Holo RED Streamer/DDC Measurements

Content and analysis made possible thanks to support from https://headphones.com, and https://patreon.com/goldensound supporters

This unit was loaned to me by Kitsune HiFi for testing


The Holo RED is a fairly interesting device in that it can act as both a streamer and a DDC. You can’t hotswap between these two modes as to run it as a USB DDC you need to connect a USB source then turn it on, otherwise it’ll start up in streamer mode, but the flexibility of having these two functionalities in one box is pretty fantastic.

Rear IO of the Holo RED

It features just about all the IO you could possibly ask for. I2S output with pinout configurable using the DIP switches on the bottom of the unit, AES, SPDIF over BNC, Coax and TOSLINK optical, as well as USB in and out. And of course Ethernet for the streamer.

When using it as a streamer, the ‘brain’ of the operation is a pi CM4 module.
“Why didn’t they develop their own solution?” you might ask. Well the simple answer is there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if a good solution exists. A CM4 is a great choice for running the streamer software without drastically increasing the cost of the device. The pi itself doesn’t affect sound quality, that’s dependent on the actual output hardware. And additionally, using a CM4 means that whilst the RED ships with its own operating system that allows for using it as a Roon endpoint, HQPlayer, Tidal connect and others, you can swap to a different software choice if you’d like.

When using the RED as a USB DDC, the pi is not in use and everything is handled by the RED hardware itself.

The USB output is also not connected directly to the pi, and instead is ‘reclocked’ (retransmitted) using the RED’s clock and a clean 5V supply.

The USB output supports up to 1.536Mhz PCM and DSD1024. The I2S output supports upto 768khz PCM and DSD512.
SPDIF is limited to 192khz as on the vast majority of devices.


Test Setup:

– Audio Precision APx555 B-Series Analyzer
– AudioQuest Carbon digital cables (1.5m)
– RED OS used during testing
– Device and test setup are running on regulated 230V power from a Furman SPR-16-Ei
– 44.1khz and 48khz real music played through device during measurement
– Jitter analysis is configured to use an AES3 standard 700hz high-pass filter, and a 100khz butterworth low-pass filter
– Coax output used unless otherwise specified


To measure jitter, the device is connected to the digital input of the APx555, and the analyzer is set to analyze jitter, not audio content.
These measurements do not show audio/analog info, but instead show the spectrum of jitter, ie: time-domain inconsistencies.
This is the primary factor that a good streamer or DDC will seek to improve.

44.1khz jitter from coax SPDIF output. Music is actively playing during this test

Jitter at 44.1khz is amazing, in fact, it’s the best of any device I’ve tested. Slightly beating the previous champ the Rockna Wavedream NET though still within margin of error so I’d realistically say the two are tied.

48khz jitter from coax SPDIF output. Music is actively playing during this test

Jitter performance at 48khz is again the best I’ve tested. Absolutely phenomenal performance!

Additionally worth noting that performance did not change regardless of whether USB input or streaming input was used.

How about noise?

48khz music played through device

Noise is again incredibly low. Additionally even though the device uses a linear power supply, there are no mains leakage components going above 1uV (0.000001 V)

With regards to the I2S output I’m currently having some trouble with my clock divider so I’ll need to add my I2S measurements once I get that sorted, but until then, L7 Audiolab has done a test of the I2S output using a clock divider and jitter is as low as you’d expect. In fact there’s literally nothing visible on the result beyond noise from the device he’s using as a clock divider itself!

This measurement was taken by L7 Audiolab. Visit their site here!


The Holo RED is the lowest jitter and one of the lowest noise digital sources I’ve tested. Absolutely incredible performance that sets the current benchmark for a streamer or DDC. The fact that this level of performance is achieved at under $1000 is honestly incredible.
Well done Jeff!

26 thoughts on “Holo RED Streamer/DDC Measurements”

  1. Great stuff, thank you for the review. I wonder if it would be beneficial to also run tests without a $3k power conditioner with the intent of seeing how the device handles more “normal” power input.

