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

I agree with you in that I found the DSD and the May to be tonally in the same ballpark as is the Aqua. That’s the sound profile I find the most appealing so all three of the ones that I kept and have in regular use have a similar signature. What separates them is in the details and in reality their age and therefore the parts as there is almost 8 years difference in the age of the DSD and the May and six between the DSD and the La Voce S3. Parts have improved greatly over that time in the digital audio world.

@goblue I want to thank you for sharing your impressions of the May and the PSA DSD. I am not surprised to learn that the two are more similar than different, and from your explanation the May offers more detail in the upper frequencies as well as instrument placement within the sound stage. Personally, I don’t see this as a race, upon which there must be a winner, but a matter of taste and how each integrates into one’s system. Having the DSD and PST I am curious as to how the May and the Jays CDT2 MkIII might compare. The FW upgrades offered on the DSD were a revelation, with the latest really bringing it into its own in my system. So once again, thank-you for sharing your impressions as they have been most helpful.

I have at least 1000 hours on the May KTE now and I must say it is a fantastic DAC especially when coupled with HQPlayer.

It easily as musical as my old DirectStream but has a much darker background and has more resolution, detail, and clarity. The sound stage is better too.

I realize the May KTE is not for everyone. I wanted a NOS DAC because I wanted to completely decouple as much filtering, noise shaping, dithering, etc., from the DAC as possible and instead rely on HQPlayer for that. The May KTE is great for me because it measures fantastically well yet is still rich and musical sounding. The noise floor is extremely low. HQPlayer is occasionally updated with new filters and noise shapers so It continues to improve. So, kind of like what I had with the DirectStream, I get updates that improve the sound quality of the May KTE.

I look forward to seeing (and hearing) what Ted comes out with. But, the bar, for me and my setup, has been set quite high!

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Wonder if PSA purchases some of their competitors products, to compare and contrast to, while devoping new products?

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Same comments 550 hrs into listening to the Holo Spring 3 KTE DAC. Instead of “darker background” I’d frame it as “Blacker”. It’s just dead silent and very low level detail emerges.

My wife has been very tolerant, as I’ve been listening nearly every night 6-midnight and can’t break myself away. Especially quality live recordings. NOS is just clean sounding. Live has an authenticity with this DAC over the DSD mk 1.

The DSD is no slouch and still in the upper ranks of great DAC’s. It just needs a refresh which PS Audio is currently undertaking.

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Hopefully, the DSD II gets released before inflation takes off, and pushes out of reach of more audiophiles.

But is the difference “huge?”

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This has been a bit of a revelation of late for me (specific DAC in use aside): Great live recordings of my favorite work from popular and rock music artists often offer a whole new level of musical enjoyment.

Over the years, I have shied away from live recordings for some reason. Now, I actively search for well recorded/mastered/reviewed live performances. There is some really great stuff out there.

Case in point (but can be somewhat track dependent):

Love him or hate him (i.e., his voice),

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For this group’s verbiage? Yes, it is huge.

Based on my use of words? No, not “huge”. But, the difference is certainly significant and easily heard. To put it in perspective, the difference between the May KTE and DirectStream is at least as big as the difference between the DirectStream and Schiit Yggdrasil.

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For some reason older recordings we are well familiar with have gone back to original recordings and remixed and remastered for SACD or Flac download. See Steve Wilson interview: Steven Wilson: Remixing Classic Albums

Steve Wilson has remixed/mastered many legacy recordings with astonishing results. Turns out the mixing process & capability in the 70’s was significantly behind the artistic vision of many bands and they implemented mixes beyond what was technically capable to fully reveal the sound. LOTS of recording detail was lost in the mix. Dumping the original recordings into latest Pro tools allows the mix process to carry the original detailed intent of the artist through to the final master.

Seems like a lot of old hippies from the classic rock period are setting their legacies while able. Just a guess, but not unrealistic the press of time have made old contract and copyright contentions fall away to make this possible.

You have never REALLY heard Jethro Tull or Yes until you have listened to the Hi-res Steve Wilson remixes.

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Live newly remix & Master as must listens:

Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup (Deluxe Edition)

Rolling Stones - Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert (Deluxe set)
Still the best live recording of Midnight Rambler!

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends

The Doors - Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Only recorded show of theirs played straight as best I know

Though not recently remixed, the Ray Brown Trio Live Jazz Concert, Amazing ripped from my SACD is just terrific

Yeah, I know almost everything from the Stones is flat, lifeless, and limited bandwidth. NOT ANY More. Nearly the whole catalog was remixed & mastered with stunning results.

I really only care about the Stones up to “Exile on Main St.”. For those years, there are several incredibly good SHM SCADs:

Beggars Banquet
Let It Bleed
Sticky Fingers
Exile on Main St.

Most of these are flat transfers…and sound FANTASTIC!

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Agree Speed-racer. I have Sticky Fingers from HDTracks & Let It Bleed from my SACD. Terrific.

Really cool!

I think there was a bit of this type of wizardry on display with the audio (and video) re-production that Peter Jackson’s crew pulled off in his recent Beatles documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back”.

The A/V displayed in this work was pretty amazing.

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Continuing the discussion from 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:

How would a fully modded DSD compare with the upcoming DSD Mk2? It has been discussed before for sure but I thought I would ask. I am about to get back my DSD modded with Edcor XS4400 transformers and JKRICHARDS analog power supply board power Ed by a Keces P3. I will also be getting SR purple fuses 2 in the dac and 1 in the Keces. I will be getting a Furutech NCF iec for the dac as well. How will my modded dac compare with the new DSD Mk2?

You’re going to have to wait and see, unless you have a time machine.

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You only need one in the DAC one slot is now a spare

I can’t speak for the new up and coming DS Mk2 but my modded DS with Keces P3 power supply is sounding good out of the box and is quickly getting better. An obvious improvement over before the mods.

I’m very happy with my Chord Mscaler and Chord TT2… don’t see myself upgrading them for a long time

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Mitch - I lagging behind however, are you aware if the TSS will also rely on periodic upgradable firmware. Would love to know.