So I just received my Holo Audio Kitsune tuned Spring DAC last week…
Coming from a delta sigma experience I was really keep on hearing the difference between that and R2R. Yes, I have heard some R2R DACs before but those times were at show and meet conditions so I did not get the chance to fully indulge in their greatness. Hint: I think you know where this is going.
From what I understand when reading about the technology this DAC possesses; It has a new patented technology that combines segmenting and trimming technology that is found on many R2R DAC yet this DAC uses both technology's. It has dual resistor networks for pcm. And the kicker is that it has two resistor networks for dsd. Yes, this DAC does dsd over R2R! It’s just something you need to hear to understand how sweet it sounds!
The Spring supports up to dsd512 native with the newest firmware update, although mine will do dsd256 native on a Mac or Linux and I'm told will have support for native dsd256 in Windows by the end of August.
The highs are full of precise details and natural nuances that flow effortlessly without sounding smoothed over or fatiguing. They are lifelike and natural, more-so than most syrupy older generation R2R DACs that I have heard. They don’t pierce your ears at all; they just fill in the upper region of sound very well but also retain great attack.
The mids are pure butter on the Spring. They are incredibly flowy and natural sounding. Guitar comes through very smooth and lush sounding. Vocals are tremendously close sounding. On Vanessa Fernandez- Be Thankful for What You Got, you can feel the presence and urgency in her voice. Because of this the music comes out less like a recording and more like a live concert just for you. To sum it up, the mids are really smooth, dynamic and the presentation makes all music sound more life-like.
Tight. The bass was never a big feature on the HD 800s but after living with the Mytek I sort of accepted the fact and hoped that one day that would change. After listening to a few reference bass tracks (both upright bass and electric bass) I was staggered. The lower region really comes together nicely on the Spring and I noticed the smoothness and finesse come through once again. These things just cruise through complicated bass lines and hold it together with precision. Bass is extremely textured and is very multi-layered. It is very easy to hear each individual layer in the low end, there is absolutely no smearing. The transitions are smooth and do not disrupt the mid-range.
The treble has no hints of harshness. The reason I know this is because I listened to the DAC for 4-6 hours a day and I found the sound is not be fatiguing at all. It doesn’t sound smoothed over or lacking in detail it just has a level of precision and accuracy accompanied by smooth presentation. You get all the detail but without the harshness!
The only pair of cans I have at the moment are the HD800 S which I have modified slightly with a Draug 2 cable from Norne audio as well as some internal modifications. The HD800s have a vast soundstage which some people sound to be annoying with certain rigs. Some have said that everything sounds like a concert hall, even some jazz pieces. What I experienced with the Spring is that the sound is not bound by a room size – it just travels out into the abyss very freely. I personally really enjoy the soundstage and it was a revelation coming from the Mytek to this. Instrument separation was on of the most impressive things to me. I could hear every instrument as an independent source of sound in the music and could break down the track instrument by instrument. I loved that.
The Spring DAC certainly shows no signs of digititus commonly found with delta sigma type DACs like the Mytek. This DAC may possibly be the most natural and accurate sounding DAC I've ever heard. The measurements show perfect linearity and quite possibly the lowest THD of any NOS DAC. Due to the perfect linearity of the DAC its presentation is very neutral and uncolored therefore its clear why it gives a very accurate and natural presentation.
I am at the end of the break in period and am extraordinarily pleased with this DAC. Feel free to contact me with any questions or things that I may have missed in my review. I think the logical next step is to order a Singxer SU-1. I have heard amazing things about it and it seems to me that kitsunehifi is the only site that carries it in my local.