    • Also is it safe to assume both DDC and streamer modes offer the same result? I see you specified SPDIF output but I’m not seeing any input info.

      I’m curious how USB in compares to using it as a streaming endpoint.

    • I’d love to get one, but the fact an an SPDIF input isn’t provided cuts down on its use for some audiophiles who don’t want stream(me).

      I’ve even sent an email asking if I could get a one-off version with RCS/BNC input(no reply).

    • Ouch $3k power conditioner, doubt I will ever come to the point where that sounds like resonnable price to performance upgrade for my system.

      • I just got a Red to try at home and had to have my whole system and the Red connected to a power conditioner (Furman’s top model) for it to sound better than my Mac mini over what is quite a special USB cable (MIT. Doesn’t get made anymore).

        That’s into a Devialet Expert Pro, which had a very good USB implementation.

  2. Many thanks for a fantastic test. Could you briefly compare this device to SoTM SMS-200 Ultra (Neo) with regard to sonic impact ?

    • Yes! The SoTM and even Sonore streamers are well regarded network streaming options. However, they are much older (in digital years) than dozens of new network streaming products on the market. Yet, there is never any relevant comparisons or even test results of these devices. Long time users are always left guessing about newer options. Kind of like the Clash song, “Should I stay or Should I Go.”

  3. I just set up my Red in UPNP mode and after many hours of hair pulling I have discovered that it does not support Apple Lossless files. Can this really be true? I can play flac with no issues but not ALAC. Is there some configuration that I need to add to make this possible?

    • For the benefit of others, my problem seems to be related to the use of the Linn apps as control points. For some reason they do not work correctly with the Holo Red.

      • Linn apps (Kazoo or Linn, and Lumïn app too) need a OpenHome compatible renderer. It is then necessary to install and configure somewhere on the network, pc or nas, Bubbleupnpserver that will give OpenHome compatibility to the renderer

        • The Holo Red is OpenHome compatible, that is why apps such as Lumin, mconnect & Esoteric Sound Stream work with the Red. UPnP mode uses mpd/upmpdcli, this combination creates an OpenHome renderer, Bubbleserver is not needed.

  4. Does anyone by any chance have an idea how Holo Red would stack up against one of the older top-of-the-line streamers of Auralic Aries (the original one with femto clock)? I love my Aries but I’m kind of wondering whether I’m not leaving some performance on the table compared to more recent streamers on the market…

    • Great idea, I’m using a Sonore ultraRendu with a Ferrum Hypsos and the only complaint is that no one else seems to know about this brand 😂🤣😂

  5. Hi! I’m trying to decide between this and the Mutec MC3 (afterdark edition)

    I have two sets of speakers for my installation

    1) genelec 8361a for music production and roon streaming (over USB)
    2) holo dac may kte for roon only (over ethernet)

    looks like I can use the Red for both, leave I2S plugged in to the May, and connect the USB and recycle power when I want to switch systems, not ideal but not a dealbreaker either

    My questions:
    1) Is i2s the preferred way to link the Red and the May, or is AES better?
    2) will this perform better than the mutec as a DDC because the jitter and noise is so low in this unit and therefore wouldn’t need a reclocker?
    3) will a better world clock help the red (is it even possible)?

    Basically what’s the better path here, it seems pretty obvious the red is the move for my setup, but I just wanted to be sure it will work as intended in my setup.


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  7. Goldensound, just a quick question – Why did you only measure the coax out? Will the other outs have different measurements? I’d be tempted to use AES or I2S out of these DDC as they seem to be the best outputs. Or is coax the best? Thanks!

  8. With regard to the noise measurements. What is the expected level of an active signal on the AES-connection? Or another way to put it, which are the tolerances for S/N (in dB guess) in an AES-connection and which is the S/N in this particuilar case?


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