Holo Audio CYAN DAC/Amp - Official Thread


I’m not 100% sure what you mean by “grade” in reference to a USB cable. Are you talking about which USB specification they’re compliant with, or some other, arbitrary audiophile “grade” designation?

Either way, my standard USB cable for DAC reviews is currently the AudioQuest Diamond.

If you have a suitable transport with a COAX output, and you don’t need support for high-bit-rate source material (more than 24/192 for PCM or single-rate DSD/DSD 64 for DSD), then there’s no reason not to use it - especially if using the built-in headphone output.

You might hear a difference in a super-resolving chain (external amp, TOTL cans), but otherwise it’s doubtful you’d notice, and you’d have to be listening for specific differences even then.


A bit of a related teaser for a full review in the very near future (things are a bit backlogged now …) …


I’ll be happy to pick up some of your backlog :wink: I kid, new job time crunch. Looking forward to reading your review on these as a combo.


Oops I think I’ve just wet myself. :grin:. Really looking forward to this too.



Nice one, these are realy nice looking units. With the positive review of the Cyan I’m looking forward to learn if the new amp is a worthwhile upgrade.


Me too. It’s always a pleasure to read his reviews.



Oh my good golly gorsh.


Thanks for the review. How does the Cyan compare overall say with the new Metrum NOS DACs (Flint DAC only or Amethyst as DAC or all-in-one)?


I haven’t heard the Flint, so can’t comment on that.

And I have not done a direct comparison between the Cyan and the Amethyst, though I’ve done an extensive review of the Cyan and I’ve spent a little time with the Amethyst - which was a nice enough sounding unit but not something that I was tempted by. Where as with the Cyan if I had been looking for an all-in-one (or a NOS DAC) in that price range I’d not have hesitated to buy one.

I like the Metrum DACs … but until you get to the Pavane I do not find them compelling from a value perspective.


Gotcha. Thanks for insight on it. I’ll keep this DAC on my shortlist. :+1:


@Torq, in your review of the DSD version you seem to use this exclusively with a native DSD stream from HDplayer. How well does the DSD Cyan handle a PCM stream compared to native DSD from your HQplayer setup?
Reading the review I get the impression that the DSD Cyan is mainly worthwhile when combined a native DVD stream.
(I hope I didn’t get the technicalities wrong, audio can be complicated)

I’m using the HD600/HD650 and wonder at when I might reach a point of diminishing return playing with DACs like the Cyan. I consider getting the fan edition with both modules.


The short version is, If it were me, I would not buy the DSD version of the Cyan unless I was going to use it with HQPlayer.

Not because it doesn’t sound good doing internal DSD conversion from PCM - it does. But with PCM source material the PCM module (in NOS mode) is more to my preference, and the next best result I got was feeding the DSD module from HQPlayer for PCM content.

There just isn’t enough native DSD content available, let alone in my own collection, for me to want a primarily DSD DAC. Which means feeding it a much larger diet of PCM source material - and the best way to listen to that with the DSD module in the Cyan is via HQPlayer.

Upsampling native DSD content further, and applying the more sophisticated filtering and noise-shaping available in HQPlayer also works better than just having the Cyan play it natively.

The following table ranks the various combinations of source, conversion and module, from “best” (i.e. that I enjoyed the most) to “worst”. None of them sound bad at all. But there are differences and this is how I personally rank them:

Source Format Conversion/Upsampling Module


I had a similar question, but was waiting for your answer on this one. I may keep an eye out for a sale on the PCM model of the Cyan…they have the DSD one on sale currently.


Mayn thanks! I just bought a Cyan with both modules. I was torn between the Grungnir MB and the Cyan for some time and went for the Holo Audio unit because of the better looks, the amp that might come in handy and makes the unit more mobile in the living room. Also Grungnir is more often available on the used market.
NOS is also something I realy want to try and the Cyan seems to be the DAC with the best price performance ratio. And the only one the budget allowed.