Here are my thoughts I posted elsewhere. Sadly I have no means of verifying multichannel capability but I have spent plenty of time with the Red otherwise.
OK, I’ve been with this device long enough to be able to give a reasonable impression. The Holo Red is a small, well built device consisting of a CM4 module bolted onto Holo Audio electronics. It should be clear that the CM4 contains processor, memory and the control bus for Ethernet and SD card storage. Missing from the version of the CM4 fitted is on board flash memory and the WiFi chip. The Red has a USB interface built in which is the basis of how the device is ‘seen’ across the network by external software like Roon. In that mode Roon will output to the legacy connections and i2S/HDMI. It can also be configured to point to the USB interface of your connected DAC in which case the DAC needs to be connected and on for Roon to see it.
As a Roon endpoint the device is rock solid. Holo went for the Roon Bridge solution rather than Roon Ready. As a consequence you get updates from Roon keeping your bridging functionality up to date. You also get updates to the Red operating system. This appears to entail firmware for the Holo electronics and/or Linux updates for the CM4. Updates are presently frequent and have been firmware only making them quick to enact. The Red OS works well and is stable. I have installed Ropieee and this works well but doesn’t provide the firmware updates so for now I am happy with Red OS. I have tried MoOde also and this loads fine and seems to work well but that is still a work in progress. I need to sit down with it and set it up properly.
And so to sound impressions. I have been listening a lot recently. I find this box easy to listen to. Solid bass, not overblown or coloured by resonance. Just solid and articulate. Mids and vocals are excellent, Voices are palpable and real. Highs are smooth and absent of sibilance unless on the recording. Sound staging is good with width, height and depth through my chosen DAC. My DAC is excellent in regard to those qualities so the best I can say is that the Red doesn’t restrict or limit performance and doesn’t add anything either. I listen to a lot of poor quality recordings. Mostly of Jamaican origin from the mid 60’s onwards they can sound awful on some systems. But it is one area of my listening that has expanded since plumbing the Red in. It somehow manages to find the good in these recordings, be that the voices clearly in a booth away from the band or the choices the producer made with bass acoustics. But then I switch to the solo piano of Joep (pronounced Yoop) Beving and all is well there too with piano as real and present as I’ve ever heard.
The Red falls into an unusual space in my opinion. That space where some might think of it being expensive for a Pi based product while others might consider it limited by its use of the CM4 module. I actually think that is its super power. It’s versatility means that the thing that has killed so many streaming solutions in the past, the user software and interface simply do not apply here. It is a rock solid platform on which you can use as is or with your choice of software geared towards your needs. In my case a dumb endpoint for Roon, but it can function as a stand alone streamer in its own right if that is what you need. What’s not to like?
That is a brave move! I was going for a Lumin U2 Mini before the Red popped onto my radar. While I am pretty sure the decision was right for me I still wish I’d tried the Lumin. But if you have a PS Audio DAC waiting in the wings I guess the Red feeding it i2S over HDMI might be pretty special.
I have a their DAC Mk1 right now which is getting replaced by the Mk2. I got the Lumin because of limitations of DSD over the USB input on the Mk1 (plus added noise). Currently I use it only for my SACD transport feeding it through i2s.
With the new Mk2, supposedly they have improved it so much that the USB and i2s are almost the same in SQ. That’s what others are reporting. So I have more flexibility now. I can connect the Red to it through either i2s or USB. And the DSD limitations are no longer.
Plus I can get decent money out of the Lumin to finance the Mk2. The boss reads all the line items in the expense report these days.