🔷 Holo Spring 3

This is the official thread for the Holo Audio Spring 3 DAC

This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • Balanced R2R
  • Improved Input Implementations from Gen 2
  • 3 Levels, Preamp Option

:red_circle: Hifiguides Link


Z Reviews


Holo Spring 3

I know that there are folks wanting to know more about sound quality characteristics and impressions but at this time I’m not sure that it is fair to do that. It’s been said to give this DAC about 3-400 hours of break in before passing judgment. I’m @ 38 hours of powered on music playback / break in and the Spring 3 is beginning to show signs of settling. Tonal density has improved significantly, and is evening out. It never sounded "bad” but it is now starting to really show itself. To reiterate what @hifiDJ stated - very impressive.
The most recent standout as most improved with break in time is bass authority, impact and quantity. Bass quality was always there but I was getting nervous as it felt a bit lean for my tastes - with last night’s listening session though, it appears that is no longer a concern. We’re going to be OK :grinning:

There is one item to note related to functionality that I was not expecting (probably due to lack of research/or knowledge), that threw me off momentarily. That there is a delay (@3000ms in my instance) to get a “Lock” when PLL is enabled, when using any of the digital inputs except USB. So for myself that is the I2S and AES inputs (also tested using the coaxial and BNC spdif’s). This concerned me. I can disable PLL and locking is instant when using those inputs, the same as it is with USB. I can also set a hardware synchro delay of 3 seconds in Roon, which is the player I use. But still, I was freaked out a bit. I either have to use the Titanis USB and forgo using even higher quality inputs (I2S / AES) and my DDC, or use a delay in software player (if it is supported) if I want the PLL functionality. The other option is to disable PLL.

The thing is even so, this DAC is sounding amazing to me even while not technically fully broken in that I don’t know if I’m over thinking it (PLL benefit) or how much it matters, but this is going to add time to my evaluation because I am going to have to listen via all the possible options to see what is best to me.

EDIT: Tim @ Kitsune HiFi response to me regarding the PLL and Delay:
This is not a quirk or anything abnormal. This is the function of how a pll works. Simple requires time for locking onto a signal. If you don’t mind having the signal as is without jitter attenuation than simply disable the PLL. But the function of the PLL is to attenuate jitter down 80dB. Or noise floors of -170dB typically. The cost is the longer locking time. However no sacrifices are made for the latency! As it’s still near zero latency.
Usb runs in master mode on the pll so has fastest locking times. Spdif, or super dated tech has slower locking times by default, and no way around this. However spdif has never sounded better when using the pll with it.

Hope this answers your concerns

KitsuneHiFi and HoloAudioUSA

@WaveTheory I replied here after considering adding to the existing Holo Spring 2 topic. If you feel conversation for the Spring 3 should be placed in the other Spring 2 topic, or it’s own feel free to adjust. I fear we’re side-tracking from the OP topic/theme


How 'bout a Spring 3 thread? :grin:


Just to add some more info about those considering the pre-amp:

Technically there is no bypass, however when volume is set to 94 it’s equivalent to bypass or a fixed signal. Hope this is helpful

KitsuneHiFi and HoloAudioUSA

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I know I’m being slow to get post more in-depth impressions but, I replaced several components in the source chain pretty much back-to-back, and now have too many “new” things to sort out before being able to present thoughts other than the highly subjective with no detail - “Best DAC I have owned so far”…

Spoiler: I do think it’s the best DAC I have owned so far but it is not the perfect DAC nor my last, but it is here to stay for a while and has top positioning in my primary setup.


Which DDC are you using? How does the Spring 3 using Titanis USB compare with using the DDC + I2S?

Regarding the PLL delay, how often does it occur? At the beginning of every new track? Only when the sample or bit rate changes?

I have a Spring 3 KTE on order and I’m considering a DDC. Though I already have a pretty clean USB source so it may not be worth it.

Looking forward to more in-depth impressions!

GoldenSound has a review of the Holo Spring 3


Ron from New Record day has his in and the review will be coming soon. He currently owns the Holo May KTE and reviewed it. Previously he also has had their Phono (forgot name) and their Preamp (Serene) for review as well.

Ron has a Spring 1, Spring 2, Spring 3, and May all for review to compare so should be a nice lineup to contrast.

I asked specifically if Ron could review the pre-amp stage because none of the other holo dacs have the pre functionality. I’m interested in how the pre performance compares with the Serene performance.

I’m planning on getting the Spring 3 KTE w/preamp and then either a Cayin HA-300 mk2 or tube monos to run as a 2 channel setup. Hoping to get a good tube amp to use for both 2 channel and hps and then combine with my Soloist 3XP or get the 3GT at some point.

Another option is to keep my Spring 1 KTE and then buy a Flux Volot with the preamp stage (coming soon) and feed the volot to the Tube amp and sell my Soloist. This would be the cheaper option and I could probably get a better tube (Arc, Cary, Rogue dark monos)


Cool, and looking forward to Ron’s review. GoldenSound’s reviews are good and detailed… just that he sounded sort of like a converted guy. Hope to have additional views to his.

I’m in last phase of shortlisting between Denafrips and Holo Spring 3. Hard to compare them though as it’s not clear where Spring sits in the Denafrips family… Price-wise it is between Pontus/Venus but sound?

GoldenSound also said Spring 3 can only do NOS, not OS (unless you use software). Sounds like a bummer.

He compares the May, Spring 2 & 3


Lachlan had a different take

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Probably a difference in chain, preference, etc. I found it interesting too tho.

So this is on my short list for an upgrade down the road. Is there anyone using one that has a 3xp or SA1 paired with it? Wondering how it does with these amps as I won’t be upgrading those for a few years.

Depends on the hp but I liked it with the soloist. Brings a little warmth to it in general and improves performance.

I have like 15-20 sets of hp’s. The ones i use the most on my desk system are Atriums and Liric’s.

No experience with those hps, but if you wanted to add a bit of warmth in general while improving performance the spring isn’t a bad option

Yeah I’ll be upgrading from an OG D90 and looking at the spring as an upgrade I don’t really need to replace for the foreseeable future.