Finally got a new DAC (Tambaqui!)

taww

Active Member
Jun 13, 2020
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New Jersey
taww.co
On week 3 and the Tambaqui sound has taken a few notches up. It continues to do an exceptional job balancing detail with naturalness, vividness with smoothness, while developing real power and depth. Cello and piano in particular have gotten significantly richer and more resonant - zero leanness concerns. The perspective is also more forward now, but in a good way - initially it was very dimensional and detailed, but up-front recordings sounded a tad too airy and not visceral enough. Now close mic’ed material sounds big and bold as it should, dare I say even emulating great tube sound in its presence. I switched back to the PS audio briefly, which had been powered down so I think it was a bit cold, but the gap between the two has widened significantly.
 

PYP

New Member
Jan 13, 2022
11
18
3
67
Southwest, USA
On week 3 and the Tambaqui sound has taken a few notches up. It continues to do an exceptional job balancing detail with naturalness, vividness with smoothness, while developing real power and depth. Cello and piano in particular have gotten significantly richer and more resonant - zero leanness concerns. The perspective is also more forward now, but in a good way - initially it was very dimensional and detailed, but up-front recordings sounded a tad too airy and not visceral enough. Now close mic’ed material sounds big and bold as it should, dare I say even emulating great tube sound in its presence. I switched back to the PS audio briefly, which had been powered down so I think it was a bit cold, but the gap between the two has widened significantly.
I also had a PS Audio DS prior to getting the Tambaqui. The Tambaqui I listened to was a fully broken in demo unit, so I was able to compare apples to apples. Although I truly enjoyed the DS, the Tambaqui is in a different league (of course, within the context of my system which also uses Mola Mola amps, presumably the amps used to develop the Tambaqui).

If I remember correctly, the Tambaqui sounded great after about one month, but I noticed small improvements over the next two months or so. YMMV (different room, ears, preferences, systems).

As mentioned, in my setup the power cable made a difference. I'm trying to arrange a in-home demo of a Shunyata power distributor to determine if that will increase the Tambaqui's (and all other gear) qualities (as well as providing excellent over-current protection, which is needed where I live).
 

AMR / iFi audio

Industry Expert
Aug 21, 2019
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ifi-audio.com
On week 3 and the Tambaqui sound has taken a few notches up. It continues to do an exceptional job balancing detail with naturalness, vividness with smoothness, while developing real power and depth. Cello and piano in particular have gotten significantly richer and more resonant - zero leanness concerns. The perspective is also more forward now, but in a good way - initially it was very dimensional and detailed, but up-front recordings sounded a tad too airy and not visceral enough. Now close mic’ed material sounds big and bold as it should, dare I say even emulating great tube sound in its presence. I switched back to the PS audio briefly, which had been powered down so I think it was a bit cold, but the gap between the two has widened significantly.
Are you turning it off when not listening? I'm always leaving my SS gear running, especially DACs and preamps. They don't need music to burn in, even being powered on helps.
 

taww

Active Member
Jun 13, 2020
92
83
25
45
New Jersey
taww.co
Are you turning it off when not listening? I'm always leaving my SS gear running, especially DACs and preamps. They don't need music to burn in, even being powered on helps.
No, I never turn off any of my source gear, and in fact I’ve been running the Tambaqui nonstop with either Roon or AES-EBU playing. I only shut down the Gryphon set for obvious conservation and temperature reasons. :)
 
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AMR / iFi audio

Industry Expert
Aug 21, 2019
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No, I never turn off any of my source gear, and in fact I’ve been running the Tambaqui nonstop with either Roon or AES-EBU playing. I only shut down the Gryphon set for obvious conservation and temperature reasons. :)
Great minds think alike :) Yes, it's gonna be hard to listen to the hot running gear in the upcoming months. It's headphone season ;)
 

ihmeyers

VIP/Donor
Nov 13, 2017
185
157
295
Palm Beach County, Florida
I'm interested in the Tambaqui, but my preamps are single ended only. Any opinion on the XLR to RCA adapters Mola Mola supplies? I'm generally not a fan of those kinds of things because I think you lose too much vs the XLR outputs, Has anyone compared them to the straight XLR out sound? Is the loss in sound quality enough to exclude the Tambaqui from purchase?

