Enjoy The Music sur le MOLA-MOLA Tambaqui (Best Of Award)

"An astonishing benchmark in musical expressiveness and transparency"

Blue note award 2020

From the user perspective, day-to-day use (via the Mola Mola remote app for your phone or tablet) plus all software and firmware updates, it may well be the most user-friendly, and easiest to use DAC I've yet encountered. Preset selection and configuration, volume settings, viewing DAC status, details of the currently playing file and firmware versions, as well as checking for and downloading firmware updates, are all conveniently handled from your smartphone or tablet. And, if you are using the Mola Mola Makua preamplifier, you can manage the add-on phono stage with it as well. Well done Mola Mola!

But what about the music? Right from the shipping case (this unit was fully run-in at GTT beforeit shipped), it was clear that Tambaqui was a cut above. The first attribute the Tambaqui nearly shouted out at me was its overall sense of ease and organic-ness. It was decidedly less digital sounding, exhibiting none of the more typical leaner body and tonality, and the tell-tale harder, edgier,flattened dimensionality.

Bass was offered up in near flawless extension, weight, and fullness, rendered with an uncharacteristically analog-sounding integration. Tones were "rounded," not flattened, and extension dug down well into the subsonic area (my Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 9's can play 16 Hz), yet the finesse and sheer definition it is able to render in this region was utterly exhilarating. The resultant achievement in bass coherence, depth, and impact, overall tonal balance, and, in particular, in the degree of spatial recreation it accomplishes is considerably more refined and accurate than I've been able to realize with virtually any other single-box DAC I've encountered prior.

Timbre is remarkably genuine (recording permitting) and is depicted with striking resolution as well as with a genuine sense of body, instrumental bloom, and almost reach-out-and-touch texture. Again, the level of Tambaqui's accomplishments in this regard are rare, especially for a digital reconstruction engine that does not use external power and re-clocking devices. This is a fabulously seductive characteristic.

While I've heard several single-box DACs that may offer a hint of the naturalness the Tambaqui so fluidly expresses, those other DACs have all seemed to do so at the expense of resolution. They seemed to have chosen to forgo the musically relevant transparency that the Tambaqui offers, in effortless congruence with its naturalness, perhaps in an attempt to avoid that all-too-frequent digital glare, that hard, edgy, fatiguing brightness so common among less accomplished DACs.

In my system, while authentic timbre, unrestricted extension at both upper and lower frequency extremes, transparency, resolution, instrumental bloom, and a tangible sense oftexture and body are crucial, components, digital or otherwise, that cannot reconstruct convincingly sized instrumental images woven into a realistically sized and spaced soundstage, simply don't make the cut. Here again, the Tambaqui brings it home.

It is truly exceptional in this trait, and this ability should be seen as one of its strongest capacities. I would venture to say that this exceptional ability isthe result of a combination of both its remarkably faithful reconstruction of bass, down into the subsonic regions, and its elevated resolve (because of its reliance on bit streaming?). Regardless, the Tambaqui renders one of the most believable get-up-and-walk-around-in-the-soundstage presentations I've yet heard from a single box DAC.

Another area where the Tambaqui competes with the abilities of much costlier DACs is with itsability to vividly convey dynamic expression, from the interpretation of subtle shadings and nuance down near its vanishingly low noise floor, to its wide-ranging ability to present remarkably volatile dynamic events. There sultant veracity, explosiveness, and scope of its ability to render dynamic scaling was spectacular.

I must admit to being more than merely a little impressed with the Tambaqui. From its utter ease of use and effective upgrade path, given the thoughtful and effective Mola Mola Remote application, through its completeness in connectivity and versatility,to its utterly engaging organic, remarkably analog-esque presentation, this is one extraordinary music-making device, one that will not be embarrassed when compared to much more expensive entries, even some multi-box mega systems. Infact, the Tambaqui is such an exceptional performer that it just may send many of its more costly competitors slinking off with their tail tucked betweent heir legs.

My hat is off to the entire Mola Mola team for abandoning the age-old PCM standard and having the vision and boldness to render everything using its Pulse Density model, and for setting such astonishing benchmarks in its musical expressiveness and transparency, its ease of presentation, its organic and rhythmic flow, and its beguilingly natural overall delivery. In its class and price range, it is simply one stunning and remarkably overachieving device. While no piece of gear is perfect, and everything has weaknesses, Tambaqui still outshines its nearest competitors, many of which cost more than it does, and is utterly captivating.

With (its...) lossless digital volume control and headphone outputs, it is also the ideal control hub of a minimalist audio system for music lovers who have moved on to a digital source only system."

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