X3's are here! Unboxing, setup and Initial listening impressions

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Tyson

This sounds like an interesting dac, I'll have to look into it. Does it accommodate any 6/12 volt Noval tube?

The 12bh7 doesn't sound anything like the 6sn7 to me (in a preamp). The 12bh7 has the more classic euphonic midrange and softened treble many like (or need). The Noval 9 pin equivalent to the 6sn7 is the 6cg7 if you can use it in your dac, and in a preamp I have that can use either, they do sound similar.

The 6922 is definitely tipped up in the top end vs. the 12BH7, which is not surprising as the 12BH7 is a more linear tube.  This lack of top end emphasis (and overall great tone) plus somewhat better dynamics, is why I compare it to the 6SN7.  Obviously nothing exactly replicates the magic of a 6SN7, which is actually my favorite.  But the 12BH7 gets close, at least IME.




Now you guys are talking!  I've had my MP DAC with the AKM4497 chipset since the new Mk3 came out.  Switched to Vcap ODAMS and had NOS Telefunken 6922 in the signal chain and a NOS Phillip's 5u4g as the rectifier.  It's a giant killer if there ever was one.  But I just recently got the tube adapters so I can use 6sn7's as signal tubes and bought Linlai elite series E6sn7's and that may be the finest 6sn7 tube I've ever heard.  Maybe the Shuguang Dawning series is right there with it but you simply cant find them anymore although I do have a quad of them in my Don Sachs pre. 
Anyway, the DAC is a killer piece.  You can tube roll until rapture and can even change out the caps with no soldering.  Also it can handle up to and including DSD512 and upsampling to amazing levels.  Garry, the head honcho at Musical Paradise, definitely knows how to design a piece of audio equipment.  I've tried a couple DAC's since I bought this piece and both times it was no contest.  And both those units were far more expensive.  The MP is a keeper.


OK, so you are running 6SN7's in yours?  Did you just get a 6922 to 6SN7 adapter to do it?  Did you make any other modifications to make it work?  Do you run a quad of 6SN7's in all 4 sockets? If not, what tubes do you run in the 'off' sockets?. 

I had planned to get an adapter to try out a 6SN7 in mine but my tech cautioned me, because if the power supply transformer doesn't produce enough voltage, then the 6SN7 can put too much of a strain on it and cause damage.  Also the 6SN7's had different enough specs that it's hard to believe that the original circuit is really optimized for it.  Which I'm actually OK with, as all my other tube gear has 6SN7's in the signal path so not a huge loss if I can't run them in the MP.

geerock

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Tyson
The max plate voltage on the 6sn7 is rated much higher than the 6922 / 6dj8 tubes so no issue there.  The minimum current voltage is very similar. And I checked with Garry from MP before I did it anyway.  Also, Don Sachs, who actually got his MP DAC when I gave him the lead on it had gone through the circuit to be sure there was no issue and had run the 6sn7 before I did.  So I was comfortable with it.  I run SE so I only need 1st and 3rd order tubes.  The other 2 I just put in the stock 6.3 volt units so I don't waste time on the good tubes.  And yes, all I did was use the adapters.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about 6922 Teles from the 50's.  I just think that the 6sn7 is such a great tube and I've been dying to try these Linlai elites ever since the Shuguang Dawning series became unavailable.
Best of luck.

titaniumheads

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Tyson, can you share which dac module and upgrades you purchased for the musical Paradise? A new dac is on my radar, I am using a Schitt Iggy now.

Tyson

Tyson, can you share which dac module and upgrades you purchased for the musical Paradise? A new dac is on my radar, I am using a Schitt Iggy now.

The only DAC module available is the ESS Sabre because the AKM chip factory burned down.  I was a bit leery of getting the ESS because I've heard DACs that used that chip in the past and they were very detailed but too analytical for my tastes.  But I have to say the MP implementation of the ESS chip is quite good.  No harshness or analytical sound AT ALL.  In fact there's a beguiling softness and easiness to the sound that reminds me of vinyl more than anything. 

