Holo Audio - Spring DAC - Level 3 - "Kitsune Tuned Edition" - Impressions & Reviews

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Torq, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I will have to ask you to refer to @Torq's Yggy comparisons and go from there. We ended up not using the Gumby much. I plugged it in for about 30 secs (it was running for a couple hours before) just to make sure the beers hadn't dulled my senses too much, given my troubles differentiating the Pavane and Spring in that particular moment.
     

  2. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    SBAF road trip! @SoupRKnowva, @FlySweep, you guys in?
     
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  3. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador - Friend

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    uh...is this even a question???

    *Soup does not however have a vehicle so he will have to bum a ride with Merrick*
     
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  4. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    I've got a car and can fit the group in. We're going to make this happen.
     
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  5. Torq

    Torq Last Remaining Good HF Poster

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    If the shipping estimate on my DAC is accurate, this will be right after Thanksgiving. Which will be good. Because there is no way in hell I'm eating all those left-overs on my own ...
     
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  6. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    Could you elaborate on the margin of & sonic difference between the I2S input and AES input?

    Does the Holo Spring require 24/7 operation or extensive warm up like the Yggdrasil to sound good?(maybe this question should be directed to @bimmer100), Edit: Just saw @Hands post but what about it's warm up time?

    Have you tried using the Singer DDC > AES > Yggdrasil DAC? How does it fair compared to the Rednet?
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  7. Torq

    Torq Last Remaining Good HF Poster

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    The Spring DAC has a secondary transformer that keeps the class-A, and other temperature sensitive, components "hot" (if you look at the 4th picture in the original post, it is the blue, cased, transformer with the heat-sink fins and "Kitsune" logo on it). So you can leave the unit in stand-by mode and not worry about it.

    I didn't do any extensive evaluation of the Singxer via AES vs. either the RedNet 3 or Aries AES outputs. If you're going to use the Singxer SU-1 you'll like want to use the I2S interface instead of the AES one. I liked the output of the Spring best via the I2S input compared to everything else I tried. Not by so much that I'd go out of my way to keep it locally connected to my source computer, but enough that if I wasn't running Roon into multiple rooms, I'd go with the I2S interface via the Singxer.

    I need to play with using a microRendu -> Singxer SU-1 -> Spring DAC, since I'm a heavy Roon user, but that'll have to wait for my DAC to arrive.
     
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  8. songmic

    songmic Friend

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    Interesting, it's not everyday you come across a Chi-fi DAC that can hold a candle to Yggy. Am I to understand that this DAC has a warmer and more forgiving sound, while somehow out-resolving and out-soundstaging Yggy?
     
  9. Torq

    Torq Last Remaining Good HF Poster

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    From my listening/comparisons only ...

    In NOS mode I find it just out-resolves Yggdrasil. In OS mode, Yggdrasil is still ahead. This is using TOTL transducers and reasonably high-end amplification.

    I would say that, in OS mode, the Spring DAC is not showing it's best and one of the ways that manifests is in reduced resolution; with some recordings that might come across as being "more forgiving". That's one factor among many, however, and in OS mode Holo Audio's unit isn't quite up to the overall challenge that Yggdrasil presents (IMO). You do have the option to turn OS on or off depending on what you're listening to, which is useful in some circumstances.

    Wider and deeper soundstage, compared to Yggdrasil, in NOS mode, yes. But my grand piano is about five feet wide not almost twelve. So from a "realism" perspective, Yggdrasil still holds the candle there. This is mostly apparent with a solid speaker system (where, in particular, the height dimension is more vivid via Schiit's DAC). If your preference is a very large soundstage then this is a really nice unit for that and it'll add a bigger sense of the spatiality of a performance to one's headphones.

    Warmth? The Spring DAC has a "sweetness" to it's presentation (in NOS mode) but I wouldn't describe it's tonality as, specifically, "warm". Moist maybe, but not "warm".

    I don't think this is a typical "Chi-Fi" DAC. It's certainly not a simple data-sheet/reference CoTS design, with some over-specced components and a couple of cheap fo-sho toroids lobbed into the mix. It's actually doing something different.
     
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  10. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Almost "Made"

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    Does the extra width in soundstage countered in a more diffused thinner sound?
     
  11. johnjen

    johnjen Friend

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    I just stumbled upon this thread (and its related cousins).

    Nice write up, clean, clear, concise and well delineated.
    It paints an easily graspable picture of the nature of differences between these 2 dacs.

    I look forward to reading the 'related' cousins.

    JJ
     
  12. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Very, very tempting, especially given all the connection options on the Spring DAC. Have a music server with I2S coming sometime (hopefully) soon and have also been looking for a good R2R DAC to pair with my LAu, and this might be just the thing. Hmmmm... [finger hovering over kitsunehifi "BUY" button]
     
  13. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    How does Holo Spring handle recording inherited vocal sibilance as compared to Yggdrasil? Is it a stronger emphasis or weaker(in relation to Yggdrasil's rendition)?

    included explanation for those who don't know what it means:
     
  14. Torq

    Torq Last Remaining Good HF Poster

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    I wouldn't say it makes things sound "thinner" as such, just further apart. There's plenty of body to the reproduction.
     
  15. Torq

    Torq Last Remaining Good HF Poster

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    See the "Balance" section of the first post; I talked about this there.
     
  16. bimmer100

    bimmer100 Rando

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    The transformer in the KTE Holo Dac is massive @ 100Vac! or approx 100watts. NO, it doesn't consume this amount of power, it's actually consuming approx 40-45watts max from the demands of the dac. This design allows for maximum efficiency from the transformer. Maximum Speed, Transients, Mute(black background), detail retrieval, sound stage, attack and decay are all second to none with our PSU design. It's half the value of the KTE dac actually, yet we find it worth the cost. Mundorf silver Oil cap are after the inlet IEC. Oyaide pure silver faston connectors, 1.5mm silver wire instead of 1mm copper, also pcb plugs are removed and wires are soldered direct to pcb. The PSU is designed with an additional Sealed transformer. BUT need to be clear, this sealed transformer is completely bypassed when in normal use. ONLY standby mode will the sealed transformer be activated. It's rated @ 15VA so much more efficient at keeping the key components "warm" and in standby. All the outputs of the dac are disabled when in standby. This is a "green" feature for those who want to save a little on their power bill. As most users know the benefit of leaving their class A gear turned on 24/7. Otherwise.... to answer you question directly... It does take time to warm up from a cold start, typically I find it sounds "good" immediately, but up to temp in about 24 hours for optimum sound (after initial recommended burn in).

    The DAC's are hand built and quality burn in test of 72-100hours for each. But this is not the full burn in time we recommend with this specific model. We say a minimum of 300-500 hours for the DAC. After this point, just a day to warm up from cold start is fine.


    The Spring does no processing of the sound in NOS, so the sound stage you mention has a "hifi" sound that is likely responsible from Jensen Caps we use, and found to be subtle but very distinct. The sound is very very neutral, NOT dry, not wet. Possibly "moist" as Torq suggests. But our ultimate goal was to go as neutral and linear sounding as possible. This way it can be a reference Dac. Even the fuse we chose was a careful well thought out choice. We tried 6 diff very well known and expensive fuses. The only one that was easy to choose was the one we used. As it was picked out in a blind test by all the participants. It's very neutral yet the soundstage was improved slightly and mids very slight. Otherwise our L2 and L1 have a shurter gold fuse which is good, but easy to tell difference between the AHRP fuse. Recently i've been using a solid piece of silver as a fuse (5x20mm round silver bar) ;) it's my new favorite, but obviously not safe and only doing this for testing/reference, yet will have these available too.

    This Chi-Fi dac is definitely not with a Toroid transformer, nor a copy of anything on the market. Jeff Zhu is the designer and has made this thing from the ground up. It has many unique components he designed. As it's own voltage regulation IC on the Dac module is designed by him and measures at 0.2uV noise. And Linear Compensation is NOT his design/patent, but the way he implemented it into the Spring is patent pending. This technology, as far as we know does not exist in other discrete dacs. So it would make it a first. Definitely different and special.


    ----------

    Lastly, the Difference between L1/L2/L3 is price ;)

    j/k - the differences are something i'd like to get someone to write about on a future tour of the dac models. So I'll leave this to others to comment
     
  17. Madaboutaudio

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    @bimmer100, would you kindly post your recently "censored"(over at censorfi) comments about technical difference between totaldac's design vs holo spring over here?
     
  18. KLH007

    KLH007 Rando

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  19. k4rstar

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    There is no need to post in order to follow or subscribe to a thread. Please refrain from making comments like this that add up to noise and instead use the "Watch Thread" button in the top right to add a thread to your watch list.

    Please also take the time to introduce yourself here, before engaging in discussion elsewhere. Thanks.
     
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  20. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Almost "Made"

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    Did you guys try Furutech, Synergistic Research, Hifi-Tuning or Audio Magic $100+ fuses? I always hear a lot of conflicting reports about if a $100 fuse will make a difference over a 0.50 ยข fuse, it's nice to hear from a member of the trade talking about them.

    I mean they are as easy to replace as a battery on someones remote, right?
     

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