Mola Mola Makua Preamp/DAC

Last year Bruno Putzeys simply held up a layered stack of circuit boards when describing his new DAC, but this year we were able to hear the DAC in Philip O'Hanlon's On a Higher Note room, shown above in the Makua preamp, with the bottom cover off and LEDs all aglow.

This is a fully discrete design, meaning even the digital section is built on circuit boards and does not include an off-the-shelf DAC chip. Putzeys said that all incoming audio is first upsampled to 32/3.125MHz and then converted to noise-shaped PWM. From the Mola Mola website: "The two remaining boards are 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 140dB SNR," which Bruno points out is equivalent to 8xDSD.

To say that O'Hanlon puts on great demos is an understatement as he slowly works you through some simple well-recorded vocal tracks until you find yourself bouncing around on the listening couch when he hits fifth gear. This year's track that did me in was "Diggin' James Brown" by Tower of Power, now in heavy rotation at our house. Though I don't often have time for demos like this, from what I did hear at CES, this presentation with the Vivid Audio Giya G3s was the best sound all week.

The new DAC module for the Makua preamp should be available around the middle of 2015. The Makua retails for $13,450 but no price or specific name for the DAC section yet.