Genuine Question DCS, Mola Mola or DAVE
Nov 13, 2022 at 9:57 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

DJW50

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2021
Posts
201
Likes
189
Location
Hampshire
As I've reached the point where I have the money saved up to upgrade my Qutest I thought I'd ask owners of the above DAC's what their thoughts are.
At the moment I stream Amazon HD music into my Auralic Aries G1 then via USB into the Qutest then into the Pathos Inpol Ear then my Focal Utopia's.
I have no intention of changing the Auralic or the Pathos but the Qutest as good as it is was always a staging point on my system. I want to keep the USB connection between streamer and DAC and won't want to change that.
As I'm looking secondhand they all seem to be around the same price-point give or take the odd thousand or two.
So now would be a good time to get opinions from those who maybe have tried all the above.
I listen to mainly Blues and Rock.
 
Nov 13, 2022 at 10:28 AM Post #2 of 15

K3cT

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Posts
2,594
Likes
180
I've heard the Bartok, DAVE and Tambaqui and they all sound kind of different from one another.

DAVE is the one I'm most familiar with, it's probably the most "neutral", detailed and has the best staging ability but it has a kind of clinical/cold sound and is definitely the weakest in terms of micro/macro dynamics compared to the other two.

Bartok is interesting because I feel that it's the most coloured one compared to the other two, it makes everything very "HiFi" and smooth sounding. I wonder is this supposed to be the dCS house sound? Despite the strong flavouring, it's still very technically competent, has a more natural tuning that is neither warm or bright and probably hits the hardest among the rest.

I'm saving Tambaqui for the last because this one is my personal favourite. It's very strange because I feel that while in terms of pure raw detail retrieval and soundstaging it's not as good as the other two BUT it's the most natural, fluid, impactful, precise and least fatiguing to listen to in the long term. I've long been a fan of R2R DAC because it has a more natural timbre and Tambaqui is probably the first DAC that can replicate that kind of sound but with modern era technical chops and accuracy. Overall I think this DAC sits squarely between the DAVE and Bartok in how it's tuned.

That being said I suspect at this level your personal preference and how the DAC is going to fit inside your system is going to play a bigger role in your choice. Synergy is a very real thing after all like how the Utopia LOVES tubes.
 
Last edited:
Nov 13, 2022 at 10:58 AM Post #4 of 15

DJW50

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2021
Posts
201
Likes
189
Location
Hampshire
You'll need to expand a bit more here. What are you looking for in an upgrade that the Qutest isn't able to give and why limit yourself to these 3?
The Qutest was very much a temporary DAC, I had exhausted my finances with buying the rest of my gear.
For my limited budget the three secondhand units seem to be within my means. I don't want to go down the DAVE M Scaler route as the cables etc are more than I feel I want to spend, having said that I wouldn't mind an upgraded PSU for the DAVE but that puts other DACs into the running cost wise.
From the reviews I've read/watched I fell any of these three will be an upgrade/improvement in my listening pleasure from the Qutest, of course I've arranged to demo one so far so I'm just interested in owners of these unit's opinion as many seem to have owned one or two of my chosen units.
 
Nov 13, 2022 at 11:14 AM Post #5 of 15

TheMiddleSky

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2010
Posts
3,445
Likes
5,877
Location
Indonesia - Singapore
Dave would have the most similarity in character compare to your Qutest, of course not identical, but closer than the other two.

Which DCS you ask here? I presume Bartok? It would throw the largest soundstage among other option, with fuller sound and stronger impact/bite compared to Dave, but also drier at the same time.

Mola-Mola would produce the fullest body here, along with the smoothest treble as well (still plenty of micro detail), but with rather narrow soundstage. Depth perception is superb, but not for width.

For Rock and Blues, if I have to buy blindly (without even know your chain), I would choose Mola-Mola as the safest choice.
 
Nov 13, 2022 at 11:27 AM Post #6 of 15

DJW50

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2021
Posts
201
Likes
189
Location
Hampshire
Dave would have the most similarity in character compare to your Qutest, of course not identical, but closer than the other two.

