In Barn for Review: Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC

The Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC ($13,400) is not your grandmother’s DAC.

From the company:

The converter is a two board stack. On the first board, all incoming digital audio is upsampled to 3.125MHz/32 bits and converted to noise shaped PWM. On the other board are two mono DACs, in which a discrete 32- stage FIR DAC and a single-stage 4th order filtering I/V converter, convert the PWM into analogue with a breathtaking 130dB SNR. This is near the theoretical limit for 24-bit files and far beyond that of even quad-speed DSD. Uniquely, distortion remains below the noise floor even for full scale signals.

The Bruno Putzeys’-designed Tambaqui DAC offers a number of inputs including Optical (Toslink), S/PDIF (Cinch), AES/EBU (XLR), USB Type B (USB Audio and Firmware Updates), Ethernet (Roon Ready), Bluetooth (SBC, AAC, APTX, LDAC), and I²S over HDMI. In an interesting twist on helping you make a good choice by offering no choice at all, balanced outputs are the only output option to your hifi [footnote 1]. A 1/4″ headphone jack and XLR4 output for balanced ‘phones also reside on the rear panel along with the mains power input.

The USB and Network inputs can process PCM resolutions up to 32bit/382kHz as well as DSD up to DSD256 (Native). All other inputs max out at 24bit/192kHz with the exception of Bluetooth which is limited to 16bit/48kHz PCM-only.

The Tambaqui’s matte aluminum and black curvaceous body is built to a very high standard begging for top of the rack placement.

Performance

Full-Scale Output Level (XLR): 18dBu
Full-Scale Output Level (headphone): 18dBu
Signal to Noise Ratio: 130dB
THD, IMD: not measurable (estimated -140dB)
Bandwidth: Up to 80kHz (apodizing response)
Integrated jitter: <1ps from 10Hz upwards, <300fs from 1kHz upwards Jitter rejection: >80dB at 1Hz after 20 seconds of loc

More information is available from Mola Mola.


1. If your hifi can only handle single-ended RCA input, there are third-party XLR-RCA adapters.