I'd also recommend getting the Vcap ODAM for all 4 output capacitors, not just 2.  I tried the DAC with just 2 and it sounded very good, but putting the ODAM's in all 4 spots took it to a higher level of dynamics and resolution.  Not sure why, but I can only report what I hear. 

And of course make sure to get the Crystek Femto clock upgrade as well.  Better digital inputs/boards really improve imaging and soundstaging as well as do a lot to remove some of the edge and harshness digital can have sometimes. 

genjamon

Tyson, curious if you've been able to compare the MP DAC with the May DAC?

Tyson

Tyson, curious if you've been able to compare the MP DAC with the May DAC?

My buddy Mike Galusha has a Holo May DAC and a Holo Spring DAC in his 2 systems, I got to hear both of them over the past 2 visits to his house.  He's also my tube guy and does all the measurement for all the crazy gear I buy.  Lovely man.  Funny story - we both started out with Auralic Vega DAC's several years ago, and we are both big lovers of tube amps and high efficiency speakers that have been optimized to have beautiful tone in addition to their killer dynamics.  He went from the original Vega to the Vega G2 and I went from the original Vega to an iFi iDSD Pro (because, tubes!).  Now I've got the MP and the iFi both and he's moved on to the Holo DACs. 

The Holo DACs are very good.  I mean really, really good.  If there were no great quality tube DACs out there, I would certainly get the Holo May based on what I heard at Mike's.  Very clear, very dynamic, insane soundstage, just a super-high resolution device in the very best sense of the term.  When I got my iFi iDSD Pro, I told myself I would never buy a non-tube based DAC again.  But the Holo is so good, I've changed my mind.  I could easily live with it. 

BUT, given that I can afford either of them, which would I choose?  Oh, the iFi and the MP would be my first choices.  They just sound closer to what I ultimately want my music to sound like.  So I give up a bit of resolution and bit of dynamics and what I gain is tone.  Glorious, beautiful, soul-moving tone.  For me, this makes the emotional intensity of a performance so much higher, and that's what I'm really after.   

I had 2 iFi iDSD Pro's, one for my upstairs system with the X3's and a 2nd for my downstairs system with the Super 7's.  I'm selling both of them.  Why?  Because I'm moving up to the iFi iDSD Pro Signature (just released by iFi) in my downstairs system, and keeping the MP in my upstairs system.  The reason I was getting the MP in the first place is I don't have room for a preamp in my upstairs system and most DAC's are too wimpy to drive an amp directly.  You can to it, but most of them kind of suck at it.  The MP is WAY overbuilt for a DAC, but that makes it just about perfect to drive an amp directly.  I've been very happy with my unit so far. 

Desertpilot

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... The reason I was getting the MP in the first place is I don't have room for a preamp in my upstairs system and most DAC's are too wimpy to drive an amp directly.  You can to it, but most of them kind of suck at it. 

Tyson, I have the exaSound S88 multichannel DAC (all solid state) which I run via XLR directly in to my amp.  I was encouraged to do this to eliminate any coloration by my pre-amp.  Lucky for me, my DAC drives my amp and my X3s with plenty of power.  I really think DAC direct to Amp is a preferred method.

Marcus

genjamon

Cool, thanks for your thoughts in comparison with the May DAC, Tyson.  I knew Mike had it, that you two are close, and that you probably had some thoughts about the two.  Thanks for taking the bait to comment!  And I know exactly what you're talking about regarding tube magic in a DAC, as a former Lampizator Big7 owner.

