Holo May vs Lampizator

WildPhydeaux

New Member
Mar 18, 2024
18
15
3
SK, Canada
Apologies for the click-bait title, not sure how else to convey my subject succinctly.

Recently purchased a Holo May Kitsune and am quite taken with it. A big step up from Lumin T2 internal DAC.

When looking at candidates I was interested in the May and a lower/middle model Lampizator. It just so happened that a May became available in my budget and I snagged it.

This is not buyers remorse at all but I do wish I could afford to have a Lampi here also to compare and I wonder if experienced folks would be so kind as give me an idea of the kind of differences I might hear.

To be more specific I would likely be targeting a recent Baltic 4 vs a recent Atlantic TRP and to narrow things down let's say both using Engine 11.

One other bit of information is that I do have a preference to DSD material and have a good selection. I have considered using HD Player and it's a distinct possibility I may go down that road also, at least give it a go.

Cheers,
Robert
 
I had a Holo MAY KTE for ~3 years. I really enjoyed it. End of last year I placed an order for a GA TRP so it has engine 11.

I prefer the TRP in every aspect except, I don't feel comfortable leaving it on 24/7 which is a very minor issue.

The MAY did take a long time with signal going through it to fully show what it can do around 1,000 hours.

The TRP sounded bad when I first put it in. For the first 50 hours I was not impressed with it at all. If it wasn't for all the rave reviews here and other places I would have sent it back after 7 days. That would have been a sad turn of events because it was just getting started. Around 100 hours it started to show promise 200-250 it was sounding really good. Now with 551 hours on on the clock it's mind bending, more on this later.

Compared to the MAY my vinyl setup sounded better for everything. Once the TRP hit ~200 hours It was a toss up between vinyl and digital. Some things I preferred about vinyl and some digital. Records still had an edge for the magic that happens in a well setup stereo system.

One of the appeals and draw backs of the TRP is in it's name Tube Rollers Paradise. Rolling tubes to fine tune the sound to preference was a huge draw for me. The amount of tube choices is intimidating just look at the TRP thread here on WBF. It took me a week to get through it!

TRP is very responsive to different tubes. It's shocking how much of a difference they can make. I've landed on GL KT77s with a STR-1002 running Linlai 845s as a rectifier.

I've had more than one person comment that it's like being on drugs listening to the system.

I listen to PCM 99.9% of the time so the DSD performance is up to someone else to comment on.

Not that price is an indicator of performance. The TRP with STR is twice the price of the MAY KTE. I feel every dollar was worth it, especially adding the STR.
 
@WildPhydeaux, I can't comment on the difference between May and a Lampi, as I listened to a Lampi some time ago. A further caveat is that I am also the agent for Holo in South Africa.

My steer would be to try to get a Holo Red streamer and use an I2S connection to the May KTE. The Red is a no-brainer and worth every dollar in the context of a Holo ecosystem. After that, you could try the HQPlayer.

Regards
S
 
  • Like
Reactions: WildPhydeaux
@Stephan, indeed a Holo Red is what I'm using the the May. I purchased them both from the same seller primarily because of my interest in potentially trying HQPlayer. I have compared the I2S and USB connections and found no difference to my ear and so chose to stick with the USB.

The May is the most accurate and neutral DAC I've heard and also the most pure and quiet. If I have an issue with it it would be that, while good recordings sound fantastic, material that is detailed and full of high frequency energy I find to be too much. There is no edge or grit, it's not that, it's just that to my ear and for my taste I would rather the DAC be a little more forgiving.

Cheers,
Robert
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stefan
@GroovySauce, thank you very much for describing your experience. My Holo was purchased used, I'm the 3rd owner. I assume it has enough hours to be broken in but have no way to verify. To my ear it's an astoundingly clear and colourless DAC and I mean that in a good way.

It's difficult, I know, to describe sound differences of high functioning audio gear without falling into tired "audiophile" phrases. But I wonder if you could point to one or two things the Holo wasn't doing for you that the TRP did or ways in which it distinguished itself.

Also, did you utilize the STR soon after obtaining the TRP or was the TRP fully broken in when you added the STR? And what do you feel the STR brought that was lacking?

