New Holo Audio Cyan DAC/AMP: listening impressions and PCM/DSD poll

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by doraymon, Sep 28, 2017.

Would you be more interested in the PCM or DSD module for the Holo Audio Cyan DAC/AMP?

  1. PCM

  2. DSD

Results are only viewable after voting.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9 10 11 12 13
  1. pichu
    I too am interested on how this compares to other DACS/Amps in the $1000 price range. Anyone got any word on this? I could make the jump to the Holo Spring Level 3, or i could save and go with the little brother
  2. WNBC
    Holo Audio Cyan (PCM model with balanced head amp) incoming, hopefully within a week or so. I am previous owner of the Spring KTE, but downsized and now upsizing again, but not to the same degree. Of course, money no object I probably would have just got another Spring KTE. However, listening time is down a lot so I think the Cyan will be perfect for my current needs.

    Nice @Energy for explanation about DSD, you got me thinking about revisiting DSD play. I really thought hard about Cyan PCM + DSD module, but I don't own much DSD music and no big plans to do so. Plus, the Cyan - PCM + DSD was getting close to Spring Lvl 1. I think down the road we can buy the DSD module separately for the Cyan?

    For Cyan, I currently have Amarra 4. I am using iFi iDSD BL for now and since it can play DSD I've been trying JRiver MC23 and Roon. JRiver seems to have no problem with DSD512, but I can't get Roon to work stably with DSD128/256. Macbook Pro 15 (Late 2013), but I suppose it won't matter with the Cyan. With Spring KTE in NOS mode, I never upsampled anything upstream. Is it worth upsampling 44.1 to 384K into Cyan? For now, straight USB into Cyan. Eventually might throw SU-1 into the mix to try out I2S input.
  3. Energy
    You don't need DSD files to play DSD. The whole purpose is to upsample regular PCM files to DSD. It sounds way better in my opinion.

    You downgraded? How's the Cyan so far? Is it close to the same level as your previous Spring?

    I recommend getting the Singxer SU-1. Sounds superior through i2S as it bypasses the S/PDIF inputs so less jitter and elimination of bitrate cap.
  4. WNBC
    Cyan should be here soon. I ordered a week before Xmas. It’s been about 8 months since I’ve owned the Spring so there will be a bit of reliance on memory when comparing.

    I’m thinking about a stock or hot rodded SU-1. I had the stock one in the past and thinking about the KTE SU-1.

  5. elan120
    From my personal experience using SU-1/Spring DAC combo, I have done many different mods to SU-1, to get more out of Spring DAC, and every step gains more to the overall SQ. Highly recommend considering hot rod version of SU-1 especially if you can have one modified by experienced person. KTE SU-1 will get you closer but more can be extracted.
  6. Energy
    I vouch for what @elan120 says. You can get more out of your SU-1 if you upgrade it more with the techniques that are available over at Computer Audiophile. Problem is, if you're not good with soldering or basic circuitry understanding then it can be hard. Even then, for the money there are various better options out there.
  7. wazzupi
    Would the pcm version work with upsampling dsd via hqplayer
  8. Energy
    No it would not. If your DAC only has PCM modules all it can do is decipher PCM music. The Holo Audio Spring has two sections of R2R Ladder Resistors. One for PCM and the other for DSD. On the Cyan you can only pick one or the other.
  9. gr8soundz
    With the enthusiast version, isn't it possible to install/remove the DSD Module?

    from the site (
    "Enthusiast Edition comes shipped with PCM Module with Headamp and DSD Module w/firmware to disable headamp when in use."
  10. WNBC
    Indeed yes. I ordered just the PCM version with headamp and down the road I can purchase the DSD module separately.

    I believe @wazzupi was asking if he has the non-DSD PCM version only can you play upscaled DSD files. That DAC cannot receive DSD files or they will be downsampled to PCM, which would probably result in no advantage. If you guys look at the product page, there is a table/chart that indicates to me that DSD would be downsampled to PCM using the Cyan PCM version. I could be reading that table wrong. However, I did ask Kitsune Hifi if I bought the Cyan DSD version and fed it PCM it would be able to convert PCM to DSD. I'll have to dig up those emails. Tim is very thorough in his explanations so I might need to re-read it. @Energy now has me thinking maybe I should have bought the DSD version and just upsampled everything to DSD before the signal reaches the DAC.

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  11. gr8soundz
    Yeah, upsampling (transcoding) to DSD has gotten a lot of attention here and, as someone who did DSD512 for a while, I can confirm the benefits. That was with with an iDSD Micro and Foobar though. My current Soekris R2R dac maxes out at DSD256 but I stopped upsampling since bit-perfect sounds (to me) much better on R2R compared to other dac types.

    Prefer to stay with R2R but also because of the Holo's i2s input. Haven't invested in HQPlayer either but, based on @Energy 's post, it's DSD512 plus filters must be impressive. I'd definitely have to upgrade my cpu/motherboard for that as well. If not (for similar overall cost of Holo+cpu+mb), I could go with an iDSD Pro which will have hardware upsampling to DSD1024.
  12. gk2013
    Checkout on home page, a review is available of the Cyan thanks to Magna Hifi

    Holo Audio Cyan - REVIEW (Hifi Advice)
    The Cyan promises discrete multibit NOS sound at a very friendly price in a great looking package. While not all discrete multibit DACs are equal, the Cyan delivers all the pure, unfiltered sound that is expected from NOS DACs while managing to not impose any character on top, outside of an occasionally forward upper midrange. Cyan is a spritely and dynamic performer that relays all the excitement that is in the recordings.
  13. rkw
    Unfortunately he wrote, "Alas not being a headphone aficionado I totally forgot to listen to the Cyan’s headphone output." and spent a third of the review discussing cables.
    Schwibbles likes this.
  14. gk2013
    I agree, the headphone should have been paid attention to. But a reviewer is like a referee. You can never do it well. Get the positive things out of the story I would say. .....I can predict your next reaction ....
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  15. up late
    i'm in the market for an integrated dac/head-amp unit and the cyan appeals. however, there's scarce information available about the headphone amplifier section, including its output impedance.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9 10 11 12 13

Share This Page