The Serene Pre-Amp is here!
Currently production time is estimated for about 5-6 weeks from time you place your order. We appreciate your patience and understanding. We will likely deliver before this time, but this is an estimate for new orders. Inventory shown on the website is to control sales volume only.
Here at Kitsune HiFi, we have two build specs. of the Serene Preamp.
Prices are as follows for Serene lineup:
Serene (standard model) = $2698.00 + S&H
KTE Serene = $ 3098.00 + S&H
As of April 2020 shipping costs on all HOLO Audio products have gone up significantly due to COVID19. This is out of our control.
Serene Product Description:
A new generation of fully discrete preamplifiers.
- The Serene “晴” adopts a true and fully-balanced design from end to end, with 4 sets of channels, left and right channels each form a fully-discrete design, each channel has two fully-discrete and separate amplification modules to complete buffering and amplification (attenuation) functions. For a total of 8 amplification modules.
- The 8 amplification modules of Serene “晴” are of a fully discrete design. The shortcomings of the transistor itself are solved through structural design and implementation. Its tone can exceed the limitations of traditional transistors. Using significant amounts of paired transistors delivers superior linearity and also has the advantages of electron tubes and transistors at the same time. Its tone can exceed the limitations of traditional
- Serene’s “晴” power supply is a completely independent structure from the secondary transformer. This is a dual mono amplifier placed in a chassis, so it has a full frequency >130dB performance of channel separation, so that the sound field is perfectly reproduced.
- Serene “晴” volume control is a fully balanced stepping device controlled by relay-controlled gain stage. Relays are the finest quality with Silver Palladium (AgPd) Gold Plated contacts. For a total of 84 steps, each step is 1db volume, and provides a volume control from -78dB to +6dB. Its advantage is that it has ultra low noise and can be accurately controlled at low volume without causing the phenomenon of left and right channels having unmatched levels. The matching degree of left and right channels in all volume ranges are within +/-0.1dB.
Serene L1(Standard) and L2(KTE):
Standard Model includes:
- 7N copper, round wire O-type transformer, which was used in the Spring 2 (non-KTE)
- Standard copper hook-up wire
- Schurter Gold Fuse, same fuse used in Spring 2/May (non-KTE)
- Standard capacitors / HoloAudio, audio grade capacitors
- CNC Aluminum Remote Control
KTE Serene Model includes:
- Flat copper wire O-type transformer which was also used in the Holo Audio May DAC.
- Pure silver wire from IEC to power board w/Silver Rhodium plated Faston connectors
- Red nano fuse we used in the HOLO Audio May KTE.
- Holo audio caps and a 7N O-type transformer
- 4pcs 5uF/350V Bi-polarized AudioNote Kaisei capacitors.
- CNC Aluminum Remote Control
- KTE emblem on top of chassis
Info on Red Nano Fuse type used:
Specifications for Input/Output and Physical characteristics:
|Single-ended RCA input (QTY 3)||Maximum amplitude 12Vpp|
|Input impedance 6.8KΩ|
|Balanced XLR input (QTY 2)||Maximum amplitude 24Vpp|
|Input impedance 13.6KΩ|
|Single-ended RCA output||Maximum amplitude 8.5Vrms|
|Output impedance 20Ω|
|Balanced XLR output 1 (this can actually be used to power headphones from this output using adapter that is dual 3pin F XLR to single 4pin F XLR)||Maximum amplitude 17Vrms|
|Output impedance 3Ω|
|Balanced XLR output 2||Maximum amplitude 17Vrms|
|Output impedance 40Ω|
|Size||430x300x55mm / 16.93×11.81×2.17inches (W x L x H, Dimensions do not include protruding parts）|
|Power Input (configurable, see label on bottom of unit for specified input）||220-230V 50/60Hz – Fuse Type 2A SB 5x20mm|
|110-115V 50/60Hz – Fuse Type 4A SB 5x20mm|
DOWNLOAD Serene Manual HERE
WARRANTY – 3 years warranty, both parts and labor, coverage of one way shipping (return shipping at cost to seller once product is confirmed as a warranty claim issue). Be sure to buy directly from HoloAudio or authorized reseller, we recommend purchasing from HoloAudioUSA<– this is KitsuneHiFi 😉 – Support is given from where you choose to purchase.
This is special order item (will show “in stock” if able to order, this means we have the parts available for this Pre-Amp. and the order can be placed), expect a typical 5 – 6 weeks (estimated) delivery time to USA customers.
( Items listed in-stock are NOT ready to ship, this means we have enough components on hand to build them)
We are working our best to keep up with demand. You will get estimated time for production and shipping with your order.
We will give you a current estimate upon receipt of payment, if it is different than standard production time, as this is considered a special order item there will be no cancellations or refunds if 48 hours past date of order placement. This product has multiple levels of quality control testing before it is shipped to you and is guaranteed to not be DOA. We are confident you’ll be happy with your purchase.
Holidays may impact delivery dates, including Chinese new year, which will add an additional 2 weeks to production and shipping time. This is out of our control due to parts sourcing delays. HoloAudio products are assembled in China and shipped out from HK.
Non-USA and Non-Standard AC Models:
NON USA/CAN customers please contact us for quote on shipping costs. Shipping estimates vary, please email us for a current quote.
“NOTE FOR NON-USA/CAN Customers: Be sure to say in notes what volt ac model you need, USA is 110 volt ac standard etc. (ie: 220/230/240V) – Also note if you ask for special voltage transformer that it can delay your order up to a week of additional time.”
Please include your full shipping address (clearly include and label information such as province, districts, cities, towns, zip/area codes, etc.) and phone number along with voltage requirements when requesting to order this Pre-Amp. Note: Delays will occur, if your shipping address is rejected upon invoice creation as these orders are manually created.
The same terms apply and estimated production times quoted above. Shipping times may vary by country/location of shipment.
To place an international order with us, USE our contact form… and then please provide the following information: Full Name, Phone Number, Shipping Address, Email Address to send Paypal Invoice to, and detailed list of products you would like to order and voltage requirement if applicable.
(We ship to most items to areas in the world except HoloAudio products we do not ship to EUROPE/UK/MIDDLEEAST/RUSSIA/AFRICA/INDIA/SA etc etc… Primarily we ship to NA and JAPAN but you can inquire if you do not have a dealer near you. (Below is a list of our dealers, please contact them if you are in the country they are located in)
if you are in Europe/UK and potential other areas nearby, please contact our European Authorized HoloAudio Dealer for the best service and support in your area, Magnahifi.com
If you are in South Korea, please contact our dealer in South Korea – SonorisAudio
If you are in India , please contact Vividhifi, your source for HoloAudio in India.
If you are in Australia, please contact IndiHifi.com.au, your source for HoloAudio in Australia
Kitsune HiFi carefully chooses products that we want to offer to our customers and be unique and/or stand out from all these audio supply stores. Jeff Zhu is a very talented engineer and is the brains behind HOLO Audio.
Tim & Dawn Connor – HoloAudioUSA and KitsuneHiFi
We operate under strict business ethics and principle values. Our company motto we are always proud to mention to our customers, “Time will tell…” and this means that our products will earn the respect in a matter of time once people get their chance to test it themselves. Many companies need fancy buzz words and marketing to sell their products, we truly only need our customers to try our products and share their experience with others. Word of mouth is how our business thrives and we have many happy customers! We encourage others to try all the competition in the market and directly compare and see what type of value you are receiving. We are confident in our products and know that in time, our products will sell themselves once people get a chance to try them. We offer tremendous value and quality without sacrificing on performance.
Jeff Zhu – HoloAudio – founder/engineer
Jeff Zhu is the man behind this engineering achievement. Below are some comments that have been shared by Jeff to better explain this DAC in his own words. HoloAudio is founded by Jeff Zhu and the USA division was a partnership formed with Tim Connor and his wife, Dawn Connor
Our products are CE Certified for the European Market
Charles (verified owner) –
The Holo May DAC was such an obvious improvement from my Benchmark DAC3 that I was intrigued when Holo released the Serene preamp.
I’ve been using the May DAC Kitsune edition through a Benchmark HPA4 preamp going to a Benchmark AHB2 amp and out to my Harbeth 30.1 Anniversary speakers. Adding the May DAC moved things into an entiirely new realm of detail, space, bass texture, and timbre. It wasn’t subtle.
The Benchmark HPA4 preamp measures extremely well, so I wasn’t sure if the sound could get much better. Then I saw the Holo Serene review by Goldensound on YouTube. Four things interested me 1) using extremely resolving, top-notch headphones (HiFiMan Susvara), he heard no difference in treble and mid-range between his balanced Goldpoint passive attenuator and the Serene, an active preamp; 2) however, in the bass he heard more weight and texture; 3) the base model Serene measures even better than the already exceptional HPA4 ; and 4) Goldensound mentioned his aversion to the dry, bleached sound (relatively) of well measuring preamps with modern feedback/feedforward circuits (like the HPA4’s THX technology). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD2Fj1tTu8Y
I wasn’t sure if his observations and opinions would add up to an improvement in my system switching to the Serene, so I got in touch with Tim at Kitsune. He owns the Benchmark HPA4, and he also preferred the Serene enthusiastically. Sure, he’s the American dealer for Holo, but he did mention the caveats other than the 1 dB steps on the volume control vs. 0.5 dB on the HPA4. His preference seemed quite sincere (and the 1 dB steps are actually more convenient, in my experience).
Considering the resale value of the HPA4, it wasn’t a huge investment (in audiophile terms) to order a Serene KTE edition. It’s been in the system a couple of hours at this point, and even out of the box the timbre of instruments and voices is clearly better. No downsides elsewhere.
It will need about 500 hours to break in, but it seems clear that it does sound more like music than the HPA4. I will see if I can update this after the Serene breaks in. If it develops anything like the May DAC during break in then it will be at a whole new level in 2-3 weeks.
Len Pezzano (verified owner) –
I am a veteran Audiophile. My love for music and audio equipment started in the early 1970’s with LP’s and an Akai 10” reel to reel tape deck (still use it). Back then, it seemed like every year audio equipment improved and my listening enjoyment keep getting better & better.
And then the CD digital revolution came about. At first, I loved the convenience and thought the sound was better. Over time though, I found myself listening less and less to my music collection but was not aware of why.
Covid got me back into High End Audio, and I am once again enjoying music again. In early 2020, I upgraded my speakers to Focal Sopra 2’s, added a Willsenton R8 Tube amp and a Rega P3 turntable. That all made an improvement over my older system.
But it was not until I added the 3 Holo Audio components; the May DAC, the LCR Phono Stage and the Serene Preamp that things really came alive. A whole new level of performance. Check out the YouTube audio reviewers on these products for all the fine details. I experienced everything they heard.
I can say without a doubt, that each component I added has dramatically improved my systems performance and my listening pleasure. The May DAC made my CD collection sound musical again. The Phono Stage renewed my love for LP’s and this Serene Preamp made everything connected to it sound better. More dynamic, more detailed, and quieter background. I was not aware of how much this last spec contributed to great sound, but it does. For one thing, I am hearing passages at the start and end of old CD’s I never heard before. All adding to the realism of the performance.
And lastly, what’s not to love about the look, the feel and build quality of these components. I love everything about them. They are just fun to touch and use.
Richard Martin (verified owner) –
I have now had the Serene in my system for about 3 weeks, paired with a Spring3 KTE (which I’ve had for a few months). I hadn’t been shopping for a new preamp but given the reviews I decided to give it a try. Wow! I did not expect a preamp to make such a difference!
It is like a veil has been lifted from my system. Incredible detail and clarity, and just a sense that there is nothing changing the signal. You also get the sense that there is no background noise at all. For me, this an end game preamp.
And, as with all Holo Audio products, the build, engineering, and workmanship are outstanding. The copper details, the feet, and especially the volume control. The fact that they would take the time to design a volume control knob that feels so sexy is a testament to Holo Audio’s pursuit of a superior product.
Adam Brace (verified owner) –
I have had the Serene preamp in my system for over a month now and am very pleased. Tonality is near perfect, clean, open and transparent to the source. I had a small issue upon arrival in that the glass display had a chip in it, Tim sent a brand new faceplate, excellent customer service. I feel bad that the entire aluminum plate had to be replaced instead of just the glass. Build quality is beautiful inside and out, the copper sides are a very classy touch. Overall a steal at this price point. Associated equipment: Innuos Zen Mk.3, Denafrips Venus II, Pass Labs X350.8, Harbeth 7ES-3 XD. Next up is the May KTE.
Ray K. (verified owner) –
The latest addition to my audio system, the Serene KTE preamp, arrived three days ago and is sitting on my stand, next to the May KTE that arrived four months earlier. The Holo stack sounds so good that I felt compelled to write the following non-technical review of my entire system: please excuse the long writing that follows…
Four months ago, I decided to upgrade the DAC, Amp, and possibly Preamp in my main system. I was satisfied with its sound but I got the urge to upgrade and well, you know the rest….
My main system consisted of the Revel Salon2 loudspeakers, Balanced Audio Technology 52se preamp with pre-1986 6H30DR tubes, a BAT 600SE amp, a Marantz NA-11S1 streamer/DAC, and a Denon DP-59L turntable w/ Hana MC HL cartridge. My “audio goal” was to build a cost-effective system with sound comparable to the “A+ reference” systems I’ve auditioned, without spending an amount that makes my eyes water.
A close audiophile friend is building a new system around the same parameters, and we’ve auditioned equipment together over the past 15 years. We’ve been audiophiles for over 35 years and have similar tastes in music. My friend ranks the sound of my system as a strong B, compared to the “A+ reference” systems we agree were the best we’ve heard together.
As good as it sounds, I felt the Marantz streamer (former Stereophile Class A) was holding my system back, and I always felt the 86db Salon2 could use more power, so I decided to change my DAC and amp in my main system. I was satisfied with the BAT 52se preamp and didn’t think I would change it, and the Revel Salon2 loudspeaker will never leave my house.
I auditioned and settled on the Chord Dave and M Scaler combo. Prior to pulling the trigger, I learned about the Holo May, read all the glowing reviews, and decided to give it a try. Since we can’t audition Holo Audio products at a store, my rationale was if it didn’t sound good in my system, I’d sell it and then purchase the more expensive Dave/M-Scaler combo.
The Holo May DAC arrived in June and, after 500 hours of burn-in, the improvement in sound over the NA-11S1 was so vast it was astounding. To me, it equaled the Dave/M-Scaler combo at a much lower price. The May sounds sublime and makes all of my music, including MP3 and Flac files, sound incredible. My friend feels the May DAC elevated my system to B+/A- status, or a notch or two below the previously mentioned “A+ reference” systems.
I love the way the May makes non-DSD and non-SACD files sound. The music has more detail, better definition in the bass, more treble extension, and the midrange has a liquid, tube-like sound, compared to the Marantz NA-11S1, which has a warmer sound overall. The May sound is quick when called upon, musical and powerful. I do remember the soundstage was slightly compressed during the first day of burn-in, but by day two, it was all together. The sound now is just perfect top to bottom. It’s simply incredible. To me, the May R2R DAC in NOS mode sounds incredible with non-DSD and non-SACD files. The sound is beautiful with all file formats, not just SACD or DSD. I love the May KTE DAC!
On to my amplification….
I loved and lived with my BAT stack for over a decade. 8 years ago I purchased a house with an 800 sq ft listening room that was 2x larger than my previous listening room. I realized that in my new listening room, the BAT combo sounds a shade or two on the “dark” side of neutral, and wasn’t filling the room as I wanted. I decided to change out the amp to get more power to the Salon2s, and hopefully, get closer to neutral. I replaced the BAT 600se amp with two Bryston 28B3 mono amps and my Salon2 loudspeakers began to sing! With that change, I was a happy camper and didn’t feel the need to further upgrade my system. According to my friend, the Bryston 28B3 elevated the system to a solid A – compared to “the reference” systems we auditioned. The 28B3 is one kick-ass amp and a perfect match for the Salon2 loudspeakers. Kudos to the Bryston team, and thanks to James Tanner for his help on this purchase.
Regarding my preamp:
As I mentioned above, I was happy with the BAT 52se preamp – it sounded great, didn’t suffer major treble rolled-off or was overly-sweet sounding. I ranked it several steps above the VK-5i I previously owned, but after the Bryston 28B3 purchase, I wondered what today’s top reference units might sound like in my system. Also, the impedance matching between the BAT pre and the Bryston amp left a little bit of bass on the table, so I auditioned the Pass Labs XP22, XP32, and the MBL N11. Each of these units, to my ears and in my system, just sounded slightly “better” than the 52se in a few areas, but I didn’t think the improvements were large enough to warrant the large price difference, so I happily kept the 52se in my system.
Then, I viewed all the glowing reviews of the Holo Serene a few months ago….
Let’s skip forward to last night: My audiophile friend stopped by to borrow a Krell amp I retired to my 3rd system. When I told him the Holo Serene preamp arrived two days ago and was 48 hours into the burn-in phase, he asked to listen to a few tracks… and ended up leaving 3 hours later.
