Holo Audio Spring DAC LEVEL 3 Vs. iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC and Music Streamer


I want to up grade my DAC's and I'm looking at Holo Audio Spring DAC LEVEL 3 and the iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC and Music Streamer . Both are the same price ($2499),both can be tube or SS I believe. Both have received stunning reviews. Which one would be better with tube amps, which one better with solid state? Has anyone heard one or both. Is one more analytical then the other? Image, sound stage and depth, which should sound better with Martin Logan's electrostatics? Am I missing something, are there other DAC / Streamer's under $2500 I should know about?
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How can you forget the Benchmark DAC 3? The SMSL SU-8 is also super close to the DAC3 at a considerably cheaper price point. 
 
If you want to hear every nuance in your music, these are amazing devices. 
$150 DAC, you got to be kidding?
Many reports have found the Benchmark DAC's to be too clinical.  Seems like the RME DAC could be a better option if you're looking for an analytical sound - at about half the cost
$150 DAC, you got to be kidding?
No, he's not. 

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I'm looking for dacs also.Members here have pointed me towards MHDT Labs (Linear Tube Audio site),Denafrip,Audio Mirror.There are plenty of user impressions on this site and professional reviews to be Googled and perused.They all seem like they possess a beautiful analog like quality of sound; vinyl like.
The iFi Pro iDSD puts a very large amount of features (wi-fi, streamer, MQA, DAC, preamp, TUBE stage) into a very small chassis (less than half the size of the Holo Spring). It’s literally an all-in-one swiss army type of solution. To make it a small box, it has to use an external switching power supply adapter. This is not good. However, I do see that it uses Elna Silmic capacitors internally which will give it a more laid-back type of sound. I suspect that this unit would really shine if you replace that power adapter with a linear power supply, such as something like this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Top-level-100W-Ultra-low-noise-Linear-Power-supply-DC5V-DC32V-for-choose-L9-26/123381292300?hash=item1cba191d0c:m:mz576e3U8GDk2Y3GJ0euxdg

Just make sure you have them include the right size DC connector.

I suspect that the Holo Spring Level 3 would be more bright/clinical sounding because of the amount of silver wire they have in the unit (the transformer is all silver wire along with input/output leads being silver). I have not actually heard a Holo Spring, I’m only giving my gut feeling based on my experiences with different components.

Also, the Holo Spring is only a DAC. You still need a streamer/player/transport as well as a preamp with volume control. If you want to look at alternative solid-state DACs that would probably not be as clinical, try looking at L.K.S. MH-D004, any Denafrips DAC, Audio-GD dacs.

The iFi Pro iDSD with an external linear power supply might end up being the most "analog" sounding.

Huh? HOLO Spring L3 has silver wire and therefore probably bright/clinical? And you've never heard a HOLO? I've never read such a ridiculous statement. Or have I?

Actually I have...and sadly, lots of times...always on this Forum. Too many people assuming they know everything. 

Advice for the OP: look elsewhere on the web for better opinions especially on Digital, lots of advice out there from knowledgeable people who actually listen to equipment.

well I believe @auxinput's comments about wire are poorly chosen, but @4hannons claims about this forum are no better. Maybe he should sign out and hang at those other places that are so much better. And don't let the door hit you in the a**.
A couple other options you may want to consider or compare to the Holo and iFi DACs:

SW1X DACs have gotten good feedback here and they offer a trial period, which is really nice.  Uses a tube and reported to have excellent tone and soundstage, but maybe not the last word on upper-octave detail if that's important. 

In solid state the Metrum Onyx is worth a look.  Probably trades some tonal bloom for added detail up top compared to SW1X.  I think HiFi Heaven may offer a trial period that you could take advantage of. 

Both of these are R2R non-oversampling (NOS) DACs, which some find more "natural" sounding while others consider them to be less accurate than the more common delta sigma/OS DACs.  As always, it comes down to what sounds best to you in your system, which is why I think a trial period is critical.  Best of luck. 




I was not going to argue 4hannons post because it was just an invite to a flame war, but if you read my statement, I clearly stated that "I suspect" it would sound more bright/clinical when compared to the iFi tube DAC.  The OP was trying to figure out possible sound differences between these two devices.

The statement was not intended to describe the Holo DAC as sounding particularly bad.  However, I have had lots of experience with silver product used as interconnect, speaker wire, terminations, fuses, fuse clips, internal components, etc. etc. etc.  In my experience, silver does indeed increase the conductivity and speed, but it has a by-product of increasing the upper mids/highs and can sound bright/sterile in some systems and if used too much.
I own the Holo Spring 2 KTE version and to describe it as suspecting of being bright/clinical could not be farther from the truth. It is the most smoothest DAC I have ever owned. Very detailed and transparent with the best bass. Another words extremely musical.

@auxinput - I reread my comment; I was careful to paraphrase you correctly. Your suspicions that day were off, the HOLO is not bright. You’re a well respected member. Your opinion in this instance actually hurts more than helps, I’m sure you can see that.

@everyone else - Anyone offering opinions based on the parts or type of wire, or whatever, have no place at that moment. I’m not alone, Agon has several threads with the same complaint. The only way to know how something sound is to listen. Even so, Agon is one of my favorite forums.