Holo may lte vs denafrips terminator 2 vs musetec da005


since it seems next to impossible to audition these in person, would appreciate any thoughts or recommendations between these units




No doubt you will find that they each have a similar SQ and that will come down to personal taste.

However the Musetec 005 is significantly less expensive which gives you more $$$ to spend on good cables. Plus you won't need a re-clocker because the Musetec has an Amanero USB board.

My two penneth…I currently have both 005 and May. The May just edges it in most areas by a small margin, with the exception of layer separation, stage width and depth where the May is significantly better. 

I would agree with teknorob23. Here are two videos that have a lot of good info on the May.




@Technorob said: “I currently have both 005 and May. The May just edges it in most areas by a small margin, with the exception of layer separation, stage width and depth where the May is significantly better.”

I will throw in my thoughts. I can definitely see Technorob’s point of view on “layer separation, stage width and depth” being different on the May, but not better. (To my old ear, the other aspects were not “just edged[s]” out by the May but  too close to call.)

It is a matter of perspective, double entendre intended. Many, if not most audiophiles, highly value layer separation, stage width and depth. The underlying frame of reference for most is probably amplified non-acoustic electronically produced music that exists only in recordings, not in real space. Big clear layering and sound stage sounds great with a lot of non-accoustic recorded music and will be preferred by many.

In my opinion, the May does, compared to the 005,  provide an unreal feel of spacial separation and distance at the same time. This is like seeing an image get bigger as you walk further away. As a real concert goer, this is a distortion, even though many will love the effect. It also gains separation by missing natural sound between instruments

I will explain. My perspective is what I hear at a live unamplified concert. If you want maximum separation of instruments and voices, you would have to be very close to the stage if not actually on it. Even then the sound would only be sharply separated and layered if you were listening with your head physically in between instruments. 

Realistic perspective is similar in both sight and sound. When you walk closer to a destination the visual details in you visual field naturally become more visible and separate. It’s the same with sound. When you walk closer to the stage, the sound field gets bigger and instruments sound further apart in space. There is some layering partly depending on your elevation, but nothing in the realm of “audiophile” layering. Sound naturally blends together in the real world. Yes, 3-d palpability exists in the real world, but not in the way many audiophiles love or imagine. 

I said this in my review:


. . . I said in the review I would report back after a few weeks. I hesitated to do that because the more I listened the more it confirmed my initial impressions stated in the review. I would not change my basic conclusions. I have very little to add. I would add this. Over time I felt I was missing musical information when I listened to the May. At times the May seemed to allow more space between instruments or musicians which at first I believed to be a good thing. I came to realize that this was because the May was omitting sound to get this effect. Much like an artist using charcoal shade to create a 3d effect. I decided to sell the May. Not because it is objectively inferior, but it does not satisfy my preference for realism which comes from concert going experience. Different strokes for different folks.

I'm a bit confused by the review provided by @dbb. The referenced review says:

"I fed both dacs via computers (an Asus mini and an Asus laptop) because I had two. Thus I could do quick comparisons by preamp input switching. I recently bought an Ifi Zen Stream network bridge/streamer which, after some frustration, I hooked up via ethernet cable."

These are relatively noisey/cheap sources to compare expensive dacs with.  Not remotely in the same performance category as the dacs.  No mention of the quality of the cabling.  Are we talking a $5 ethernet cable or Audioquest Diamond?

If someone with an end-to-end great system made the comparisons, I'd find the results more useful.  You're always held back by the weakest link in the chain, especially when it is the source.

At least @dbb described his equipment he was reviewing with.  Too many don't.  And he was certainly thorough and articulate!


Yes, the computer sources were, as explained in the review, used because I had two which facilitated quick A/B comparisons. (I mentioned the Zen Stream only to confirm that network bridges do indeed make an significant improvement. I have since learned that an optical setup is even better.) If I had two high quality network bridges I would have used them. This topic was discussed before.

I think most would say that the dacs were under equal burdens by essentially receiving the same digital signal. Each dac got the same amount of noise. No doubt the dacs would sound better if fed by SOTA sources, but this doesn’t mean that the conclusions would be different. My goal was not to get the best sound out of each dac, but to compare them in a reasonably fair way using the same quality signal via usb, then through the same system.(I would not describe my system as SOTA, but it is more than adequate to the task.) I swapped the cabling I used and could not hear a difference, so the same conclusion holds.


While I can't offer any listening perspectives on Holo or Denafrips the 005 hasn't any defects I've been able to discern in aprox. two years of ownership. I've been through quite a  number of general system upgrades, mods, and streaming network changes over this time. I can only say 005 is extremely revealing dac in that it exposes every single little change. It has never sounded sterile, cold or clinical in the way that some extremely revealing dacs can, especially Sabre chip dacs. While I'd not describe it as warm or excessively forgiving, too resolving for that, it has always presented with the sense of real live performers in room. Try as I might I cannot attribute a flavor to this dac, certainly one of most neutral components I've ever owned. That may be a good or bad thing depending on the rest of one's system.


At this point, I'm unsure of full potential of this dac, to that end I'm still experimenting with my streaming  setup, rest of system has been fully modded and voiced, no planned changes. To that end I have some server experiments coming,  a number of fully modded and optimized mac mini setups and a near SOTA atx based motherboard server. My streamer is set in stone, so we'll soon see the effect different servers has on sound quality.


@digitaljoseph  I was in exactly same position as you just prior to 005 purchase, the Denafrips and Holo May KTE, and more expensive dacs such as Aqua Formula, Playback Designs, etc. on my audition list. I was probably the first to purchase 005 in U.S, total flyer on my part, I can only say I've not had any regrets or desire to try another dac since 005. I will say I have bias against Denafrips since purchasing Denafrip Hyperion amp a couple years ago, far too much flavor in the sense of excessive warmth in my setup. I concluded Denafrips plays a balancing game with their equipment, in the sense of playing warmth against coolness to get to neutral, I simply prefer all my equipment to be neutral, as always, YMMV. I presume Holo is top flight dac based on reviewers I trust.

Last November my order for the Holo Spring 3 KTE arrived and I've commented in other threads about my experience with this similarly priced DAC. Priced nearer to the 005 without an onboard chip though it performs in NOS mode exactly the same as the May and has the same USB board. I settled on this model after realizing HQPlayer would simulate a representation of chip playback through R2R which is what the May does. Best of both worlds and saved 2k.

--Another Jerry

@manogolf I too strongly considered the Holo Spring 3, which can be bought with a decent pre-amp too. Mainly because I didn't want a 2 box setup, as the Holo May.

The Spring is lower spec than the May that's why I went for the 005. I've always used chip DACs so no issues there. The 005 is NOS and NUS no issues there anyway because I use an Aurender.

The Spring probably is one of the best single box ladder DACs in this price category at present.


The Holo replaced a chip DAC not out of necessity rather I wanted to experience the R2R presentation. After learning what the 005 does I may place it aside the Spring just because. The piling on effect was Holo Serene pre amp with no regrets.

An aside. I acquired the Serene from a fellow A'goner which was an excellent experience

@manogolf Yes a side by side comparison of the Spring and 005 both using the Serene pre-amp would be very interesting.

The break in on the 005 is a bummer though but once you get there it's all worthwhile.

It's important to read about the DPLL settings in the online manual though.

Good Luck!

OP: depending on your preferences, you can be equally happy with either one. I like the R2R sound signature (especially when running in NOS mode) so I went with Terminator II. I had auditioned a number of DACs before settling on this one, and I'm very pleased with the performance so far. The DAC is built like a tank, sounds excellent, and you get full support from Vinshine Audio. Alvin is very very responsive.