Based on my experience with the LKS and all that I have read about it and the others (in several languages) I think you're absolutely right.
Problem is, of course, is that they are few and far between so the likelihood of comparisons is almost nil. You have to do your homework and searches and then just jump in for the adventure. I'm certainly glad I did.
Thanks Melm! In the meantime I ended up ordering a Holo Spring Level 1 this past week, so we'll see how that goes. I would like to have taken it up a notch to the Level 2 or 3 but they were so back ordered I just went for what was available. Also ordered an Intona USB device as well as the Singxer SU-1, so for now I'll just have to struggle along with these devices and see how that goes.
I had not previously been aware of the Spring DAC's but they seemed to belong in this group of high value leaders.
Please let us know how you like the DAC.
You're quite right about high value in the output of these small Asian companies. Holo Spring is unusual in having an American rep/dealer. It must inspire some confidence in a buyer.
@routlaw I second melm as i'd really like to hear your opinion especially because it is the LVL1 version.
You bet I will do this. Yes it was good to have a rep located in the US, but I have to say that Alvin of Denafrips was always very responsive and informative as much as one could hope with an ever so slight language barrier. My guess is all of these DACS are great but the reason I chose for now the Holo Spring was due to some of the more advanced and interesting technologies the designer employed to overcome some of the drawbacks of R2R Ladder DACS.
From what I know it will still be a week or two before mine is shipped out, apparently they are all made to order.
Interesting that you would mention your support directly from the Asian maker. I have also been impressed with the email support form LKS's Jinbo who has excellent English skills. He walked me through the USB set-up with JRiver. Even more impressive, when some were concerned about updating firmware to the Amanero USB to I2S board he produced a 9 page illustrated guide. No detail left out.
I write this, I guess, in case anyone is really concerned about support from these very small Asian manufacturers who provide amazing value. In addition, each of the brands has a small but lively and helpful following on a forum or two as I'm sure you will be discovering.
@melm, I'm glad you posted this, very good info.
Likewise I also had great response with Jinbo at LKS too. Didn't mean to leave him out but the further I looked into this I became enamored with the R2R Ladder DACs and this is what I wanted to try which of course eliminated the LKS. But you are so right to encourage others if they are sitting on the fence not to worry. I have nothing but positive things to say about these small companies across the pond.
In the meantime I received the Singxer SU-1 and Intona USB Isolation devices yesterday, Spring DAC has not shipped yet. Regardless using my Mac Book Pro USB out to the Intona>SU-1>AES/EBU was nothing short of transformative and perhaps one of the most profound things I've heard in digital audio. The Intona cleans up the USB signal to such a degree, even feeding the built DAC (Burr Brown) on my Emotiva XMC-1 it floored me.
in case anyone is really concerned about support from these very small Asian manufacturers who provide amazing value.
+1 regarding the level of support
I've had the same experience with Vinshine Audio, the distributor for Denafrips. Excellent support!
@routlaw Have you received the Spring Dac yet?
@tonediary, you must be telepathic as I just received the Holo Spring this afternoon. Was in the middle of some work and only able to hook it up a short while ago but have not had a chance to listen yet. It took literally 3 weeks from the time of order to arrival. Not a complaint just info for those considering this option. You'll need to exercise some patience. I understand the Level 2 & 3 take considerably longer due to the high demand.
Packaging was adequate, double boxed but its a bare bones affair, no manual, no power chords or remotes and this is typical or standard. They are very nice looking units, perhaps the photos do not do them justice. Assuming I performed the boot up correctly its a very intuitive device to use, so far. I say this without having actually delivered any audio files through it. One note of caution that Tim Connor of Kitsune conveyed to me, do NOT hot swap I2S cables, so both my Singxer SU-1 and the Holo were turned off while connecting the HDMI cable.
