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The Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC


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4 hours ago, Stereophilus said:

 

Another reviewer who REALLY likes this DAC.

Very good review and excellent comparison of two high end DACs.
I really like the Mola Mola Tambaqui myself, but it's a shame it's only Roon ready and doesn't support other streaming services. And it doesn't have an analog volume control and not sure how good the digital volume control is, but Darko seems very impressed with the sound.
Now there's also the latest Terminator Plus DAC to consider, which also lacks volume control. Choices, choices...

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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14 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Very good review and excellent comparison of two high end DACs.
I really like the Mola Mola Tambaqui myself, but it's a shame it's only Roon ready and doesn't support other streaming services. And it doesn't have an analog volume control and not sure how good the digital volume control is, but Darko seems very impressed with the sound.
Now there's also the latest Terminator Plus DAC to consider, which also lacks volume control. Choices, choices...

There’s always the Makua if you need analog volume control.  The streaming choices are a bit thin, but Roon Ready is probably the priority for most.

 

I have heard the Terminator (not plus), the Dave and the Sonnet Morpheus.  All excellent DACs.  None of them are in the same league as the Mola Mola, IMHO.

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1 hour ago, Stereophilus said:

There’s always the Makua if you need analog volume control.

Exactly. While it is more expensive than the Tambaqui, it is itself a preamp, so one saves on a high end preamp and cables going all in one. Plus its variable gain volume control adds only the gain that is needed for the system, not adding gain only to attenuate it later in the chain.

1. Sonore ultraRendu - UpTone ISO Regen - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800 SL PRO - Thiel CS3.7

2. RME ADI-2 DAC FS - Apollon NC502MP - Monitor Audio PL100

3. Hidizs S8 - Audeze LCDi3

4. TempoTec Sonata HD - 1More Triple Driver IEM

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What a great review by Darko. Answered all the questions that I value in system setup. He is also using gear at a price level that matches what I use. I need a second DAC for my house and I was looking at the Terminator Plus with GAIA, the new Luxman D-10X, and a few R2R DACs. However, the Mola Mola Tambaqui always seems to check of the all things I like and do them at the highest level. 

 

I should have bought the used Tambaqui unit that came up locally. I will add the Tambaqui to the following system:

 

Benchmark HPA4 preamp + headphone amp

Benchmark AHB2 x 2 (mono blocks)

Benchmark DAC3B (move this DAC to my Bryston BHA-1 headphone system to be replaced by the Tambaqui)

Benchmark StarQuad interconnects for all the Benchmark gear and Audience AU24SE for the other sources

Yamaha NS5000 (ordering this next currently using KEF LS50s)

 

This system will be uber detailed but also not fatiguing for me. When I listen to a more "musical" system I keep wanting to come back and listen to the same music in the Benchmark gear above. Like the Aretha Franklin disc I listened to last night.

 

BTW - Darko was using the Meze Empyrean headphones in that video. I have that headphone and it is incredible. I have no 2 channel amps at the moment (get delivery next week) and this past month, while waiting for my amps,  I have been listening to the Meze for hours a day, even sleep in bed with them on. Just an incredible headphone and I used to hate headphones.

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3 hours ago, mevdinc said:

I really like the Mola Mola Tambaqui myself, but it's a shame it's only Roon ready and doesn't support other streaming services. And it doesn't have an analog volume control and not sure how good the digital volume control is

 

Over the years, I've had three DACs with built-in volume control and the Tambaqui is in its own league when it comes to this feature.  

 

And, as others have said, the Makua has a different (non-digital) volume control if that is an issue, or need a preamp, and you like the DAC's sound.

Mola Mola Tambaqui / Kubala-Sosna XLR / Mola Mola Kaluga / KS biwire / B&W 803 D3

Ethernet:  iMac/Roon > ... in-wall 5e ... > Sonore opticalModule [Sonore 5V LPS] > UpTone EtherREGEN + Cybershaft OP13 [UpTone JS-2 LPS] > Tambaqui ( = DAC/Roon Endpoint/preamp)

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This was the first review of the Tambaqui that I've seen that tests the headphone function.  And, overall, this review was very thorough and his style is very accessible.  

 

Two really good points were about the excellence of conveying the "recording space" and how the Tambaqui can substantially separate the music from the speaker.   I find both of these enjoyable, and now heard at this level of execution, not something I would want to give up.

 

I would never use the word "analytical" in any way when describing this DAC (even proceeded by "effortlessly") but those are only words and they mean different things to different people.  "Unconstrained" is what I would say.

Mola Mola Tambaqui / Kubala-Sosna XLR / Mola Mola Kaluga / KS biwire / B&W 803 D3

Ethernet:  iMac/Roon > ... in-wall 5e ... > Sonore opticalModule [Sonore 5V LPS] > UpTone EtherREGEN + Cybershaft OP13 [UpTone JS-2 LPS] > Tambaqui ( = DAC/Roon Endpoint/preamp)

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1 hour ago, thyname said:


This one does not have a streamer built in. It’s also $16,750

I know the cost of the D-10x. It may do streaming via a unique batch mode digital data delivery mechanism, like a printer or other computer file transfer mechanisms. This batch mode is only for USB and I am not sure how that works yet. The reason the $16K Luxman is even in the radar was because the $15K Luxman m900u amp was one I loved after a few demos and expected to get. However, after I demoed the Benchmark HPA4 I had a change of plans and decided to build my entire office system around it. It may have been on this thread where I was debating the Makua, Benchmark HPA4/LA4, and Luxman c900u as preamps. I never listened to the Makua but have demoed the c900u, the HPA4 was one where I said that even if the others were better, I do not care, the HPA4 was astonishingly good to my ears.

 

Rory Rail, the sales guy at Benchmark, convinced me to buy the DAC3B over the Tambaqui. I am glad I did since it is very good. However, I was always thinking that it would eventually end up being the second DAC for my bedroom headphone system. I have been looking for the 'big" DAC since then.

 

I was investigating "musical" R2R DACs, AudioByte, Rockna Wavelight, and the D-10x, since I love the Luxman SS sound. I also was thinking a DAC sounding different from the DA3B would be interesting. The more I listen and learn about gear, the warm or "musical" sound that people lavish praise on is not exactly the sound I seem to gravitate towards. I also get fatigued very quickly but not so with the gear I have now, except a little bit of fatigue with my Class A Bryston BHA-1.

 

After I do my speaker upgrade, I am going to give Bill Parish at GTT Audio a call to get a home demo unit of the Tambaqui. I was actually talking with a family friend of Mr. Parish, via Audiogon PM, and he had home demoed the Tambaqui and did not like it, but he is a fan of warm sounding gear. He was actually the first person I heard or read with a nay word on the Tambaqui.

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11 minutes ago, yyz said:

It may do streaming via a unique batch mode digital data delivery mechanism, like a printer or other computer file transfer mechanisms. This batch mode is only for USB


I have no idea what you just said in here. As long as you know you would need a streamer for the Luxman D-10x, it’s all good. The Tambaqui has a streamer built in, which is Roon Ready certified. That was all my point. Sorry if I sounded confused.

 

The DAC in Luxman D-10x is brand new. No other Luxman has it. Even the chip is made from a company that I had never heard it before. So, if you are looking for opinions on that, you have to wait until people you know and trust  try it. Or better yet, try it for yourself. Any comparison/ opinion from other Luxman models is irrelevant.

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36 minutes ago, thyname said:


I have no idea what you just said in here. As long as you know you would need a streamer for the Luxman D-10x, it’s all good. The Tambaqui has a streamer built in, which is Roon Ready certified. That was all my point. Sorry if I sounded confused.

 

The DAC in Luxman D-10x is brand new. No other Luxman has it. Even the chip is made from a company that I had never heard it before. So, if you are looking for opinions on that, you have to wait until people you know and trust  try it. Or better yet, try it for yourself. Any comparison/ opinion from other Luxman models is irrelevant.

 

This is the quote on the Darko site on the Luxman D-10x, do not have the link now.