Sorry for the third degree questions. Ultimately no one can tell me what I will hear, I'm just hoping to get a little idea whether what the TRP brings is something that might appeal more to me.

Cheers,
Robert
 
I was really happy with the MAY DAC. I still will suggest it to someone looking in that price range for sure.

Adding the STR-1002 was a larger jump than going from the MAY to the TRP.

As I said before rolling tubes can radically change the sound of the TRP so going in the direction I want these are a few of the areas that I found to be big steps forward.

Palpability and holography, the sense that there are instruments and people taking up 3D space in the listening room or to look another way being transported to a place where they exist I've never experienced anything like it.

The MAY did this to some extent the TRP took it to the next level.

Highs, cymbal hits are full of texture and details I wasn't hearing before with the MAY. The MAY might have sounded like a sizzling steak, TRP can hear the hit, ring and tails.

If we are going to call 500 hours fully broken in for the TRP, yes the TRP was fully broken in before adding the STR.

I recently got the STR I've put 57 hours on it as of right now. Really the STR could and should have it's own thread. It radically made things better.

From another forum I'll copy and paste a section of me discussing it.

"...
It’s the most involving reach out and touch the music sound I’ve ever heard. Music flows through out the room in a magical way.

The thing that is really hard to wrap my head around is how it really adds everything.

In the Lampi TRP I was running a Sophia 274b Aqua II and then the EML 274b Mesh. The Sophia is bold and juicy with plenty of density. The EML is more extended and faster, much better attack and space.

Running 1x PSVANE 805A Classic—half wave rectification—It’s better than both at the same time. I’ll say it again, it takes the best of both tubes increases the goodness and blends them together.

The first thing that I noticed was how everything was more vivid. My old definition and understanding of density has entered a new paradigm.

I’m hesitant to start talking about how much more detail there is. Often for me when someone starts raving about detail bright, harsh and fatiguing come to mind. None of that exists.

Details like cymbals being lightly activated when the kick drum is struck. Not since I added all the room treatment have I been so blown away with now much things have changed.

Another thing that caught me by surprise. Having the STR-1002 plugged into the TRP the entire system sounds like it has unlimited power. Which is something that I would think would be in the domain of the amplifier.
..."

For context, I have a dedicated room with significant treatment on all surfaces. That contributes 60+% of the great musical experience I'm experiencing. I don't like to give % of improvement I'm not sure how to emphasize how dramatic a difference a well done room sounds. At some point having a poor room you cannot hear more differences. Before my brother moved to his new home he had a terrible room. He bought a Shunyata Omega USB cable. He called me up and said he cannot hear a difference. He brought the cables to my place and it was a clear night and day upgrade over his old USB cable.

Again, the MAY is a good DAC. The TRP is significantly more money and for me it was a solid upgrade.
 
Thank you sir, that is helpful additional detail I appreciate you taking the time to share with me.

Although I find the May to provide a good soundstage, that particular aspect was not a significant improvement to the internal DAC of my Lumin T2 even when most every other attribute was bettered.

Your description of the 3D space with the Lampi has increased my appetite to try one.

Cheers,
Robert
 
A few years ago, I went from a Chord Qutest w/ LPS -> Holo May L2 -> Wells Audio Cipher -> Lampizator TRP2 in the span of probably about 6 months. I still have the TRP2, which says a lot! Each step in the upgrade chain was a big one, but the TRP 2 was most revelatory, particularly with rolled tubes like EL51, F2a, and various rectifiers. Much more realistic real-music sounding DAC. The more resolving and transparent the amplification in the chain, the more impressive the TRP2 seems. It's no contest.
 
Background:
I went from a Lumin T2 with internal DAC to a Holo Red with Holo May KTE. The Lumin was great, significantly better than the Bluesound Node it replaced, better than the Volumio Primo and other streamers I had tried. But the May was notably better - it was smoother, but also more detailed. More importantly it sounded more "real" and there was zero digital "haze" which, quite frankly, I didn't know existed and wasn't really aware of until it wasn't there.

The only downside is not a fault of the May but more a function of what I believe to be it's neutral sound - bad recordings. It does not sugar coat bad recordings and readily reveals warts. It doesn't highlight issues, its not clinical, but they are right there along with detail. Although I enjoy a detailed top end, I prefer it less prominent in the mix . Not rolled off, just slightly less in my face. However the May just shows you what is exactly in the recording, good and bad and when it's bad it's often in the annoying frequency band.

