can i get a significant dac upgrade over my Lumin d2 for 2k?

going to take my first plunge into standalone dac

went from bluesound to lumin d2

moving to using the bluesound as a streamer feeding DAC feeding power amp

IMPORTANT, next dac needs to be able to drive a signal well direct to power amp

leaning towards the new gustard r2r

is 2k enough to get me a big upgrade?






If that rave review is even close to accurate the Gustard is worth a try at it's price. 

Yeah, the Gustard R26 seems like a damn good bet although I prefer using a separate active preamp. 

i just tried Topping's new preamp and was not too impressed with the unit

noise floor was very high in my system

at the moment I'm getting great results from my Lumin straight to power amp


Lumin directly to power amp is an excellent choice if using the LEEDH processor in the app.



I very much doubt that you will get anything more than minimal to negligible. In essence, a likely sideways move at best.

In my experience, the lower limit “cut-off” pricing threshold of where the contenders start to materially separate themselves from the bevy of pretenders, is going progressively north of $3K ( Pre-COVID pricing strata).And that does not include the added matched cost of a separate stand-alone stablemate  DAC.

That is where the upgraded build quality and resulting audio performance-step-up follows the price-point upward $$ curve.

A simple example is the improved design and better build with the implementation of robust linear power supplies.( either external or fully isolated built-in)

Post removed 



My rule of thumb is never upgrade less that 2x. While you could argue this would be a 2x upgrade… i would not consider it to be. I would not go less that $3K - $4K. You want to be delighted with the sound improvement… not disappointed in a lateral move, just trading strengths and weaknesses.

I would save up.

Easy , check out all the great reviews of the Denafrips Pontus-2  

a great R2R dac that does everything well , even at $3k don’t know anything that is 

good in all areas , to get a Big step up. The Denafrips Terminator2  is 

like going Mercedes’ C class to S class !

Bluesound NODE with Teddy  Pardo LPS to Gustard X26 PRO via DH Labs silversonic USB connection. Sweet!

For those of you saying you need to spend more to get a meaningful improvement I’d encourage you to read the review of the Gustard R26 on The thing is built to a very high standard from the power supplies to the resistor ladder, and the results according to the review are not far off the Terminator +. Sometimes the audio Gods give us poor folk a true gift, and this sure looks like one of them to me.

Gustard now doing the R2R thing because it is the talked about thing for analogue lovers. Smart of them. However the X26 pro is an absolutely thing of beauty sound wise, better than the Aries 2 I owned.

I ordered the Gustard R26 last night. I have been reading looking snd driving my self nuts for more than a year. I came down to Holo Spring, Denafrips Pontus, Gustard x26 pro, Sokris, and the I heard about Gustard doing r2r discrete. In my search the first eliminator was no balanced xlr. This removed some very well like tube dac’s. Tubes were not a big deal as my pre is a tube unit. Check the net nightly for reviews on the R26 and it finally showed up last week. That was all in needed to end my search. I also feel in this hobby spending more money does not always result in the equal amount of improvement. To spend 100 times more for only a 20% improvement does not add up for me. If the R26 holds up to 3/4 of the review I will be a happy camper. Only hope the new shut down in china does not cause me to be sitting here waiting until Christmas for it to come.

+1 for the Denafrips Pontus II DAC, though I have not heard the Gustard. I'm also a little over a week into testing a Denafrips Iris DDC feeding the Pontus, and yes does it make a very noticeable difference.......from a Node 130. Cost of the Pontus II and Iris DDC is $2,300.....I should get a report out this weekend or early next week.

I also can recommend the Holo Audio DACs, but they'll run you even more

Good for you Greg. It's likely to be a great sounding dac for you.

But this R2R craze  brings me to the following thoughts: Why would anyone who is so in love with analog sound would want to find it in digital? Point being analog will always sound different than digital and vice versa. Both can sound wonderful but in a slightly different presentation. I am 68 years old and never thought I would get into the digital world. Analog was it for me for 50 years and my 2,000+ vinyl collection. But since I have always wanted to live in the present, researching digital became inevitable. Boy, am I glad I took the dive this year. CDs came first and now streaming. What a wonderful world of discovery! All this to say if you really want to live with your analog sound, then stick to analog. If you want to explore the present and hear the wonderful sounds digital has to offer, go full digital. The R2R thing makes very little sense to me now and I regret having followed multiple advice received here getting me to purchase the Aries2. It did not work for me. But no big deal, it was easy to sell it. 