 

"But wait! The USB input has another trick up its sleeve: as well as accommodating USB audio’s usual isochronous data transfer mode, LUXMAN has specified their BulkPET technology that allows USB audio data to be transferred from host to DAC with USB’s Bulk mode (as used by a hard drive or a printer), thus bringing with it error-correction that doesn’t show up in isochronous mode."

 

So there is something interesting here to be looking into. I have been streaming since around 2003 and I know streaming very well. Not really confused with the fact that the Luxman connected directly to a computer with the proper driver may do streaming in a high quality manner.  Normally this is not how analog noise is eliminated in digital streaming. I want to find out more about this BulkPET before I render any conclusions. I currently use a Sonore microRendu at the moment and was thinking upgrading to the SystemOptique from Sonare, but if the Tambaqui RJ45 Ethernet is good enough, why bother.

 

Here is a link to some interesting conversations on the D-10x by people who actually have heard at a store or have it at home. There is also some comments on a demo done in Singapore using the D-10x and likely my Benchmark components (not specified exact BM models).

 

https://www.audioshark.org/luxman-211/new-luxman-d-10x-sacd-cd-player-17317.html

 

The new D-10x does sound like the older Luxman DACs except for more detail, that is the feedback from the AudioShark.com folks. There is a Japanese HTML page link on that thread above that details the sound characteristics on the new chip from the chip manufacturer themselves.

 

I live close to Los Angeles, so I have access to the some of the very best audio stores in the USA. My Luxman store is Excel Audio in Newport Beach. I am not sure if Mike Rose at Excel has the Luxman D-10x yet but I may have a listen if the Tambaqui home demo does not result in a buy decision. I heard the older Luxman D-8u DAC in a m900u/c900u stack and it was pretty amazing.

 

I also had some interesting email conversations with Bill Parish, who was a former Luxman dealer, and now a Mola Mola dealer. He knew what I was going after and gave me some useful info on both brands. 

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9 minutes ago, yyz said:

I live close to Los Angeles, so I have access to the some of the very best audio stores in the USA. My Luxman store is Excel Audio in Newport Beach. I am not sure if Mike Rose at Excel has the Luxman D-10x yet but I may have a listen if the Tambaqui home demo does not result in a buy decision. I heard the older Luxman D-8u DAC in a m900u/c900u stack and it was pretty amazing.


Yes please, let us know how this goes, and what you ultimately end up getting 

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2 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

 So why use a preamp ?

 

I use a preamp because I never heard a digital preamp on a DAC that I liked and also because I have a few analog sources than I want into an analog preamp. The preamp I use now gives me the impression that I am not using a preamp since it is so quiet, even quieter than the Makua, but we are splitting hairs now.

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Thanks for all the informative and helpful comments.
I only use digital source so I don't really need a preamp as such. It's just that so far I have used DACs with builtin analog volume controls and I don't like having a separate preamp. I am on the less is more camp regarding this issiue. 
As I stated in my comment, since Darko was so impressed with the sound that digital volume implementation of Tambaqui must be very good.
In the past I did try Roon but didn't quite like it against my Audirvana Plus. I guess I could always use the USB connection and hope that I would get the same quality sound.

I will see if I can find a dealer with Tambaqui to listen to in my own system. As you can see from my signature I have the top of the range ATC active system, which is very revealing and would certainly allow me to hear the Tambaqui's extra qualities.
 

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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36 minutes ago, mevdinc said:


I only use digital source so I don't really need a preamp as such. It's just that so far I have used DACs with builtin analog volume controls and I don't like having a separate preamp. I am on the less is more camp regarding this issiue.
As I stated in my comment, since Darko was so impressed with the sound that digital volume implementation of Tambaqui must be very good.


In his review of the Tambaqui, Darko uses the PS Audio BHK preamp for volume control.  There is a point in the comments section where he states he doesn’t use digital domain volume control because he finds using a preamp “meatier”.  I’m sure you could compare Makua to Tambaqui for yourself if you really wanted analog volume control without a seperate box.

