Holo Audio: one of the best dacs ever? J Atkinson, H Reichert, S Deckert, M Lavorgna, GoldenSound, D Abramson and the Stereophile reviewers think so. Stereophile A+ and POY 2020

Cognitive dissonance.

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It’s not impossible, but I think it’s very unlikely. The May is built like a tank and I have not heard of any defective unit.

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It may not be an obvious defect. Perhaps one or more of the numerous resistors are out of spec.

There’s dang sure a lot of 'em.

That should be “sticky-ed” at the top of every post you make Ted :joy:

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This was interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious, did you use the same front end into both units and switch between them using your preamp? If so how did you split the signal from the frontend?

You have to take into consideration that my DAC is optimized through the years for my system and I have built everything around it, so bringing in a new DAC might not work too well right away. Maybe changing some cables around or move some other things around and the balance could also change.

The power cords are identical on both DACs (Cardas Clear Beyond XL’s). I just pull out the Dragon HDMI cable going into my DAC from the Matrix and plug it into the May, so same cable. And I just unplug the XLR WW Platinum 8’s from my DAC going to the preamp and plug it into the May, so same interconnects are used as well. Just a lot of plugging and unplugging.

Brett and Clifton explained their preferences, with a long detailed comparison for Brett at the beginning of this thread, and a shorter but clear one for Clifton this week.
I owned a DS but didn’t mod it.
It would be interesting to hear why you prefer your May over your modded DS if you don’t mind sharing. Apologies if you already did and I missed it.

I just got my May DAC KTE yesterday. I ordered it on August 27, so it took 6 weeks to arrive. It was shipped via DHL. Initial impressions are that it’s very detailed and open with a big sound stage. I’m running non-stop loops of burn-in tracks (PS Audio Reference Music disc & Stereophile Test CD, Vol. 3) from my Innuos ZENith. I’ll post again after a couple hundred hours of burn-in.


Congratulations and thank you for sharing your first impressions. I had a similar experience.

What dac did you have before?


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I previously had an Innuos ZENmini Mk3 server which has a built in DAC. Since I upgraded to the ZENith Mk3 I decided to go all out and get the May DAC too!



Be aware after just 200 hours it could sound worse than it does now. usually takes at least 500 hours to really start to open up. with improvements us to 1000 hours


Congrats! It’s a long wait to get one but I think it’s well worth it. Let us know how you like it when you get some time on it.

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Higher in this thread, Al says that the Stereophile product of the year award baffles him. I completely understand him: the May sounds horrible in his system, and he absolutely hates it.

The award surprised me too, but for a completely different reason.

I have subscribed to the 3 major magazines (Hi Fi News, Stereophile and TAS) for over 30 years.
The unwritten rule of the game is clear: you advertise, you have a much better chance to get a review. Not always, but the observed correlation is high, although to be fair, Stereophile regularly reviews products from brands that don’t advertise.
If you are a big advertiser, the reviews will mostly be positive.

It makes sense, because magazines get most of their revenues from advertising.
PSA has understood this very well, and they are one the biggest advertisers in Stereophile and Hi Fi News, a bit less in TAS. It’s a smart advertising strategy, IMHO. Not surprising, because Paul is probably the best salesperson in audio today.

Holo has spent 0 dollar and 0 cent in the 3 majors, unless I missed it. Not a very good strategy, but maybe they don’t have the budget yet.
Then they get a rave review from Herb, then John A, and then all the others. And then a class A+ ranking in the Stereophile semiannual recommended rankings. And then, Stereophile product of the year 2020.


The connection between reviews and advertising often goes the opposite way than you describe.

A piece of gear is reviewed well. The distributor/manufacturer then places ads to support the sale of the product.

I imagine few place ads in magazines who pan their product.

It is a bit of a chicken/egg thing.


That can happen as well, I guess, although the positive reviews would reduce the need for advertising after the reviews, I would think. Once the buzz is created by the reviews, why spend more money …

Anyway, in the case of Holo, zero ads before and zero ads after the reviews.
They don’t seem to have an advertising budget.

Many products and services continue advertising even though are popular and even dominate the market.

Holo is already having trouble fulfilling orders in a timely fashion as I understand it. They may well feel advertising will heighten the problem and they are unable to scale. Who knows? But we can speculate away. :slight_smile:


Businesses do realise the market is dynamic, and competitors are bound to release and promote new products and services. Also, they know they have to remain visible due to the fact that purchasing decisions do involve brand awareness, brand trust and brand presence. Lack of visibility implies absence from the market. My $0.02.


Though the Kitsune only rep importer with glowing reviews…
In the end he is a very good one man band and though his wife
is a huge help for him … How long can he keep up with
current and future clientele…I wish him well

However with my hard earned $$$ and now retired
my preference is turning toward a home team that is
investing in it’s clientele and with whom there is support.

Happy dac ing y’all
Best wishes


These are all interesting remarks, but my point was another one: how many firms have received a highly coveted product of the year award in Stereophile without ever advertising in the magazine before the award ?

There are probably a few, but I am willing to bet that the vast majority of winners are frequent, and probably heavy advertisers.

I may be wrong, it’s just my feel after over 30 years of subscription …