Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC (and headphone amp)
Sep 17, 2020 at 4:58 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 508

canfabulous

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Hello everyone!

I couldn’t see another thread for this one and it has caught my eye as I’m looking for a streaming all-in-one that can live on a desk. There are a couple of reviews on youtube as well as reviews from hiffi publications - all favourable, but mostly (as far as I have found so far) when used in a speakers system, so I’m left curious about it for a headphones rig.

Does anyone in the communitiy have experience of it? If you own one, what’s it like with headphones?

I really like the design, the philosophy behind the DAC design, but I do wish it had RCA outputs to make it easier to feed into other amplification down the line, etc.

Click here for product info

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Sep 17, 2020 at 5:33 AM Post #2 of 508
Sep 17, 2020 at 12:03 PM Post #3 of 508
Thanks - good set of comparisons, including the DCS Bartok (which is desk friendly only if you have a massive desk or tiered arrangement).
 
Sep 18, 2020 at 7:06 AM Post #5 of 508
Sep 18, 2020 at 10:57 AM Post #7 of 508
From the reviews that I've seen there is no volume control on the unit itself. Volume adjustment must be made through its app, which seems like a huge issue if using to drive headphones directly. I always prefer a physical volume knob for headphones listening.
 
Sep 18, 2020 at 11:01 AM Post #8 of 508
Hello everyone!

I couldn’t see another thread for this one and it has caught my eye as I’m looking for a streaming all-in-one that can live on a desk.

Another new option that might be worth looking into would be the Boulder 812 streaming DAC/preamp/headphone amp. Not much yet in terms of reviews, but it looks promising and should run cheaper than the Mola Mola or Bartok.
 
Sep 18, 2020 at 11:05 AM Post #9 of 508
From the reviews that I've seen there is no volume control on the unit itself. Volume adjustment must be made through its app, which seems like a huge issue if using to drive headphones directly. I always prefer a physical volume knob for headphones listening.

Apparently, you can customise the buttons on the front to assign them as a volume control.
 
Sep 18, 2020 at 12:17 PM Post #10 of 508
Sep 19, 2020 at 6:10 AM Post #11 of 508
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Sep 19, 2020 at 6:08 PM Post #12 of 508
Another new option that might be worth looking into would be the Boulder 812 streaming DAC/preamp/headphone amp. Not much yet in terms of reviews, but it looks promising and should run cheaper than the Mola Mola or Bartok.

I was listening to a podcast with Bruno (engineer brains for Mola Mola) and although it was in reference to an amplifier, he specifically mentioned Boulder as "stiff competition". Would be curious to see more information regarding the DAC itself for the Boulder. Thanks for the tip.
 
Sep 19, 2020 at 6:09 PM Post #13 of 508
Sep 20, 2020 at 5:59 PM Post #14 of 508
I was thinking of the Mola Mola Tambaqui as a DAC + headphone amp (and maybe also digital preamp to 2 channel amps). I was even thinking of the Mola Mola Makua preamp with the same internal DAC as the Tambaqui. However, just going by specs alone I thought I should first listen to the Benchmark HPA4 + DAC3B combo for 1/3 the cost. These 2 brands have the same design consideration of making very quiet gear and not affecting the signal in any detrimental way (so neutral sound).

The form factor of the 2 Benchmark pieces combined is about the same physical volume as the Tambaqui and the Benchmark units can be stacked on a desk (as stated by Benchmark). My impression of the HPA4 was so good that I said I no longer need to look for another 2 channel preamp or headphone amp. The DAC3B maybe not as good as the Mola Mola DAC (based on price alone) but I think the preamp and headphone section of the HPA4 is likely better than the jack of all trades Tambaqui. There are folks with $100K+ 2 channel systems that are now using the Benchmark HPA4 or LA4 (no headphone) as the preamp, it's that good. It does not mess of the sound signal, you have speakers, amps, or headphones to do that.

I will always keep the DAC3B connected to 1 of the XLR inputs on the HPA4. However, for curiosity sake, I am going to try out some different DACs with the HPA4. The first one I want to try is the expected new Luxman DAC that has the same chip as used in the 16.6K USD D-10X SACD player. The DAC should be much lower in cost than the D-10X and has slightly better specs than the Mola Mola Tambaqui (chipless) DAC.

Some others I want to pair with the HPA4.
- Mola Mola Tambaqui (for DAC only, look for a used unit)
- Rockna Wavelight

A good thread on the Tambaqui (a thread on the Makua is also on that site)
https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/55207-the-mola-mola-tambaqui-dac/#comments
 
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Sep 20, 2020 at 6:04 PM Post #15 of 508
The Rockna Wavelight is on my short-list too, but they are very very hard to find in the wild for a demo (at least that's what I can tell so far in the UK). A friend messaged me a review on the Wavelight that's worth reading, if you haven't already seen it... http://v2.stereotimes.com/post/rock...he information that I,DACs at its price point

The Benchmark does seem like a good amp, maybe it could be added to the DAC. Personally, I think there would be better luck finding a used amp vs a used Tambaqui at the moment, but that could also be a UK thing! :)

p.s. thanks for the link to that thread... I hadn't discovered that one! :)
 
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