Gustard H26 Review

Gustard H26 Review

This is my pre-review of the new gustard H26 headphone amplifier and preamplifier unit. It comes fully balanced it also includes single-ended outputs which is excellent for my setup where I have a balanced fully balanced dac and SET monoblocks with RCA inputs. 
What I want to talk about today is how exceptional this unit is as a pre-amplifier now it's not just a little bit good it's phenomenally good! 
On power on I had to double check it was accrual on due to the dead quiet noise floor, having just prior listened to system with its predecessor the h20 to use as a reference as well as gustard p26 but I quickly scrapped that idea as it was immediately obvious they are not even in the same territory... not even close, so I connected my reference highly modified Audionote preamplifier just to reset my ears before putting the H26 back as preamplifier. 
Again, first moment I hear sound I am immediately blown away, is this really a Chinese <2K headphone amplifier ? Presenting this wonderful PRaT? Injecting loads of dynamics and rendering complex passages with ninja like speed of attack sending these signals into my unsuspecting monoblocks, no tonal colouring at all, but also not robbing that SET goodness either, it's more like SETs on steroids, your proberly "thinking hmm must be clinical, definitely fatiguing" but all the qualities of my monoblocks when running direct from the dac remained with the addition of much better control especially when it comes to the base and passages that are more complex rendered with significant improvement in attack ability to insert dynamics and speed to the sound is just incredible it's control.
I could go on about at what point in what reference track I heard this and that and how Twinkle Twinkle Little Star seemed to twinkle harder but I'm not going to waste your time here! 😂 In my experience nothing sounds the same in another system, every system is different that's why it's defined as a system: "a serious of interconnected equipment forming a whole or sysyem" and just like everyone is formed differently every implementation of a piece of equipment into a system will act and sound totally different. But I can assure you upon comparing with several units in price points ranging from 1k to 35k the gustard punches way beyond its price and compares with units >3 times its price. Pairing with a26 or r26 DAC will make a great combo, I'm currently pairing it with a Terminator 2 getting great results, 
Disclaimer: I have no invested interests in creating this review and I did not get given this unit for free to do the review! This is purely my subjective and overwhelmingly pleased product review, you can take it or leave it as I don't really care either way.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly to chat! if you have any complaints.. I don't care ... so go away!  
😃 have a great day everyone, I love you all! 
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2 comments

Hi Aaron. I own the Gustard H20 and it’s served me really well as a HP amp/preamp over the last ~4+ years that I’ve owned it (I bought it used). Of course I took the liberty of changing out the LME49720 IC opamps and replaced them with Sparkos SS-3602 and/or Burson V6-Vivid Class A discrete opamps. That mod really made the H20 step up into the “high end” territory – but with a “mid-fi” price – especially used. The only problem I have with it is that the XLR HP amp and XLR preamp circuit both have a slightly high output impedance of ~100 ohms or so that robs the well-designed output stage of the absolute power and drive – and ultimately the proper volume level that it “should” have for both HPs and for outboard amps.
I noticed that the new H26 has an improved lower output impedance of 0.1 ohms – and that that small output impedance value shouldn’t hamstring the H26 of power as does the higher OI of the H20. As it stands now – I have my H20 turned up to about ~50% when listening to the BAL HP output driving the Hifiman Arya Stealths – and I have it all the way up for preamp duties (and use my laptop as the volume control). It should be “blasting” – but instead I still have to turn up my laptop volume to 65~70% for it to get really loud. So, my question is this: In either the XLR HP output or the XLR preamp outs, does the H26 seem to be “louder” than the max volume of the H20? This is the main unanswered question that keeps me from seriously contemplating on finally pulling the trigger on it – that if it’s the exact same max vol of the H20, it really won’t be worth it to me. Do you have any idea about that??? Thanks in advance…..

Eric D. Fuller

Hi, Aaron, how many steps does the volume control of this amplifier have, and how do you like it as a telephone amplifier?Which phones have you tried listening to it with? You can go into more detail, if it’s not difficult for you.

Igor

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