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. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    One day, one day... Damn, that's yet another DAC I'd like to audition.
     
  2. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    If they have a sale this Black Friday I'll be purchasing one. Will be fun to compare to the Gungnir Multibit.
     
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  3. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I would be very interested in that comparison as well.​
     
  4. alubis

    alubis Acquaintance

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    I live in Indonesia and buy Schiit products from SLT Technologies which is based in Singapore.

     
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  5. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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    Ditto on a comparison with the Gungnir Multibit, though I'd only be able to swing a Level 1, even with a possible BF sale. I've been leaning towards trying a Metrum, but some of the initial impressions Hands posted seemed to say the Metrum was smoother, while the Holo had good NOS sharpens/cleanliness/precision.
     
  6. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    I assume you would have seen that @Marvey compared the Lvl 3 to Gungnir Multibit earlier in the thread here?:
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...-impressions-reviews.3172/page-11#post-102059

    He preferred Gungnir Multibit (which he states explicitly a few posts later).

    I have also compared the Spring Lvl 3 to Gungnir Multibit and preferred Gungnir Multibit, for much the same reasons as Marvey (listening with speakers only). I mostly found more immediacy, better instrument separation and micro/macrodynamics.

    Here's my own thoughts on the the Spring Lvl 3 vs. Gungnir Multibit.

    All this should be taken with a grain of salt as I am only into this 2-channel audio stuff in a serious way for a couple of years now, so I don't have the experience or ear of many others on here I'm sure.

    Also I think it's important to note that the differences I mention are pretty slight, especially compared to many other components I've compared in my system.

    Overall I liked the sound of the Spring Lvl 3, probably better than any other DAC I've tried before Gungnir Multibit (~10), but in the end I preferred the Schiit.

    I listened with this setup: Tidal > MicroRendu > Eitr > Spring/Gungnir Multibit > Saga > Vidar > ATC SCM19 v2. Spring/Gungnir Multibit were using SE-outs due to Saga being SE only.

    I found the Spring to have a very interesting sound signature, probably more unique than any other DAC I've auditioned previously, which were mostly Delta-Sigma, before Gungnir Multibit. Likely this was because it was my first NOS DAC, although I've not auditioned any other NOS DACs since to say if I've noticed any consistency in the sound signature. I will take @Hands' word that the Spring sound has some typical characteristics of other NOS DACs.

    I had the Spring for a couple of months, and switched back and forth throughout that time to compare to Gungnir Multibit. The Spring does have a mostly non-fatiguing sound, which I think is what partly contributed to my preference for Gungnir Multibit - although Gungnir Multibit can be somewhat over-the-top crispy on some recordings, it has the dynamics and immediacy that I appreciate on most. I should say that I listen to primarily rock/alternative, blues, folk and jazz.

    Something unique I found about the Spring was the "spatial exaggeration" I think @Torq referenced in his review. I did not find the soundstage itself to be much bigger, if any, than the Gungnir Multibit, but it seemed to expand the size of the individual instruments or vocalists within that soundstage. I also found in some cases the instruments would also present either closer to the listener, or in some cases further back. It was kind of a cool effect in that, in some cases, instruments seemed to shift around the room, depending on the recording. So you might think this meant it had good soundstage "depth", but I'm really not sure, because it seemed to always be that instruments/voices at the centre of the stage sounded "set back", but instruments/voices on the left/right side almost always sounded just slightly more forward in the stage. So although it seemed "more 3D" compared to Gungnir Multibit's more "flat/2D presentation", it actually seemed sort of artificial to me because it was presented the same way on a number of different recordings (centre set back, left/right pushed forward). Also because of the center set-back, I found vocals were not as clear or palpable as with Gungnir Multibit...sort of like a V-shaped frequency response, but I don't believe that's it either because it sounded tonally pretty flat/even in other aspects.

    I did find the spatial expansion of instruments tended to make the overall presentation seem more "blended together" than Gungnir Multibit, which has far more empty space and distinction between instruments and voices. Although I think Marvey suggested he did not hear a "wall of sound" from the Spring, that is how I found the Spring vs. Gungnir Multibit at least. It was still a very pleasing sound, and stage, but just more homogenous. Perhaps this is due to the SE outs vs. the Balanced, or the I2S vs. S/PDIF of my Eitr, dunno. I was not able to try the Balanced-outs or I2S input during my trial. But Spring was definitely a more blended presentation of instruments and vocals to my ear and in my setup.

