Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE impressions

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by bilboda, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I have had this for over 2 weeks playing music. I did opt for the preamp.

    Some setup things:

    Be sure it is not selected by your os as the default sound device, you will lose asio.
    I did upgrade firmware to 3012? the 2nd newest.

    I have upsampled to 1,536 pcm. My pc is limited to to DSD256 with HQplayer's more advanced filters.

    I am comparing it to my Sonnet Morpheus, both using USB and ASIO.
    And I am having problems. Problems trying to tell the 2 apart that is.

    There are hints of differences, perhaps a bit more realism with the Holo.
    Casual listening leaves me befuddled.

    I use an XLR switch for speakers and a rca switch for headphones so I can switch any time as I have them grouped in roon.

    There is no oversampling built in on the Spring 3. It's nos or bust or hqplayer or your software.
    I can't hear much over 8k so I have no idea what I might be missing.
    There are times I think the Morpheus may be warmer, maybe.

    Roon and HQplayer is borked. Everytime I see a new post in the roon forum I am totally unsurprised when jussi or roon support asks for logs , setup, etc, quite a bit of work on the user's part to get to the same conclusion that was revealed in an earlier thread. It is borked and they blame each other. One of them did an update that borked the connection and no one wants to fess up. I have a possible alternative with jriver feeding hqplayer, we'll see.

    Gotta spend more time, maybe next weekend and find that chain that reveals the differences, if any, the best.
    I have been using the Black Amp as it always portrayed the best inner detail vs EC Zana Deux and SW51+ but synergy is what it is. This will take a while.

    I have nothing negative to say about the Holo. Ethernet i2s on the Morpheus vs hdmi on the Holo. Morpheus has a volume knob, Holo push buttons, both have remotes. The Holo's display is nicer and more informative. Hmmm, it's about the music though and the jury is still out.
     
  2. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I'm a gonna repost what I posted over there, cause it's only fair. |\/|

    As far as the new usb, I think it provides better performance for non intel based chipsets. I'm on Intel so it doesn't bother me.

    Can't give a review but I can provide some impressions. I use HQPlayer up sampling. I upsampled pcm with the Sonnet Morpheus and to DSD 256 with the Spring 3 KTE, using an ec modulator. Originally, nos pcm only, I had a very difficult time telling the 2 dacs apart. I had usb to both from the same pc and Roon zones set up with both connections. I could switch at will and they both proved highly enjoyable, I was almost disappointed.

    Optical from my tv and movie pc was a clear step up with the Holo, no question about it, movie and tv dialog has always been a problem. Just too much jitter, Like a lot of noise that you don't notice until it's gone, a lot of the noise from every other dac that I have tried is gone. Some movies will always be a problem.

    Tenet on HBO Max, dialogue is such a bitch and it is integral in following the plot and it's complex ideas. It has improved with the Holo but still requires more volume. The subsequent raise of all the volume is not as jarring as before like a car crash for example.

    Newrecordday has a review of the May where he notes that the May takes a low volume light tambourine from a certain song and how it defines the space and dimensions of the room, so long as your speakers are set up correctly.
    Well, using HQPlayer's many options for filters and modulators and ditherers, I was able to get that tambourine to actually sound like a tambourine and not a pocket of coins or a cymbal of some kind, I got that from the Morpheus.
    With the Spring 3 KTE, I did get some sense of the room, the back wall but perhaps not the ceiling so much, it seemed topless, side wall was also established and I was using the more complex DSD ec filters to do this.
    So this single track is symbolic, if nothing else of a distinct difference in the 2 dacs that will rarely show itself in normal listening. I will say, in general, I like it best with DSD 256 and ec modulators.. I have to put a 3 sec delay in Roon as that's how long it takes my pc to process the more computationally heavy DSD upsampling that I prefer.

    Outside of the obvious difference in the optical connection. I had to look very very hard to detect any differences in usb musical performance. Using HQPlayer for me is key.
    Oh, and I can't hear much above 8000 khz, so take that into consideration, maybe it's the tinnitus masking but I can't discount age related hearing loss either.

    The Holo has a unique driver thing going on. The Sonnett driver sits in the hardware section under sound controllers in Windows 10 device manager. You might have it set to optical but the driver will always be present in the list of devices.
    The Holo creates it's own listing in the device manager, apart from anything else. If you aren't on the usb input on the dac, it disappears from the device manager.
    For me with HQPlayer, that means it loses track of the dac, even when I switch back to the usb input. My solution was to download vnc to my ipad based remote and open and close HQplayer settings, basically resetting the output in the software. I am getting used to it. It only presents itself when I decide to listen to music again.
     
