Holo May KTE 3 Impressions and thoughts

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Xecuter, Oct 23, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I agree with this especially at 6k
     
  2. winders

    winders boomer

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    This is flawed thinking. When you buy a DAC, especially a DAC that costs almost $6K, you better have a plan in mind. When you buy a Holo Audio May DAC, you had better like the NOS sound or plan on using software to upsample and noise shape the tracks. The May does have OS for DSD and PCM but both are there to check boxes as they are terrible. The May is a NOS DAC, period.

    If you don't like the sound of NOS, or don't know if you like the NOS sound, and you try the May, you aren't really giving it a chance if you don't try software like HQPlayer.

    Lot's of people out there love the sound NOS DACs at native rates but I am not one of them. One of the things I loved about the DirectStream DAC was that Ted Smith would come out with FPGA updates once or so a year that, generally, improved the sound. Ted would find better or more efficient ways to use the FPGA that would lower noise and improve the sound quality.

    I bought a NOS DAC because I wanted to separate the upsampling filters, noise shapers, modulators, and ditherers from the DAC hardware. I wanted to be able to use software that ran on more powerful processing hardware than the DAC would have and be able to upgrade that software at any time with new and better upsampling filters, noise shapers, modulators, and ditherers if and when they came out. I bought the May KTE because that hardware was the best example of a NOS DAC I could find. The HQPlayer/May KTE combination is simply incredible.

    Now, once I get HQPlayer configured the way I like, there is no more work involved. I just play music.....
     
  3. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Yes, the plan I have in mind is for it to sound good without needing mental gymnastics. :D We clearly have a strong difference of opinion here.

    Considering the L3 Pavane is my current favorite, I think I do like the NOS sound which is why I expected the May to suit my preferences.
     
  4. winders

    winders boomer

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    That's okay. When I listened to the Pavane L3, even with HQPlayer, I much preferred the DirectStream...and I think The May KTE kills the DirectStream. Different strokes for different folks...
     
  5. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Since you have my May for another day ;) please try to upsample 44.1 and 48 material 2x in Roon. I do that for my Spring 2 KTE at the other house to significant benefit. I prefer the smooth linear filter, but YMMV.
     
  6. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    What @earnmyturns says, although I would set "sample rate conversion" in DSP to "precise, linear phase" for a more baseline / apples to apples comparison to your other dacs/experiences. You could try 4X upsampling as well.
     
  7. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I'll do my best, my project is holding up another project at work so the pressure is on ...
     
  8. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I've just got myself some additional hardware to run HQP, now curious about some initial suggested filter/modulator configurations to start the exploration. Thanks! -- F
     
  9. winders

    winders boomer

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    You should try this:

    Integrator: IIR2
    Conversion: XFi
    1x Filter: poly-sinc-gaus-xla
    Nx Filter: poly-sinc-gaus-hires-lp
    Modulator: ASDM7ECv2

    I am getting phenomenal results with this setup with PCM and DSD converted to DSD256.
     
  10. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Thanks to @winders, @atomicbob and several others on the Roon forum for help with getting all the pieces together for supercharging my May KTE with HQPlayer. This wasn't a cheap or easy excursion, but I've arrived at the first good powder descent of the tour (to mix my two favorite hobbies). In addition to the May, the chain uses a quiet (not fanless) server from SilentPC (i9-11900) running Ubuntu and HQPplayer embedded, an Up Gateway running the NAA ramdisk image from Signalyst, and finally an Intona isolator between the Up Gateway and the May. The current HQPlayer config is what @winders gave above. Never heard Bill Frisell's guitar like this outside a live performance.

    Update: I was just reading @rhythmdevils 's Wavedream SE vs OG Yggdrasil comparison, and it struck me that some of what he says for the Wavedream SE also applies to the HQP-supercharged May. I'm mostly into instrumental, not vocal music, so I'd not be qualified to extend the comparison to that aspect.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2022
  11. xyzed

    xyzed New

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    Thanks for your impressions on the May KTE. I purchased one a few months ago and am having a dedicated music server being build to take advantage the benefits of HQPlayer. The system will consist of the following i9-12900, 16 GB ram, water cooled, and 3 TB SSD. I am hoping this will let me do some serious filtering and upsampling. What are your favourite settings. I would also like to get your thoughts on break in on the DAC have you experienced any significant changes over time?
     
  12. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I've been using the settings I got from @winders since I got my HQPlayer setup. All my source material is PCM. I convert it to DSD using the following SDM settings (HQPlayer Embedded):
    • 1x Oversampling: poly-sinc-gauss-xla
    • Nx Oversampling: poly-sync-gauss-hires-ip
    • Modulator: ADSM7ECv2
    • Bit rate: 12288000
    • Rate limit: 12288000
    I'd like to spend more time playing with different choices, but I've been super-busy at work and this configuration (thanks @winders !) is doing a great job for my favorite material (small ensemble/solo modern jazz and classical).

    When I got the May I did not have HQPplayer. I just let it run through my music library in NOS mode, outputting to one of my headphone amps (muted) for a week before actually taking a serious listen. From experience with Spring 1 and Spring 2.
     
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  13. StageOne

    StageOne Friend

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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2022
  14. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    @StageOne , I think you meant to post this review on the Spring 3 KTE thread.
     
  15. Larry Megugorac

    Larry Megugorac Craps on Filipino accents to ease inner poverty

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    Great reading in this comparo...I wanted to say to Thank You to Ernmyturns for recommending the album Pacifica Coral Leaf!
     
  16. Taguro

    Taguro Almost "Made"

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    Been wanting to post my thoughts on the May KTE for quite a while now, but real life things have gotten busy the past few days. I think it ended up being good in a way though since I have had more time to assess the May on its own, and relative to that of the Yggdrasil A2.

    Most of what has been said about the May above I can confirm. It's a NOS DAC, but staging was surprisingly normal. I would even say, it out stages the oversampling Yggdrasil. The remnants of "NOS-ness" here is really the solidity and density of images, and the delivery of the midrange. The May has the ability to conjure big and tactile images. Whether this is a function of NOS I do not know, but at least for me, it's something that's quite addicting to experience. Meanwhile, vocals on the May have a natural texture to them, which is what I guess most people look for in a NOS DAC. I listen to a lot of vocal tracks so this was perfect for my tastes.

    In terms of "traditional" audiophile technicalities, I would say the May is clearly a level above the Yggdrasil. Even while using non-upsampled material, the May was still able to pull out more detail, and present things with more depth. In comparison, the Yggdrasil's gray blackground really becomes apparent here and things don't have quite the same contrast. However, the May's performance really comes alive when you feed it with upsampled material. As most of the young kids would say, there's levels to this, and the May does play on a different playing field.

    However, I feel that the May would not be a DAC that appeals to old school sensibilities. Despite being a R2R DAC, this is more of a modern R2R sound. It's not a very liquid sounding DAC. This is a dry sounding DAC, with greater emphasis on blackground, macro and microdetail retrieval and having the greatest dynamic range possible. In that sense, it accomplishes what it set out to do, while giving just a bit of sweetness in the mids. However, for those looking for plankton or grit around the edges of notes, I feel like the Yggdrasil bests the May here. The Yggdrasil is modern R2R too, but I feel like it still retains some of that old school liquidity and "organic-ness" as compared to the May.

    I cannot say for certain that the May is the DAC for everyone. Pulling out its full capabilities require so many things from the user. Upsampling hardware and/or software, proper hi-res files and etc. It's definitely a piece of gear you'll be working with, and not working for you out of the box. Once things are in order though, you can see why it's at the shortlist of DACs up there. As always, system matching is key, but pair it with a proper set of resolving headphones/speakers and a warmi-ish liquid sounding amp, and you can call it a day.
     
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