Mola Mola Lupe Phono Preamplifier Page 2

There's also a pleasing uniformity from the lowest to the highest frequencies, with no areas overtly accentuated. Dialling in the optimum gain and loading for your chosen pick-up is more than fine-tuning, however – it's a prerequisite to realising all the Lupe has to offer. This phono stage has such a well-balanced sound that if something doesn't appear to be quite right, it's pretty much guaranteed that tweaks are needed. Fortunately, the extensive range of settings, with armchair access via the BT app, makes this easy.

By way of example, I discovered that my Denon DL-103 MC sounded both punchier and more detailed via a load resistance of 400ohm rather than the lower 100ohm I had used in the past. With hindsight this makes sense as the DL-103 has a 40ohm impedance, but the subjective difference had never been so obvious prior to the arrival of the Lupe.

Wide Open
Once you've heeded the Lupe's subliminal messaging to get everything spot on, it's performance is musical and hugely satisfying. Soundstage depth is positively cavernous, and it seems to effortlessly pull main performers forward of the loudspeakers. Jennifer Warnes was standing in the middle of my room declaring 'There ain't no cure for love' on her Famous Blue Raincoat LP [Impex Records IMP6021] – a solid and tight bassline underpinned this rendition, along with some authentically chewy and positive percussion.


The three RCA inputs and one XLR (the latter only truly balanced with MCs) may be routed to entirely separate MM and MC phono amplifiers within. Outputs are directed via the app [see p69] through the RCA and/or XLR terminals

Even when a bassline becomes more relaxed and languid, the Lupe steps right up. Steve Queralt's bass guitar, which kicks off the introduction to Ride's 'Birdman' [Creation Records CRE 155T], rumbled ominously through my loudspeakers, floor and sofa but without any hint of boom or wallow. And when the main action of the track began, the Lupe captured its impact and dynamics with ease.

Mola Mola's phono stage is equally generous with its detail and insight through the high treble, enhancing the timbre and crispness of percussion. On the other hand it'll not paper over the foibles of your favoured pick-ups. It revealed a subtle hint of graininess to the Cadenza Black's treble, despite firm cymbal strikes sounding strong and decaying with subtlety, just as delicately tapped hi-hats or more subtle background effects sounded a little flatter via the DL-103. And perhaps these 'qualities' were all the more obvious thanks to the Lupe's uncannily quiet background.

Nevertheless, by throwing its windows open wide, the Lupe also draws the best that most MCs have to offer, in most cases developing a sound that's little short of dazzling. In addition to that glorious, deep, fulsome bass, there's a welcoming and detailed midband. So the timbres of instruments are not only beautifully coloured, they are also realistically drawn. Therese Schroeder-Sheker's harp on 'Credo Of Ballymacoda' from the Windham Hill Sampler '89 LP [Windham Hill 371082-1] was apparently in the centre of my listening room, with every string pluck sounding vivid and lifelike.


Slim alloy remote may be programmed to suit all Mola Mola separates – including input, subsonic filter and mono mode for the Lupe

Live And Kicking
This depth of soundstage and sense of dynamic scale worked to create a palpable ambience, especially with live recordings. Swing Out Sister's rendition of 'Surrender', recorded at Camden's Jazz Café for the B-side of 'La La (Means I Love You)' [Mercury Records SWING 112], sounded magnificent. With eyes shut, I could easily imagine the typically dark atmosphere, and the sense of space around and between the players. A phono stage that transports you to the event – what more might the vinyl aficionado desire?

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Mola Mola's Lupe could be the last phono stage you'll ever need. Compatible with the vast majority of both cartridges and recordings, there is very little that it won't handle. The BT control app is logical and easy to use, and the sound quality is absolutely first-class. If you're serious about your vinyl replay, then there are very few other MM/MC preamps offering this level of performance and flexibility at any price.

Mola Mola
The Netherlands
Supplied by: Sound Design Distribution Ltd, Cardiff
0800 0096213