I received my used SE Atlantic TRP, Engine 11, last week and I was hoping the Lampizator might allow me to tailor the sound to a degree and find my balance of detail, yet subtle high frequency. However I am somewhat disillusioned so far. I've tried several old production EL34 (Mullard, Tesla, Telefunken) with three different old rectifiers and frankly they all sound roughly identical. I also tried a pair of NOS Brimar 6J5 and these, along with a Mullard GZ34, are absolutely indistinguishable from the Holo May. I'm able to toggle back and forth with my preamp, volumes balanced, same content at the same time and zero difference to my ear. This is not "bad", they both sound fantastic... but the same. These EL34 do sound different in power amps but differences in the TRP are very difficult to even distinguish.

The idea is starting to form in my mind that tube rolling in this DAC accounts for very, very subtle differences that only the golden-eared few can appreciate. And, in fact, I wonder that the tubed output adds any "flavour" at all, given it sounds the same as an entirely SS May.

It is not my intention to complain here about the Lampi which sounds terrifically good. Nor is this post meant to suggest the May is better. I'm just relaying my personal impression after 5 days of listening. Much of the tube rolling found in the TRP thread centers around somewhat exotic (expensive) less common tubes. And maybe that's what it takes. But if I'm hearing essentially zero differences so far it makes me reluctant to invest in ever more expensive tubes.

Cheers,
Robert
 
  • Like
Reactions: Juiced
Background:
I went from a Lumin T2 with internal DAC to a Holo Red with Holo May KTE. The Lumin was great, significantly better than the Bluesound Node it replaced, better than the Volumio Primo and other streamers I had tried. But the May was notably better - it was smoother, but also more detailed. More importantly it sounded more "real" and there was zero digital "haze" which, quite frankly, I didn't know existed and wasn't really aware of until it wasn't there.

The only downside is not a fault of the May but more a function of what I believe to be it's neutral sound - bad recordings. It does not sugar coat bad recordings and readily reveals warts. It doesn't highlight issues, its not clinical, but they are right there along with detail. Although I enjoy a detailed top end, I prefer it less prominent in the mix . Not rolled off, just slightly less in my face. However the May just shows you what is exactly in the recording, good and bad and when it's bad it's often in the annoying frequency band.

I received my used SE Atlantic TRP, Engine 11, last week and I was hoping the Lampizator might allow me to tailor the sound to a degree and find my balance of detail, yet subtle high frequency. However I am somewhat disillusioned so far. I've tried several old production EL34 (Mullard, Tesla, Telefunken) with three different old rectifiers and frankly they all sound roughly identical. I also tried a pair of NOS Brimar 6J5 and these, along with a Mullard GZ34, are absolutely indistinguishable from the Holo May. I'm able to toggle back and forth with my preamp, volumes balanced, same content at the same time and zero difference to my ear. This is not "bad", they both sound fantastic... but the same. These EL34 do sound different in power amps but differences in the TRP are very difficult to even distinguish.

The idea is starting to form in my mind that tube rolling in this DAC accounts for very, very subtle differences that only the golden-eared few can appreciate. And, in fact, I wonder that the tubed output adds any "flavour" at all, given it sounds the same as an entirely SS May.

It is not my intention to complain here about the Lampi which sounds terrifically good. Nor is this post meant to suggest the May is better. I'm just relaying my personal impression after 5 days of listening. Much of the tube rolling found in the TRP thread centers around somewhat exotic (expensive) less common tubes. And maybe that's what it takes. But if I'm hearing essentially zero differences so far it makes me reluctant to invest in ever more expensive tubes.

Cheers,
Robert
When you get a new engine in your Lampi, you more or less get a new DAC that needs some burn-in time to fully show its potential.
Let the TRP roar around the clock for some time and also switch it off from time to time and let it cool down completely before you restart it and give it some more hours again.
After 100 hours you should hear quite a lot of improvements sonically.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WildPhydeaux
I'm on the fence with regard to break-in of audio gear beyond the mechanics of drivers, however I'm not close-minded about it and would be pleased to be surprised. That said, the DAC had its upgrade done to Engine 11 by the previous owner so I assume it has sufficient hours to be fully bedded in. But, sure, no harm in leaving it burn for a few 24 hour cycles with cool down periods.

