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HOLO Audio MAY DAC


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I've now got a may on order and it should be here mid-june (went for the wildism L2).
Planning to connect it directly to the AHB2 and use Roon/HQPlayer volume control rather than a preamp given as I'll only need a few dB of volume control.

Only thing I'm considering now is what the ideal input is. I know the original spring had some issues with its USB, but supposedly the later revisions of spring 2 and now the may are much better.
Not to mention the May buffers and reclocks all digital inputs, so I'm not entirely sure if using I2S etc is going to provide a benefit over USB anyway.

Has anyone here tried multiple inputs and could comment? I'm torn between:

- Keeping my pi3b endpoint and calling it a day
- Getting an Sotm SMS200 Ultra and connecting the dac via USB
- Getting a pi2AES and using the i2s output.

I'm not sure if the may would actually benefit from the sms200 ultra given its FIFO buffering/reclocking anyway. Would someone more knowledgeable be able to shed some light on this area?

I don't know if i'll be using HQPlayer with it or not. I use HQPlayer with my current ADI-2 DAC as I dislike its internal filters, but will have to play around with the may once it arrives.

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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On 5/8/2020 at 9:08 PM, Miska said:

And with some DSP help you can boost these R2R's to even better performance (20+ dB distortion improvements at low levels)...

 

What sort of DSP tweaks would you use with a dac like the May?

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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1 hour ago, barrows said:

I know some people like I2S, but it is somewhat flawed in a technical sense vs. USB.  The USB input on the May has been shown through jitter measurements to be very, very good.  I would expect best performance using the USB input via a very, very good Renderer.  Using a Renderer allows your (powerful one needed for HQP of course) computer to be located far from the audio system where things like electrical and RF interference and even fan noise will be of no concern.  I work with Sonore, so of course you know my preference for Renderers!  Regardless, you will want to use a Renderer which has the HQP NAA protocol available.

Yeah I think it was more a case of the original USB implementation wasn't great, and so people used I2S.

But the main thing I'm curious about is the May's FIFO buffering+Reclocking solution. Because in theory that should mean that the digital source shouldn't matter, at least not unless the incoming jitter is horrendous and beyond what the PLL can handle.

The spring didn't have that.
Also the may no longer uses an LVDS chipset, but a custom 4 way circuit for the i2s inputs which isolates each line, so that could have an effect.

I really don't know.
Problem is unfortunately trying out different things here is incredibly expensive

 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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50 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

Same as Spring 2, so if you use PCM mode, set DAC Bits 20 and use noise shaper like LNS15 at 1.5 MHz sampling rate. I personally stick to DSD256 output using ASDM7EC modulator.

 

What is the reasoning for those settings? (Other than the dac bits which I understand)
HQplayer is fantastic, and i'm curious to learn about why these settings benefit the spring.

I'd be using a network streamer that only supports 768khz. Would the desired settings other than sample rate differ in that case?
 

 

45 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

So far nobody has shown objective evidence of such. I would be interested to see though.

 

I've not seen any either, just that I'd seen a lot of subjective results that i2s was an improvement.
In any case the usb module has since been upgraded, and the May L2 and above uses a further improved version so I can't imagine there would be issues anymore.

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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does anyone know if the RCA/XLR outputs of the may are independently buffered? I know a lot of dacs if you use XLR to one amp and RCA to another it essentially removes the Common mode noise rejection on the balanced connection ( https://forum.psaudio.com/t/using-both-the-xlr-and-rca-outputs-on-a-ds-sr/5208 )

 

Is this the case with the may? Or will plugging something into RCA not affect the XLR outputs?

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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5 hours ago, punit said:

Hi. Have you received the Holo May ? Any initial feedback ? Have a Holo Spring, which I love  & itching to pull the trigger on the May.

I am absolutely blown away by it. It has far exceeded all my expectations. If you have the cash to do so, and you like the spring, do it ❤️
 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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22 hours ago, luisma said:

Thank you, so HQP set at fixed volume so it is Roon, do you still use -3db to avoid clipping?