  3. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I have both Morpheus and Spring 2 KTE, in different locations. EC Af and ecp DSHA-3F amps, ZMF Verité headphones, not exactly identical. Only upsampling for 44.1 and 48 material, as Pi2AES is limited to 192 PCM. Morpheus gets I2S from Pi2AES, Spring 2 gets AES from another Pi2AES. Morpheus is warmer and a tad less realistic, which seems to align with your impressions. But I haven't explored different upsampling options as you have.[/QUOTE]
     
  4. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    No DAC can help that movie make sense.
     
  5. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Nolan himself can’t make sense of it…
     
  6. ctrlm

    ctrlm Rando

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    Hi,
    any more thoughts on the Spring 3 after another 6 to 8 weeks?
     
  7. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    So many variables with HQplayer. I am evaluating 1.536mhz pcm currently, listening to Kin by Pat Metheny. Yep even before my morning coffee, there is music. I like it but have liked everything I have thrown at it so far. I need to spend more time with music I know well.

    Wish I could give you a definitive answer. It may be the dac or it may be me but it seems to have relaxed and increased resolution.

    Something just crapped out in the chain at 1.536mhz and music stopped. HQplayer would shut down after it switched albums and I tried to visit the settings. For another day, I guess. Switched to ifi Zenstream thru Matrix SPDIF2 and i2s, nos, Roon direct. Also a winning combination.
     
  8. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    Recently had another little meet DAC off last weekend featuring Rockna, the Holo S3 KTE, and 2.3 dacs.
    I can't say much on how the HQP setup was done because i don't know anything about external OS, but i presume the owner knew what they were doing. I believe owner was using SincMx filter DSD64 to match his native files and capabilities of gaming laptop on hand and said it sounds best this way given the circumstances of not having a high end desktop with a threadripper and 32gb of RAM. I've been out of the USB game for a long time and i am not up to speed with it.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Headphones used were HD800 LSN, HD650, 580, one off ETA. the BK20 speakers.
    Amps used were my MKIV and Modified Sangaku
    USB (Local lossless files > HQP > Laptop USB > iFi defuker USB dongle > Holo) was primarily used for Holo only in both OS/NOS modes. CDT used was my modified Delta270 and is My main 'digital' source.

    This is the first time i critically listened to a holo in my own house outside of meet settings. I am pretty familiar with Rockna WL having spent lots of time with it at other meets and i owned the 2.3 DAC for a year almost.

    I immediately heard the Holo house sound on USB in either NOS or OS which is relaxed not very engaging/lively (it's not completely dead like Soekris and Metrum), Holo has rounded/blunted not very impressive in transients (2.3 and Rockna are excellent with dynamics), Holo has some bass FR emphasis while Rockna are more mid centric emphasis with the 2.3 being on the extreme with Mids, holo has unnatural attack and decay. Vocals sound full through the entire FR range in a good way, which i presume is what most people like in this DAC - i would say this is the best attribute and strength of Holo and is similar to the 2.3 DAC. In NOS mode, the Holo stage collapses completely on speakers in depth and between the speakers in width. The 2.3 DAC which is NOS only does not have collapsed stage (it is unique NOS dac in that aspect) and Rockna has the largest stage. There is nothing really remarkable to say about Holo beyond this; it doesn't do anything offensive other than some digitus which is slightly less than Rockna (far less digitus than Yggdrasil and other DS dacs). IMO holo is at the bottom of the 3 DACs in this configuration.

    The fun started when we hooked up the Holo to my CDT via Coax/SPDIF. I have never experienced this radical of a change before from CDT and i thought ive seen everything. Holo (in NOS obviously) changed personalities to extremely energetic and lively, dynamic ... almost too much attack for its own good. Upper mid emphasis in addition to its bass emphasis introduced borderline shout into my BK20 speakers and fostex are pretty forgiving. On headphones it was great since staging wasn't as big of a deal. IMO Holo + CDT slightly exceeded Rockna on headphones in this configuration. My rationalization of this experience is that Holo's usb implementation causes most of its 'shortcomings' and HQP OS and filters do not save it. With a good CDT, Spring 3 KTE is a very competitive DAC and MUCH more enjoyable in NOS mode.

    edit: USB clarification
    I doubt pi2AES would have changed the experience.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  9. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Thanks for relating your impressions. A couple of questions.

