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Article: Holo Audio Spring Level 3 Kitsune Tuned Edition R2R DAC Review


ted_b
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Ted-

 

Thanks for the review. I think you gave us a good perspective on the DAC.

 

Any willingness on your part to compare it a bit more to your Meitner or Mytek? Or to compare it to some more expensive DACs at one of your buddies?

A lot of people are excited by this DAC as a potentially extreme value for the money, so it would be useful to know if it holds its own or is better than DACs at its price and above.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Thank you for mentioning that "A Moon Shaped Pool" is a masterpiece. Having seen Radiohead twice in the current AMSP tour from the front row, I am still not over the fact how they are still making such great music.

 

The DSD256 DOP limitation through I2S, is it because of the Singxer or the DAC I2S is limited to DoP DSD 256? If it's a driver or Singxer issue, then it's possible that other USB 2 I2S converter can fix it.

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Thanks for the review. I do however have one nit to pick. You wrote:

 

Although The OS modes do internal oversampling (PCM, DSD or forced to one or the other) I listened to this DAC in only NOS mode, where no oversampling was done by the dac at all. If oversampling was done, it was done prior to reaching the dac. I may experiment with these features later, but it is clear that NOS mode is easily the best of the four modes.

So if you only listened in one mode, how do you know the NOS mode was clearly best?

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Nice review Ted. Concerning the hard usb adapter, have you considered trying out the new Sonore usb adapter made by Cardas?

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12 

Home Office: IsoRegen+LPS1.2 | Denafrips Iris | Denafrips Venus 2 | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

Office:  Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE w/preamp module | Blue Circle Audio BC-28 amp | Raidho X-1 | REL T/5x sub

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Nice review Ted. Had similar parochial upbringing (13 years - K thru 12), except for college unlike you, but discovered the same things while in college. That's where I was introduced to Firesign which neccesitated a certain state of mind.

PC with PPA Studio V3 USB card > LH Labs LPS4 > Light Harmonic LightSpeed 10G Split > LH Labs Pulse X ∞ > DHC Complement 4 Ag > Fostex TH900

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Thanks for the review. I do however have one nit to pick. You wrote:

 

Although The OS modes do internal oversampling (PCM, DSD or forced to one or the other) I listened to this DAC in only NOS mode, where no oversampling was done by the dac at all. If oversampling was done, it was done prior to reaching the dac. I may experiment with these features later, but it is clear that NOS mode is easily the best of the four modes.

So if you only listened in one mode, how do you know the NOS mode was clearly best?

 

You are right, I mistyped it. I meant to say that all the comments on this review refer to NOS mode. I, of course, listened to the other ones and they were all either veiled or somewhat less dynamic, or both. That is why I stuck with NOS. It was quite obvious when listening. Thanks for the question..makes sense.

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Hi Ted,

 

thanks for the review.

Have you tried to upsample at lower frequencies, for example DSD64->DSD256?

What filter/NS combination have you tried? Usually NOS DACs prefer "unusual" combinations.

Perhaps DSD512 lacked dynamic because the clock is not up to scratch working at those frequencies and its jitter gets worse.

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PB,

A quick note about the Fore Audio DaisY1. When I first told them I would review it the dac was expected to cost about $5k, and then during my loan of it the price went to $6300. I am not publishing my review because I just don't think it is worth the increased dollars, especially if you are now saying it is being priced at $9k. I am shipping it back this week. It is good, but not 3x the exaSounds and Holos of the world. In Fore Audio's defense, they were very understanding of me keeping it so long, and if you are looking for a dac with a built in tube buffer, and have that budget, it is worth investigating. But my review would have had too many caveats.

 

P.S. I never said "budget dacs" (I said under $10k), and consider the DirectStream at $5995 to be reasonably priced. Hell, I'm selling mine (with brand new PS Audio-installed audio board) for $3200 and shipping if anyone wants one. :)

 

P.P.S. My SSR is now gone to a dear friend and replaced by the uRendu, so no comparisons there.

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Ted, Is Linux now Official with the DSD512 patch? Where can I find more info on that?

 

Norman,

I simply meant that Jurgen (lintweaker) and his Linux group have officially approved the Holo in its list of dacs that do native DSD via Linux. Jesus then updates the list on his Sonicorbiiter-Native DSD thread and adds the line(s) of code required for the uRendu's OS to handshake with it. So direct DSD512 via the updated uRendu-Holo is a reality.

https://github.com/lintweaker/xmos-native-dsd

 

Bibo01,

Yes, I need to do way more work on studying the DSD512 combinations for the Holo before I write it off. It may well be a modulator choice, too. In exchange for getting an early Holo sample I told the manufacturer and distributor I would get my impressions out there for RMAF, and so my lengthy experiences with most reveiwed dacs is somewhat shortened with the Holo. But I bought it, so I have the freedom now. I will either update the actual review or write comments here.

 

Blake,

I definitely need to get the Cardas or something else. The USB handshake on the uRendu is so good that I need to ameliorate that last percent or two of hardness. It might well equal or exceed the I2S beauty (without the need for a Windows NAA or extra DDC).