Yeah I keep HQP at -3dB

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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20 minutes ago, fds said:

Hmm, I had just looked at the JAs Stereophile measurements of the May:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/holoaudio-may-level-3-da-processor-measurements

 

What surprised me to see was the somewhat early rolled-off top end in the frequency response in Fig.7 (and Figs.8&9 for DSD in particular). Compared to this, the Chord DAVE (at much higher price of course) shows a much better performance as can be seen in Fig.3 here:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/chord-electronics-dave-da-processor-measurements

 

Contrary to that the impulse response (Fig.1) of the May looks much better than the one of the DAVE (Fig.1).

 

... just wondering whether the May is in the same class as the DAVE for example. Stereophile lists both in their A+ category. Any listening experiences from comparisons between May and DAVE (or Mola-Mola Tambaqui or dcs Bartok etc.)? Does one hear the somewhat rolled-off top end?

 

 

The rolloff is due to the analog lowpass filter. It is a NOS dac and so that is required. A 0.75dB @ 20khz drop is basically nothing though, and in fact anyone over 25 probably wouldn't even be able to tell at all.

The DAVE is an oversampling, delta sigma dac (FPGA but still), not a NOS R2R dac, so they are completely different topologies.
The two people I know that have heard both have both said that the may makes the DAVE sound pretty much dull by comparison. One of them actually sold his DAVE to purchase a may

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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34 minutes ago, mushi said:
Hey guys, i've got problem with MAY... looks like i'm stuck...

MAY jams while playing music. This happens when the audio signal is supplied via aes-ebu and coax connectors, it looks like this on the display:
96K / LOCKING / 96K / LOCKING / 96K / LOCKING ..
music / silence / music / silence / music / silence ..
If a track is three minutes long, 2:30s is the pause and 30s is the music that plays.
This problem does not occur when i'm playing music via USB. To exclude the possibility of a fault on my part, i put the audio signal through the RME ADI-2 FS DAC (via aes-ebu and coax connectors) and the above problem did not occur:
When i'm playing PC >usb> MAY there is no problem
When i'm playing PC >usb> miniDSP SHD Studio > aes-ebu/coax> MAY jams all the time
When i'm playing PC >usb> miniDSP SHD Studio > aes-ebu/coax> RME ADI-2 FS DAC there is no problem
And now the best part: my source (PC) is not connected to the miniDSP SHD Studio, i'm connecting miniDSP with the aes-ebu/coax connector to MAY and MAY starts locking...

The seller claims that it is miniDSP fault, that miniDSP generates a signal that causes HoloAudio locking:
"...May is very precise with its locking mechanism. Some sources do not sent clock signals all the time (while music is paused e.g.) and you will see "Locking" on your display when there is no signal output from the source."
 
So my setup look like this: Roon >usb> miniDSP SHD Studio >aes-ebu> MAY >...
I'm using miniDSP SHD Studio as a preamp, also i can set the gain on the output:

mini.thumb.jpg.6923661b2e8ca18ce0b471fc824843e8.jpg
 
I tried different settings but it didn't change anything..
 
Please tell me what do you think because i have already gone stupid...
 

Given as it doesn't have this issue over usb it would seem that it's an issue with the minidsp. Have you tried an optical connection from a PC, or AES from the adi-2 pro to check if either of those show the same issue?

 

Likely there is an issue with the clocking coming from the minidsp. 

 

You can probably get around it by disabling the PLL, but if its so bad that the pll is not able to lock then you're probably going to get awful jitter without it. If it is failing to lock that would mean that something is really quite wrong with the incoming signal.
Also, are you using a proper AES cable? NOT just a regular XLR cable?

(Same for coax. Coax and RCA cables are not actually the same)
 

The adi-2 steadyclock PLL is WAYYYY more forgiving but a lot less effective than the one in the may. 

 

If you want to turn off the pll, turn off the may, then hold the menu button and the power button. It will go to a setup menu. Turn off the pll, then restart. 

 

Though as mentioned this is definitely an indication that there is an issue with the minidsp or the cable being used. So I'd look at addressing that. 