My friend believes the Serene dethrones my BAT 52se tube pre, even at 48 hours. He believes my system NOW sounds better than any other system he’s ever heard, including the systems he’s auditioned at our local audio stores and those audio show hotel rooms (we all know can’t showcase the equipment at its best).
He was on his 2nd glass of Bombay Sapphire when he made these comments, but I‘ve never seen him so engaged or heard the number of compliments he shared last night (Charlie Mingus’ “Ysabel’s Table Dance” really brought down the house for him).
My take: I love the way the Serene sounds at this point! I agree with the “streaky clean window” and “sledgehammer smashed window” analogies New Record Day shared in his review. As a tube preamp user, I was afraid the Serene might sound a little bright on the top but it doesn’t. Also, the instruments within the sound stage are fuller than what I hear on the 52se, which shows each instrument as thinner variations as if it has more “air” or “space” around each instrument if this makes sense…. Neither is wrong or bad, but they are different. I prefer the fuller sound I get from the Serene. It fills in the space between my speakers more to my liking. As good as the Serene sounds at 48 hours, I expect the soundstage will just improve as the break-in period continues.
The Serene is quieter than the 52se (expected) but I’m very impressed at how quiet the 52se tubed preamp is – it really is a great preamp, and its low 3-ohm impedance offers the best bass I’ve heard to the Bryston (though I’m sure Bryston’s own preamps would the perfect match here).
Individually, the Holo May KTE DAC and the Serene KTE Preamp are superb. Together, this Holo Audio KTE stack is kick-ass and sounds so beautiful and good to my ears. I’ve finally put together my perfect cost-effective “A+ Reference” system, one in which the lovely sound makes my eyes water – not the cost.
Kudos to Jeff Zhu and the Holo Audio team, and a special thanks to Tim Conner for all your help!
Oh, for those of you who might find the Holo stack in your system, talk to Tim about acquiring the new RMT3 remote control that controls the DAC and Preamp. At this time, the unit can be obtained for free if you purchase a Holo stack, but I don’t know how long this will last. The RMT3 remote is slightly taller than the RMT1 and RMT2 but contains all of the buttons you need (9 total) to control both units. I received mine yesterday via separate shipping.
mimo2310231 (verified owner) –
I previously purchased a Holo May KTE DAC and was extremely pleased, so by extension became intrigued by the Serene. My main hifi chain is a pair of Canton Reference series 5K speakers, a pair of Benchmark AHB2s in mono block config, a Veretere DG1 Turntable with upgrad to Audio Technica AT33SA cartridge and matching Vertere Phono-1 phono pre… and of course my May KTE DAC. For preamp, I was using my Burson Soloist GT reference Headphone amp and pre with the optional Supercharger power supply. Now the Burson was an exquisite headphone amp, but I felt there was something missing as a preamp and the volume as a preamp seemed to start way WAY too high, ie 1 out of 100 was already quite loud, eg for late night listening it was just too much. So, I finally gave in after lots of consideration and review scanning and ordered the Serene KTE. From the very first listen back in November I was immediately impressed not to say floored, but wanted to wait on reviewing until I lived with it for a while so here we are. The clarity and texture and transparency was so obvious and tangible for the start. The speed and clarity and resolution increased with no loss of organic tone or tambour. I want to say warmth, but don’t want to imply any loss of resolution and realism, or imply anything sterile or clinical, it was real and clean and energetic and .. real. Then there’s the xlr outputs for headphone use. When using my HD800S headphones, they come alive and behave as with no other amp I’ve ever used and ultimately match and probably beat my Burson Soloist GT. With my Hifiman HE1000es headphones I am simply slack jawed by the listening experience, breathtaking resolution, detail, speed and all without being cold or clinical in any way.. again, just real. One way or another, for a relatively similar price factoring in optional power supply, I can say even if headphone amplification close or even a draw, the preamp side is not even close when comparing to the Burson. Not to mention the volume control, the volume control is sublime. I can go from whisper quiet and gain so gradually that I can’t imagine any speaker (or headphone) volume level desired is not at your fingertips. The volume control on the Burson may be a pair of lauded MUSES72320s, but they don’t hold a candle to the volume control of the Serene KTE. It is literally a game changer for late night speaker listening. Finally, as with the May KTE, the build quality, the engineering, the parts used, the tech, it is simply something I am proud to own. The Serene simply does an exceptional job as a pre and headphone amp and looks great doing it. Highly recommended.