Holo Red impressions

Ok, so I hooked up the Holo Red to my DSDAC Mk1 through i2s (Mk2 still somewhere in the PSA warehouse with my name on it, expected maybe next week).

Since some of you @vkennedy61 @Interested @magister0 and couple of others have asked for my impressions, here are my initial observations.

I compared it against my excellent Lunin T2 streamer I’ve been using for the last few years.

Overall sonically very similar. However I like the Holo better in these respects:

  1. Better clarity and decay. On the Christian McBride album For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (Octave Records) the first track has the brass coming in all together in staccato, the sound is cleaner and the decay is tighter. Also I noticed that the brass blends better on the Holo with the rest of the music and on the Lumin it stands out more (not in a good way)—I hadn’t noticed that before when playing on the Lumin

  2. Tighter bass. Played the Toccata from Art of the HiFi - Bass (Octave) album. When the deep notes of the organ come in, the lumin is more muddy.

  3. Cleaner attack. Played David Bowie’s Let’s Dance where the drums come in, the attack is neater. Also the claves are cleaner and more subtle with I like.

And lastly, I played a recent marvelous Bruckner Symphony 9 with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra (Channel Classics recorded in DSD256). The first movement is labeled solemn and mysterious, I just listened for the mood and not specific sonic attributes. It was very close, but if I had to choose I’d pick the Holo. I think all the above differentiating characteristics combined together to create a subtly nicer sounding.

All except the Bowie were played in native DSD256 with nothing in the signal path from source to the DS DAC. The Bowie was in 24/192 PCM.

I haven’t tried USB yet. All this is on i2s.

In summary, to be honest, there’s no reason for me to keep the Lumin. (Anyone want it? :grinning:)

If someone already with a DSD Mk2 gets his or her Red first, looking forward to hearing their impressions.


I want it! But I’m saving for the Red so it’d have to be a give-away :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the nice write-up. What was your set-up using the T2 since it does not have I2S.

Thanks for sharing, your review caused me to take a pause on an audition of the Innuos Pulse Mini today. IIRC the Holo Red requires Roon? :thinking:

Lumin is a Roon Ready digital transport plus its own very good DAC. So Roon → Lumin → pre.

It has USB inputs, it’ll take input from your HQA or wherever.

Sorry to say this but…

Your post above just compared the DAC in the Lumin to the DS Mk1. Not the Red vs. the Lumin as streamer. To compare streamers you really need to use the same DAC and input. Can you compare digital out of your T2 into the DS vs Red into the DS?

Unless there is something wrong, and I’ve gone through that circus as well, differences in streamers are significantly less than differences between DACs. That’s why only changing the streamer is important in these comparisons.

Red supports a decent number of sources including Roon.
See “Software”

Also, since the Red’s “compute” is a CM4 people have loaded other software on to it to change functionality. It’s a pretty neat bit of kit. Very flexible.


That helps. Not having Roon, and with no plans to add it the Holo Red may work if I can stream Qobuz native. I recently switched from Tidal, and am still adjusting to Qobuz. Having am Innuos Zenith Mk III my bias is for an Innuos Pulse, which is rather pricey compared to the Holo Red.

Yeah I could’ve compared by connecting both the Lumin and the Holo to the DSD1 via USB.

My main interest was whether I should replace my current configuration (Lumin) with the Holo+DSD1 combo. So the answer is yes.

Your point is valid. But to be honest, I didn’t want to go through the rewiring the connections to do am apples to apples comparison. So just write some impressions rather than A/B.


And airplay!

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Good to hear you like it, I ordered one 2 weeks ago. It will be replacing my Bridge2 in my DSDAC mk 1.

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The red is pretty horrid though. Might have to buy some silver colored duct tape


I’m enjoying my Red.
Optical → Clocked EtherREGEN → Ethernet → Holo Audio Red → USB → Holo Audio May KTE
No tweaks yet, just ordered a SR Purple fuse to try in it.

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I did notice a little sharpness at the top end of the high piano notes. Not sure yet whether it’s me or the recording

I actually think the Red is OK and likely a conversation starter piece. The way your system is setup looks like you ample room to put it on footers on the floor at the rear of the rack then will be completely out of sight. Off of the top of the DAC probably wouldn’t hurt either


I was thinking the same thing.

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People with black gear may think it’s ok, like a red tie on a black suit :wink:


Thanks for sharing the excitement and your impressions of the Holo Red! And a picture of how it sits with the Directstream too - that is quite a looker of a unit!

Sounds like a very capable unit if it can best the T2 on streaming duties. I think it’s a good thing you’ve got it now so you can get a feel for what changes the Red brings and then, of the DS2 in a bit. :grinning:


Ok I’ll try to get used to it.