Holo Audio – Spring 3 DAC – Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE

(1 customer review)

$2,198.00$3,698.00

 

Exclusive to the Spring 3 KTE model; The enhanced USB module found in the MAY DAC, which includes Titanis 2.0 FPGA circuit.

These will be first come first serve starting at a lead time (build time) of 3.5-4.5 weeks, shipping may add 4-5 days.

note: Website will show product “IN STOCK”. this means we have the components in stock to produce your order. This does NOT mean its ready to ship asap. Each order is produced in estimated time(s) as mentioned above. Thank you for your understanding.

-KitsuneHiFi

L1 –    $2198

L2 –    $2498

KTE – $3098

OPTIONAL – Preamp Module (Factory installed ONLY)  add $600 

Placeholder
Choose an option
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 KTE
$3,098.00

In stock

KTE Spring Version 3. This is the model known as the Level 3 - Enhanced USB Module w/ Titanis 2.0 circuit, Flatwire Otype transformer, Handselected dac module, HoloAudio Caps, 4N Silver 1.5mm wire at IEC inlet, HoloAudio Red Nano Fuse, CNC Remote Control, Copper KTE "fox" logo emblem. USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for NorthAmerica.
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 KTE +Preamp Module
$3,698.00

In stock

KTE Spring Version 3. This is the model known as the Level 3 - Enhanced USB Module w/ Titanis 2.0 circuit, Flatwire Otype transformer, Handselected dac module, HoloAudio Caps, 4N Silver 1.5mm wire at IEC inlet, HoloAudio Red Nano Fuse, CNC Remote Control, Copper KTE "fox" logo emblem. USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for North America. Includes Optional Preamp Module.
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 L2
$2,498.00

In stock

Spring Version 3 L2. This is the model known as the Level 2 - Standard USB Module, Standard Copper Roundwire Otype transformer, HoloAudio Caps, Schurter Gold Fuse, CNC Remote Control. USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for North America.
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 L2 +Preamp Module
$3,098.00

In stock

Spring Version 3 L2. This is the model known as the Level 2 - Standard USB Module, Standard Copper Roundwire Otype transformer, HoloAudio Caps, Schurter Gold Fuse, CNC Remote Control. USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for North America. Includes Optional Preamp Module.
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 L1
$2,198.00

In stock

Spring Version 3 L1. This is the model known as the Level 1 - Standard USB Module, Copper Roundwire Otype transformer, Shurter fuse, no Remote Control, USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for North America.
Holo Audio - Spring 3 DAC - Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE - Spring V3 L1 +Preamp Module
$2,798.00

In stock

Spring Version 3 L1. This is the model known as the Level 1 - Standard USB Module, Copper Roundwire Otype transformer, Shurter fuse, no Remote Control. USB Cable, Power cable included ONLY for North America. Includes Optional Preamp Module.
Clear

Description

The Spring3 DAC is here!

[metaslider id=”4695″]

Slide show of the L2 Spring3 Dac.

[metaslider id=”9148″]

Slide show of the KTE Spring3 Dac.

Product Description:

This new DAC “Spring3” is the design that has been very popular since 2016.  This is another milestone for HoloAudio’s own Jeff Zhu. It’s a full discrete R2R type of audio decoder and does not have off the shelf-DAC chip! This is a bespoke custom-designed core DAC module and truly a breakthrough with technology for any DAC chip today. Trickle down technology from the Flagship May Dac. The Spring3 is here to achieve new heights, new dynamics and simply a full spectrum of audio to please the aural senses.

Features:

  • A new generation of linear compensation technology. A better solution to the resistance, accuracy errors caused by switching components and PCB, after compensations makes the equivalent accuracy reach 0.00005%.
  • The new generation of de-glitch technology can provide a full range without increasing the noise floor or other adverse effects.
  • Based on this new generation of technology, “泉3” Spring3 (non preamp model) can provide a SINAD of >112dB and a dynamic range of >128dB, which represents the performance limit reached by today’s most advanced R2R architecture DAC.
  • Using the ultimate performance of PLL+FIFO technology, provides 0.1Hz Third-Order low-pass ability to inhibit jitter. It also uses a high-performance femtosecond VCXO as the PLL clock source. Under the premise of being almost immune to the front-end jitter, it can also lock up to 1.5us-2us @ 1KHz signal with high jitter. (It can lock up to 1.5us-2us @ 1kHz signal with high jitter on the premise of almost being immune front-end jitter).
  • The USB interface uses proprietary firmware with ultra-low latency, a highly reliable data transmission, ideal USB eye pattern measurements that contributes to 2-4 times higher performance than official firmware.
  • A single, independent HDMI-I2S input interface is provided, which has a four-way independent circuit, as opposed to standard LVDS chip, making I2S clock signals subject to lower interference and lower jitter. In addition, the I2S input can be configured with a specific pinout configuration, making it compatible with most of the HDMI-I2S digital devices on the market.
  • Optional (Factory installed only): A fully balanced, fully discrete analog pre-amplifier. Provides 84 steps, each step is 1db of volume control.