I'm not keen on keeping both DACs, but I'm also not pressed to immediately decide between them. I'll continue to experiment with affordable tubes. If it would just give me a hint of differences between tubes it might put a little more wind in my sails...

Cheers,
Robert
 
Background:
I went from a Lumin T2 with internal DAC to a Holo Red with Holo May KTE. The Lumin was great, significantly better than the Bluesound Node it replaced, better than the Volumio Primo and other streamers I had tried. But the May was notably better - it was smoother, but also more detailed. More importantly it sounded more "real" and there was zero digital "haze" which, quite frankly, I didn't know existed and wasn't really aware of until it wasn't there.

The only downside is not a fault of the May but more a function of what I believe to be it's neutral sound - bad recordings. It does not sugar coat bad recordings and readily reveals warts. It doesn't highlight issues, its not clinical, but they are right there along with detail. Although I enjoy a detailed top end, I prefer it less prominent in the mix . Not rolled off, just slightly less in my face. However the May just shows you what is exactly in the recording, good and bad and when it's bad it's often in the annoying frequency band.

I received my used SE Atlantic TRP, Engine 11, last week and I was hoping the Lampizator might allow me to tailor the sound to a degree and find my balance of detail, yet subtle high frequency. However I am somewhat disillusioned so far. I've tried several old production EL34 (Mullard, Tesla, Telefunken) with three different old rectifiers and frankly they all sound roughly identical. I also tried a pair of NOS Brimar 6J5 and these, along with a Mullard GZ34, are absolutely indistinguishable from the Holo May. I'm able to toggle back and forth with my preamp, volumes balanced, same content at the same time and zero difference to my ear. This is not "bad", they both sound fantastic... but the same. These EL34 do sound different in power amps but differences in the TRP are very difficult to even distinguish.

The idea is starting to form in my mind that tube rolling in this DAC accounts for very, very subtle differences that only the golden-eared few can appreciate. And, in fact, I wonder that the tubed output adds any "flavour" at all, given it sounds the same as an entirely SS May.

It is not my intention to complain here about the Lampi which sounds terrifically good. Nor is this post meant to suggest the May is better. I'm just relaying my personal impression after 5 days of listening. Much of the tube rolling found in the TRP thread centers around somewhat exotic (expensive) less common tubes. And maybe that's what it takes. But if I'm hearing essentially zero differences so far it makes me reluctant to invest in ever more expensive tubes.

Cheers,
Robert
Possibly another bottleneck in your system cabling or components?
 
The system is actually incredibly revealing, which is part of why I'm surprised to not hear more differences between tubes in the Lampi and between it and the May. I can certainly hear tube differences in both the amp and preamp pretty readily.

LTA MicroZOTL Preamp L2
LTA Z40+ Power Amp
DeVore Orangutan Speakers

Cheers,
Robert
 
The system is actually incredibly revealing, which is part of why I'm surprised to not hear more differences between tubes in the Lampi and between it and the May. I can certainly hear tube differences in both the amp and preamp pretty readily.

LTA MicroZOTL Preamp L2
LTA Z40+ Power Amp
DeVore Orangutan Speakers

Cheers,
Robert
The LTA gear is truly incredibly revealing... I have been auditioning a Z40+ Integrated recently and it is amazing. I'm just surprised that these two very different dacs sound so similar to you... that wasn't my experience even with less revealing gear.
 
Background:
I went from a Lumin T2 with internal DAC to a Holo Red with Holo May KTE. The Lumin was great, significantly better than the Bluesound Node it replaced, better than the Volumio Primo and other streamers I had tried. But the May was notably better - it was smoother, but also more detailed. More importantly it sounded more "real" and there was zero digital "haze" which, quite frankly, I didn't know existed and wasn't really aware of until it wasn't there.

