BHK pre-amp vs Holo Audio Serene

Hi I have the BHK 250 and the pre. For dac I have the May KTE.

I wounder if the holo audio serene is a better match to the May than the BHK.

Again their a synergy between the BHK pre+amp don’t want to break that. But I wouldn’t mind some more clarity.

According to Tim ( I believe that’s his name) of Holo Audio he said (and I quote) “The Serene was created specifically to mate with the May KTE Dac.”
Given that quote I think you question has been answered.

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First I would look at pre/power impedance match:

How to avoid losing bass – PS Audio

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I don’t think you can draw such a conclusion.
The pre-amp are also connected to the BHK 250 so if the Holo has a bad synergy with the 250’ then it will all be for nothing.

I know Holo created the Serene because the thought that other pre-amps was adding to much of their own sound.

But I am looking for someone that has compared the two.

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I believe that Brett66 has made the comparison.

Hi @brett66 If you are out there please give us your 5 cents

I did not draw any conclusion.
I simply quoted Tim of Holo Audio

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Brett sold his BHK if that gives you any indication of what he thought.

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Hi Martin,

I did sell the BHK preamp but I also sold the Serene. The Serene is as close to a straight wire as anything. It’s super clean and like it’s not there. I only have one source and thus decided I simply didn’t need it. I sold the Serene for what I paid in a couple hours. I now use -20dB XLR attenuators between the May DAC to the BHK 250 amp. It’s sound precisely like the Serene, completely transparent to my ears. I use HQPe for gain control and Roon for library and streaming management.

The BHK definitely obscured details revealed by the Serene but had the advantage (or disadvantage and cost) of tubes. I grew tired of tubes going sideways, getting noisy, etc. For the last few months I had a very nice set of Telefunken ECC802S. They were the best (and spendy) but I always worried about the day they would fail. Even with these fine tubes the BHK covered up some of the finer subtleties of music.

I’m completely happy to not have either preamp in my system and have not been fussing with the system at all for months, just enjoying the music.

Good luck in your quest

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Just what I want (-: I also use roon and a very good home build music pc.
Can you share what attenuator you are using and how it compare to the pre-amps sound wise?

Sounds the same as Serene, no change. Does increase dynamics a bit as the attenuation in digital domain is much less but wasn’t much of a noticeable issue without the -20dB in the chain.

My path is old retired work PC running Windows 10 hosting RoonServer, HQPeOS on much more powerful home built PC sending to UP Board gateway running NAA connected USB to May dac. Roon sends unaltered audio to HQPe that upsamples to DSD256 and applies HAF convolution.

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Thanks. You have really gone all in on the digital chain.

Not sure I understand the need for all the devices.

I have a passive cooled pc with a Matrix Audio USB card with a passive PSU.
The pc is connected to the May with USB.

It would be nice to have a dedicated roon server so I could use roon on other devices but for now I prefer simplicity.

Is it safe to use a software volume control?

Tried Roon volume control with a Naim and Matrix Mini-i Pro 3. With Naim, it would occasionally jump up and scare me only when I start the device using the tablet. However, Roon allows one to set the max volume for any listed Roon end point. For example you can set that to 60/100 This feature protects gear and ears.

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I’ve found Roon runs best on Windows believe it or not. I’ve used ROCK and Linux versions and found either performance degradation or dependency issues that were too much hassle. So I keep Roon on Windows by itself. Perfectly stable.

HQPe requires significant horsepower to upsample using heavy modulators and by using the very low power NAA device fed with a normal fiber link (no fancy switches or other non standard Ethernet solutions) I’m sure there is complete isolation from rest of network vs. directly connecting high powered HQPe machine to DAC.

All of my audio gear except for amp and speakers is housed in another room so I have the freedom to run fans and not fuss with making passive devices work.

I use the volume limiter in HQPe and have never had a problem with it jumping to max, unlike Roon prior to them implementing volume limits. HQP and Roon integration allows me to change volume in Roon and it passes to HQP, all the convenience of staying in the Roon interface with all of the audio performance of HQPe.

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Hi did you get the Serene or KTE version? Wondering how you like it compared to the BHK

No I stayed with the BHK.

I think I have found the amp and dac that’s satisfied my musically taste.

Right now I am playing around with subwoofers.

You need at least 3 to fight room modes.
Next project. Even better power

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Thanks once i fiund out the Serene doesn’t have a balance control i decided to pass