 

Maybe switch to using roon volume control and don't use the minidsp. That way you can use USB instead. Plus roon has incredibly powerful and easier to Configure dsp options anyway

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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Well, easiest way would be to grab another AES source (if your adi-2 is the pro rather than the dac, then you can actually use it as a digital OUT as well so could use that to check it works.

Worst case just turn off the may PLL.
But yeah, I'd imagine its a minidsp issue unfortunately. But can confirm if it is with the aforementioned test

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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@mushido you have a pc with optical output you can try? If that does not work with pll then you know its the dac.

 

If it does, you know it's the minidsp

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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One guy on head-fi owned both. 

He sold the terminator and kept the may

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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5 minutes ago, mushi said:

I hear you.

But how do you explain that miniDSP and PLL works together on OS mode but on NOS mode doesn't?

And I'm not the first one, @Diavolo has the same problem with SPDIF.

 

The akm oversampling chip functions as something of a clock isolator. A good resource for reading about this is the adi-2 Pro manual, as you can actually use the SRC function in that device to achieve a similar effect beyond the adi-2's steadyclock pll. 

 

Suggesting that the akm oversampling chip output is within the window function of the pll but the raw spdif output of your minidsp is not. Which would further suggest the problem is not the may. The akm chip would be prior to the pll in the signal path. 

 

When you say minidsp put it on the apx555 did they out YOUR one on it? Or just one they had? It's entirely possible that it's just your unit and not the product design itself. A faulty oscillator maybe. 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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2 minutes ago, mushi said:

 

 

What you are saying is in opposite to what is HoloAudio claiming:

 

PLL.thumb.jpg.ceeeccd0129cf4040058d4544d6771ec.jpg

 

 

 

Unfortunately the issue can't really be answered without further testing. 

 

You'd need to try another spdif source, such as a pc. To see if that works with pll. 

 

Or you'd need to do a j-test yourself using the minidsp + pll off but you'd need a decent adc for that. 

 

No one else has encountered this issue so whilst it may be frustrating it really can't be solved without further help. (though I have to say kitsunes customer 'support' is certainly lacking) 

 

Given that it works with the akm chip I imagine the cause is the minidsp. But as said, until you try another source it's all speculation. Easiest thing to do would be grab a USB to spdif DDC, or a hifiberry or something and see if that works. 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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3 hours ago, Cortes said:

 

I own the cheap SMSL SU-8 V2, just out of curiosity,  judging only as a DAC (no features or preamp), is the ADI-2 Pro FS R an upgrade or differences are tiny?.  

 

 

Adi-2 is definitely an upgrade yeah. In fact I'll be honest I really was not a fan of the su8 v2. Whereas I like the adi-2 quite a bit. 

 

Su8 v2 was a bit too clinical and had almost nonexistent soundstage. 

 

I would say though that for the same money, ignoring features anyway I'd perhaps go for an ares 2 or d90 (if you're talking about the adi-2 dac) or a holo spring 2 (if talking about the adi-2 Pro price). 

But the features of the adi-2 make it a hard option to pass up! It's a fantastic product

 

 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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6 minutes ago, John Hughes said:

So I am using both the USB and i2S inputs with my May.  However my i2S source is inferior to my USB source and not my critical listening path.  I am basically using a inexpensive Ebay sourced USB to i2S Converter on my Nvidia Shield output so that I can have two USB output devices connected to the May.   

 

The May has some issues locking to that i2S signal, it takes it about 15 seconds when switching to lock.  The NVidia outputs everything to 192K, but sometimes the May switches to 48K when I open some apps like Netflix.  My previous dacs never switched from 192K (though did take a while to connect), so I suspect its a PLL issue caused by Mays tight PLL tolerances, as stated by others in this thread.  I also think this is more about the cheap i2S converter than about the May.

 

I'd like to try a better USB to i2S converter to see if that's the issue, but frankly don't need to spend that kind of money for this source.

When I tried the pi2aes the locking time was only a couple seconds. Whereas something like optical from my pc takes a good 10 seconds sometimes. So it definitely seems to be source dependant. 

