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. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Just taken out of the box but boy I'm giddy. NOS on steroids. Sorry for the THX haters but ladder DAC pairs very well with low distortion technology of the THX, in my opinion. My dream set-up would be replacing it with an ECP Audio T4 but for now the THX does... well. Well enough to listen to some sweet music that's for sure.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    No digital glare to speak of, that's with the out of the box USB which has been tweaked from spring one (basically the major upgrade from spring I to spring II, better USB and much higher specced, lower latency too). Other than that, level 3 has some insane power filtering, this DAC has a damn great blackground going for it.

    From my 3-something hours impressions what can I say, it's still NOS. Especially at lower sample rate you will lose some treble sparkle in a trade for some more romantic sound benefits. Honestly I'm sure more people dislike raw NOS sound than those who love it. Since I'm in camp II though, I feel like this DAC is made for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    You are getting sampling rate and bit-depth mixed up.

    More resistors are not any good if they are not accurate.
     
  3. type45fan

    type45fan Rando

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    @Baten any further impressions now that you've had the unit for a while? I am considering a Spring2 KTE as a possible upgrade to my Gungnir MB, albeit for a two channel system.
     
  4. Baten

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    Hi type45fan give me a day or two to gather my notes and thoughts. I have never owned a high end Schiit like the MB though so I can't know for sure how different they would sound. Ideal would be to audition a Spring if you can, the Spring 2 is only slightly better in technicalities and specs.

    Have you experienced NOS dacs before? Because the gungnir/Yggdrasil use their 'megaburrito' filter but still oversample. The KTE at lower sample rates will sound a little rolled off in the high end, in comparison, unless you feed it higher rates (hqplayer is very popular with the holo dacs).
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  5. kevnin

    kevnin #facetweeting - Friend

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    I'd consider just keeping Gungnir Multibit and saving your money unless you can audition first. I had the Holo Spring level 3 (first version) loaner at the same time as Gungnir Multibit (A1). While the holo spring sounded good, Gungnir Multibit had better bass extension, a bit less sharp treble, and overall just sounded a little better.
     
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  6. Greg121986

    Greg121986 Almost "Made"

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    The Spring 2 DACs have a newer USB so it could be improved. In my experience with Spring 1 KTE L3, the USB left a lot on the table. HDMI I2S was absolutely required for critical listening. I'd be willing to bet the Spring 2 has the same requirements, despite having a new USB implementation.
     
  7. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Seems like every dac out there has this same issue though, that is, avoid USB inputs if possible.
     
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  8. Baten

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    I have an SU-1 on the way modded with a sparkos regulator. I will see if it improves on the standard USB but I would be surprised :) the USB on this thing is the best performing I've heard so far.
     
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  9. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    So I own it since mid January or so. I think I can confidently state how much I like this DAC at this point. I have never heard a schiit multibit DAC though, so again I can't at all compare to it or something like a Soekris. sorry about that! I am however considering joining a future Airist drop if that ever happens, to compare and perhaps keep it for a work rig if I like it enough. That DAC also received quite some praise here on SBAF so I am intrigued.

    Around 7 years ago my journey began with a budget musical fidelity v-dac ii. It was one of the first budget devices that had both spdif reclocking and proper async usb support/driver (I think before even before cmedia chips and the like). I used this with AKG headphones and thrifted nobrand speakers for the longest time untill I upgraded to an iFi black label as new DAC/headamp. While powerful as an amp I wasn't that impressed with the detail on the iFi, but was completely enamored with its bitperfect mode. It worked as faux-NOS by holding samples. It let me to researching and eventually buying the spring. I waited long enough that the spring 2 was out by the time I had the budget for a KTE, lucky me :)

    From the designer: the spring 2 isn't a big upgrade over spring 1. Better power/MCLK isolation from each input, better usb implementation in transfer/latency specs. Perhaps slightly less grain/better cleanliness but who knows without proper inspection/measurement/listening tests between both. So I'm sure a used spring 1 is the budget way to go. I'm intending to hold onto it as my end game DAC for years to come so I splurged on L3 spring 2. I ordered from Wildism, since their modding is simply much more elaborate than the same L3 on Kitsune hi-fi. There's discussion on head-fi if you're interested in the differences.

    2 weeks ago I received a used SU-1. Capacitor upgrade, regulator upgraded with sparkos and using 5V power input instead of the Talema it has inside. I have been comparing between the SU-1 and the spring and on I2S vs USB I don't really notice any difference whatsoever. On S/PDIF coaxical or AES/EBU though I feel like there is a modest difference. Perhaps even a downgrade in jitter if I am to believe measurements outside this forum. But I feel S/PDIF has a certain rhythm quality to it that some might call 'PRAT' which I appreciate. I'm also automatically listening to lower listening volumes on spdif which I have been concerned about as of late. This very well may all just be in my head though. but these are my findings.

    On to the spring 2 sound. Out of the box it was clean and black, but still needed some extensive use before it lost all roughness around the edges. Right now sounds perfect, to me. What do I understand under perfect? It never sounds harsh to me, at normal listening volumes. It has low level detail no DAC I have heard (which admittedly might not be as exhaustive as other members here) can compete with. I'm listening exclusively to NOS, so macro detail is not its strong point here. If you are into HQPlayer upsampling to dsd512(dsd1024 is even possible with spring 2 if your PC allows it) however, it will definitely improve that macro detail and slam that some might find lacking in NOS as also noted in Torq's review of the Cyan/Cyan DSD.

    This is what I appreciate about the DAC, there are many possibilities to fine tune your listening experience. Super high res upsampling? NOS? I2S? Reclocked/transformer isolated s/pdif? This DAC can do a lot, and the level 2 sold for $1800 from Wildism when it just released. From L2 on, you also get a beautiful and weighty remote. That is some wicked value. The level 3 shipped with EMS will be closer to $2750. Is it worth it? No.. I guess not, but looking at the inside of this thing it is modded with remarkable workmanship which tickles my inner DIY appreciation. It is truly something. I love mine! (but I'm not going to tell the spouse how much I've spend on this copper colored NOS beast of a DAC).
    Highly recommended, if not out of Spring2-L2 value standpoint alone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  10. Baten

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    Hey, whaddaya know. An Intona actually seems useful for an SU-1, seems to make the connection more stable, no more random stutters ever, and the power to the xmos chip in the SU-1 is now regulated via the Intona.

    Will keep listening but pretty sure this one will stay, expected it to make no difference at all! Makes the overall set-up even more clunky-looking though..
     
  11. ufospls2

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    Just got this bad boy in for review. Looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks with it. Initial impression is that it blasted the soundstage out in terms of width, but maybe lacks a bit depth. Has a nice tone to it so far. Will report back :)

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    @Torq had stated in his DAC comparison thread that Spring 1 KTE was competitive with Yggdrasil A1, but the updated A2 clearly bested them both. Now that Spring also got an update, it would be interesting to see how the new Spring 2 (with max mods from Kitsune or Wildism) would fare against Yggdrasil A2.
     
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