Holo Audio New Era Spring 3 R2R DAC +PLL System ~SINAD>110db / DNR>127db~ (Optional Pre-amp)

Posted by Pang Yiu Cho on

Welcome for worldwide customers


Wildism Audio HK
-Holo Audio Hong Kong
Email: wildismaudio@yahoo.com.hk
+852 63442556 (whats app & call)

Product Description:

This new DAC “Spring3” is the design that has been very popular since 2016.  This is another milestone for HoloAudio’s own Jeff Zhu. It’s a full discrete R2R type of audio decoder and does not have off the shelf-DAC chip! This is a bespoke custom-designed core DAC module and truly a breakthrough with technology for any DAC chip today. Trickle down technology from the Flagship May Dac. The Spring3 is here to achieve new heights, new dynamics and simply a full spectrum of audio to please the aural senses.


  • A new generation of linear compensation technology. A better solution to the resistance, accuracy errors caused by switching components and PCB, after compensations makes the equivalent accuracy reach 0.00005%.
  • The new generation of de-glitch technology can provide a full range without increasing the noise floor or other adverse effects.
  • Based on this new generation of technology, “泉3” Spring3 (non preamp model) can provide a SINAD of >112dB and a dynamic range of >128dB, which represents the performance limit reached by today’s most advanced R2R architecture DAC.
  • Using the ultimate performance of PLL+FIFO technology, provides 0.1Hz Third-Order low-pass ability to inhibit jitter. It also uses a high-performance femtosecond VCXO as the PLL clock source. Under the premise of being almost immune to the front-end jitter, it can also lock up to 1.5us-2us @ 1KHz signal with high jitter. (It can lock up to 1.5us-2us @ 1kHz signal with high jitter on the premise of almost being immune front-end jitter).
  • The USB interface uses proprietary firmware with ultra-low latency, a highly reliable data transmission, ideal USB eye pattern measurements that contributes to 2-4 times higher performance than official firmware.
  • A single, independent HDMI-I2S input interface is provided, which has a four-way independent circuit, as opposed to standard LVDS chip, making I2S clock signals subject to lower interference and lower jitter. In addition, the I2S input can be configured with a specific pinout configuration, making it compatible with most of the HDMI-I2S digital devices on the market.
  • Optional (Factory installed only): A fully balanced, fully discrete analog pre-amplifier. Provides 84 steps, each step is 1db of volume control.





PCM 44.1-192K (24bit)



PCM 44.1K-1.536M (32bit)

DSD 64-512X (DOP)

DSD 64-1024X (Native)


PCM 44.1-1.536M (32bit)

DSD 64-1024X



Analog Output

PCM 48K NOS THD+N 0.00032% @1K(-110dB)
DNR 127dB
DAC Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 5.8Vrms (RCA), 11.6Vrms (XLR)
DSD 128X THD+N 0.00025% @1K(-112dB)
DNR 115dB
DAC Voltage Output 1.45Vrms (RCA), 2.9Vrms (XLR)
(Optional) Pre-amplifier Voltage Output 2.9Vrms (RCA), 5.8Vrms (XLR)




(The base model is quite good all by itself and priced so competitively it’s impossible to beat the performance/price ratio.) This model has basic caps for the PSU, and does not include a CNC remote. It has standard Red label 5N Copper Otype Transformer, round wire type copper wiring. Considered the base model however packs a mean punch for price per dollar performance ratio. (no remote control in this version)


(With HoloAudio caps for ultimate power filtration and improved sound quality – Sound quality is refined and more relaxed, transparent and details are more refined and clear while remaining neutral. ) It has standard Red label 5N Copper Otype Transformer, round wire type copper wiring. This is a popular option for those who want a little more out of their dac with improvement of sound from the caps as well as this version will include the cnc machined aluminum remote control.

L3 (same as KTE version in US)

on top of L2 spec:

1. 100VA O-type (NOT toroid) Flat wire type as found in the flagship May Dac L2 and KTE.
2. All copper wire is replaced with 1.5mm pure occ silver wire
3. Hand Selected Dac module to have best measurements compared to averages.
4.  Enhanced USB module same as May L2/L3 dac. Has titanis 2.0 circuit.
5. Replaced IEC inlet connectors with pure silver/rhodium plated faston connectors at the IEC inlet
6. HoloAudio Red Nano fuse
7. Holo Audio Caps(factory have done extensive testing and these prove to provide the very best sound quality)


OPTIONAL upgrade – Preamp Module – Fully discrete and balanced relay controlled volume control. Controls all the digital inputs volume with precision. This has trickle down technology from our popular flagship Preamp the Serene. Using 4 amp modules and hundreds of transistors.


DSD is natively supported for the first time on this Discrete Resistor Ladder DAC

HoloAudio is the world’s first to support DSD natively on Resistor Ladder DAC, so far the only one. This is not the DSD converted to PCM before digital-analog converter, but directly by the discrete components of the DSD digital to analog converter. Supported currently on MAC (DOP)and Linux (DOP), and Windows/PC (Direct Native and DOP). Please note, the word ‘R2R’ is the name of a kind of architecture of resistor ladders. This architecture requires less resistors yet still is capable to deliver more than acceptable performance. Most DACs in the industry use this architecture. The DSD module of Spring3 does not use R2R architecture for the DSD, more specifically it uses a very specific architecture which is optimized to perform DSD to analog. So to be entirely accurate the DSD part of Spring is using resistor ladders, not R2R..


