Gustardx26 pro vs RME ADI2FS

Was wondering why the gustard has 2 toroidal transformers and the rme gets way without one?

How does the transformer enable and how does it effect SQ?
RME uses a "wall-wart" power adapter, which is a small switching power supply.  It gets the job done, but switching power supplies are very noisy and don't provide smooth strong current.

Gustard has 2 transformers which means at least two separate linear power supplies (probably one for digital section and one for analog section).  Linear power supplies have much cleaner and smoother current.  This results in much higher sound quality.
I love the Gustard X26 Pro. I saved a ton of cash getting this over a $6K DAC I had originally considered. The following review discusses the power supplies.

The One to Beat: Gustard X26 PRO DAC Review (

I came across this article on the net and remembered that Nelson Pass said the same thing once about the sound effect of transformers used, rather than the actual tubes.

This site also mentions that transformers impart warmth or a mid range boost(sounds almost like an EL34 description).

"Audio transformer effects:"

"Audio transformer sound may be the most important component of so-called “tube sound.” The transformer launches a midrange boost, slight ringing, and even harmonics."

I then realized that all of the equipment that Ive liked and kept had a transformer.

In my case, the RME DAC makes the violins in an orchestra sound monotone and from a much smaller soundstage. Im wondering if it is because it lacks a toroidal transformer or linear power supply.

Also DIY audio's desription of the F6:

"The transformer greatly contributes to the overall sonic character of the amp which is very highly regarded and considered to be similar and having all the benefits and positive characteristics of a tube amp... making some observers speculate that much of the positive 'tube amp' sound is the transformers, not the tubes"

The transfomers referred to in that article are output transformers, not power transformers. They will affect the sound because they are coupling the output tubes to the speaker.

Linear power supplies are noisy too. They can sometimes cause hum or buzz in the output of the amp due to the power transformer. For the switch mode power supply, the frequencies are out of the audio band so you won’t be able to hear them.
The transfomers referred to in that article are output transformers, not power transformers. They will affect the sound because they are coupling the output tubes to the speaker.

i haven’t had a gustard x26 pro dac, it may well have output transformers at its rca analog outputs, but i am pretty sure it is a not a vacuum tube driven unit

furthermore, even if this or any other dac had tubes at its rca outputs, they would have nothing to do with driving speakers...  
Folks, I'm talking about the links @recluse posted.
They refer to output transformers.


seems like you haven’t the foggiest idea what you are talking about, and your comments are confusing matters

transformers can be used at a dac's analog output to shape the sound (similar to when low output phono cartridges’ output can be run through a phono grade transformer in order to raise the miniscule output level into a preamp, but the transformer used in this way will alter the sonic presentation in addition to boosting the voltage level of the cartridge)

neko audio and lumin, among others, are also known to use small, high grade transformers in their dac sections for specifically this purpose, to shape the sound of the analog output, trying to make the units sound more ’analog’, so to speak

transformers are of course also used in power supply sections of amplifiers, and dacs to supply and regulate dc power sent to active sections of units

separately, different transformers can be used in tube power amps to match the high output impedance of the output tubes to the speakers that the amps are meant to drive

but this latter use of transformers is fundamentally different than how they are used in dacs

RME is so well engineered it works as both a preamp and DAC.

Do we even need to get into warranty, website and support? 
Gustard can't match and doesn't come close. 

With great performance, we haven't even touched on the free upgrades to the hardware using a simple software tool. 

The RME kills and won't be a stranded ashtray in a year or two.
Just say'in. 

No, I know what I’m talking about. @recluse was trying to show that transformers make a difference in sound - except that the Gustard has transformers only in the power supply. Hence, they can’t really ’shape’ the sound as you say since they have nothing to do with the output stage. All the links he was posting discussed transformers in the output stage, *not* the power supply.

Yes, I know that transformers can be used in the output stage even in solid stage designs. I don’t think they belong there, though. But you know, different strokes, etc.