Specifications

Digital input

COAXIAL1, COAXIAL2, OPTICAL, AES PCM 44.1-192K (24bit)
DSD 64X (DOP)
USB PCM 44.1K-1.536M (32bit)
DSD 64-512X (DOP)
DSD 64-1024X (Native)
I2S PCM 44.1K-1.536M (32bit)
DSD 64-1024X

Analog Output

PCM 48K NOS THD+N 0.00032% @1K(-110dB)
DNR 127dB
DAC Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 5.8Vrms (RCA), 11.6Vrms (XLR)
DSD 128X THD+N 0.00025% @1K(-112dB)
DNR 115dB
DAC Voltage Output 1.45Vrms (RCA), 2.9Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)
 

Physical Characteristics

Size (Chassis) 430x300x55mm (W x L x H, Dimensions do not include protruding parts)
Weight 8.5kg

Power Specifications:

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
Power Consumption 40W

 


Here at KitsuneHiFi, we have three versions of the Spring 2 DAC. Below are the three levels, and KTE being our no compromise model with all options:

Level1

(The base model is quite good all by itself and priced so competitively it’s impossible to beat the performance/price ratio.) This model has basic caps for the PSU, and does not include a CNC remote. It has standard Red label 5N Copper Otype Transformer, round wire type copper wiring. Considered the base model however packs a mean punch for price per dollar performance ratio. (no remote control in this version)

Level2

(With HoloAudio caps for ultimate power filtration and improved sound quality – Sound quality is refined and more relaxed, transparent and details are more refined and clear while remaining neutral. ) It has standard Red label 5N Copper Otype Transformer, round wire type copper wiring. This is a popular option for those who want a little more out of their dac with improvement of sound from the caps as well as this version will include the cnc machined aluminum remote control.

KTE

The highest grade components are used in our very popular KTE version products. This Spring3 KTE version will include an upgraded ultra premium transformer that is 100VA O-Type flat wire type .The sound improvement is not subtle, it’s a night and day improvement in our opinion and many of our customers agree. Kitsune has tuned this Spring 3 DAC for no compromise performance and targeted at the enthusiast audio lover. This transformer is our finest available model and makes the Spring’s sound quite elegant and improved detail. more features mentioned below.

OPTIONAL upgrade – Preamp Module” – Fully discrete and balanced relay controlled volume control. Controls all the digital inputs volume with precision. This has trickle down technology from our popular flagship Preamp the Serene. Using 4 amp modules and hundreds of transistors.


This DAC was carefully implemented with some of the finest components.
The following is added to KTE Spring3:
1. 100VA O-type (NOT toroid) Flat wire type as found in the flagship May Dac L2 and KTE.
2. All copper wire is replaced with 1.5mm pure occ silver wire
3. Hand Selected Dac module to have best measurements compared to averages.
4. KTE Spring3 is ONLY level to have the enhanced USB module  as found in our L2 and KTE May dac. Has titanis 2.0 circuit.
5. Replaced IEC inlet connectors with pure silver/rhodium plated faston connectors at the IEC inlet
6. HoloAudio Red Nano fuse
7. Holo Audio Caps(we have done extensive testing and these prove to provide the very best sound quality)
8. Special Kitsune Tuned Edition branding inside and out (pure copper Kitsune fox emblem on top panel, like our extremely popular KTE SU2 product)
9. KitsuneHiFi VIP service, english support and manuals/software

 

DSD is natively supported for the first time on this Discrete Resistor Ladder DAC

HoloAudio is the world’s first to support DSD natively on Resistor Ladder DAC, so far the only one. This is not the DSD converted to PCM before digital-analog converter, but directly by the discrete components of the DSD digital to analog converter. Supported currently on MAC (DOP)and Linux (DOP), and Windows/PC (Direct Native and DOP). Please note, the word ‘R2R’ is the name of a kind of architecture of resistor ladders. This architecture requires less resistors yet still is capable to deliver more than acceptable performance. Most DACs in the industry use this architecture. The DSD module of Spring3 does not use R2R architecture for the DSD, more specifically it uses a very specific architecture which is optimized to perform DSD to analog. So to be entirely accurate the DSD part of Spring is using resistor ladders, not R2R..

 

Spring2’s input and output interface:

  • Digital input interface includes
  • USB (ground isolation)
  • RCA coaxial
  • BNC coaxial
  • AES
  • optical fiber
  • I2S (HDMI) – improved ultra high performance 4way custom circuit (NOT LVDS anymore)
  • All digital input interface supports DSD (DOP mode).
  • Analog Output interface: single-ended, balanced.

Spring3 DAC R2R structure and design + Input/output Stage

Modern and popular delta-sigma type DAC differs from R2R within one clock analog value can recover a sampling point, and the delta-sigma is used to represent an analog signal after passing through oversampling and high-speed digital switching 0 and 1. In comparison, the conversion structure of R2R is most direct and pure, but delta-sigma is essentially a digital chip, high-speed digital signals 0 and 1 switch to the low-pass filter to process the analog signal and this process is prone to various problems, produce digital sound (digititus) and also in the super-sampling process will inevitably cause some ringing and distortion. But DAC R2R structure requires high-precision resistor network which the cost can be very expensive. And the digital delta-sigma DAC chip in comparison is very low cost. Patented R2R technology. This is the first discrete DAC that has Linear compensation and this allows for ultimate music reproduction accuracy. Dual R2R ladder network with advanced architecture for PCM, and Dual Resistor Ladder network with optimized architecture for DSD!

I/O stages: There is an Op Amp used for input stage and discrete component used for the output stage. The discrete output stage is working in pure class A.  The output voltage is 2.9 Vrms for single ended output and 5.8 Vrms for balanced output (dsd playback is half these voltages). The single ended is RCA. Balanced is XLR. They both use the same output stage. It’s BiPolar Junction Transistors, direct coupled. The big MKP capacitor you can see in the output stage is for the power supply, not for signal coupling. And the output impedance is 200 Ohm. 

A common question we get…” Why do you use an Op amp at the input of the DAC?”  

The input stage with an opamp is a good choice. It has a paired transistor input by the nature it is manufactured. But an opamp for the output stage is limited due to it’s size and the thermal capability. Also, no one will offer an opamp with class A output as it’s efficiency is so low. So an opamp used as input and discrete output combined together will have an advantage. It doesn’t mean that all discrete is not good. Actually, if we need to achieve enough low distortion. It needs at least 30-40 transistors. Which not only will it be huge and waste of space but it will also be too costly. I mean, to beat the opamp’s performance, a simple discrete architecture is not possible, although an all discrete design looks beautiful.

 

The true balanced circuit design

These two pictures can explain the true balanced design quite well. The bottom side has the same resistor ladders as top side. The dac module is a pure 24bit discrete R2R design (PCM) and discrete Ladder Dac optimized architecture (DSD).

(spring2 dac module is show only for reference)

XLR is using all of the circuit and RCA is just using half of them. The balanced output has better performance (THD, noise) and also better common mode rejection rate. If you’re listening environment contains interference, either from AC power or from EMI/RF then you will find a full balanced system can really help significantly.

 

What are the Spring 3’s sound characteristics? :

One of the strong points of the spring is the spatial sounds stage presentation. It’s very wide and precise. It never sounds congested like many DACs. The high end is very detailed and never harsh sounding. It has the R2R goodness that many have come to know and love. R2R has almost a cult like following and this DAC will surely become a sought after DAC.  Everything comes effortlessly for this DAC. Bass is layered and textures, quite full and present without ever masking over the sweet mid tones that are produced. One special thing about the Spring is its amazing voltage regulation circuitry that better than 0.2uV output noise! This along with the O-core transformer helps regulate the purest power which translates to audio clarity and accurate reproduction. It must be heard to appreciate and come to love its sound.

Jeff Zhu was asked to briefly comment on the Spring3 and it’s differences from previous models… He has said:
Spring3 PLL is nearly the same design as our flagship dac, the May. The main difference between Spring3 and May is that May uses our latest technology and cost is no object, therefore has better components. For Spring3, it uses the latest technology as May. But the main goal is to get high performance at reasonable cost, and I believe we absolutely achieved this goal. Although it’s price is higher than Spring2. I think the performance/cost ratio is higher than Spring2. It’s not much behind May! The pre-amp module inside is a very decent way to control volume, really one of the best ways. I think the digital volume is terrible, especially for this level of DAC. So I never added digital volume control on Spring and May, only on Cyan which is our entry level product. Digital volume is very easy and has very low cost added, albeit compromised. The reason we don’t use it is that ‘free digital volume’ will lead customer to use it and not realize it is not ideal for use with our higher end dacs. I don’t want misguide the user to use our DAC is that way. I think they will be most pleased with our fully balanced, discrete analog volume control for a low optional upgrade price.

Newest Driver: HoloAudio Drivers – Win7/8/8.1/10 – v5.20.0_2021-07-24 (driver for both Gen2.0 and Gen2.1 USB)

Firmware Gen 2.1 ONLY : Firmware for Gen2.1 USB ONLY (Post August20th 2021 dacs ONLY) “enhanced_3130” Windows PC – NOT for Gen2.0 USB.   (Sept 25th 2021) best paired with the new v5.20.0 windows drivers.

previous drivers: HoloAudio Drivers – Win7/8/8.1/10 – v.5.00 +all firmwares for all products multiDFU tools 2021-CLICK HERE (firmware tool is for pre August20/2021 dacs with Gen2.0 USB)

Please read more about

NOS vs OS

(MUST READ article to explain why we recommend NOS)

 

General info:

Dimensions: 430 mm (W) * 300 mm (L) * 55 mm (H) additional 12 mm for machined feet

Weight: 8.5 kg

 

Items included in box : power cable (USA/CAN ONLY) (does not include remote control for L1 model, but the L2 and KTE model will include the remote control.)  Package includes DAC only + Remote for L2 and KTE models only!

WARRANTY – 3 years warranty, both parts and labor, cover one way shipping (return shipping once product is confirmed a warranty claim). Be sure to buy directly from HoloAudio or authorized reseller and we recommend to buy from HoloAudioUSA<– this is KitsuneHiFi 😉 – Support is given from the source you choose to purchase from.

Click HERE for instructions on how to open the chassis properly with photos and step by step of which screws to remove and which ones to not remove 😀

Download Windows System Icons HERE (image of Spring DAC, and kitsunetunededition logo)

FoobarDSD support HERE

Download Spring3 User Manual – HERE

 

note: WIN7 users may have issue if you don’t have the most recent hotfix for SHA-256bit code signatures. By default Win7 only supports SHA-1 signatures, yet SHA-1 is obsolete and this hotfix is very important for security reasons. Win 8 and above have SHA-256bit by default. Some users reported these drivers not installing properly, so be sure your Win7 is up to date, or download the hotfix here (KB3033929) : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3033929

 

This is special order item (will show “in stock” if able to order, this means we have the parts available for this dac and the order can be placed), with a typical 4.5-5.5+ weeks (estimated) delivery time to USA/CAN customers. Other voltage options than 110V (ie: 220/230/240V) may delay order an additional week. We will give you current estimate upon receipt of payment if it is different than the quoted 4.5+week estimate, and can be cancelled if you choose not to accept the terms to wait for the production/shipping times. After you accept the terms, The order is then placed with HOLO Audio directly. The order is considered a special order item and there will be no cancellations or refunds 48hours past the date the order was placed. The product is guaranteed not to be DOA and has multiple levels of quality control testing before it’s shipped out to you. We are confident you’ll be happy with your purchase. HoloAudio products are assembled in China and shipped out from HK.

NON USA/CAN customers please contact us for quote on shipping costs. Please include your full shipping address and phone number along with voltage requirements when requesting to order this dac. The same terms apply and estimated production times quoted above.


Shipping estimate varies, it’s best to email us for a current quote. (items in stock are only allocated for this batch, if you buy now, it will secure your position in our next batch

if you are in Europe, 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 


“NOTE: Be sure to say in notes what volt ac model you need, USA/CAN is 110 volt ac standard etc.  – Also note if you ask for special voltage transformer that it can delay your order up to a week longer.”

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 HoloAudio. Some say he is the man behind the curtain and he has certainly impressed us with his knowledge and his newest line of products that surely will leave you impressed too! The Spring3 DAC is his newest product and is capable of DSD native on an Discrete Resister Ladder DAC!  This Spring3 is capable of DSD1024 native and actually running on his bespoke discrete ladder DAC! This is a unique custom build discrete resistor network dac with linear compensation and advanced architecture based on R2R however we don’t refer to it as R2R since the design is far superior. This is our second discrete DAC that has linear compensation and this allows for ultimate music reproduction accuracy. Dual R2R network with advanced architecture for PCM, and Dual Resistor Ladder network with optimized architecture for DSD! We will be offering the first Spring3 DAC’s in the USA and the KTE/Kitsune Tuned edition is no longer just exclusive to us. We have licensed the build as being the ONLY authorized modded edition of the Spring3 DAC by HoloAudio. This means our authorized dealers will carry our KTE Spring3! And if you buy from a dealer you will get support from that particular dealer. Many may continue to choose KitsuneHiFi and will receive our excellent customer service that we are well known for.

 

 

You may be asking… well what is so special about this DAC? A Discrete R2R DAC with linear compensation…what is this?

There’s an additional R2R ladder in the Spring3 DAC, it compensates the main R2R ladder. It works like trimming, but trimming is to change the resistor value. This additional R2R ladder is digitally controlled and will accurately compensate the resistor tolerance. For example, the MSB of 16 bits should have the value of 32768, but due to tolerance, it represents 32700 in real world results. Then that additional R2R ladder will compensate 68 into it. Thus it now becomes 32700 + 68 = 32768.  What this means is that it’s likely the most precise Discrete DAC on the market with near flawless linearity, lowest THD and highest SNR of any NOS DAC. The sound is simply something you must experience to fully realize how special this DAC is. It’s a patented technology exclusive to HoloAudio. KitsuneHiFi is also HoloAudio USA and proud to bring you this DAC.

 

Specifications

Digital input

COAXIAL1, COAXIAL2, OPTICAL, AES PCM 44.1-192K (24bit)
DSD 64X (DOP)
USB PCM 44.1K-1.536M (32bit)
DSD 64-512X (DOP)
DSD 64-1024X (Native)
I2S PCM 44.1K-1.536M (32bit)
DSD 64-1024X

Analog Output

PCM 48K NOS THD+N 0.00032% @1K(-110dB)
DNR 127dB
DAC Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 5.8Vrms (RCA), 11.6Vrms (XLR)
DSD 128X THD+N 0.00025% @1K(-112dB)
DNR 115dB
DAC Voltage Output 1.45Vrms (RCA), 2.9Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)
 

Physical Characteristics

Size (Chassis) 430x300x55mm (W x L x H, Dimensions do not include protruding parts)
Weight 8.5kg
 

 

 

Power Specifications


Here at KitsuneHiFi, we have three versions of the Spring 2 DAC. Below are the three levels, and KTE being our no compromise model with all options:

Level1

(The base model is quite good all by itself and priced so competitively it’s impossible to beat the performance/price ratio.) This model has basic caps for the PSU, and does not include a CNC remote. It has standard Red label 5N Copper Otype Transformer, round wire type copper wiring. Considered the base model however packs a mean punch for price per dollar performance ratio. (no remote control in this version)

Level2

(With HoloAudio caps for ultimate power filtration and improved sound quality – Sound quality is refined and more relaxed, transparent and details are more refined and clear while remaining neutral. ) This is a popular option for those who want a little more out of their dac with improvement of sound from the caps as well as this version will include the cnc machined aluminum remote control.

KTE

The highest grade components are used in our very popular KTE version products. This Spring3 KTE version will include an upgraded ultra premium transformer that is 100VA O-Type Flatwire type .The sound improvement is not subtle, it’s a night and day improvement in our opinion and many of our customers agree. Kitsune has tuned this Spring 3 DAC for no compromise performance and targeted at the enthusiast audio lover. This transformer is our finest available model and makes the Spring’s sound quite elegant and improved detail. more features mentioned below.

OPTIONAL upgrade – Preamp Module” – Fully discrete and balanced relay controlled volume control. Controls all the digital inputs volume with precision. This has trickle down technology from our popular flagship Preamp the Serene. Using 4 amp modules and hundreds of transistors.


This DAC was carefully implemented with some of the finest components.
The following is added to KTE Spring3:
1. 100VA O-type (NOT toroid) Flat wire type as found in the flagship May Dac L2 and KTE.
2. All copper wire is replaced with 1.5mm pure occ silver wire
3. Hand Selected Dac module to have best measurements compared to averages.
4. KTE Spring3 is ONLY level to have the enhanced USB module  as found in our L2 and KTE May dac. Has titanis 2.0 circuit.
5. Replaced IEC inlet connectors with pure silver/rhodium plated faston connectors at the IEC inlet
6. HoloAudio Red Nano fuse
7. Holo Audio Caps(we have done extensive testing and these prove to provide the very best sound quality)
8. Special Kitsune Tuned Edition branding inside and out (pure copper Kitsune fox emblem on top panel, like our extremely popular KTE SU2 product)
9. KitsuneHiFi VIP service, english support and manuals/software

 

DSD is natively supported for the first time on this Discrete Resistor Ladder DAC

HoloAudio is the world’s first to support DSD natively on Resistor Ladder DAC, so far the only one. This is not the DSD converted to PCM before digital-analog converter, but directly by the discrete components of the DSD digital to analog converter. Supported currently on MAC (DOP)and Linux (DOP), and Windows/PC (Direct Native and DOP). Please note, the word ‘R2R’ is the name of a kind of architecture of resistor ladders. This architecture requires less resistors yet still is capable to deliver more than acceptable performance. Most DACs in the industry use this architecture. The DSD module of Spring3 does not use R2R architecture for the DSD, more specifically it uses a very specific architecture which is optimized to perform DSD to analog. So to be entirely accurate the DSD part of Spring is using resistor ladders, not R2R..

 

Spring2’s input and output interface:

  • Digital input interface includes
  • USB (ground isolation)
  • RCA coaxial
  • BNC coaxial
  • AES
  • optical fiber
  • I2S (HDMI) – improved ultra high performance 4way custom circuit (NOT LVDS anymore)
  • All digital input interface supports DSD (DOP mode).
  • Analog Output interface: single-ended, balanced.

Spring3 DAC R2R structure and design + Input/output Stage

Modern and popular delta-sigma type DAC differs from R2R within one clock analog value can recover a sampling point, and the delta-sigma is used to represent an analog signal after passing through oversampling and high-speed digital switching 0 and 1. In comparison, the conversion structure of R2R is most direct and pure, but delta-sigma is essentially a digital chip, high-speed digital signals 0 and 1 switch to the low-pass filter to process the analog signal and this process is prone to various problems, produce digital sound (digititus) and also in the super-sampling process will inevitably cause some ringing and distortion. But DAC R2R structure requires high-precision resistor network which the cost can be very expensive. And the digital delta-sigma DAC chip in comparison is very low cost. Patented R2R technology. This is the first discrete DAC that has Linear compensation and this allows for ultimate music reproduction accuracy. Dual R2R ladder network with advanced architecture for PCM, and Dual Resistor Ladder network with optimized architecture for DSD!

I/O stages: There is an Op Amp used for input stage and discrete component used for the output stage. The discrete output stage is working in pure class A.  The output voltage is 2.9 Vrms for single ended output and 5.8 Vrms for balanced output (dsd playback is half these voltages). The single ended is RCA. Balanced is XLR. They both use the same output stage. It’s BiPolar Junction Transistors, direct coupled. The big MKP capacitor you can see in the output stage is for the power supply, not for signal coupling. And the output impedance is 200 Ohm. 

A common question we get…” Why do you use an Op amp at the input of the DAC?”  

The input stage with an opamp is a good choice. It has a paired transistor input by the nature it is manufactured. But an opamp for the output stage is limited due to it’s size and the thermal capability. Also, no one will offer an opamp with class A output as it’s efficiency is so low. So an opamp used as input and discrete output combined together will have an advantage. It doesn’t mean that all discrete is not good. Actually, if we need to achieve enough low distortion. It needs at least 30-40 transistors. Which not only will it be huge and waste of space but it will also be too costly. I mean, to beat the opamp’s performance, a simple discrete architecture is not possible, although an all discrete design looks beautiful.

 

The true balanced circuit design

These two pictures can explain the true balanced design quite well. The bottom side has the same resistor ladders as top side. The dac module is a pure 24bit discrete R2R design (PCM) and discrete Ladder Dac optimized architecture (DSD).

(spring2 dac module is show only for reference)

XLR is using all of the circuit and RCA is just using half of them. The balanced output has better performance (THD, noise) and also better common mode rejection rate. If you’re listening environment contains interference, either from AC power or from EMI/RF then you will find a full balanced system can really help significantly.

 

What are the Spring 3’s sound characteristics? :

One of the strong points of the spring is the spatial sounds stage presentation. It’s very wide and precise. It never sounds congested like many DACs. The high end is very detailed and never harsh sounding. It has the R2R goodness that many have come to know and love. R2R has almost a cult like following and this DAC will surely become a sought after DAC.  Everything comes effortlessly for this DAC. Bass is layered and textures, quite full and present without ever masking over the sweet mid tones that are produced. One special thing about the Spring is its amazing voltage regulation circuitry that better than 0.2uV output noise! This along with the O-core transformer helps regulate the purest power which translates to audio clarity and accurate reproduction. It must be heard to appreciate and come to love its sound.

Jeff Zhu was asked to briefly comment on the Spring3 and it’s differences from previous models… He has said:
Spring3 PLL is nearly the same design as our flagship dac, the May. The main difference between Spring3 and May is that May uses our latest technology and cost is no object, therefore has better components. For Spring3, it uses the latest technology as May. But the main goal is to get high performance at reasonable cost, and I believe we absolutely achieved this goal. Although it’s price is higher than Spring2. I think the performance/cost ratio is higher than Spring2. It’s not much behind May! The pre-amp module inside is a very decent way to control volume, really one of the best ways. I think the digital volume is terrible, especially for this level of DAC. So I never added digital volume control on Spring and May, only on Cyan which is our entry level product. Digital volume is very easy and has very low cost added, albeit compromised. The reason we don’t use it is that ‘free digital volume’ will lead customer to use it and not realize it is not ideal for use with our higher end dacs. I don’t want misguide the user to use our DAC is that way. I think they will be most pleased with our fully balanced, discrete analog volume control for an optional upgrade.

 

 

timc5

 

 

 

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.

jeffzhu5

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.  Holo Audio is founded by Jeff Zhu and the USA division was a partnership formed with Tim Connor and his wife, Dawn Connor.

 

A little note from Jeff:

Many have asked about how does a discrete resistor network accurately reproduce sound. This email is a good read for those who want a technical explanation on how Jeff was capable of achieving flawless linearity and ultra good specs on THD. This was a reply to a customer who had a technical question about resistors and their limitations.

“About the resistor tolerance, his word is partly right, but not accurate. The MSB of 16bits value only represent 32768, not 65536, all 16bits is 65535, but the MSB is only 32768. There are techniques to reduce this requirement. For example, segment+R2R, using segment into the first few bits, then r2r for the rest of them. Rockna is segment+R2R, TotalDAC is all R2R. And you can see, Rockna’s THD spec. is much better than Total. Total uses foil resistor, but they used the simplest architecture. That results an unsatisfied test performance. To my opinion, it’s some kind of wasting foil resistors. Soekris also uses segment+R2R. MSB’s old model is all R2R, but I don’t know about their new models.

Anyway, There are ways to improve the performance, the segment+R2R is one way. Trimming is another way. There is an additional R2R ladder in Spring, it compensate the main R2R ladder. It works like trimming, but trimming is to change the resistor value. This additional R2R ladder are digital controlled and is to compensate the resistor tolerance. For example, the MSB of 16 bits should have the value of 32768, but due to tolerance, it represent 32700 in real world. Then that additional R2R ladder will compensate 68 into it. Then it became 32700+68=32768.

Actually there are other ways to improve performance, I just told you two stories. There are more stories behind the design. It is really hard. I must count every via holes in layout, every PCB wire has it’s impedance and must put attention on it. A via hole can be 50 m Ohm, it is 1/20000 of 1 kilo-ohm, and you see, it covers 32768 which is the MSB of 16bits. Also the switches has self-impedance which is about several ohms to 30 ohms. If you find this issue. Maybe you will go crazy, it seems to be an impossible mission. But a good designer will overcome all these problems. It’s our value at HOLO Audio.

All the resistor tolerance, switch impedance, line impedance, via hole impedance, finally reflect as linearity. There is a chart that shows Spring’s linearity, it’s excellent. But I suggest you to look at THD performance. Bad linearity must result a bad THD performance. But good linearity doesn’t mean there will be good THD performance. THD is dynamic performance, more critical than linearity which is a static performance.

If you look at the THD performance, you will find Spring to maybe the best among those competitors. I’m applying a patent which contribute a lot of that performance. But I can’t tell you how. It’s confidential now.

Best Regards

Jeff Zhu”

And another note on Linear Compensation. As Some have asked what happens when the Resistors values change over time? Jeff responds:

No matter it is a digital switch or analog switch, they are built by transistors, can be either bjt, mosfet or jfet. They have self-impedance call Ron(impedance when at on state). If we expect a lower Ron, the a bigger transistor is needed. But bigger transistor has bigger self-capacitance that will cause switching speed to be lower. So there is no perfect components in the real world.

About long term drift, the modern resistor technology has made it much better than older process. But the most important thing is, we don’t care absolute drift, we only care relative drift. That means, if all resistors are drifted in the same direction and same speed. Then it will be no impact for this application. So, we make sure to use the same batch of components in a single board. That will minimize the problem causing by long term drift.

As I mentioned in the earlier email. Spring is not using trimming, but using compensation. Not matter it is trimming or compensation, their goal is same, to make the resistance much more accurate so the linearity and distortion can be improved a lot.

Best Regards
Jeff Zhu

Also, another customer asking about the oversampling, Jeff replied and has some good information to those who are curious.

The oversampling is done by AK4137, ‘OS PCM’ converts the input stream to PCM no matter it is PCM or DSD, then send to DAC. ‘OS DSD’ converts the input stream to DSD no matter is is PCM or DSD, then send to DAC. ‘OS’ over-samples the input stream. If it is DSD input, it over-sample to DSD256. If it is PCM input, it over-samples to PCM384K or 352.8K ‘NOS’ does no oversampling. send the input stream directly to DAC module.About DSD ‘native’, it is the way the USB transfer the stream. You know DOP, which is DSD Over PCM. DOP put the DSD into a PCM stream. At the receiver end, it just unpack the PCM stream and get the DSD back. DOP does NOT change any bit of DSD stream, just sending it with the package. So it waste some data rate. At the same data rate, DOP is 1/2 of DSD native, the other 1/2 is the package. So DOP and DSD native are all bit perfect. The DSD stream sending to DAC is all the same.So, now you should know, DSD native is just about the way it transfers the stream. Not describing the way it does digital to analog conversion. At the DAC stage, the DSD stream can convert to PCM then do the final digital to analog conversion. Actually, most DAC chips do this inside the chip. One point needs to be remembered, DSD streams can’t do volume attenuation. If this chip can do digital volume control under DSD mode, then is must converted to PCM already.Let’s go back to Spring. If Spring works in ‘NOS’ mode. There is no
oversampling, no conversion, just the original data doing the final digital
to analog conversion. I will not explain how it does PCM conversion, you
should already know quite well about it. There is a lot of resistor ladder
DAC, they are born to do this. I just explain how Spring can do ‘discrete
DSD conversion’. Actually it is like DCS and CHORD. If you looking to DCS
and CHORD’s PCB, you will find ‘discrete DSD conversion’ is also using
switches and precision resistors, like resistor ladder DACs. So, no matter
it is ‘discrete DSD conversion’ or ‘discrete PCM conversion’, they all use
the same discrete devices. Just work in different architecture. That makes
possible to combine these two modes in one device.

Best Regards
Jeff Zhu

Measurements –

Will post more info soon! very similar to Spring1 performance. This dac is best heard in person to truly appreciate it! Personally I prefer the new Spring2 design with many cool new features that make it a well rounded ultra high spec dac solution.

 

 

Our products are CE Certified for the European Market 

Additional information

Weight 20 lbs
Dimensions 16.93 × 11.81 × 2.63 in
Version

Spring V3 KTE, Spring V3 KTE +Preamp Module, Spring V3 L1, Spring V3 L1 +Preamp Module, Spring V3 L2, Spring V3 L2 +Preamp Module

Other Reviewers

*Please follow the Head-Fi forum thread here

*We are official Roon Partners here

*Please follow the Computer Audiophile thread here

 

Please read some reviews of our Spring1 dac below: (note the Spring2 is only improved over the Spring1 design and sound quality, its our well respected “house sound” that HoloAudio is known for. None for Spring3 yet.

#1 – Stereophile – Herb Reichart

#2 – ComputerAudiophile by Ted Brady

#3 – Headphone Guru by Peter Pialis

#4 – AudioStream by Michael Lavorgna

#5 – AudioStream by Alex Halberstadt

#6 – Basshead Club by Luckbad

#7 – SuperBestAudioFriends by Torq

#8 – Head-Fi by Torq

#9 – Stereophile Review by Art Dudley

#10 – GearPatrol.com Review by Ian

#11 – Jazziz.com Audio Gift Guide 

#10Youtube Review by Amos AKA Currawong 

1 review for Holo Audio – Spring 3 DAC – Level 1 / Level 2 / KTE

  1. Kenneth Moreira

    Initial impressions.

    Sound stage, separation, clarity, detail all took a significant bump up from my topping.

    stage and separation
    It’s very easy to pick an instrument and just follow that one sound. Imaging is great. A bit of an example of those combining is acoustics in Hotel California. I no longer am hearing the placement of the instrument in its own space but also hearing space between each note/string. Their is tangible air between them. Furthermore, layering of front to back is also more notable without the need to be critically listening. The stage as a whole is wider, although I do not believe it has gotten anymore height.

    Clarity and Detail
    Well another obvious stand out. My better half who was and remains significantly unhappy with the amount of money spent, did make a comment. Walking by me, she said she could already hear a difference just via the sound leaking from the open backs. Upon her listening she said , you know its more clear, and theirs more ” i don’t know somehow it seems more smooth almost.. I know you we’re worried that you wouldn’t be able to notice the sound difference for the money but you can at least say its there. ”

    For me the moment of ahh theirs a more to it came initially with “under dogs” by Alicia Keys. Hearing the multiple vocal tracks layered very clearly. Again the same experience with frankly, ever “beatles” song I’ve played. Their are new details emerging as far as little drum hits and such that I do not notice previous. Again, without the need to pay attention. I notice these new things while I am actively typing this out. Clearly not focusing specifically in search for details.

    Characteristics and Tone
    Well its is clear this dac presents music in a different way. That is for sure. It doesn’t take long for the brain to adjust and for it to become the new normal. I do notice snares , high hats, clicks , snaps and claps are have a more crisp hit. It’s far less dull and drowned out. The sound all around is more Lively, making me previous dac seem flat .
    As if I went from watching a concert in 4k . To being in the venue. Is it night and day ? yes. Is it 4 times better, no. But you know this, you’re in this rabbit hole with me.

    All for now , time to enjoy

    My setup :
    Furman power conditioner
    Holo Spring 3 KTE
    Trafomatic Head 2 with
    6N23P Reflektor Holy Grail 1975 SWGP Silver Shields NOS Matched Pair E88CC
    Reflektor 6N30P-DR 1988 , Upgraded the Fuse to a SR Orange Fast Blow
    Headphones: hifiman Arya

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…