    What is a “2.3 DAC”?

    Also when you say “USB was used”, from what source exactly? I assume it wasn’t a dedicated USB streaming device, and more likely the laptop in the pictures? Becuase this could also explain why your CDP was so much better- I’ve not heard a USB input on any DAC that can make a PC/Mac sound as good as a dedicated transport (be that USB out, SPDIF out, etc). And it sounds like, from your impressions, that the Holo’s touted “Titanis USB” is no miracle worker either (like Unison).
     
  10. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    I clarify that USB means:

    Local lossless files > HQP > Laptop USB > iFi decrappifier USB dongle > DAC

    Rockna USB from the same circumstances is quite Excellent. Lots of people here have experience with these and this in my mind is the current reference 'hurdle' to be beat.

    Trying to keep it Holo related as not very many people have heard these one off DACs before, 2.3 is a boutique Custom made NOS dac based on philips tda1541. It is a midrange model in the product lineup and costs approx a Yggdrasil LIM. It trades blows or exceeds WL in terms of subjective performance and does a few things that ive never heard any other DAC do. Hope to compare it (or its big brother 3.2) to a Wavedream Signature in the near future :)

    [​IMG]

    They really are one off and made to order. No dac or amp from abba is exactly the same in construction or sound.

    I think the model i have is apparently now called a 2.3SE+ with the directly heated tube rectifier, i was an early adopter and there has been some revisions and updates to the product lines since then. i modified mine to take the bigger ST shaped rectifier tube which is now a standard option.

    You should avoid purchasing this DAC if you intend to use a PC based source.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  11. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Do you have a link for this DAC? "2.3", "NOS" and "TDA1541" can't seem to get me anywhere on the Google.
     
  12. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    When I owned a Spring 1, USB from was meh even with a "Titanis" external adapter, from specialized USB sources (USBridge, microRendu). AES3 was much better, and I2S with the right DDC a bit better still: better definition and faster dynamics, better staging. I currently own a Spring 2 KTE, which I run from Pi2AES, I'm even happier with this setup, especially when I upsample 2x lower sample-rate PCM material.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  13. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Also really good to know. I have been pondering a Spring 3 and wondering whether the KTE version was really necessary in order to get the Titanis USB. Seems like maybe not so much, even though I have a rather spendy USB endpoint (Sonore OpticalRendu with a pricey LPS). Probably better to go with the Level 2 and a Pi2AES with some quality power.
     
  14. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    I'm pretty sure @Jh4db536 meant Abbas audio's products. I heard very good comments from several serious audiophiles I know, too.

    http://www.abbasaudio.com/en/productlist-dacs/
     
  15. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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  16. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    My current Spring 2 KTE setup:

    Pi2AES+Sbooster 24V>AES>Spring 2>XLR>Goldpoint SA2X>AES>{ecp DSHA-3F amorphous | EC Af}. Blue Jeans cables throughout. I could use I2S but I have a bit of a geeky rejection to the fact that I2S HDMI is LR swapped from Spring. I know, I know, I could just swap the cables from DAC to Goldpoint, but it feels a bit "dirty" o_O

    TBH, I keep avoiding USB DAC inputs, maybe just prejudice from earlier mediocre results. I have a May KTE on order for a different system and I may force myself to finally retry USB.
     
  17. RedLipstick

    RedLipstick Acquaintance

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    Have any one compared/measured the L2 version of spring 3 ?
    Wondering if the big price hike for KTE is worth it.
     
  18. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    For me, it was worth it. It just meant saving some more $$ and selling something else. It was worth it because I don't have to think about it, always wondering if it matters or not, regardless of measurements or subjective reviews. The May was too much $$ or I would have bought that. Now I wonder if I should get one, selling the Spring 3 KTE. If I get bored enough, I guess, But then I'll need a preamp of similar or better quality....I think all that really mattered to me, whatever level I purchased, was if it was an upgrade from the Sonnett Morpheus. I think it is but it was very very close and I expect the May would be even better, but there is the preamp needed. I bought a new car instead.
     
  19. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Do any Spring 3 KTE w/ preamp owners recall the volume setting to reduce the XLR outputs to the more "typical" 4.0V output levels?
    93 or 83 or ?

    googleFu is failing.
    TIA
     
  20. KaiserTK

    KaiserTK Rando

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    It was about 90, compared to my Bifrost 2.
     

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