Spring2’s input and output interface:

  • Digital input interface includes
  • USB (ground isolation)
  • RCA coaxial
  • BNC coaxial
  • AES
  • optical fiber
  • I2S (HDMI) – improved ultra high performance 4way custom circuit (NOT LVDS anymore)
  • All digital input interface supports DSD (DOP mode).
  • Analog Output interface: single-ended, balanced.

Spring3 DAC R2R structure and design + Input/output Stage

Modern and popular delta-sigma type DAC differs from R2R within one clock analog value can recover a sampling point, and the delta-sigma is used to represent an analog signal after passing through oversampling and high-speed digital switching 0 and 1. In comparison, the conversion structure of R2R is most direct and pure, but delta-sigma is essentially a digital chip, high-speed digital signals 0 and 1 switch to the low-pass filter to process the analog signal and this process is prone to various problems, produce digital sound (digititus) and also in the super-sampling process will inevitably cause some ringing and distortion. But DAC R2R structure requires high-precision resistor network which the cost can be very expensive. And the digital delta-sigma DAC chip in comparison is very low cost. Patented R2R technology. This is the first discrete DAC that has Linear compensation and this allows for ultimate music reproduction accuracy. Dual R2R ladder network with advanced architecture for PCM, and Dual Resistor Ladder network with optimized architecture for DSD!

I/O stages: There is an Op Amp used for input stage and discrete component used for the output stage. The discrete output stage is working in pure class A.  The output voltage is 2.9 Vrms for single ended output and 5.8 Vrms for balanced output (dsd playback is half these voltages). The single ended is RCA. Balanced is XLR. They both use the same output stage. It’s BiPolar Junction Transistors, direct coupled. The big MKP capacitor you can see in the output stage is for the power supply, not for signal coupling. And the output impedance is 200 Ohm. 

A common question we get…” Why do you use an Op amp at the input of the DAC?”  

The input stage with an opamp is a good choice. It has a paired transistor input by the nature it is manufactured. But an opamp for the output stage is limited due to it’s size and the thermal capability. Also, no one will offer an opamp with class A output as it’s efficiency is so low. So an opamp used as input and discrete output combined together will have an advantage. It doesn’t mean that all discrete is not good. Actually, if we need to achieve enough low distortion. It needs at least 30-40 transistors. Which not only will it be huge and waste of space but it will also be too costly. I mean, to beat the opamp’s performance, a simple discrete architecture is not possible, although an all discrete design looks beautiful.


The true balanced circuit design

These two pictures can explain the true balanced design quite well. The bottom side has the same resistor ladders as top side. The dac module is a pure 24bit discrete R2R design (PCM) and discrete Ladder Dac optimized architecture (DSD).

XLR is using all of the circuit and RCA is just using half of them. The balanced output has better performance (THD, noise) and also better common mode rejection rate. If you’re listening environment contains interference, either from AC power or from EMI/RF then you will find a full balanced system can really help significantly.


What are the Spring 3’s sound characteristics? :

One of the strong points of the spring is the spatial sounds stage presentation. It’s very wide and precise. It never sounds congested like many DACs. The high end is very detailed and never harsh sounding. It has the R2R goodness that many have come to know and love. R2R has almost a cult like following and this DAC will surely become a sought after DAC.  Everything comes effortlessly for this DAC. Bass is layered and textures, quite full and present without ever masking over the sweet mid tones that are produced. One special thing about the Spring is its amazing voltage regulation circuitry that better than 0.2uV output noise! This along with the O-core transformer helps regulate the purest power which translates to audio clarity and accurate reproduction. It must be heard to appreciate and come to love its sound.

Jeff Zhu was asked to briefly comment on the Spring3 and it’s differences from previous models… He has said:
Spring3 PLL is nearly the same design as our flagship dac, the May. The main difference between Spring3 and May is that May uses our latest technology and cost is no object, dual mono spec, therefore has better components. For Spring3, it uses the latest technology as May. But the main goal is to get high performance at reasonable cost, and I believe we absolutely achieved this goal.  The performance/cost ratio is higher than Spring2. It’s not much behind May! The pre-amp module inside is a very decent way to control volume, really one of the best ways to save your money. The digital volume is terrible, especially for this level of DAC. So I never added digital volume control on Spring and May, only on Cyan which is our entry level product. Digital volume is very easy and has very low cost added, albeit compromised. The reason we don’t use it is that ‘free digital volume’ will lead customer to use it and not realize it is not ideal for use with our higher end dacs. I don’t want misguide the user to use our DAC is that way. I think they will be most pleased with our fully balanced, discrete analog volume control for a low optional upgrade price.

Dimensions: 430 mm (W) * 300 mm (L) * 55 mm (H) additional 12 mm for machined feet

Weight: 8.5 kg

WARRANTY – 3 years warranty, both parts and labor, cover one way shipping (return shipping once product is confirmed a warranty claim).


    L7 Audio Lab(第三方測試指標)

    Stereophile - Herb Reichart
    Stereophile - Art Dudley
    ComputerAudiophile - Ted Brady
    Headphone Guru - Peter Pialis
    AudioStream - Michael Lavorgna
    AudioStream - Alex Halberstadt
    Basshead Club - Luckbad
    SuperBestAudioFriends - Torq
    Head-Fi - Torq


Welcome for worldwide customers

Wildism Audio HK
-Holo Audio Hong Kong
Email: wildismaudio@yahoo.com.hk
+852 63442556 (whats app & call)

STUDIO J 20/F Dan6 No.6 Fui Yiu Kok Street
Tsuen Wan N.T., HONG KONG

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