough or have the ability to push enough current to drive the input impedance of amplifiers. That is where a separate preamp can come it.

@auxinput  Thanks for your input -- I'm surprised the Gustard wouldn't have enough current in its output stage to drive an amp, since they seem to have paid a lot of attention to their electronics, but that could be the case.  I noticed that you also weighed in on a much older post about LKS, Okto DAC8 Stereo and others (https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/has-anyone-auditioned-an-lks-mh-da004-dac?sort_order=asc )  ; do you have any thoughts on how the Gustard DAC might compare with them?
"The challenge with these types of DACs is that the output stage may not be beefy enough or have the ability to push enough current to drive the input impedance of amplifiers”
lol you’ve made my day!

Currently use A22 Gustard DAC (AK4499), which from design standpoint has excellent discrete class A output stages (unlike most DACs Op-amps), and very “beefy” ultra-low noise linear power supplies powered by two toroidal transformers, and it has no problem to beat $$ preamps (x10 price), driving top class amplifiers. 

Has anybody used the XA26 Pro with a 10M clock? Delta Sigma designs benefit frrom better clocking, partcularly in upsampling mode
@antigrunge2 I am looking for feedback on this too. I was hoping that Sandu from Soundnews.net does a follow-up review of the X26 Pro with the clock. That guy is on the money with his reviews. I bought 3 items based on his reviews and I agreed with his findings.

- Gustard X26 Pro DAC
- Matrix Audio Mini-3 Pro DAC
- Topping A90 headphone amp

Just placed and order for the Gustard X26 Pro and will put it up against my DACMagic 200m next week. Figure it'll upstage it significantly, which excites me since I love my DACMagic 200.

I'm running it to my integrated amp (Azur 851a) to power amp (Azur 851w) to KEF LS50 Meta's with Kube 12b sub.

I either us my tablet or laptop as a source, but am looking for suggestion on a DACless streamer (or DAC bypassable streamer) other then a Room Nucleus.

Will let you know.

I have owned two Gustard models and have ran them direct to amp for years. No hiss no issues. Currently I am using the Willsenton R8 amp. Another large prototype Solid State as well. Very happy with them. I always thought I had a touch of digital siblance. The Jays audio transport removed it all! Very happy with Gustard. Thinking about the X26 pro. Just because??

Mike Thiel

I don’t know if this has been posted on another thread but here’s one reviewers take on the Gustard X26 that would please anyone thinking of getting it:

All the best,

I have the Pontus II and Gustard X26 and have been A/B comparing them with different inputs and settings for about a week.  The only configuration where one is clearly better than the other is using Roon upsampling to PCM 768 kHz connecting to the Denafrips Iris and then over I2S to the Pontus II.  In that specific configuration the Pontus II outperforms the X26 connected to the Iris over AES (it isn't compatible with the Iris's I2S pinout), the Pontus will have a slightly better soundstage and noticeably better bass.  In every other configuration I have tried there is essentially no difference between the DACs that I can hear.  I still need to test each DAC in its NOS mode.  Personally, having owned 5 DACs now I think most users would be better served spending money elsewhere.  But maybe if you head up toward the $5K level things change though my guess is modern DACs are just very good in general.

@pinwa Thanks for the Pontus II and Gustard X26 comparison. You answered exactly what I wanted to know. I sold my Gustard X26 Pro but may get it back and sell my Benchmark DAC3B because I will be going into a very hot speaker. I am going to put a Schitt Freya+ in front of the DAC3B to see if it works well for this hot system.

@yyzsantabarbara Having listened to the Pontus II and Gustard X26 for another couple of weeks I am beginning to think the Pontus II introduces just a touch of glare when I use Roon upsampling to PCM 768 kHz.  That appears with some female vocals or brass.  It is subtle and obviously the issue could have more to do with Roon than the Pontus but it seems to be less of an issue with the X26.  I haven't decided if the benefits of upsampling are worth it.