The only downside is not a fault of the May but more a function of what I believe to be it's neutral sound - bad recordings. It does not sugar coat bad recordings and readily reveals warts. It doesn't highlight issues, its not clinical, but they are right there along with detail. Although I enjoy a detailed top end, I prefer it less prominent in the mix . Not rolled off, just slightly less in my face. However the May just shows you what is exactly in the recording, good and bad and when it's bad it's often in the annoying frequency band.

I received my used SE Atlantic TRP, Engine 11, last week and I was hoping the Lampizator might allow me to tailor the sound to a degree and find my balance of detail, yet subtle high frequency. However I am somewhat disillusioned so far. I've tried several old production EL34 (Mullard, Tesla, Telefunken) with three different old rectifiers and frankly they all sound roughly identical. I also tried a pair of NOS Brimar 6J5 and these, along with a Mullard GZ34, are absolutely indistinguishable from the Holo May. I'm able to toggle back and forth with my preamp, volumes balanced, same content at the same time and zero difference to my ear. This is not "bad", they both sound fantastic... but the same. These EL34 do sound different in power amps but differences in the TRP are very difficult to even distinguish.

The idea is starting to form in my mind that tube rolling in this DAC accounts for very, very subtle differences that only the golden-eared few can appreciate. And, in fact, I wonder that the tubed output adds any "flavour" at all, given it sounds the same as an entirely SS May.

It is not my intention to complain here about the Lampi which sounds terrifically good. Nor is this post meant to suggest the May is better. I'm just relaying my personal impression after 5 days of listening. Much of the tube rolling found in the TRP thread centers around somewhat exotic (expensive) less common tubes. And maybe that's what it takes. But if I'm hearing essentially zero differences so far it makes me reluctant to invest in ever more expensive tubes.

Cheers,
Robert
What is the rest of your system?
Amp and speakers?
 
I'm surprised too. I mean, if I had my May outputs to the analog input of the TRP (mine has a VC) then, yeah, possibly the DAC portions could be quite similar depending on PCM or DSD. But no, they are both SE into the preamp.

I'll play around more and will let it burn in further also as suggested.

Cheers,
Robert
 
LTA MicroZOTL Preamp L2
LTA Z40+ Power Amp
DeVore Orangutan Speakers

Cheers,
Robert

I think this should be a very good-sounding system!

I don't know anything about the sound of the TRP specifically, but our LampizatOr experts should be able to weigh in on that.

In general I would expect it to be not difficult to get a more natural high frequency presentation from LampizatOr even with stock tunes than from the solid-state Holo May.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WildPhydeaux
LTA MicroZOTL Preamp L2
LTA Z40+ Power Amp
DeVore Orangutan Speakers
fwiw Twittering Machines in his review of the Z40+ calls out that synergy between the Devore and LTA isn't getting the most out of either of them.
I've owned all three in separate occasions and can only say good things about them, the O/96 being my current speakers of choice in my own system.
I have not owned May but have some listening time on a couple. My reference in the past two years were Rockna Wavedream (both Edition and Signature versions) and I lately moved to a Lampizator Poseidon. It's a big upgrade over the Rocknas which were in my opinion already better than the May in most elements I prioritized.
Just my two cents. Happy listening!
 
  • Like
Reactions: christoph
Robert maybe an additional question or thought about the set up with the May; what is the complete digital chain of your system, ie do you stream and then use a player such as Roon together with the Holo Red and May. More specifically do you upsample with a software player?

I have found that with Holo dacs being very transparent upsampling could either work or depending the amplification used. As mentioned in my pm to you, I agree with your take on the Holo sound signature. It is straight down the line without being cold and clinical or overly ripe and romantic. I prefer the Holo units with tube-based electronics such as Shindo, Jadis, etc., while I think the Aqua range from Italy is perhaps better suited to the SS amplification that I sell, such as Accuphase, Norma, and even Pass Lab, for instance. Therefore if I prefer not to upsample and employ a digital filters through Roon or Audirvana with SS amplification. With the Shindo or Jadis I think upsampling and using a slow roll off filter with minimum phase option could be better. The slight role off at the top end of the NOS Holo with no upsampling should actually be very friendly on the ear, even with ultra transparent amplification.

Have a look at this graph from Stereophile that indicate the roll off of the May in NOS mode
Screenshot 2024-04-26 at 14.17.05.png
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: WildPhydeaux

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing