DAC Upgrade and HQPlayer


I currently have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC running the Sunlight firmware. I am using HQPlayer to upsample all PCM and DSD to DSD256 and I really am happy with the sound I am getting.

But, I think I should be able to do better. PS Audio will be coming out with a new DAC next year and I don’t really want to wait. So, I am looking for a new DAC that will be better than the DirectStream in the less than $6,000 price range. My plan is to continue using HQPlayer to upsample PCM and DSD to DSD256. So a DAC with discreet 1 bit DSD circuitry would seem to be a plus. I am using an ultraRendu as a streamer. I use a Matrix SPDIF 2 with the ultraRendu now to convert the USB to I2S which is the best input for the DirectStream DAC.

The two main contenders that come to mind are the Bricasti M3 and the Holo Audio May KTE DACs. Does anyone have experience with the two DACs or have an opinion on another “better” option? @jussi_laako, do you have direct experience with these DACs? Do you have an opinion on other “better” options?

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Holo Spring2 Level 2 very very good. Jussi owns one.

T+A DAC8 DSD very very good. I think he has one of those too.

I’m certain he’ll recommend those when he gets around to seeing your post.

HQPlayer really shines on the May KTE in NOS mode. I own the May and have had a DS in my system to audition. No comparison. If your budget is 6K, you can not go wrong with the May. And you can ditch the Matrix SPDIF 2, I had one and it does nothing for the May as far as any sonic improvement goes. Can not speak to the M3, but it is an obvious contender.


Try the Lampizator Baltic3. I have one and am super happy with it. There’s a whole world of affordable upgrades available for it via tube rolling. I can’t imagine buying a solid state DAC knowing that how it sounds is fixed for ever. That’s not the case with this DAC. BTW, the price goes up by €500 on July 1st.

Like you, I have an UltraRendu and I use HQP to upsample to DSD256. The new gauss filter range is playing really nicely. I also have an EtherRegen and the AfterDark Queen clock, which improves the sound massively.

Good luck with your choice.

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As noted above the May has a much improved USB module over the Spring I (which I have), so you can onsell the Matrix Audio SPDIF 2 (which I also have) and reduce total cost a bit.

I haven’t tried the other DACs you are considering, but have been very happy with HQP into the Spring I in NOS mode.

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totally agree with @dabassgoesboomboom

the Holo Audio - MAY DAC Level 2 (R2R - DSD1024)
is a jewel

you should try the Denafrip Terminator track + it has praise from quite a few audiophiles,

in France, we have a DAC which remains a reference impossible to circumvent, it is about the audiomat MAESTRO 3 which could return in your budget



Jluc :grinning:

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