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Lynx Hilo user thread


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Hello guys.

 

I'm seriously considering a Hilo and been doing a fair amount of research on it, but can't find many comments. The unit has been out for 3 years or so, and I can't help but wonder if that is too much in the DAC world of today.

 

For those of you who heard it, please let me know what units you preferred it over, or which unit you preferred better than the Hilo, and why. For reference, I have a Metrum Octave fed by an Audiophilleo with PurePower - in case someone heard the two units and can comment on the differences in sound.

 

 

For the owners out there: what is it sensitive to?

 

The quality of the computer feeding it? I ask because the exaSound, for example, seems to be purposely less sensitive to this. A follow up question on this one would be the USB cable. Which one has worked best for you?

 

Are you using a USB-to-SPDIF converter or the onboard USB? Steven Stone reported hearing no difference between the onboard USB vs. an Offramp 5, which is very significant, but then he highlighted "with the speakers I have available now", so I was left wondering.

 

The power supply? Are you using the supplied PS, or an aftermarket? Which one?

 

Are you using it directly driving an amp? Please tell me what kind of preamp it replaced, how do you find the volume control, etc.

 

Thank you!

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I've had a Hilo since December 2012. I use its full feature set on almost a daily basis (I have about 1,500 vinyl records in need of ripping).

 

It replaced an Ayre QB-9 and Bryston BHA-1; I would go back to the Ayre in a heartbeat if I ever finished the vinyl project, but there are headphone amps out there now that I think I would prefer to the Bryston. I would also consider the Resonessence Invicta, but that's at 2x the price.

 

I use it exclusively with headphones, mostly Sennheiser HD 800 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors. It's connected to a MacBook Pro via a WireWorld Starlight USB cable. The boys at Changstar have played with my Hilo with an OR5, and concluded that what it added wasn't enough to be cost-justified. I've thought about upgrading to a Thunderbolt interface card; that would be great for my everyday use, but make it more difficult for meet-goers to experience the Hilo with their own computers.

 

The headphone-amp section's output is limited to about 450 mW at 50 ohms; it would not be my choice to drive the HiFiMan HE-6, although it has ample power for less absurdly power-hungry planars like the HE-560 and any of the Audez'es (I owned the LCD-3 for a few months).

 

If you have need of the full range of its capabilities, don't equivocate. Don't over-think this decision. Just buy the thing and don't look back. There is no one-box solution at anywhere near the price that can do everything the Hilo can do and do it remotely as well. An Ayre stack, QA-9 and QB-9, is probably better, but it's also $8k.

 

If you have no need for the analog-to-digital side of the Hilo's feature set, there are plenty of options out there, but I would say that the only DACs I've heard that I unequivocally prefer are the QB-9 and the MSB Analog. I've not heard the Metrum Octave, but from what I've read I wouldn't expect to like its sound signature (my preference for the HD-800 should give you a good sense of what I like).

 

HTH.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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Thanks for the input.

 

What is it you like better about the Ayre?

 

In a way, yes I will need the full feature set, but that's different from what you might be thinking. I'd like to use it as a 6-channel DAC, and the ADC is handy for measuring with mics. Not many multichannel DACs out there, and from those I'm basically down to the Hilo and exaSound e28, the latter being $1.3k (35%) more expensive.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I wish the e28 had a mic input. George?

 

Thanks for the input.

 

What is it you like better about the Ayre?

 

In a way, yes I will need the full feature set, but that's different from what you might be thinking. I'd like to use it as a 6-channel DAC, and the ADC is handy for measuring with mics. Not many multichannel DACs out there, and from those I'm basically down to the Hilo and exaSound e28, the latter being $1.3k (35%) more expensive.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

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Thanks for the input.

 

What is it you like better about the Ayre?

 

In a way, yes I will need the full feature set, but that's different from what you might be thinking. I'd like to use it as a 6-channel DAC, and the ADC is handy for measuring with mics. Not many multichannel DACs out there, and from those I'm basically down to the Hilo and exaSound e28, the latter being $1.3k (35%) more expensive.

 

How do you plan to use it as a MCh DAC? It's a 2in/4-out system...

 

There is some old promo material that claims six-channel ability but that was corrected a couple of years ago (I was interested in it for the same reason.)

 

Graemme

zen mastering

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I wish the e28 had a mic input. George?

 

+1!!!!!!

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I had the Hilo. Great dac for sure. It kicked my MH LIO-8 to the curb as it was that good. Either way, great dac but the AURALiC Vega easily kicked it away.

 

Thanks for chiming in!

 

Did you find the Hilo sensitive to the server and/or USB cable feeding it? And power supply?

 

BTW, what is a GedLee Bandpass? Googling GedLee returned a Geddes sub. But a bandpass?

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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How do you plan to use it as a MCh DAC? It's a 2in/4-out system...

 

There is some old promo material that claims six-channel ability but that was corrected a couple of years ago (I was interested in it for the same reason.)

 

Graemme

 

It supports up to 8-channels in thru USB at 24/192 and 6 channels out. Confirmed by Lynx and by Mitchco here (see his Advanced Acourate article on this site). So not sure where you are coming from?

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Thanks for chiming in!

 

Did you find the Hilo sensitive to the server and/or USB cable feeding it? And power supply?

 

BTW, what is a GedLee Bandpass? Googling GedLee returned a Geddes sub. But a bandpass?

I don't think I'd say sensitive but subjectively I do think I can say it changed sonically but I don't go nutty over that stuff. Never powered it via DC power only AC.