DBT AUDIO

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I got mine with all the upgrades so I can speak to the fully upgraded latest version (the Mk3).  It's phenomenal.  Looking at the size of it, the design choices, the quality of the parts and the overall performance (including excellent measured performance on my friend's test bench), it should really cost much, much more.
I will share your impressions with my buddy.  Thanks…

DBT AUDIO

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My buddy Mike Galusha has a Holo May DAC and a Holo Spring DAC in his 2 systems, I got to hear both of them over the past 2 visits to his house.  He's also my tube guy and does all the measurement for all the crazy gear I buy.  Lovely man.  Funny story - we both started out with Auralic Vega DAC's several years ago, and we are both big lovers of tube amps and high efficiency speakers that have been optimized to have beautiful tone in addition to their killer dynamics.  He went from the original Vega to the Vega G2 and I went from the original Vega to an iFi iDSD Pro (because, tubes!).  Now I've got the MP and the iFi both and he's moved on to the Holo DACs. 

The Holo DACs are very good.  I mean really, really good.  If there were no great quality tube DACs out there, I would certainly get the Holo May based on what I heard at Mike's.  Very clear, very dynamic, insane soundstage, just a super-high resolution device in the very best sense of the term.  When I got my iFi iDSD Pro, I told myself I would never buy a non-tube based DAC again.  But the Holo is so good, I've changed my mind.  I could easily live with it. 
Thanks for sharing your opinion on the Holo Audio DACs vs. MP DAC because I sold my Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE and awaiting delivery of the newly released Spring 3 KTE model and was curious how they compared?  Thanks!

JackD

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@ DBT AUDIO

I own the May KTE and the MP-D2 Mk. III (with the AKM 4497 boards) as well as the Aqua La Voce S3 and the Directstream Sr. with the transformer upgrade.  While they are all very good DACs with the MP-D2 bringing it's dose of tube magic that the others don't have if forced to keep only one it would be the May KTE.  If your Spring 3 KTE shares the same qualities as it's big brother you will be happy with your choice.   

Tyson

Tyson, I have the exaSound S88 multichannel DAC (all solid state) which I run via XLR directly in to my amp.  I was encouraged to do this to eliminate any coloration by my pre-amp.  Lucky for me, my DAC drives my amp and my X3s with plenty of power.  I really think DAC direct to Amp is a preferred method.

Marcus

Your multi-channel setup is so cool.  I wish I had room for that.

@ DBT AUDIO

I own the May KTE and the MP-D2 Mk. III (with the AKM 4497 boards) as well as the Aqua La Voce S3 and the Directstream Sr. with the transformer upgrade.  While they are all very good DACs with the MP-D2 bringing it's dose of tube magic that the others don't have if forced to keep only one it would be the May KTE.  If your Spring 3 KTE shares the same qualities as it's big brother you will be happy with your choice.   

Since you can DAC roll with the MP, you should give the ESS DAC boards a try.  I was worried that the ESS DAC would be too analytical sounding, but it's actually very nicely balanced in the MP.  I also had a Mk1 version of the MP with the AKM and it really is better with the ESS boards.

DBT AUDIO

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@ DBT AUDIO

I own the May KTE and the MP-D2 Mk. III (with the AKM 4497 boards) as well as the Aqua La Voce S3 and the Directstream Sr. with the transformer upgrade.  While they are all very good DACs with the MP-D2 bringing it's dose of tube magic that the others don't have if forced to keep only one it would be the May KTE.  If your Spring 3 KTE shares the same qualities as it's big brother you will be happy with your choice.
JackD, I must say you have a nice set of DAC’s to employ in your system(s)!  I had the Spring 2 KTE, so I know how well Holo Audio performs.  YouTube reviews indicate the Spring 3 KTE model’s performance is right on the heels of the May DAC, so I’m confident it will perform well with the new upgrades that are trickle down components from the May DAC.  Thanks for sharing you thoughts!

mgalusha

I bought the Holo Spring 3 KTE after owning the May KTE for a few months, hoping it would be close. It's really close, provided you don't want oversampling in hardware. The Spring 3 is in a mixed system, TV/Movie and 2 channel. It doesn't have the super low frequency punch of say an ESS9038 with oversampling, it's not rolled off at all, just not the type of bass you get in a theater. But for music, I find it really natural sounding. Not that I have the Spatial's, but I do have 3 sealed subs, so the bass isn't bad. I have thought about keeping the Matrix DAC just for movies, but I'd like to recover a few bucks from it.