I also sprung for the Intona USB Interface and have been using that device quite successfully with my Emotiva XMC-1 while waiting for the Holo. Even with that setup I'm almost willing to go out on a limb and state the Intona USB might be the most profound thing I have experienced in digital audio, ever. This is saying a lot because I've owned some high dollar extremely well thought of digital players through the years.
I'll try and post some initial listening results a bit later. For now I don't know what to expect.
Some say i do have telepathic powers yes :)
About the Intona btw... Have you tried taking it out of the chain and only listening with the Singxer? I never felt i needed a USB isolation like Usb Regen or Intona since i got my Singxer.
Thank you for reporting on the Holo dac. Will wait for your extensive thoughts on it before i make my purchase of the LVL1.
No I have not, but I can say this. With my XMC-1 I tried the Intona both with and without the Singxer in the loop, I much preferred the Intona alone vs with the Singxer. Tim Connor at Kitsune also stated the Intona had, or has considerably more effect than the Singxer and that they approach USB in different ways. There was no reason to doubt what he was saying.
I would be very surprised if you installed an Intona and not be surprised at the improvement. For those implementing a computer based music server with USB connection the Intona in my humble estimation has to be the current bargain of the decade, and they have the measurements to back this up.
I don't want to say too much at this point about the Holo but did get a chance to listen last night for a couple of hours. It sounds very nice, extremely smooth, yet detailed on all music I played both 16/44 and higher resolution. I did not employ any over sampling and kept the unit set to NOS (non over sampling) throughout. I'm inclined to say its just to the warm side of neutral thus far, has a wide, deep and immersive presentation. I want to point out the Singxer was in the loop outputting I2S to the Holo, but I also want to try it with just the Intona feeding the signal to the Holo.
I'm not a big believer in components taking hundreds of hours to break in and at the risk of offending some people feel this notion is a bit preposterous. However I do think changes occur with most components (especially transducers, ie speakers, cartridges etc) over the first day or two albeit fairly incremental. Have another busy day today, but will should have time again this evening to see what changes might have occurred. Like all solid state gear I leave them on 24/7 including the Holo. It does stay warm to the touch, the case being the thermal relieve given that the entire thing is 5mm thick on all sides. Suffice it to say its built like a tank, not a tin can.
@routlaw Is there a chance that you can try DSD512 in NOS mode via HQPlayer/Roon with the Holo Dac? It’s possible with Singxer>I2S>Holo AFAIK. I am asking this because some people reported that this led to the best sound they achieved from the Holo Dac.
Your comments on preferring the Intona alone (without the SU-1) really made me curious now. I wonder what results you will have with Intona>Holo. All i read online was one does not need the Uptone USB ISO REGEN when using the SU-1 mainly because it has no effect or makes it worse sonically. Seems like a different story with the Intona.
I don't use either HQ Player or Roon and am on a Mac so it doesn't do do native DSD in the first place. So I guess I can't help you with this.
The Intona IS different, talk with Tim Connor at Kitsune he is very convincing and again has the measurements to back it up. Its not pseudo science, black magic or and I hate this term snake oil. In fact these things were not initially designed for audio use in the first place but rather the scientific community for measuring devices as well as the medical industry. Audio only came into after others discovered, maybe it was Tim for all I know.
I do plan on using the Intona solo into the Holo bypassing the Singxer but last night just wanted to hear if the Holo had changed or improved in any manner after running in for 24+ hours. It did, and all for the better to my ears. I always try to do only one thing at a time rather than change 2 or 3 then make some invalid claim about how good or bad something performed. Cutting to the chase I am duly impressed with the performance of the Holo at this stage. What few and minor reservations I might have had on the first day were eliminated yesterday.
Stay tuned, more later.
So I guess we never found anyone that could compare the initial 3 DACs mentioned in the title?
Since I was the OP on this I will respond and concur apparently no one has compared these DAC's. However I am happy with the Holo Spring and for now find it unlikely I would ever return to using a Sigma Delta DAC vs any of the R2R Ladder DAC's. Perhaps this might help to some degree.