 

Yes, Geddes does make a bandpass sub.

W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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It supports up to 8-channels in thru USB at 24/192 and 6 channels out. Confirmed by Lynx and by Mitchco here (see his Advanced Acourate article on this site). So not sure where you are coming from?
Practically speaking, how do you use either of those scenarios?

The 6 channels out - 2 line out, 2 monitor out, 2 headphone out. You can also simultaneously use the ADAT output which offers 8 more channels and the 2 channel AES output offering 16 output channels in total (6 analogue and 10 digital).

The 8 channels input are supported from ADAT link (iirc) though you can then simultaneously use the AES input and the 2 channel analogue input for a total of 12 input channel.

 

As an analogue to digital / digital to analogue converter though you have 2 channels of A/D and 6 channels of D/A.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I assume you want to use Acourate. If so, you could buy both the Hilo and the e28. You can use the HILO to take synchronous measurements which Acourate requires. Uli said there are ways to compensate for clock drift. However, I suspect that will be a lot of work. I think I can find a HILO for cheap second hand so I may start off with that one. For me, I am still in the experimental phase. :-)

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

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What is it you like better about the Ayre?

 

Going from memory, I'd say the Ayre was a little bit "quicker," i.e. slightly better transient response. And maybe a little better at sorting out complex inner detail. For example, in the opening of "Hill of Thieves," by Cara Dillon, there are three acoustic guitars that sound pretty similar; they Ayre is a little better at helping you to separate and follow all three lines.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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I assume you want to use Acourate. If so, you could buy both the Hilo and the e28. You can use the HILO to take synchronous measurements which Acourate requires. Uli said there are ways to compensate for clock drift. However, I suspect that will be a lot of work. I think I can find a HILO for cheap second hand so I may start off with that one. For me, I am still in the experimental phase. :-)

 

Indeed. I plan on using Acourate. But buying both is not really an option for me. Combined price would be an issue, but more importantly the logistics of bringing the two units to Argentina - in and of itself a "headache", let's say.

 

Yes, Uli mentioned there is a way around it with the e28, at the expense of a steeper learning curve. Not sure how steep he means, but generally I can deal with steep learning curves. So the e28 is also an option. Where I get stuck with the idea of using the e28 is that an additional $1500 over the Hilo buys two additional channels and the ability to play PCM up to 32/384 and DSD natively up to DSD256 or something high and foregoes the ADC.

The ADC would be really handy to have, the two additional channels would be nice to have but no big deal, and Acourate + JRiver cannot process DSD in multichannel with convolution filters.

Maybe it's worth paying an additional $1.5k and overcoming the lack of ADC just because the e28 sounds so much better than the Hilo playing PCM at 24/192. But I don't know that to be true either. Yeap, analysis paralysis at its best!

 

BTW, if you happen to buy a Hilo I would be super interested in your opinion about their sound differences with PCM.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I am playing with acourate now. I like the filters. I am not sure yet how I will use it though. For now, I'll hang on to the DEQX and use it for crossover and delay only for my 2 subs and main R/L speakers. I have too much expensive test gear to pay full price for the lynx. I will lurk until one goes used. Once I have one, I know I can build the filters I want and then borrow and exa and use the exact same filters. There's no need to measure with the exasound if you already have the lynx, IMO.

 

I understand be cost is high for both but you might be able to get a lynx for $1,500 and then demo the exa later on after you have the filters. If you like the exa better, you could easily sell the lynx for close to what you paid for it. Anyway, enough of my audiophile logic. :-)

Indeed. I plan on using Acourate. But buying both is not really an option for me. Combined price would be an issue, but more importantly the logistics of bringing the two units to Argentina - in and of itself a "headache", let's say.

 

Yes, Uli mentioned there is a way around it with the e28, at the expense of a steeper learning curve. Not sure how steep he means, but generally I can deal with steep learning curves. So the e28 is also an option. Where I get stuck with the idea of using the e28 is that an additional $1500 over the Hilo buys two additional channels and the ability to play PCM up to 32/384 and DSD natively up to DSD256 or something high and foregoes the ADC.

The ADC would be really handy to have, the two additional channels would be nice to have but no big deal, and Acourate + JRiver cannot process DSD in multichannel with convolution filters.

Maybe it's worth paying an additional $1.5k and overcoming the lack of ADC just because the e28 sounds so much better than the Hilo playing PCM at 24/192. But I don't know that to be true either. Yeap, analysis paralysis at its best!

 

BTW, if you happen to buy a Hilo I would be super interested in your opinion about their sound differences with PCM.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

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I understand be cost is high for both but you might be able to get a lynx for $1,500 and then demo the exa later on after you have the filters. If you like the exa better, you could easily sell the lynx for close to what you paid for it. Anyway, enough of my audiophile logic. :-)

 

Your audiophile logic is flawless - IF the units are readily available near you, as in your case. In my case, though, I need to wait until I travel to the US and lately I'm not doing so as often as I used to, so cycle time becomes too long. Maybe over 6 months per unit...

 

I know I can build the filters I want and then borrow and exa and use the exact same filters. There's no need to measure with the exasound if you already have the lynx, IMO.

 

Check with Uli. My recollection is he said we need to compensate for the differences in the clocks used for measuring and playing music. I was discussing with him the use of a Tascam US122 I use to measure with REW where I connect the mic and connect thru USB to a laptop.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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  • 5 months later...

Yea, I'm keeping mine :)

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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