 

BTW, thanks all for the nice comments.

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Norman,

I simply meant that Jurgen (lintweaker) and his Linux group have officially approved the Holo in its list of dacs that do native DSD via Linux. Jesus then updates the list on his Sonicorbiiter-Native DSD thread and adds the line(s) of code required for the uRendu's OS to handshake with it. So direct DSD512 via the updated uRendu-Holo is a reality.

https://github.com/lintweaker/xmos-native-dsd

 

.

 

Thanks for the reply Ted.

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P.S. I never said "budget dacs" (I said under $10k), and consider the DirectStream at $5995 to be reasonably priced. Hell, I'm selling mine (with brand new PS Audio-installed audio board) for $3200 and shipping if anyone wants one. :)

 

Can you elaborate on the comparison between the Holo Spring and Directstream?

Synology DS1515+ >  PS Audio P10 > Innuos Zenith Mk II running Roon Core > IsoRegen/LPS-1 > Lyngdorf TDAI 2170 > Tekton Double Impact Speakers

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This looks very interesting. I've been postponing updating my Wyred4Sound DAC 2 to DSDse version because of some new affordable choices out there. I agree totally with Chris on not overspending on DAC's because of them constantly being updated.

Furutech GTX-D, GTX Wall Plate,106-D Cover > NCF Clearline >J River 27 > Curious Cable Evolved USB > Chord Hugo TT 2 > Empyrean Copper PCUHD Cable > Meze Empyrean > my ears > audiophile brain

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Thanks Ted for your follow ups. I think that due to there being no formal reviews on the web until now, we were all hoping to get a view of the HSKE DAC compared to some well known and reviewed dac's. We would all value your thoughts in this regard to try to create a benchmark of where it sits sonically. Thank you as allways for taking the time.

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Ted. Sorry for calling you Chris. Anyone been following used Briscasti sales? Over at Audigon for $4700. Jeez. No MSB Analog's anywhere.

Furutech GTX-D, GTX Wall Plate,106-D Cover > NCF Clearline >J River 27 > Curious Cable Evolved USB > Chord Hugo TT 2 > Empyrean Copper PCUHD Cable > Meze Empyrean > my ears > audiophile brain

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Thanks for the review!

 

Unfortunately the most wanted information would be how this apparently great cost/performance ratio DAC compares to other DACs in the same great cost/performance category that are being considered for many as the reference these days:

- Playing PCM: Schiit Yggdrasil R2R DAC

- Playing DSD: T+A DAC 8 DSD when playing DSD512

 

I understand that reviews cannot please everyone but I bet that a comparison with these two DACs would be the real useful info that most of us would have loved to read.

 

Cheers

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Thanks for the review!

 

Unfortunately the most wanted information would be how this apparently great cost/performance ratio DAC compares to other DACs in the same great cost/performance category that are being considered for many as the reference these days:

- Playing PCM: Schiit Yggdrasil R2R DAC

- Playing DSD: T+A DAC 8 DSD when playing DSD512

 

I understand that reviews cannot please everyone but I bet that a comparison with these two DACs would be the real useful info that most of us would have loved to read.

 

Cheers

 

Unrealistic request in most cases. Reviewers can only legitimately compare components they have on hand. They generally don't have some sort of library of DACs available to choose from. Ted or Chris can only compare the Holo to another DAC they happen to own or have in for review, and that's assuming they want to do a direct comparison (Chris generally doesn't do those).

 

Your general request for a comparison is understood. I and several other have requested that Ted give us more of an idea how this DAC that is relatively sanely priced for it's features and tech compares to other DACs at around its price point or above.

 

I'm pretty sure that Ted has a Meitner and a Mytek on hand. A comparison to the SQ of the Holo would give us a pretty good idea of how good of a value the Holo is.

 

On the other hand, if Ted doesn't want to directly compare DACs, I'd understand why.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Unrealistic request in most cases. Reviewers can only legitimately compare components they have on hand. They generally don't have some sort of library of DACs available to choose from. Ted or Chris can only compare the Holo to another DAC they happen to own or have in for review, and that's assuming they want to do a direct comparison (Chris generally doesn't do those).

 

Your general request for a comparison is understood. I and several other have requested that Ted give us more of an idea how this DAC that is relatively sanely priced for it's features and tech compares to other DACs at around its price point or above.

 

I'm pretty sure that Ted has a Meitner and a Mytek on hand. A comparison to the SQ of the Holo would give us a pretty good idea of how good of a value the Holo is.

 

On the other hand, if Ted doesn't want to directly compare DACs, I'd understand why.

 

I agree with you 100% and I understand that Ted cannot do reviews doing direct comparisons with every unit that we would like. :)

 

Still, in my opinion, a DAC review could be

a) Very fun and interesting to read with limited usefulness (the case of this review)

b) Very useful when the reviewed DAC is compared to other similar units (apples to apples, etc.) that are trend in forums.

c) Something between a) and b) when the unit is compared to other DACs (apples to oranges) which is normally the case (not talking about Ted but just about reviews in general)

 

Cheers

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