Do you guys actually read posts, or do you just randomly post stuff in response?
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The transfomers referred to in that article are output transformers, not power transformers. They will affect the sound because they are coupling the output tubes to the speaker.

the original jim hawes article linked by the op talks about the effect of transformers in various audio circuits, not just coupling transformers in tube amp output stages - specifically mentions how nelson pass uses them in d-fet solid state amps

op's second link refers to parts to build the first watt f6 ... that is nelson’s solid state 50 wpc j fet fet push-pull amp

so this has got nothing to do with mating output tubes to speakers... since there aren’t vacuum tubes in that amp

the op in raising the issue was not conflating tube amp output transformers with other transformers used in audio circuits to shape the sound... though he may have mistaken power supply transformers with ones used in the signal path
On page 10 of the RME-ADI2 Users Guide they discuss the power supply in detail, laying out the design features built into the dac, they conclude; " other words the choice of power supply is not critical."  I'd like to know of another manufacturer so confident in their engineering as to make a similar statement.
This discussion is interesting because it is circling around what I have come to believe is a central truth in HIFI. That is, there are two ways to go, true fidelity and good sound. These are not mutually exclusive as that statement might sound at first.  The first makes good recordings sound good and bad recording sound bad, the second “improves” recordings making the bad ones less deficient to the listener, while good recordings still are pleasurable. The second path is embodied by tubes, class A solid State amplification and R to R style decks. Basically, to one extent or the other these devices round off the hard edges of a bad recording and introduce  “ good“ distortion that pleases our ears. I don’t think one path is better than the other but it took me a while to realize that this is the basic choice and that I might want to have a systems that pursue each of these goals separately and not confuse things by mingling elements of each within one system. Or if you do mingle be aware of what you were doing so I as to achieve a desired goal as opposed to working against yourself.
well said bruce

i have come to believe the same over the numerous years i have spent in this pursuit

whether it is something being lost in the recording and mastering processes, or in the playback chian, the classic notion of ’straight wire with gain’ often does not lead to the most pleasing and beautiful presentations of (even wel) recorded music

the magic of truly great audio equipment and designers is that their gear manages to reshape or reconstitute the recorded sound in a way that adds something back, giving it a dose of magic and beauty

the analogy i sometimes think of is that fresh seafood, once frozen and thawed, does not taste the same as originally...  still may taste good, but something definitely has been lost -- so a great chef then can add something back to make it taste great again during the preparation ... no it is not the same as it was when it is fresh, but it is so tasty nonetheless

something like that is happening here with music reproduction
I have tested out several DACs. When I added an SBooster instead of the wall wart the improvements were so great it was well worth the $400 extra cost for the power supply. Some of my tests were on the M2Tech, Mytek Liberty, and the Lumin. Due to the power free flowing all the time it really makes the DAC sound awesome. Get the RME and an SBooster. You have to love a DAC in this price range that lets you customize itself to your system. I am going with a high end DAC by Ayre. If I was going for under $2k I would be going RME with the SBooster. If you are in the Chicagoland area check out this store:
Due to DACs needing different power supplies these typically have to be ordered. The do have a few pairings so you can try it out for yourself before you make a decision. Sorry, I mean before you place your order. Believe me, you will. It’s that good. 
@hshifi i’m curious, do you use a power conditioner prior to the linear power supply or does the linear power supply, innocence, act as a power conditioner?
@recluse thanks for the link to the first article that you cited in this thread. I’m a big fan of Nelson Pass-and it was building and listening to an amp camp amp from DIY that opened my eyes to the comments I made earlier. It really had a tube sound without tubes which pass explains as introducing second order and even order harmonics which we find pleasing and which tubes also do. I suspect that there might be a natural/evolutionary reason for this which I can’t offer but it seems to be the fact that even with live music we find the same harmonics pleasing.
i’m thinking of building the F6 this winter possibly.

by the way when discussions get heated on this subject, as they often do here, I harken back to a comment from Nelson Pass to the effect that “this is the entertainment industry, why don’t you just have fun?“
Hey all and especially @jjss49, I owe you an apology for acting like a jerk in my previous posts. I should’ve written my original reply to the OP more clearly. I can certainly see how I caused confusion given how it was worded.