FWIW, I put the Spring 3 on my test bench last weekend. The noise floor is almost at the limit of my analyzer, and the are no visible harmonic distortion products in the FFT, the measurements are impeccable. Nice that it measures as good as it sounds. @Tyson, it has changed nicely in the last couple weeks, it was only 2 days old when you heard it. :)

Back to Tyson's thread. :)

 :popcorn:

DBT AUDIO

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I bought the Holo Spring 3 KTE after owning the May KTE for a few months, hoping it would be close. It's really close, provided you don't want oversampling in hardware.
After reading and watching a few YouTube reviews on the Spring 3 KTE model, I chose it over the May DAC.  If you conducted a blind test, do you think you would notice a difference?

mgalusha

After reading and watching a few YouTube reviews on the Spring 3 KTE model, I chose it over the May DAC.  If you conducted a blind test, do you think you would notice a difference?

It would be very difficult at best and likely I would not be able to, unless the OS was engaged on the May, then it would be easy, it sounds very different with the OS engaged. As I found I like the May in NOS mode, when I saw the Spring 3 and I had some extra $$, I put in the order. Hence my earlier comment that unless you want the hardware OS that the May has, the Spring is awfully good.

Tyson

I agree, the May clearly sounds best in NOS mode, based on what I heard the other day.

Ozspace

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Hello everyone.
A few days ago I received an email from Clayton (in reply to my message to him).
It looks like a choice between the M3 Sapphires and the X4 (with the X3 still a possibility) based on the information which I sent him.
I also sent back four photos of our listening room, and hope in the next day or two to finalise the model and finish choice with him (by phone), pay the money and then count down the days.

Then I will be buying the rest of the gear that I will adding to the Spatials, so that I can burn them in, in preparation.

In the meantime, as I write, I am listening to the soundtrack from the movie  "Master and Commander Far Side of the World"
I think that this would be a great test CD for any speakers, so if any of you can put on a few tracks and tell me what you think about the movie soundtrack on your Spatial Audio speakers....would appreciate your thoughts folks.

The star of the movie, Russell Crowe lives about 25 miles (40kms) from where I live (when he is home on the family property.
He is pretty well known in the community for the assistance which he gives to local projects ( e.g.building a pool at the local school, supporting football teams etc).

I like the movie, and I really like the music which was in it.

Looking forward to your listening impressions

All the best,
Paul.

DBT AUDIO

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It would be very difficult at best and likely I would not be able to, unless the OS was engaged on the May, then it would be easy, it sounds very different with the OS engaged. As I found I like the May in NOS mode, when I saw the Spring 3 and I had some extra $$, I put in the order. Hence my earlier comment that unless you want the hardware OS that the May has, the Spring is awfully good.
I agree, the May clearly sounds best in NOS mode, based on what I heard the other day.
Thanks for the feedback from both of you!  It’s rare you get to hear impressions from someone who has both items in hand to compare, so your feedback gives me more confidence in the comparisons between the May DAC KTE and Spring 3 KTE!

mgalusha

Thanks for the feedback from both of you!  It’s rare you get to hear impressions from someone who has both items in hand to compare, so your feedback gives me more confidence in the comparisons between the May DAC KTE and Spring 3 KTE!

Let me add that Kitsune's customer service is outstanding. The Spring 3 developed an occasional transformer hum, it wasn't bad and after a few emails with Tim Connor of Kitsune, I let him know I could live it it, truly it wasn't bad. However, Tim sent me a new DAC, DHL 3 days from HK and did so without me asking for a replacement. Seriously excellent customer service.