    The other thing about this spatial exaggeration however is that, for tracks with a lot of reverb, tons of layering, spatial effects or other long instrument decays, Spring could make a bit of a mess of them, especially at decent volumes. "Airbag" by Radiohead, off the new OK Computer OKNOTOK release, was almost unlistenable to me on the Spring when cranked up. Not so with the Gungnir Multibit.

    The Spring also has a sweeter top end, which of course contributes most significantly to it's non-fatiguing nature, which I understand is also fairly typical of NOS. This was great for those no-so-perfect recordings or those that are mixed very lean, or with an emphasis on symbols and hi hats. The Police albums I listen to regularly like Regatta de Blanc and Outlandos d'Amour sounded really nice on the Spring, with Stewart Copeland's drum work sounding a bit easier on the ears and more balanced overall in the mix, while just as detailed, varied and articulate as Gungnir Multibit.

    For Bass, the Spring was very nice. Solid, fast, articulate. I did detect maybe a very slight mid-bass hump compared to Gungnir Multibit, but only by a hair. Gungnir Multibit did seem to go a bit deeper, but my ATCs don't output much below 40Hz in my room, so it was only barely noticeable.

    At any rate, I did prefer Gungnir Multibit, but the differences were not that significant. If I had never heard or compared the Spring directly to Gungnir Multibit, Spring would be my favorite DAC so far, and I would be damn happy with it. If the Spring Lvl 3 was a lot less expensive, maybe I would have kept both like @Torq, but that's not in the cards for me currently. Maybe if Spring Lvl 1 shows up on the used market in Canada at some point in the future, I'll grab it again, but I really love this frickin Gungnir Multibit. If Schiit ever come out with an upgrade to their multibit line of DACs and/or Gungnir Multibit in particular, I will be the first in line.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
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  7. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Acquaintance

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    Thank you for the tips. If it's in Singapore that would be nice, may even be possible to visit the shop and set up an audition session.
     
  8. Thegabe

    Thegabe Rando

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    This DAC really appears to be what I've been looking for lately. I could never pull the trigger on Yggdrasil because of the relay clicks between bitrate/sample rate changes. I had a Gungnir MB and it went back because the relay clicking was like nails on chalkboard for me. Can someone confirm if the Holo Spring L3 has anything like the Schiit relay clicks? If not, I think I'll have to get my credit card out...
     
  9. khragon

    khragon Acquaintance

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    No relay clicking
     
  10. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    @Thegabe Also the Metrum DACs switch instantly (so far as I could tell) with no relay or pops. Although I listen to 99% redbook. Plenty of impressions here, if you search around, to get an idea whether you would prefer one of those or the Holo Spring.
     
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  11. Greg121986

    Greg121986 Almost "Made"

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    I can confirm no relay clicking on the Holo. I use USB input from my Nvidia Shield TV without issue. For dedicated stereo listening I use a Singxer SU-1 and HDMI for I2S connection. No clicking from the Singxer either.
     
  12. oneguy

    oneguy Rando

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    I would get relay clicking through the output on my ultraRendu/SU-1/Spring L3 setup.
     
  13. Maxx134

    Maxx134 no one will touch his boy parts without $$$

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    I wondering how much the L3 spring sonic characteristics is different over the L1spring,
    From the changes made in using a silver transformer & wiring & change of PSU caps.
    Maybe the L1 is more neutral of the sweetness noted in L3..??

    I have an inbound L1 Spring coming if anyone in NYC area wants to compare to a L3.
     
  14. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    According to Torq, there wasn't much in it.
     
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  15. Baten

    Baten Almost "Made"

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    For those that did not see it yet. Holo spring 2 DAC

    https://kitsunehifi.com/product/holo-audio-spring2-dac-kitsune-tuned-edition/


    The KTE model will have the following specs. And many new features.Improved higher resolution display with ability to display more info at the same time such as input, OS or NOS modes and sample rates all at same time. While preserving the classic dot matrix font that the original Spring1 was known for!