@bruce and @jjss49
I can appreciate systems that strive for ultimate fidelity to the recording or that ’embellish’ the sound in an attempt to recreate a lost moment in time. I have two examples in my home - one based around the Benchmark AHB2 and the other driven by Bottlehead 2A3 Paramours that I assembled from a kit. I listen to and highly enjoy both.

I also agree that people can end up chasing their own tails sometimes when trying out different components in search of ’perfect’ sound. These days, I tend to look at and analyze measurements a lot more than I used to. I also like to try out sound tests such as those on to test my perception of different aspects that affect audio reproduction. I think it gives me a way to focus on what really matters so that the changes I make in the future are more deliberate instead of getting carried away by the flavor of the month. In other words, I don't want to get off the audiophile treadmill, but I do want to slow it down.
An RME uses an off-board power supply. You can use a cheap wallwart or upgrade to something better. I run my RME off a 12v Li battery, which is orders of magnitude better than any power on the planet. It made a dramatic difference in sound.

Whether it sound better than the custard I don’t know, but it sounds a lot better than it did with a wallwart. 
Also DIY audio’s desription of the F6:

"The transformer greatly contributes to the overall sonic character of the amp which is very highly regarded and considered to be similar and having all the benefits and positive characteristics of a tube amp... making some observers speculate that much of the positive ’tube amp’ sound is the transformers, not the tubes"

The article is referring to output transformers, not power transformers. Huge difference.

Neither the Gustard nor the RME will sound like a tube unit. Neither has tubes, neither has output transformers.

Whether it sound better than the custard I don’t know, but it sounds a lot better than it did with a wallwart.

i dunno if it will sound as good as a gustard but i am sure it won't taste as good as a custard!... especially a frozen custard!!!  

sorry i just couldn't resist  :)
No doubt the RME choice of power supply is not critical due to its triple stage regulators. But some wallwart smps inject noise back to the ac mains, unless all components in the audio chain can handle/reject those noise, otherwise SQ will be affected.
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Thanks for everyone's input. 

Was also wondering with all the functions the RME has, many of which I am getting lost in with the tree they use. Maybe a language barrier as well:  the "phones" section-  what!? A bit frustrating and not especially user friendly a la programming the VCR back in the day. 

I know the RME has a great clock. Do reviewers or QC ever verify that a song is being played at the correct speed and tempo? Is there a DAC out there that has this adjustment that can slow down or speed up a song? - kind of like the turntable speed dial. Just curious.

No doubt the RME choice of power supply is not critical ...

I switched from the cheap wallwart to a 12v Li battery and the improvement was nothing less than astonishing. Whether the wallwart's feedback back into the mains played a role I cannot say.  My wallwart is plugged into my mains 24x7 as I use it to charge the Li battery when not listening, so there has to be more than just that.

Perhaps the wallwart causes less issues when it does not have a load on it? I'll pull it out and see if I hear a difference.

I did try a friend's linear power supply and it doesn't match the battery. I think I left the wallwart plugged in while using the linear power supply but I cannot say for sure. 

Long story short, the battery beats all comers. 

Pauly, can you post a link to a(or your) audiophile battery, maybe one for sale? Let us know if disconnecting the battery with the stock PS made a difference. I'm thinking it would.

BTW, the manual for the RME is a great read. Does not feel at all like Google translated German and it is sort of written in the first person on R&D issues. 
@ pauly "neither has output transformers” 
removing transformers is good thing! good transformers in sound path will cost you a fortune, and results are still worse than avoiding them all together.  
Do not understand why a person would want to modify such amazing devices built, designed, and financed by a team of wizards and think that changing their power supplies will make it “better?” Do they not think such ideas were not already considered and debated ad nauseum by the manufacturers. These are expensive product, why cut corners on such a critical feature?