Mola-Mola Tambaqui Network-attached DAC/streamer Page 2

It also claims a 130dB signal-to-noise ratio that, Mola-Mola says, 'is near the theoretical limit for 24-bit files and far beyond that of even quad-speed DSD', and said to 'keep distortion below the noise floor even with full-power signals'. I'll leave you to make up your own jokes about Mola-Mola's use of SHARC processors.

sqnote Snappy Sounds
With the Tambaqui connected to the balanced analogue inputs of a Gato Audio DIA-250S NPM amplifier and fed both by my usual Mac mini computer and via Ethernet from my Roon core, I listened to a wide range of music both using speakers and with a number of pairs of headphones, including B&W P9 Signature, Focal Spirit Pro and Oppo PM-1 [HFN Mar '17, Dec '15 and Jul '14]. And in every configuration, the Tambaqui turned in a standard of performance as impressive as it was enthralling, breathing new life into a selection of familiar music.

120mola.remIt's not just that it does all the hi-fi stuff right – deep, tightly-controlled bass, open and explicit midband and crisp, clean treble – but is more to do with the way it pulls it all together to drag you further into what you choose to play, rewarding your listening attention with class-leading insight into both recording and performance. There's a bite and richness to the way the Tambaqui plays music, whether from a computer feed, via the conventional digital inputs or over a Roon connection, that's totally addictive, and then it goes on to reward even more with each new track or album you select.

Even during the warm-up period, the Mola-Mola DAC was already delighting with the extended bass and snappy drive of the most recent Lenny Kravitz set, Raise Vibration [BMG 538397342; 44.1kHz/24-bit], with the details of the mixes as attractive as the way the rhythms grooved along on tracks such as 'Who Really Are The Monsters?'. With a little help from the Gato amp, that one really had the room moving without sacrificing any detail. The same was true with the unashamed swagger of Kasabian's Empire album [Columbia Paradise37; also 44.1kHz/24-bit], which often turns into an exercise in 'spot the influence', but is none the less big and magnificent for all that. The Tambaqui delves deep into the dense mixes here, while driving the stomp of the music relentlessly.

Just Gorgeous
That rhythmic acuity, along with the ability to reveal the subtlest detail of the way a bass string vibrates or the slightest tap of stick on cymbal, serves well the close-focused detail of a track like Red Norvo's take on 'Exactly Like You', from his The Second Time Around album [2xHD 2XHDJA1156; DSD256]. The pace of the playing is sprightly, and all the instruments are clear as day: it's really possible to lock onto any element and follow it through the track. Oh, and Norvo's vibraharp sounds just gorgeous on this set, whether soloing or supporting the stellar cast of instrumentalists.


The Academie für Alte Musik Berlin's recent recording of Handel's Concerti Grossi 1-6 [on Pentatone PTC5186737; DSD 64] sees the Tambaqui grabbing the attention right from the upbeat just before the music starts, and then going at its task with breathtaking speed and definition. Even in slower movements the crispness of the sound brings precision and delight to the music, while when things get a bit more allegro the fabulous instrumental timbres are entirely delicious, making the set at turns stately and then thrilling.

It should be noted that the line outputs showed the utmost clarity when the headphone output was turned off, but even switching from speakers to headphones failed to unearth any drawbacks in the Tambaqui's sound. The ultra-revealing Focal Spirit Pro 'phones, designed with studio use in mind, sounded as clean and 'organic' as any other, allaying any fears that this outstanding DAC had to have a chink somewhere in its armour.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Unusual is one way to describe the Tambaqui, but then Mola-Mola doesn't do conventional. 'Remarkable' is another way, for whether with headphones or used via its line outs, this DAC has precision, outstanding depths of detail and dynamics, and a sound able to draw the listener deep into the innermost detail of any recording. Used with a computer or as a top-notch Roon endpoint, this is one DAC you must hear.

The Netherlands
Supplied by: Sound Design Distribution Ltd, Cardiff
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