Three New Year's FollowUps

The January and February 2022 issues of Stereophile feature followup reviews of three products: the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.2 preamplifier; the Sutherland Little Loco Mk.2 phono preamplifier; and the Mola Mola Tambaqui D/A processor.

Michael Fremer reviewed the original darTZeel NHB-18NS full-function preamplifier (it includes a moving-coil phono stage) in the June 2006 issue of Stereophile. He bought the review sample, then replaced it with the NHB-18NS Mk.2, which he wrote about in June 2017.

Although I performed a complete set of measurements on the original NHB-18NS, I never did so on the Mk.2. As darTZeel had sent a new sample of the Mk.2 along with the NHB-108 Model Two power amplifier that Jason Victor Serinus will be reviewing in the March 2022 issue, I took advantage of this opportunity to do those measurements. You can read what I found here.

In his December 2021 Gramophone Dreams, Herb Reichert enthused over the sound of the Mola Mola Tambaqui D/A processor, which had been designed by Bruno Putzeys. "During my first days of listening, the Mola Mola's most conspicuous sonic trait was a bright, evenly illumined clarity," he wrote, adding, "Mola Mola's Tambaqui did not whisper-it declared loudly: 'See! The truth is more beautiful than you thought it would be!'" Herb concluded that with the Mola Mola Tambaqui, "Putzeys seems to be punching away at the fundamentals of digital conversion."

After he had written his column, Herb emailed me to suggest that I measure the Tambaqui. My measurements revealed that the Mola Mola DAC offers state-of-the-digital-art performance.

Brian Damkroger reviewed the Sutherland Little Loco current-mode phono preamplifier in October 2019 and liked what he heard. "For my money, the Little Loco is the best way to spend $3800 on an audio system with an analog source," he concluded, though he warned that "you have to try a cartridge with the Little Loco to know whether it will work." (The Little Loco is best suited for use with low-output, low–internal-impedance moving coil cartridges—the lower the output, the better; high-impedance moving magnet cartridges are not recommended.)

One drawback to using the original Little Loco is that it only has a balanced XLR inputs. The Mk.2 has single-ended inputs and Herb Reichert reported on how it sounded in the January 2022 issue.