Holo Audio KTE LCR-1 Impressions

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by oneguy, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Anyone have any experience and impressions of the Holo Audio KTE LCR-1 or the previous incarnation Valab LCR-1? I’m considering a phono amp upgrade from my Emotiva XPS-1.
     
  2. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Well I went ahead and bought one while I await the damn DuPont connectors and wire strippers
    so I can complete my tonearm rewire.
     
  3. Jinxy245

    Jinxy245 Vegan Puss

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    Nice...good luck with the purchase! Let us know what you think when you've spent some time with it.
     
  4. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    It’s been a week and no communication on when it will ship for an “in stock item.” Not sure what to think about that.
     
  5. noisyscott

    noisyscott Rando

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    Tim at Kitsune is quite slow to get back with questions - it took over a week for him to respond to some basic stuff that I asked after my CC was charged. That said, when I got the wrong version of the May delivered, he was super-responsive and did a great job getting the issue fixed. I would love to see their communication response time improve, but don't worry, they're just super busy.
     
  6. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Are you sure it is actually "in stock"? Other items on his website show in stock, but the item description states that it is a 6-8 wk build and that the "in stock" status is control sales volume
     
  7. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    On this item it says:

    “we usually have these in stock and ready to ship! so you can expect to have it shipped in 1-3business days!”

    No mention of controlling sales volume. FWIW the number in stock changed from:

    “Only 2 left in stock (can be backordered)”

    to

    “Only 1 left in stock (can be backordered)”

    after I ordered.
     
  8. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    I understand being super busy but don’t most companies take that as a signal to hire additional people? If there is going to be a significant wait for something advertised as in stock it shouldn’t take the customer reaching out to them to initiate a response. They should be proactive and reach out to the customer first. I imagine people are more understanding in that situation.
     
  9. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    A lot of audio companies are very small operations, wait times and poor communication are par for the course. This is particularly true given the exhaustion that must come when dealing with audiophiles, who are surely way more demanding and anal than any normal person. And then, hiring additional people just to get over a temporary crunch is rarely great business.

    So yeah, I can only recommend patience, even when wait times and delays seem unreasonable.
     
  10. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Short term hire?

    I’ve never had poor communication be the norm in my experience of dealing with Schiit, Uptone, Sonore, AntiCables, and Audio-gd. And I will say that my communication with Kitsune September of last year was good so I don’t concur with you “par for the course” statement. Anyways, patience is my only recourse now. If I wanted a refund (unless I disputed the charge) that would require a response too!
     
  11. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Update: got ahold of Tim and this should be on its way in the coming days.
     
  12. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Following your comments and looking forward to hearing how it sounds. I can forgive slow customer service if the end result is good and the design of the LCR-1 is an intriguing design.

    What phono cartridge are you using? I have the Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC star that turns out to be challenging to pair with a phono pre because it has higher inductance than most MC carts.
     
  13. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    I have an Ortofon 2M Bronze that I am currently listening to the 10th record that it’s played so it’s still relatively new. I would expect to have the LCR-1 around the 10th of next month.

    I also just finished my tonearm rewire tonight and I’m on the 2nd record through the new wires so should be a lot of good upgrades all around. I’ll be posting impressions of the tonearm rewire in the Sol thread.
     
  14. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    First of all, thanks to Oneguy for turning me onto this phono pre. I was not aware of it's existence or history and really hadn't caught onto the difference in the RIAA filter design between an RC and LCR.

    I went looking for more information and found that the LCR phono pre's out there for the most part are really expensive and that this design compares well with those expensive ones based on reviewers comments. So it really is a smoking deal. I particularly found the troelsgravsen shootout useful and have great respect for his reviews.

    Of course, there is the Lounge Audio LCR, but the solid state version is limited to moving magnet carts with a gain of about 40 dB. One reviewer commented that the Holo/Valab design sounds better than the Lounge LCR, but that is the only reference point. It does make me a little curious about the Lounge LCRtube.

    The Holo Audio design has actually been available for a while as a Valab or Vintage Audio Lab on ebay, but it looks like an arrangement was made to make it a Holo Audio only product about 2018. It looks like Tim at Holo Audio has a talent for finding small specialist makers of audio equipment, supporting them, and marketing them under his own brand. Overall, that seems to be a good thing. It is true that the prices go up in the process, but then again, the prices are still good value compared to many competitors.

    I found some pictures of the Valab mk3 and the design looks very similar to today's mk5 with a few components rearranged on the board. In particular, the inductors use the same case, even though Holo Audio claims that the mk 5 inductors are 3 times larger and significantly lower resistance than the mk 4 version. Of course, the inductor case could be enough larger to accommodate larger inductors.

    To my eye, it looks like the LCR-1 has an opamp input gain stage, followed by a passive LCR RIAA filter, followed by a discrete output gain stage that the specs say is Class A. I personally don't have any problem with an opamp input stage at this price point, especially since it is being used for an adjustable gain to accommodate different cartridges. Hat's off to Kevin at Valab for a really nice design.

    Everything I have read is that a good LCR phono sounds better than a similar level RC phono and that the predecessor of the Holo Audio LCR-1 compares very well with much more expensive phono pre's like the EAR 912.

    I look forward to your impressions, but I'm confident you made a good choice. I expect I will be signing up to buy one soon and I only wish I had known about them in the Valab days when they were only $600.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
  15. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Spot on! I wish I had pulled the trigger when they were $900 shipped on eBay but I put off the purchase…I pieced together the timeline of acquisition from Kevin to Tim as around 2019 based on the comments from this thread:

    https://www.canuckaudiomart.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=52462&start=30

    You can see what I assume is Tim based on handle there at the top.

    The fact that I never see these for sale used speaks volumes about their value.
     
  16. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Congrats to oneguy and anyone who has already gotten an order in on the LCR-1. I hadn't yet, but won't because they just raised the price of the base model by 36%. That makes it just as good a piece, but less good of a value. Please still let us know your impressions.
     
  17. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    Tim is a smart business person, good idea to pick up the LCR-1 add a MK5 to it, send a unit to Stereophile than quickly increase the price as the review goes public online

    Stereophile New parts cost seems to be in full effect here. o_O
     
  18. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Holy crap that’s insane. Especially considering the mk3 was only $900 shipped when Kevin at Valab sold it on eBay and then Kitsune took it over for $1.2K plus shipping for the mk4. Then the mk5 came out at $1.1K plus shipping (and the mk4 dropped to $950 plus shipping). Now the mk5 is $1.5k for the base model!! That’s quite the price progression in the 2 years it went from Kevin on eBay until now.

    I bet the WBT buyers are pissed too. The WBT was sold as a limited edition (5 silver and 5 black) version for $2k. Now there is the $2.2k WBT and no cap on availability and better spec.

    My feelings back in April on the subject:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/denafrips-terminator-the-king-of-r2r-dac.851085/post-16319282

    I like the products but with all of these changes I’m kind of starting to get the hifiman anger going.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2021
  19. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    The other part of this was there before the current price increase and. I am guessing will continue. The S model only adds silver wire between the signal connectors and the pcb and in the DC cable between the boxes, plus some more expensive Panasonic power supply caps. I don't know how silver wired between the boxes would affect sound quality since there is a regulator on the signal board, but it might help. The silver wire to the signal connectors is pretty short. They have to be less than a foot combined. You can buy a foot of 24 AWG solid 5N silver wire for $4 at PCX, plus add $0.16 for teflon tubing as insulator. For these small changes Kitsune wanted $300.

    The WBT plugs in silver are $120 for a pair at PCX (only $60 for gold) and you need 2 pair, so that's $240. Kitsune seems to want $700 for the WBT upgrade, although that may be a little lost in the transition from the old parts in stock and the new prices.

    To keep this polite, let me just say that Kitsune has strained my level of trust. But the good news is that you can pre-order the Spring 3 DAC. ;-)
     
  20. oneguy

    oneguy Acquaintance

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    Haha, yep I’ve already tossed around the idea of doing the WBT upgrade myself.

    My take: litz in the DC won’t help other than the enamel keeping the surface from developing corrosion. Skin effect won’t matter for DC since you’ll get 100% penetration. So the best option would essentially be an UP-OCC single core enamel wire.

    -I already have connectors and 18awg magnet wire coming to test the idea of a single core enameled wire. Not UP-OCC but it’s cheap to experiment with. My best DIY AC power cables are 8awg single core magnet wire and the only thing I have heard to eBay the AntiCables lvl 3. Two pair of Weipu connectors was only $35.

    For the interconnects as there are only 6 total wires so 18” maximum. Multistrand litz would benefit here. For $60 per ft I know where I found some UP-OCC Silver litz in 18.8awg so basically end game. Also as you mentioned $240 for the 2 pair of RCAs

    -I haven’t pulled the trigger in this yet but I did get some rhodium plated tellurium copper RCAs for $69 for 3 pair (2 for LCR-1 and 1 for Sol). I may use these or go with the WBT silver if funds allow when I finally get around to breaking into the LCR-1.

    $240 for connectors
    $120 for 18.8awg litz (probably bigger than what they are using)*
    $35 for 2 new pair of Weipu connectors
    $8 for 18 awg magnet wire (yeah not swanky OCC but haven’t sourced any single core in UP-OCC that large)
    ??? for capacitors but probably not much.

    total: $438ish to DIY it to a ridiculous spec

    *you can get neotech 18awg UP-OCC silver (just not mutlistrand litz) for $30/ft from sonic craft ($60 for 2ft)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021

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