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Dr. Azmel: Life is too short not to enjoy LAIV Harmony DAC

Life is too short not to enjoy LAIV Harmony DAC.

LAIV (pronounced as LIFE/LIVE) is a new company from Singapore.

Mr. Weng Fai Hoh is the man behind the LAIV and he’s responsible for inflicting this new headache on audiophiles and music lovers.

He’s planning to release many more poisons in the future.

How does LAIV Harmony DAC sound in my modest system?

But the burning question in everybody’s mind right now is ‘How good is the LAIV Harmony compare to Holo MAY?’

The direct answer is LAIV beats the Holo May in my system.

As simple as that.

I’m not the only one who favors the LAIV to the Holo May as I have invited two of my best friends to listen to it.

They also chose LAIV.

Someone else will ask how is it compare to Chord Hugo TT2 + M-Scaler?

Well, that one is a close fight (Arnold versus Stallone) but I choose the Chord for that extra musicality.

That’s about it but if you want to know more, please keep on reading.

LAIV Harmony DAC is compact and has a small footprint which I really like.

It is cleverly designed to accommodate other LAIV products that will be launched in the future (streamer, headphone amp/pre-amp).

On top of the chassis there are 3 small holes for the spike feet (so you can stack them up without causing unnecessary injury to your precious equipment).

What a nice touch.

On top of that, they also provide you with a cardboard cut-out for you to arrange the footers before you put your LAIV’s spike feet on them.

It’ll make it easy for you and you don’t need to second guess the position of the footers and the spike feet (and ended up spiking your hand otherwise).

Another nice touch.

For its compact size, it is rather heavy.

If you let it falls on your toes, you will feel the pain and break your heart at the same time.

This unit is solidly built like a tank.

It goes full aluminum jacket.

It can decode PCM up to 768kHz and DSD up to 256 via USB and I2S.

Up front there are 2 buttons for the power and menu selection.

On the left top there is a rotary dial for you to choose the sub menu and to confirm your selection by pressing it.

Everything works perfectly and smoothly.

There is one big OLED screen which is bright and clear.

You have no problem reading it from afar.

Superb resolution as my eyes are not used to be as I'm getting older and wiser.

Another plus point.

Mr. Weng Fai Hoh takes a modular approach in designing the DAC which makes it easier to repair or for future upgrades.

In short, he has done a brilliant job on it and I salute him for that.

I tested the DAC with my Lumin U2 streamer transport using AA USB cables and USB2 Isolator.

Of course, Roon is my source of music (although occasionally I tried using the Lumin U2 internal player app).

Initially I tried to use I2S connected from my Cayin iDAP-6 but somehow later the Cayin refused to cooperate (it didn’t want to read the music files from pen-drive).

Jealousy, maybe?

It worked faultlessly with my Lumin U2 though.

Anyway, LAIV DAC exhibits a relax and calming sound signature that invites its listeners into the music.

It delves deep into the recordings and extract every bit of it (detail and transparent).

Holo May did the same but it presented the sound forward compared to LAIV which is rather laid-back.

This made the LAIV comfortable to listen to.

Holo May is much more aggressive and gung-ho which can be tiring (it plays louder than LAIV).

LAIV made music LIVELIER (I guess that’s what the designer intended in the first place).

I’m not saying the Holo May is lacking in anyway but if you were to compare with LAIV, you will notice certain differences (or shortcomings depending on your preferences).

I think LAIV presented the music better by making it enjoyable to listen to.

Akin to the Chord DAC.

Another important note is when switching from PCM to DSD tracks, the difference in volume loudness is minimal (neglectable).

Almost none.

On the other hand, the same thing cannot be said regarding the Holo May.

The differences in loudness are significant enough that you have to crank up the volume when listening to DSD tracks.

It can be a nuisance but I can live with it.

In other words, LAIV is a lover and Holo May is a fighter (remember Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson?)

Listening to LAIV is like healing your soul (unassuming and unpretentious).

I’ll put it this way.

It’s like taking your beautiful girlfriend on a candlelight dinner.

Your heart flutters non-stop.

This is one candlelight dinner you do not want to miss.

Credit: Dr. Azmel from Malaysia

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