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49 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:


In his review of the Tambaqui, Darko uses the PS Audio BHK preamp for volume control.  There is a point in the comments section where he states he doesn’t use digital domain volume control because he finds using a preamp “meatier”.  I’m sure you could compare Makua to Tambaqui for yourself if you really wanted analog volume control without a seperate box.

Didn't he also say he used the volume control in Roon rather than the one in Tambaqui app? That means you don't really need a preamp with Tambaqui.
I thought he used the preamp to easily switch between Tambaqui and Bartoc during comparison.
Anyway, I can always keep my current Lindemann DAC which has a very good analog volume control and also a couple of analog inputs too.
 

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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11 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Didn't he also say he used the volume control in Roon rather than the one in Tambaqui app? That means you don't really need a preamp with Tambaqui.
I thought he used the preamp to easily switch between Tambaqui and Bartoc during comparison.
Anyway, I can always keep my current Lindemann DAC which has a very good analog volume control and also a couple of analog inputs too.
 

 

He was demonstrating the mola mola app's volume control in the video.  If that documented his actual method when he listened, then he was indeed using its volume control function.

 

Will be very interested to hear your impressions about the Tambaqui in your setup.  Beautiful beasts, those speakers.  I like the simplicity of the setup too. 

Mola Mola Tambaqui / Kubala-Sosna XLR / Mola Mola Kaluga / KS biwire / B&W 803 D3

Ethernet:  iMac/Roon > ... in-wall 5e ... > Sonore opticalModule [Sonore 5V LPS] > UpTone EtherREGEN + Cybershaft OP13 [UpTone JS-2 LPS] > Tambaqui ( = DAC/Roon Endpoint/preamp)

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35 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Didn't he also say he used the volume control in Roon rather than the one in Tambaqui app? That means you don't really need a preamp with Tambaqui.
I thought he used the preamp to easily switch between Tambaqui and Bartoc during comparison.
Anyway, I can always keep my current Lindemann DAC which has a very good analog volume control and also a couple of analog inputs too.
 

The Roon app was controlling the Tambaqui’s volume setting in that video.  Roon does the same with the Makua when using the Makuas Roon ready input.  As @PYP stated, he was demonstrating how you can control volume with the Tambaqui.  He does mention that he matched the output voltage of the Tambaqui to the Bartok, and fed them both into the BHK preamp, but unfortunately I don’t think he mentioned where volume control was implemented.

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So, if I want to stream Qobuz with the Tambaqui, I have to buy a computer, install roon on it and pay monthly fee to roon on top of my Qobuz fee. Does not make sense to me.

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Or just add a streamer like the Sonore Rendus before the DAC, no big deal. But yes, for the price, would have been nice to have all services included.

1. Sonore ultraRendu - UpTone ISO Regen - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800 SL PRO - Thiel CS3.7

2. RME ADI-2 DAC FS - Apollon NC502MP - Monitor Audio PL100

3. Hidizs S8 - Audeze LCDi3

4. TempoTec Sonata HD - 1More Triple Driver IEM

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19 minutes ago, Ran said:

So, if I want to stream Qobuz with the Tambaqui, I have to buy a computer, install roon on it and pay monthly fee to roon on top of my Qobuz fee.

lol, of course not! You can hook up any streamer via USB (or whatever digital input you prefer) and stream that way.  It is just that the built-in streamer is limited to Roon.  I won’t list all the options for streaming here.... This forum has copious pages to help you decide which option will suit you best.

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44 minutes ago, Ran said:

For 14k I expect this to support more than one network protocol. 

 

As we know, it is always "compared to what."  It may not fit your goals, but for the sound quality the DAC is fairly priced.  It is an extraordinary DAC, truly.  But that is what is great about this hobby:  lots of options/choices/possibilities.  

Mola Mola Tambaqui / Kubala-Sosna XLR / Mola Mola Kaluga / KS biwire / B&W 803 D3

Ethernet:  iMac/Roon > ... in-wall 5e ... > Sonore opticalModule [Sonore 5V LPS] > UpTone EtherREGEN + Cybershaft OP13 [UpTone JS-2 LPS] > Tambaqui ( = DAC/Roon Endpoint/preamp)

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