My quest for a quality dac is not about trying to replicate analog sound. For me it is just trying to have multiple ways to enjoy music any way I can get it. I still run my Nakamichi tape deck in my system and think it sounds good. Streaming for me has led to discovery of new bands I would have never found without my access through Qobuz and Austin Blues Radio station. The convince of putting on a stream and being able to sit for hours and enjoy it without having to leave my chair is nice. While this is my first attempt at a high end dac I have heard others snd will say to my ears streaming does come very very close except for drums. That just seems to be where digital can’t keep up. Granted I am not saying it is bad just vinyl is better here. Thanks for the reply and remember to enjoy and love the music not your system. Music will love you back your love of system will eat you alive!


Music first, system second, agreed and understood. However it would be nice if you post your system. It always makes it easier to understand why a member may think certain ways about anything audiophile they comment on. I try to be as transparent in my system page as I can so folks may understand better why I think certain ways about anything audiophile. The music is most important but obviously it is always system dependent . 

I’m also a little over a week into testing a Denafrips Iris DDC feeding the Pontus, and yes does it make a very noticeable difference

@vthokie83 Glad to hear your Iris is working out although I’ll say I’m not really surprised given the reviews and other users’ experience. My Iris arrives tomorrow from The Music Room and can’t wait to get it hooked up. BTW, what HDMI cable are you using and what length?

@sgreg1 Congrats on that excellent new DAC — I’m sure you’re gonna love it. Down the road do consider getting a DDC so you can take advantage of the Gustard’s i2S input as it can up your performance even more. Please let us know what you think if you could once the DAC is broken in.  What digital cable will you be using?  Try to go with at least 1.5m length if you can for better sound. 


As of right now using a 1 meter Audioquest Vodka 48 HDMI (8K) for testing, and since I'm  comparing the system with/without Iris.....don't yet want to muck up the works with different cables. 

I do have a Supra 2.1 UHD (8K), that I think should give excellent performance, and I have a Wireworld Sphere 48 (8K) that's inexpensive and am looking for another reasonably priced high speed HDMI cable to compare (maybe Furutech?) to recommendations $250 and under

thanks all

just sold the Lumin, ordered the Gustard, and purchased a used Topping D90se for the interim


@vthokie83 Makes total sense to keep Vodka as a constant, and I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts. I’ll be getting my Iris on Sunday now (shipping delay), and since it’s used it won’t take too long to settle in and get a take on what it’s doing. I’m starting with a cheap 1-foot Monoprice HDMI cable — I read some stuff that said HDMI doesn’t travel well so try to use 1 foot or less and the Monoprice was one of the only ones I found at such a short length. Plus, from people who installed DDCs they seemed to indicate there was not a huge difference relatively speaking between HDMI cables so figured the Monoprice was a good place to start. Once I get a feel for the sound I’m gonna try a DH Labs HDMI 2.1 that’s $95 for 0.5m (yeah I know, but it’s the shortest length they offer) and see if there’s a meaningful improvement. Anyway, that’s my plan for now and subject to change when someone inevitably shares some info that points me in a completely different direction. It never ends…

We’ll be eagerly awaiting your impressions from our home and native land. 


usb to dac will be Kimber as well as balanced xlr to pre. Pre is balanced xlr to mono blocks. All lengths are 1 meter. Am nervous for arrival of dac as payment made through pay pal but it has been three days and it is crickets from china. No confirmation at all!

@sgreg1 Who did you order the DAC through?  If it’s one of the bigger guys I wouldn’t worry, plus you also have protection thru your credit card and likely PayPal too.  Did you get confirmation on screen they got the order when you paid?  The only thing I’d worry about is if the order never processed due to an internet glitch.  Did it show up as a charge through PayPal and/or your credit card?  If it did there’s a good chance it’s in process.  They may just be inundated with orders after the review, so maybe contact them just to make sure, and you can check on delivery time too while you’re at it but sounds like it’s at about a month right now.  I wouldn’t be concerned yet if they got your order. 

Post removed 


Order placed with Aoshi. I used them as I saw they we the same if I went through Amazon. I received confirm email from pay pal snd charge is showing pending on credit card, but nothing from Aoshi. No email confirm, I sent them an email asking for status and zero reply. Guess I just sit and wait for some sign that they received order snd will process. Main reason of concern is their site said all orders are processed within 48 hours and I am well past that. I do not have any confidence in pay pal to protect my interest but I do have a confirm from them at least. Thanks for reply.

Heads up to anyone looking to order Gustard R26. I received email on my order and the distribution center is in full ccp lockdown. They are setting an eta before they can get the units to process the order at 14 to 21 days. Nothing to do but sit and wait.

@sgreg1 Ugh.  Sorry man, but I have a feeling it’s gonna be well worth the wait.  BTW, and not to point this thread in a different direction, but does anyone else think China is dealing with the virus foolishly by continually locking things down?  If they have such control over their people why not just mandate everyone gets vaccinated and be done with it rather than negatively impacting themselves and whole world with these stupid lockdowns?  Just sayin’.  Sorry — now back to our regularly-scheduled program.