Jump to content
IGNORED

Holo audio Cyan DAC+Headamp Impressions thread


Recommended Posts

Holo Cyan - DAC+Headamp impressions

 

With the new Holo combined DAC/headamp now formally announced and pre-orders being taken, first deliveries are expected in a few weeks. So time to start a separate impressions thread just for this product. This is for impressions not for discussing the benefits of DSD !

 

This is essentially a new version of the Holo Spring designed for headphone users - something I have been waiting for. I don't own a Holo or have any association with them but have been aware of them through very positive user reviews. 

 

The Spring contains 2 ladder DACS - one for PCM  input and one for DSD.  With theCyan, the first model being released contains 1 ladder DAC and 1 headphone amp instead. 

 

Essentials

 

This first model contains only the PCM R2R ladder DAC - this will play your normal  redbook and much higher resolution files and it will convert DSD files (up to DSD 256) to PCM files for playback - as many (most?) DACS claiming to be DSD capable do. 

 

The Spring and a minority of other DACs do native DSD  (better for the purists and I do have one of those other non-holo ones) and there is a later version of the Cyan coming out for this.

 

•  Inputs are :

-USB (isolated from ground) 

-Coaxial (RCA) 

-Coaxial (BNC) 

-AES 

-Optical 

I2S the HDMI interface (DSD256) 

 USA and IS2 support DSD DOP mode DSD256 andall other digital inputs support DSD DOP mode to DSD64)

•  Outputs are:

Fully balanced XLR and RCA output, and 

balanced headphone output using 4 pin xlr 

Full size 1/4 inch single ended headphone output

 

Other points of note:

•  The clock is a still a femto one but not quite the same as in the Spring, whilst the USB input has apparently been upgraded compared to the USB input on the Spring. 

•  Offers oversampling and non oversampling modes

•  The case is smaller than the Spring being 281 * 260 * 55mm or 11* 10 * 2 inches

•  The new fully balanced headphone circuit

•  Ability to select either low impedance or high impedance for the headphones and to change this easlily

•  The remote control functions include volume as well as switching between low & high gain to satisfy users of IEM's through to tougher to drive full size audiophile headphones. 

•  Jeff the lead designer has commented that unlike other integrated units where the headamp has been poorly regarded he wanted to build a decent headamp inside. 

•  Price - ~20% cheaper than the Spring but to be confirmed on a country by country basis

. Kitsune will no doubt update for the USA and others for Europe and elsewhere

 

Sydneysider

Link to comment
Share on other sites

two questions :

is the DSD version only nos?
how do you manage a PCM signal?

sistema:

Server HDPlex (i7-6700-WS2016) HQPlayer con Ramdisk + HQPDcontrol> Macmini ( roon core+Tidal ) >  HDPlex NAA (celeron G1840T-WS2016) NAD con Ramdisk >switch rete tp-link, Denafrips Ares2, SPLvolume2 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

another doubt:
on the European site there is the cyan with the remote control ..... but has or not a volume control?

sistema:

Server HDPlex (i7-6700-WS2016) HQPlayer con Ramdisk + HQPDcontrol> Macmini ( roon core+Tidal ) >  HDPlex NAA (celeron G1840T-WS2016) NAD con Ramdisk >switch rete tp-link, Denafrips Ares2, SPLvolume2 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Bimmer100 said:

another specification to update. The Cyan is a 28bit resistor ladder Dac. And the DSD version is NOT an r2r Dac. Same goes for the dsd side of the spring Dac module. The Architecture for he dsd module is very specific type of resistor ladder Dac and not to be confused with traditional old design referred to as r2r. The dsd module is highly optimized for optimum native dsd  output. There is no conversion to pcm like some might assume. It’s pure dsd to analog conversion. :)

 

 

 

Hi Bimmer100,

 

So, I suppose the DAC between PCM vs DSD versions are bit different.  I haven't read any impression on DSD version yet, of which I'm interested.  Can you please share a little about the sonic characteristic of DSD version?  I'm also interested if DSD version XLR outs have lower voltage than PCM version.  The spec on your webpage was not clear to me.  Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/14/2017 at 5:56 PM, Bimmer100 said:

Some of the specs are incorrect at the beginning of this thread. 

 

The dsd version can do dsd512 native and Hdmi i2s Input up to dsd512 native

 

both dacs have src. Both have NOS or OS modes.

 

dsd version does not have headamp since dsd cannot do digital volume control.

 

we have a third version for the person who wants it all. The enthusiast edition is based on a Cyan pcm version with headamp but also a dsd module is shipped. It can be easily swapped and the he dsd module has internal firmware that will automatically disable the onboard headamp so iit won’t damage hearing or headphones.  Also this version will have some nice kitsune badging for volume knob and the remote control.

 

for those who keep asking.... all three versions have a remote control included

 

 

and December has special introduction pricing that is free shipping and 10% off retail pricing. Enquirer directly to kitsune contact for for special bundle pricing to save more.

 

another specification to update. The Cyan is a 28bit resistor ladder Dac. And the DSD version is NOT an r2r Dac. Same goes for the dsd side of the spring Dac module. The Architecture for he dsd module is very specific type of resistor ladder Dac and not to be confused with traditional old design referred to as r2r. The dsd module is highly optimized for optimum native dsd  output. There is no conversion to pcm like some might assume. It’s pure dsd to analog conversion. :)

 

 

 

  The pricing looks very good. The 28 bit ladder for PCM should be impressive. 

  Any idea of the actual resolution delivered? The number of bits only matters with hi-res files. 