 

In terms of quality, with the may and pll on, I really struggle to tell the difference between i2s, usb, and even subpar spdif sources, all of them sound fantastic. 

 

With pll off, usb and i2s are neck and neck on the may, couldn't pick a clear winner but usb is my go to due to pll locking instantly once I turn it on. 

 

With other dacs the differences in sources are more noticeable, my pc optical for example sounds pretty garbage and both the pi2aes i2s and sms200 ultra USB sound fantastic. 

 

Tldr: may pll makes the source a bit of a non-issue. I'd say use a streamer for galvanic isolation regardless cause why not, but I just use usb because of the instant locking, and unlike on the spring 2 (where i2s vs usb is quite noticeable), the may just does brilliantly from any source you throw at it

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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14 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

There shouldn't be any PLL involved when using asynchronous USB....

 

I don't believe there is no. Sorry, probably could have worded that post better. 

 

What I meant is that the pll puts basically any digital source on equal footing with the may. Be it an expensive streamer or basic optical from my pc. 

 

USB sounds the same regardless of if the pll is on or not. 

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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42 minutes ago, brightonjel said:

Hi everyone - wonder if you can help?  I have just received my Holo May and have got everything up and running, but with one significant omission: I can't get PCM 1.5 Mhz to work (nor can I get above DSD256, but that's not my main concern).  I can get 705.6 kHz and 768 kHz running, but no higher.  I have tried from a Sonictransporter via ethernet to a uRrendu (1.5, running 2.8 build); I have tried with a direct USB cable from the May to the Sonictransporter; I have tried with HQPlayer Desktop running on my laptop (Mac, running Big Sur) and a straight USB connection to the DAC, all to no avail.  Music plays fine at lower rates in all cases, but not at 1.4/1.5 Mhz; nothing seems to make the source connections, however configured, to run at the highest rates.  (And yes, I tested source files in differing base rates - same result).  When directly connected to my Mac Pro laptop the Audi Midi panel reports the Holo May as offering all formats at 16 and 24 bits up to and including 768 kHz, but no more.  Similarly, when attached to the Sonictransport and looking at what the uRendu says (it has a DAC diagnostic app) it, too, reports 768k as the maximum.

 

What am I doing wrong or missing?

Does the urendu actually support 1.536mhz?

 

Afaik the only one that can 'technically' do it (though I just get the 'hqplayer crackling' when I try) is the sms200 ultra afaik

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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Just now, GoldenOne said:

Does the urendu actually support 1.536mhz?

 

Afaik the only one that can 'technically' do it (though I just get the 'hqplayer crackling' when I try) is the sms200 ultra afaik

Also, check which firmware version you're on. There are two interchangeable versions of the may firmware. One of which is max 768khz but works with the 'hifi' pcie USB cards.

 

Contact your dealer and ask for the firmware tool

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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15 minutes ago, brightonjel said:

Thanks - the May reports that it's running v 1.20.  Any idea which version that might be?  Given that none of the USB probes come back with anything above 768 kHz, you may be onto something. (As for the uRendu supporting it, I've seen a response saying "no reason not, but not tested", so ... that's a "maybe" I guess!)

 

I'm not sure. Mine says "v1.10" when starting up, and when using dfu i'm on version 3014 (3012 is the 1.536mhz capable one, 3014 is 768khz). My May has the L2 upgraded USB, no idea if that changes anything. Probably wouldn't try to install the firmware below if you're on a L1 may.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11EwV9Lm07Os4mTVKXDHU7m9rsQQplU3i?usp=sharing

If anyone has received a more recent firmware update from their dealer please do share 

holo_gen2_3012_upgrade-20201231T222201Z-001.zip holo_gen2_3014_768k_upgrade-20201231T222148Z-001.zip

https://youtube.com/goldensound

Roon -> HQPlayer -> SMS200 Ultra/SPS500 -> Holo Audio May (Wildism Edition) -> Holo Audio Serene (Wildism Edition) -> Benchmark AHB2 -> Hifiman Susvara

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