    Same chassis dimensions, same control panel and same copper/black signature look. but KTE model will have offical pure copper KTE badges/emblems.

    Improvements to the dac module have been made and KTE models will have hand picked modules for best performance and sound quality.

    Also the USB module has completely new code written to optimize performance and reduce latency significantly. Low frequency performance (-40db) is also improved when compared to the already excellent sound quality of the Spring1.

    The dac will also support DSD1024 native and PCM 1.536M output! Also, we have worked hard to reduce the common click noise with all dacs when switching from DSD to PCM. This sound click sound has been reduced significantly with a special circuit design. However it did not bother the majority of customers with the Spring1 design. We still addressed this issue to improve with our new product.

    New improved power supply circuit with high performance regulation circuit using 2xCornell Dubilier and 4XPanasonic FC. (L1 uses Vishay ERO) and Mundorf Evo Gold/Silver oil Caps (L2 and KTE models).

    We are no longer using LVDS and are now using a custom 4way circuit that isolates each line which further improves sound quality. such as the MCLK is isolated from data line and this improves jitter spec. (This feature i’m most excited for, as many of you know that I highly recommend i2s hdmi input as being ideal connection with our dac)

    Now the dac is implemented with femto clocks, and also new discrete ultra high performance voltage regulators.

    The Spring L2 and KTE version of the Spring2 dac also is now with a CNC machined aluminum remote control! (L1 does not have this feature)

    All OCC copper wire replaced with 1.5mm pure silver wire, all plugs on the board are removed as we feel they were acting as a bottleneck. 1.5mm Silver wire is soldered direct to the pcbs with highest grade audio solder. Silver Rhodium Faston connectors used at IEC input

    (AudioMagic) Ultimate Beeswax SHD fuse. (225usd value)

    note: The silver transformer takes around 6 hours due to it being made/wound by hand, it is NOT machine wound. And is pure 99.99% silver for its primary and secondaries.

    The KitsuneTuned Edition dac requires a significant amount of labor to produce and we are trying to keep the costs down as low as possible and within reach to most passionate audio lovers. Our markup on the components for KTE dac are very low. We build these Dacs due to our prime motivation being passion for audio. We are accepting orders now, and will produce them with estimate of about 3 weeks production time and will adjust as orders come in. We never discount our KTE model, however this one and only time we will offer a preorder price of 100usd off msrp!
    Prices are as follows for Spring2 lineup:
    L1 = 1698usd +shipping
    L2 1998 + shipping
    KTE 2698 + shipping
     
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  16. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Oh man, I can already see a lot of angry Spring 1 owners flipping over this. I wonder if the actual improvement will be significant like Yggdrasil Analog 2, but even if it were, something tells me the Spring 1 isn’t built to be futureproof or upgradable.
     
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  17. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I wonder then if this is the rumored "May" dac? Anyway, lots of typical fanbuzzy stuff like silver wiring, exotic fuses, CNC machined remote and so on. Gut says this is not a big leap up, but let's see the reviews after the honeymoon period.
     
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  18. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Almost every other DAC out there operates on this model - full new replacement. Now some do offer upgrade discounts or trade-ins to compensate, but most don’t. Not sure what Kitsune is planning to do, but they don’t seem to mention anything, so people might just be SOL.

    But yet there were those upset over having to pay ~25% of a brand new unit to upgrade to the latest Yggdrasil. Utterly ridiculous.
     
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  19. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Speaking of Schiit, they even consolidate their naming now. No More Lyr 3. Just Lyr. It is going to be more confusing in the future to know which is which.

    Many people still have no idea about Gungnir Multibit A2, for example. And if they know and wish to upgrade, they contact Schiit and Schiit is like "what A2? There is no A2".

    I prefer to know if my gear has a newer better version, especially if I can upgrade it for a fee. Even if I can't upgrade, I still have the choice to buy again. I'm still using the Modi Multibit v1 now and I'm glad that I know. I already have an upgrade plan.
     
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  20. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Well, if someone is so outraged by this that they want to give me a killer deal on a 230v Holo 1, please do yell.

    They always looked like an interesting option, and would be fun to compare to my Gungir Multibit Gen5/A1 (which I really like- it's rich and detailed, while still remaining a bit warm and not unpleasantly harsh/analytical).
     
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