  The headphone amp does not fit my use. Having a PCM and DSD dac chip does. 

  The Cyan really appears to have some great features.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Pete, no, please read above (Bimmer100 is one to take particular note of), or in short

PCM version - Has headamp with volume control

DSD version - Has no headamp and no volume control due to way (native) DSD works

For speakers, either DAC will work but if you want native DSD go DSD verion, if you want native PCM go PCM version

Remember with HQ Player you can convert in the computer, so for instance you can take redbook or high res PCM and convert it to DSD (128 or 256) in the machine then send that DSD signal to the DSD Version of the Holo Audio Cyan which will play it as is with no oversampling (NOS mode), or you can just send beautiful native DSD tracks to it and play them natively (with no PCM conversion at all) using NOS mode again.

Capiche?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely interested in DSD Version impressions, many DACs can reproduce native PCM very well, look at Metrum Acoustic DACs for instance, what makes Holo Audio special is their DSD, Spring and hopefully now Cyan...

To illustrate, read the Spring's glowing review in Audistream (March 2017) - 
https://www.audiostream.com/content/holo-audio-spring-dac-level-3-kitsune-tuned-edition

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For someone with a music library consisting mainly of Redbook files (classical music), is there a technical advantage in choosing the DSD version over the PCM one?

I'd be upsampling with HQPlayer.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, pkane2001 said:

 

In my experience, the main reason is sound preference. If you like the sound of upsampled DSD512 sound (many do) you'll want the DSD version. PCM DAC has a number of additional features, such as volume control and headphone output that make it a more feature-rich version.

 

With Holo Spring DAC (as well as with other DACs I've tried), I prefer upscaling to DSD512 for vocals and with smaller jazz groups. There's just a little bit of quality to the sound that makes voices sound more natural to me, more authentic. OTOH, I prefer PCM for large-scale classical orchestral music. Bass has more impact, the sound is fuller, it's... I don't know of a good way to explain this... PCM is not as subtly brittle as the sound I get with DSD. Mind you, this difference is very minor, but when I listen for it, I hear it. Perhaps it's my choice of HQP filters, or maybe it's my imagination (measuring frequency response, I don't see any differences between upscaled DSD and PCM).

 

If someone was to ask me to choose between keeping just DSD or just PCM (all else being equal), I'd probably keep DSD. But  sometimes I do find recordings where PCM sounds better, so I think I'll keep my Holo Spring DAC. Although, a volume control and HP output might almost be enough to convince me to go the other way! :)

 

 

Thanks for your insight.

I doubt that I will be able to upsample to SDM512 (or even 256) with my old '09 MacBook Pro and this may end up being the deciding factor.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, semente said:

Apparently it is possible to have both boards (minus the headphone amp?) at extra cost - "Joy" version:

 

https://www.magnahifi.com/en/webshop/product/holo-cyan

 

May not be a bad option, but Holo Spring might be a better way to get the support for both, DSD and PCM in one box, and at about the same price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay guys, DSD version first impression out of the box playing some of my reference tracks.

 

SERIOUS WINNER!

 

First impressions, off the cuff going by memory alone: wider soundstage, instruments image deeper/larger with more space between them, increase in micro-detail, better harmonic structure. Sibilance is gone.

 

Changing DSD rates does cause popping.

 

DSD512 works through Roon  + HQPlayer with no problem at all using the signed drivers on the Holo website on the Cyan product page. Thank God.

 

Is NOT detected by my PPA USB v3 which is annoying because I have to feed it from a lesser motherboard USB port. But that happens a lot so I need to troubleshoot it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, GUTB said:

Okay guys, DSD version first impression out of the box playing some of my reference tracks.

 

SERIOUS WINNER!

 

Changing DSD rates does cause popping.

Serious loser! DSD popping is sloppy performance on the DAC and the player. HQ Player produces a tick at the start of a DSD track, and the DAC picks up on this as signal, good grief. I would return the device as unacceptable performance issue. Maybe Holo used Jriver, that player has the tick under control.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/1/2018 at 10:12 PM, Jimi_Zine said:

Any more impressions?

Here is my impression.

 

The Cyan (DSD only) was delivered on Dec 28 last year and I started to prepare the cables and connectors necessary for I2S/DSD connection to the DAC via HDMI including minor soldering works. After that I’ve been listening to this DAC for more than 36 hours confirming that the Cyan-DSD is perfect in playing DSD512 sources upsampled by HQ player (via Roon). It conveys the full extent of information resided in the sound source revealed by HQP probably with least modification thanks to NOS and I could enjoy hearing this beautiful sound from Cyan. The sound stage is extending widely enough, covering high to low without edge. This is just wonderful.

 

During the last month, I was busy in setting up Buffalo IIIse Pro DACs (9028pro and 9038pro) from Twisted Pear Audio and has been enjoying their superb quality of playing DSD512 sources via the same HQP. I can not say which would be better, Buffalo IIIse pro or Cyan, but as a DAC for the simplified use like DSD only, I can say the Cyan should be definitely the winner if you are not a serious DIY user.

 

BTW my serial connection to the Cyan for DSD512 play is shown below.

Sources: FLAC files via Roon, transferred and upsampled to DSD512 by HQP.
Transport: Twisted Pear Audio’s Hermes/Cronus boards with a linux system as NAA for HQP (running on a Beaglebone Black with a Debian kernel with Botic driver for I2S/DSD connection)
LVDS: Teleporter from TPA for I2S/DSD connection
I2S-HDMI converter: a PCB board using DS90LV047 chip.

cyan1.jpg

cyan2.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...