Which DCS you ask here? I presume Bartok? It would throw the largest soundstage among other option, with fuller sound and stronger impact/bite compared to Dave, but also drier at the same time.

Mola-Mola would produce the fullest body here, along with the smoothest treble as well (still plenty of micro detail), but with rather narrow soundstage. Depth perception is superb, but not for width.

For Rock and Blues, if I have to buy blindly (without even know your chain), I would choose Mola-Mola as the safest choice.
Thanks, I'm actually trying the Mola Mola Tuesday. I do have my favourite 'go to' tracks that I will be carefully listening to during the trial.
Yes a secondhandDCS Bartok, not sure about it as it has a streamer and I'm more than happy with my Auralic and Amazon HD.
 
Nov 13, 2022 at 11:41 AM Post #7 of 15

HONEYBOY

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2009
Posts
1,159
Likes
483
For my preferences Tambaqui is the way to go if you can get it at those prices. Tambaqui in some ways to me takes the best parts from a lot of these high end DACs. It has for example the effortless smoothness of the Bartok, but also in my view competes or even exceeds the Dave when it comes to PRAT and transients. All of that with a level of musicality like Nagra DAC. Slap a Grimm MU1 at some point down the line behind it and you have what I regard as one of the best digital front ends available. I am an unabashed fanboy of the Tambaqui. I bought one new months ago after hearing one on demo and it is still not here yet, but I can't wait.
 
Last edited:
Nov 13, 2022 at 11:43 AM Post #8 of 15

HONEYBOY

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2009
Posts
1,159
Likes
483
Since you have a streamer might be worthwhile to compare the streamer in the Tambaqui with your Auralic. Maybe you might not need an extra box and that's great you'll get a chance to demo the Mola. What better way to decide?
 
Last edited:
Nov 13, 2022 at 12:00 PM Post #9 of 15

TheMiddleSky

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2010
Posts
3,445
Likes
5,877
Location
Indonesia - Singapore
Thanks, I'm actually trying the Mola Mola Tuesday. I do have my favourite 'go to' tracks that I will be carefully listening to during the trial.
Yes a secondhandDCS Bartok, not sure about it as it has a streamer and I'm more than happy with my Auralic and Amazon HD.

Having chance to audition always the best way to find your audio path. Good luck with the journey!
 
Nov 14, 2022 at 5:02 AM Post #10 of 15

DJW50

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2021
Posts
201
Likes
189
Location
Hampshire
So thanks to Sevenoaks HiFi where I bought my Qutest from I have a DAVE arriving tomorrow for testing. Should be a very interesting next few days of listening pleasure and a big decision to make too.
Just to add I won't be taking a single measurement apart from the important one for it to fit over the Pathos, but will as a bass player be listening to Texas Flood by SRV and following just how accurately I'm able to follow the bass line that I've played a million times.
 
Last edited:
Nov 15, 2022 at 2:38 PM Post #11 of 15

Wfolio

New Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 4, 2009
Posts
44
Likes
106
Currently i happen to have tt2/ms , mola mola, emmlabs dv2 and dcs Rossini apex/master clock in my speakers setup.

Mola mola is an upgrade in sound quality compare to tt2 however not as good as dv2 or rossini.

uc
 
Nov 16, 2022 at 5:57 PM Post #12 of 15

RobertSM

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Posts
862
Likes
1,817
Location
Los Angeles, California
I too upgraded from the Chord Qutest and auditioned all of the mentioned DACs in the thread title. I really really liked the Tambaqui. My issue with it, is that it doesn't have a pair of unbalanced outputs, only one pair of balanced outs. This was a deal breaker for me.

I went with the Weiss DAC501-4Ch. An excellent DAC that is keeps easy company with all the DACs your considering. I've never been happier with the sound of my rig. A true TOTL DAC.
 
Last edited:
Nov 21, 2022 at 1:46 PM Post #14 of 15

normie610

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 25, 2015
Posts
3,046
Likes
5,067
Location
Jakarta, Indonesia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top