Thanks.

 

PYP

New Member
Jan 13, 2022
11
18
3
67
Southwest, USA
I'm interested in the Tambaqui, but my preamps are single ended only. Any opinion on the XLR to RCA adapters Mola Mola supplies? I'm generally not a fan of those kinds of things because I think you lose too much vs the XLR outputs, Has anyone compared them to the straight XLR out sound? Is the loss in sound quality enough to exclude the Tambaqui from purchase?
There are so many variables that what others experience may not be relevant. Needless to say, if you can demo the Tambaqui then you can test it within the context of your system. As you know, the benefit of balanced cables is greater immunity to noise vs. single-ended, so if you have very long single-ended cables and lots of EMF and RFI, then balanced would be better. But absent those challenges, perhaps the cable design/composition determines the sound more than the use of an adapter (it seems like you might have more than one to try).

Given the quality of your beautiful setup, I would anticipate that the Tambaqui is going to sound great even with an adapter. It will be a matter of personal taste of tubed DAC (Lampi) vs. non-tubed. To me, the Tambaqui just lets the music through.
 
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ihmeyers

VIP/Donor
Nov 13, 2017
185
157
295
Palm Beach County, Florida
There are so many variables that what others experience may not be relevant. Needless to say, if you can demo the Tambaqui then you can test it within the context of your system. As you know, the benefit of balanced cables is greater immunity to noise vs. single-ended, so if you have very long single-ended cables and lots of EMF and RFI, then balanced would be better. But absent those challenges, perhaps the cable design/composition determines the sound more than the use of an adapter (it seems like you might have more than one to try).

Given the quality of your beautiful setup, I would anticipate that the Tambaqui is going to sound great even with an adapter. It will be a matter of personal taste of tubed DAC (Lampi) vs. non-tubed. To me, the Tambaqui just lets the music through.


Thanks. The Tambaqui would actually go into a 2nd system for now using a custom DHT preamp and some open baffle speakers. The DHT preamp doesn't have balanced inputs but it sound's very natural (albeit with pretty low gain). I have a Line Magnetic As-133 DHT preamp I had built for me in China coming within next month and that does have one balanced input. But then I need to buy quality balanced cables. My SE cables (in this system) are Audio Note. This is more a 'screw around with system' that has a completely different sound from my main system. I had never had an SET before and now I have 4 of them. This is bucket list stuff for me as I try to explore a more 'vintage' type of sound.

BTW, the Tambaqui I have my eyes on is a dealer trade-in so there would be no home demo.
 

Davidny

Well-Known Member
Nov 29, 2014
12
13
133
I'm interested in the Tambaqui, but my preamps are single ended only. Any opinion on the XLR to RCA adapters Mola Mola supplies? I'm generally not a fan of those kinds of things because I think you lose too much vs the XLR outputs, Has anyone compared them to the straight XLR out sound? Is the loss in sound quality enough to exclude the Tambaqui from purchase?

Thanks.

If you’re buying a Tambaqui from GTT Audio in New Jersey, Bill will supply XLR/RCA adapters. Mola Mola doesn’t supply them. He told me he has auditioned many adapters and thinks the ones he uses sound the best. I’ve auditioned other equipment and tweaks with him at his place and he’s quite conscientious when he does A/B comparisons. Also he auditions on his “big system” which must retail for close to $1M. Not saying that cost is equal to best, but he is recommending a Tambaqui with single ended outputs in a otherwise cost no object system. It’s up to you to decide why he recommends the $14K Tambaqui.
I’ve owned a Tambaqui to 3+ years using his adapters and think it sounds great. Over that time I’ve made multiple tweaks to my digital set up upstream of the DAC and never felt that the Tambaqui was a bottleneck in the changes that I’ve made and improvements I’ve been able to hear.

Here’s a video he recently did to explain the virtues of single ended vs balanced
 
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speakerlust

Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2011
45
51
403
I was fortunate to find and purchase a preowned Mola Mola Makua with newly updated DAC card. I already had a DHT preamp with a installed DAC module and also a Lumin X1. I had previously run the X1 through the preamp, but changed to active crossover and amp direct with the Leedh processing option of the X1. Leedh surprised me with the dynamics and great sound quality experience, which I found better to my liking. My DHT preamp did not have a home theater bypass for integration with my HT processor. I employed a passive switch box with XLR inputs/output, which seemed to work well, but was an inelegant solution, but still thought better sound quality. The Makua, for me, proved to be a highly transparent preamp that simplified use of my DACs while providing excellent sound quality. As much as I liked Leedh, I found I preferred using the Makua volume control. The Makua can set of optional inputs to Direct, using the device volume control and performing as a HT bypass. I compared both Direct with Leedh and using preamp volume control without Leedh, and at that time preferred Makua volume control. Admittedly, I have not revisited comparing these at this time. The Makua has ended up being an excellent piece in my system. I still have the X1 and play it as well as ethernet Roon Ready of the Makua, as well as USB and AES/EBU to the Makua DAC module (Tambaqui). The stand alone Tambaqui does have I2S input, while the Makua DAC module does not.

I appreciate the pleasurable sound quality tube preamps can provide. I have had Cary SLP-05, Vinnie Rossi DHT LIO, and Vinnie Rossi DHT L2 Signature preamps in my system. I rolled a variety of tubes, and enjoyed the results. In earlier years, I pursued tube preamps for midrange magic and to mellow bright edge of some of my other equipment at the time. I find the Makua very transparent and not at all bright or edgy. I have found cabling does influence the presentation with the Mola Mola DAC and preamp, and have somewhat tuned what I find right in my music choices using cabling, but did that as well with earlier equipment choices. My choices now, including the Mola Mola and X1 already are in the camp of what sounds right to me, and do not require compensation with other equipment pieces to emphasize more detail for my tubed gear or more warmth to take away perceived irritating brightness and etched detail. This is where I am now in my audio travels, and does not preclude further changes down line. I was far from unhappy with my previous preamp, but was looking for more elegant solution to fit my needs of my system, and the Makua has been superior for me in that regard. If possible, suggest you work with your dealer to explore auditioning the Makua or Mola Mola integrated, if it fits. All the various parts of our audio systems contribute to the perceived sound we get. Best of luck to you on your audio travels.
 

AMR / iFi audio

Industry Expert
Aug 21, 2019
1,658
732
200
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UK
ifi-audio.com
Thanks. The Tambaqui would actually go into a 2nd system for now using a custom DHT preamp and some open baffle speakers. The DHT preamp doesn't have balanced inputs but it sound's very natural (albeit with pretty low gain). I have a Line Magnetic As-133 DHT preamp I had built for me in China coming within next month and that does have one balanced input. But then I need to buy quality balanced cables. My SE cables (in this system) are Audio Note. This is more a 'screw around with system' that has a completely different sound from my main system. I had never had an SET before and now I have 4 of them. This is bucket list stuff for me as I try to explore a more 'vintage' type of sound.

BTW, the Tambaqui I have my eyes on is a dealer trade-in so there would be no home demo.
Have you talked to the dealership about a loan with a security deposit? All the dealers I know are very flexible when it comes to auditions, especially with more expensive stuff :)
If you are afraid of the quality lost in the adapter, maybe get an XLR to RCA cable? It will serve as a converter but without any new points of contact in the signal path. Just a thought.
 

snopro

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2012
8
10
308
Yes, needs more break in and leave it always on and at 6 volts. Run it with a preamp.
Mid bass will fill out and the soundstage will expand. It is an excellent dac!
 

Echos

Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2019
28
9
68
46
Yes, needs more break in and leave it always on and at 6 volts. Run it with a preamp.
Mid bass will fill out and the soundstage will expand. It is an excellent dac!
my 2c is if you run it with a preamp it better be a top notch preamp....otherwise I prefer to run it direct to the amp.
 
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