Finally got a new DAC (Tambaqui!)

morricab

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It might help to consider the Mola Mola Kaluga amplifiers as well. I have often found that pairing preamps and amps from the same manufacturer sometimes corrects the tonal picture. I was considering the Mola Mola DAC as well, but reading a few reviews convinced me that it might sound too analytical without careful system matching, although I haven’t heard it in my system. I ended up with a Lampizator Pacific, which goes off in the opposite direction being a tube DAC. But I get quickly turned off by components that sound overly lean. Having been to hundreds of live orchestra concerts, I find leanness an unforgivable sin, even if it enhances clarity. It’s like increasing the sharpness control on a television. My reference loudspeakers at home are Quad electrostatics and Harbeth Monitor 40.1s, as these sound more like live music to me than most other loudspeakers that have a zingy metallic (diamond, Beryllium etc.) tweeter.
That was the point of my post above…lean tone = fail, IMO.
 
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morricab

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A few thing to clarify here.

First the Tambaqui needs 30 days with music to fully flesh out, and we never turn the unit off, so it is always warm to the touch. Even after cooking for 30 days, If the unit is (in order of severity) moved, put on standby so it goes cold, or unplugged, then it takes anywhere from 1 to 24 hours to settle back in.*

Secondly, the Tambaqui sounds its best (to US) with the voltage as high as possible (6 volts if possible), or as high as one can reasonably set.

Once these conditions are met, then there is absolutely nothing 'off' with the tone of the Tambaqui, it simply presents tonality differently than other DACs, such as our other favorite DACs from Aries Cerat.

For us, the tonality of the Tambaqui is no less valid than any other world class DAC.

In summary, the Tambaqui, along with the /Kassandra II and the Kassandra II SIG are the best DACs we know under $100k and I have heard them all.

I've posted my thoughts on the differences between the Tambaqui and the Kassy II REF tonight on another thread here.

*The Tambaqui's mid-bass is one of the last things to come to song.

Kerry
Can you link the thread…I know Kassandra very very well.
 

morricab

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A few thing to clarify here.

First the Tambaqui needs 30 days with music to fully flesh out, and we never turn the unit off, so it is always warm to the touch. Even after cooking for 30 days, If the unit is (in order of severity) moved, put on standby so it goes cold, or unplugged, then it takes anywhere from 1 to 24 hours to settle back in.*

Secondly, the Tambaqui sounds its best (to US) with the voltage as high as possible (6 volts if possible), or as high as one can reasonably set.

Once these conditions are met, then there is absolutely nothing 'off' with the tone of the Tambaqui, it simply presents tonality differently than other DACs, such as our other favorite DACs from Aries Cerat.

For us, the tonality of the Tambaqui is no less valid than any other world class DAC.

In summary, the Tambaqui, along with the /Kassandra II and the Kassandra II SIG are the best DACs we know under $100k and I have heard them all.

I've posted my thoughts on the differences between the Tambaqui and the Kassy II REF tonight on another thread here.

*The Tambaqui's mid-bass is one of the last things to come to song.

Kerry
I sell only AC because it gets closer to the sound I hear live. I don’t make a living from my business so I sell only what I think delivers a chance at realism.
 
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Gregadd

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I have heard good things about this dac. One dealer considers it a cost no object contender. I am glad to geta real world report.
 
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musicfirst1

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Can you link the thread…I know Kassandra very very well.
Of course!

I sell both because I love both!

Here is the link
 
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godofwealth

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From reading the technical description of the Mola Mola DAC, it looks like it converts all signals to a pulse-width modulated signal at a high bit rate. Interestingly, this approach is also the one used in another Danish DAC/amplifier, the Lyngdorf 2170 that I happen to also own. When I use the Lyngdorf, i find its tonal balance excessively lean on my Quads 2905. Note the Lyngdorf is not a class D amplifier. It’s a direct digital amplifier, meaning the PWM signal is directly converted to analog through a passive resistor capacitor network. The volume control is not in the signal path but used to lower or raise the supply voltage. But I’m guessing the PWM design interacts poorly with loudspeakers like the Quads that have very high impedance in the bass (> 50 ohms). At that high impedance the Lyngdorf struggles to produce more than a few watts. Measurements of the Lyngdorf on audioscience were not very impressive. It has high levels of ultrasonic noise that all switching class D amps produce.
 

PYP

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Thanks Kerry - all this resonates with my experience thus far. I've been running it nonstop with a source (handily, I am also running in the Pro-Ject RS2 T in parallel) and the midbass and overall tone is rounding into shape slowly but surely. The dynamics, which were already killer, are also expanding. With the Pro-Ject, 80's Decca DDD recordings defy the preconceptions of the early digital era and are positively explosive and captivating. As per your remarks, I did notice when quickly swapping power cords that the sound went a little cold and took some time to recover. I'll give it a couple more weeks run-in before taking down more serious listening notes. Appreciate the input and discussion!
Passing on the suggestion of my Mola Mola distributor: put your best power cord on the DAC. From my own experience, Kubala-Sosna is an excellent match (to my ears as a non-musician). And, as has been said, break-in takes time. I believe it is very natural and neutral and will reveal the tonality of what precedes it and what follows it. Yes, it is a perfect match with the Mola Mola amps. Some seem to think class D stands for digital, not sure why. This gear allows one to focus on the music.

For those who haven't heard it, why make a judgement?
 

nirodha

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My experience with the Mola Mola Makua with DAC module (Tambaqui) is that its presentation is influenced by cabling. While some may take that for granted it would make a difference, others on the objective end of spectrum may consider it heresy. I did not know what to expect with this DAC when I first received it. I commonly do some trials moving on hand cabling (some in use on other components and some on hand but not presently in use) with new components and again after run in/break in time. I feed my Makua DAC ethernet for Roon Ready as well as USB and AES/EBU from my Antipodes K50 utilizing player software from the K50. I have used different cabling for each type as well as direct ethernet from switch box as well as out from K50 to Makua via ethernet. There have been perceivable differences from all of these trials, including perceived bass. Admittedly, much of this is the fun of playing with a new toy, but also tuning to presentations I find more enjoyable and perceived as more audibly right for me in my system. Please enjoy.
I’d start by experimenting with power cables. There are PCs which can keep the strong points of your dac while removing the weak ones. Good luck and congrats:). Oh and…. First give it a month or two of much use. Otherwise any experiment is rather useless.
 

speakerlust

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I also found that isolation/vibration control feet make a difference in sound presentation as well. Some may prefer the existing support rail legs, and I did so for some time. I had ordered some Orea Indigo feet I thought to use under my K50. However, I had some Daedalus DIDs already as well and ended up preferring those to the Orea Indigos with the K50. I now have the Orea Indigos in use with the Makua. Early on with few hours on the Makua from me and with a new Audio Sensibility OCC Silver ethernet cord, the sound character seemed a bit lean to me, but not bright. I have alternated the AS OCC silver cord and Sablon 2020 ethernet cord. The Sablon is fuller in presentation, but the AS cord has seemingly evolved over time. It is still cooler than the Sablon but does not come across to me as lean and certainly not bright. Once again, the total system has its own character, and the K50 is a pretty organic, not lean signature. I currently am feeding the K50 with an AS OCC as well as to the Makua Tambaqui. I have a PF Buffalo switch in the path, and feel it contributes nicely as well. I am using AS Signature OCC power cords with Bybee to both the K50 and Makua. The combination has played well for me in my system, but I have not had any Kubala-Sosna cabling in my system. Perhaps at some point I will try to audition them as I, too, have read there are some very pleased users of Mola-Mola with Kubala--Sosna.
 

AMR / iFi audio

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I think that it really comes down to fine-tuning for you. Power cables and anti-vibration accessories can help a lot. When it comes down to anti-vibration I recommend either wood or composite materials. They should get you just a tiny bit of tone, something that might be perfect for you :)
 

PYP

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I also found that isolation/vibration control feet make a difference in sound presentation as well. Some may prefer the existing support rail legs, and I did so for some time.
These Soundeck DF Squares work well for me used under the rail legs: https://soundeck.bigcartel.com/product/third-product An inexpensive experiment. Not a huge change, but a pleasant one, where naturalness was slightly increased.

Whenever I try to (in effect) replace the original footers by supporting the chassis with anything else, the sound is affected but, ultimately (time will tell), not improved. Of course, everyone's mileage will vary with these kinds of tweaks.
 

godofwealth

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The weird thing is I've heard (possibly incorrectly) that the Kaluga amps can also tend slightly lean, and the Makua is dead neutral... so I'm not sure how that whole getup doesn't come off very cool? I'll just have to stop by Bill Parish's place sometime to hear it. The Tambaqui does work quite well with another Class D amp I have though.

Also not a fan of most metal domes either for the same reason. And yes, live orchestras have a lot of weight. If you think it sounds full from the audience, try on the stage. My wife and I play in orchestras, and the proximity effect makes it exponentially beefier. :)
Speaking of live orchestra sound, my first live orchestra experience was as a PhD student in Pittsburgh in the mid 1980s. Still remember the exact concert program: Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony with Cho-Liang Lin as the violinist in the Sibelius violin concerto and the Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 after intermission, I was awestruck. As a youngster in my early 20s, I had never heard such a sound. I subscribed for the entire season with a student subscription for $5 a concert sitting 5 rows from the orchestra. Later that year, Jessye Norman, the incomparable soprano, came to perform Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. I had never imagined a human being could project a voice with that intensity through a huge concert hall with no miking.

35+ years later, I was lucky enough to live in the Bay Area and catch Michael Tilson Thomas again conducting the San Francisco symphony. Living in the city made it easy to hear many concerts at Davies Symphony hall. Charles Dutoit conducted the majestic Berlioz Requiem with 500 singers and a huge brass section arrayed around the hall. What a thrilling experience.

In short, over 30+ years, I have owned every conceivable variation of loudspeaker, amplifier, DAC and CD/SACD transport, but never once have I heard a reproduction that even remotely resembles the sound of a large orchestra or a singer in a concert hall. Jessye Norman recorded Strauss’ Four Last Songs for Phillips on a compact disc. What a letdown. That recording is a travesty to the sound of her live performance. I have attended opera performances the world over, from The Met to La Scala and Covent Garden. No opera recording, whatever the bitrate, comes anywhere close to reproducing the impact of live opera, such as Puccini’s Turandot.

Perhaps it’s just as well. It gives me a reason to still attend concerts. Usually, after a live concert, I can’t bear to listen to my ”high end” stereo for a few days. It’s always such a letdown.
 

tvad

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Speaking of live orchestra sound, my first live orchestra experience was as a PhD student in Pittsburgh in the mid 1980s. Still remember the exact concert program: Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony with Cho-Liang Lin as the violinist in the Sibelius violin concerto and the Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 after intermission, I was awestruck. As a youngster in my early 20s, I had never heard such a sound. I subscribed for the entire season with a student subscription for $5 a concert sitting 5 rows from the orchestra.
No sound system, or recording, I have heard heard comes close to reproducing the sound of a symphony orchestra from 20 rows or closer, (although I’m pretty certain these systems exist, as long as the recording is up to par). One feels the music in one’s bones. It’s awesome.
 

morricab

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Speaking of live orchestra sound, my first live orchestra experience was as a PhD student in Pittsburgh in the mid 1980s. Still remember the exact concert program: Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony with Cho-Liang Lin as the violinist in the Sibelius violin concerto and the Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 after intermission, I was awestruck. As a youngster in my early 20s, I had never heard such a sound. I subscribed for the entire season with a student subscription for $5 a concert sitting 5 rows from the orchestra. Later that year, Jessye Norman, the incomparable soprano, came to perform Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. I had never imagined a human being could project a voice with that intensity through a huge concert hall with no miking.

35+ years later, I was lucky enough to live in the Bay Area and catch Michael Tilson Thomas again conducting the San Francisco symphony. Living in the city made it easy to hear many concerts at Davies Symphony hall. Charles Dutoit conducted the majestic Berlioz Requiem with 500 singers and a huge brass section arrayed around the hall. What a thrilling experience.

In short, over 30+ years, I have owned every conceivable variation of loudspeaker, amplifier, DAC and CD/SACD transport, but never once have I heard a reproduction that even remotely resembles the sound of a large orchestra or a singer in a concert hall. Jessye Norman recorded Strauss’ Four Last Songs for Phillips on a compact disc. What a letdown. That recording is a travesty to the sound of her live performance. I have attended opera performances the world over, from The Met to La Scala and Covent Garden. No opera recording, whatever the bitrate, comes anywhere close to reproducing the impact of live opera, such as Puccini’s Turandot.

Perhaps it’s just as well. It gives me a reason to still attend concerts. Usually, after a live concert, I can’t bear to listen to my ”high end” stereo for a few days. It’s always such a letdown.
That’s why I tend to focus on smaller acoustic ensembles to judge approximation of realism because it is within the realm of capability of better systems.
 
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taww

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Re: power cords, @PYP as luck would have it, I have had a loom of Kubala Sosna Temptation in the system for a few months. It works very well with the Tambaqui, though after some limited experimentation I haven't found the Tambaqui to be THAT sensitive to the cord - probably less so than the PS Audio. That said, I'm not through the Tambaqui's break-in period yet.

@speakerlust thanks for the footer tip - I had just been leaving it on its rails, though I did notice it sounded a bit better sitting on top of my Gryphon preamp vs. my (not very inert) credenza. I have some Cardas wood blocks and Herbie's footers that I can try, just to see how sensitive it is.

@godofwealth I was in SF for a few years stint, maybe we attended the same SFS concert at some point. :) Nowadays I live 10 minutes from Severance Hall and hear the Cleveland Orchestra regularly. Fully agree nothing can literally match a live performance, though honestly, my wife and I sometimes come home from a concert, then put on a recording and are pleasantly surprised how well the system holds up. It did take a good amount of investment to get it to that point though. :)
 

godofwealth

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Ah, there’s some great recordings that have come from Severance Hall. One of my favorites is Maazel’s recording of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliette. The original Decca SXL LP box set was one of Harry Pearson’s top choices for best recorded music. Telarc in the early years made some great recordings there in the days when Jack Renner was running the show. Don't know if you caught this great write up in the New York Times recently about one of their star horn players.


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/06/...d-orchestra.html?referringSource=articleShare
 

musicfirst1

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No sound system, or recording, I have heard heard comes close to reproducing the sound of a symphony orchestra from 20 rows or closer, (although I’m pretty certain these systems exist, as long as the recording is up to par). One feels the music in one’s bones. It’s awesome.
Sorry, but I am absolutely certain but are no systems in the world that can recreate the worlds greatest symphonies, performed by the greatest orchestras in the greatest venues in the world, whether one is row one, row 20, back row or balcony.
 

taww

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tvad

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Sorry, but I am absolutely certain but are no systems in the world that can recreate the worlds greatest symphonies, performed by the greatest orchestras in the greatest venues in the world, whether one is row one, row 20, back row or balcony.
Good to know where you stand on the topic. Thank you.
 

speakerlust

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@speakerlust thanks for the footer tip - I had just been leaving it on its rails, though I did notice it sounded a bit better sitting on top of my Gryphon preamp vs. my (not very inert) credenza. I have some Cardas wood blocks and Herbie's footers that I can try, just to see how sensitive it is.
When you evaluate footers, depending on the devices, you may try both placing under the existing rail supports vs. under the Tambaqui. I believe there are some vented areas under which you would not want to cover. I first tried the Oreas under the rails using 2 on each rail. The rails depressed and scored the soft texture of the Oreas, which did rebound after a period of time when I removed. I have now gone to using 3 of them under the Makua. I have also found with other devices even very slight positional placement changes under the body of audio equipment can produce some auditory differences.
 
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