Holo Audio: one of the best dacs ever? John Atkinson, H Reichert, M Lavorgna and S Deckert think so

Don’t worry about it Phil, we all get over zealous from time to time. You forget what forum you are in.
The PS Audio DAC with all it’s upgrade is just about as good as they come and many of the owners could not be happier with it’s performance. I’m sure you can say the same for the May. It’s nice for Ted to have some competition. It will only make him work harder to make his DACs even better. I look forward to try out his MkII and TSS. Meanwhile be happy with what you have and enjoy the music.
And most important, happy cake day!!


Count me in as one of the happy owners. With the addition of the PST and an upgraded HDMI cable, I’m in no hurry to upgrade. Are there better DACs, I’m sure there are, some more expensive, and others can only be had with no trial period, and a warranty that’s not transferable, which makes some of us hesitant to pull the trigger.


At this level it comes down to preference anyway.


What’s fascinating here is R2R DACs were all the rage in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Burr Brown’s 20 Bit 1702 and 24 Bit 1704 DACs were in some of the best DACs and/or CD players for nearly 10 years back then. As technology evolved and SACD came on the scene, DACs evolved. Sabre DACs became dominant and then finally FPGA DACs.

Amazingly May, along with Naim, prove the R2R ladder DAC isn’t dead.

Check this out a reference streamer with a BB 1704 R2R DAC. $20k for the streamer and $11k for the required power supply. Never say never.


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:clap: :clap: :clap:

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And apparently you can form an opinion or preference without actually seeing or hearing the May much less owning it. Wish we all had the capability that a few here seem to have to make assessments of products that way. Would probably save some of us a lot of money that we spent to find out for ourselves.

Not me. I am not on Audiophile Style and have not yet heard the Holo Audio May (any version).


The May DAC arrived this morning. So far it’s amazing. I’ll give further impressions after I get more time with it.


To those who own the May, does DSD play at a higher volume level than PCM? I thought I read the opposite here in this thread or another.

According to the AS thread 6db down.

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The same is being reported in the Conrad Johnson Owners forum but that was only the initial impression of the poster who will continue to test. That having been said the poster reported that he nevertheless preferred DSD so far.

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Yeah that’s the only thing I’ve found strange is that PCM plays at a much lower volume than DSD. I’ll probably test this tonight objectively with a sound meter.

DSD is 6 db lower than DSD in volume I believe, someone else please confirm

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In Roon, when converting DSD to PCM, the default option is to add +6db. This says something.

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I confirm a lower volume with DSD in my system.
I just checked in the manual, and the voltage output is indeed 50% lower in DSD.
I hope this helps.

By the way, what dac are you potentially replacing with the May?

I’m not sure if you were asking me but the May is replacing the DSD. Sound quality on this DAC is higher than I expected but I think there might be something wrong with it. I ended up testing with a sound meter and PCM is about 10db less than DSD. I reached out to kitsune to figure out what’s going wrong.

Sorry to hear that. I suppose that you have checked and it’s not something upstream, like the volume in Roon or something like that.

DSD allows for more volume than PCM; DSD can go above 0dBFS (0 dB full scale).

A number of players allow one to set the output 6dB lower when playing DSD to avoid overs as DSD is converted to PCM. As everyone here knows, PCM above 0dBFS is dreadful.

In re the discussion of DSD on the May, I can also confirm that my May KTE is lower in dB for DSD than PCM.

I’ve been primarily using the NOS PCM setting on the May to date, but I experimented with DSD over the weekend when listening to some rock and metal albums. DSD made these recordings sound less abrasive and fatiguing than they do otherwise w/PCM. Everyone’s mileage may vary, but I was pretty happy with the discovery.


Very interesting observation, thank you for sharing.

It’s in line with what John Atkinson wrote in his review. He tried the 4 modes of the dac, including the DSD oversampling mode. He liked DSD oversampling better for some recordings. You must have « golden ears », like John :wink:.

Another possibility is to oversample to DSD upstream, in Roon, HQP, or somewhere else.

I have only used NOS so far. No incentive to try anything else :slightly_smiling_face: