Three Recent FollowUp Reviews

Three high-performance products were subjected to second opinions and/or measurements in recent issues: Channel D's Lino C 3.3 phono preamplifier, Mola Mola's Tambaqui D/A processor, and Pass Labs' XP-32 line preamplifier.

Michael Fremer enthused over the sound of the current-mode Channel Lino C3.3 in June. "The Lino C 3.3's sonic performance seemed flawless in every category you could list," he wrote, adding "That doesn't mean it does everything perfectly; it just means that I didn't catch whatever it misses—I didn't miss it—until I returned to my 10-times-the-cost phono preamps." The fully loaded Lino C3.3, with high-pass filter, mono, polarity, and precision RIAA options. and the front-panel LED function indicators and remote control, costs $5200. The battery-powered preamplifier's measured performance was simply superb, offering extraordinarily low distortion, very low noise, and the most accurate RIAA equalization of any phono preamplifier reviewed in Stereophile. "Wow," I wrote.

Designed by Bruno Putzeys, the Mola Mola Tambaqui impressed Herb Reichert when he reviewed this D/A processor/headphone amplifier ($13,400) in his December 2021 Gramophone Dreams column. Comparing the Tambaqui with his reference dCS Bartók he concluded that "both DACs show that improvements in the quality of digital playback have not stalled. No fact can be of greater importance to our listening hobby."

Ken Micallef, writing in the June 2022 issue, agreed: "The Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC is easily the finest digital-to-analog converter I've heard in my reference system, provoking fresh epiphanies with well-known music. Its beautiful remote control and its ability to function as a preamp adds more value to this expensive machine."

When I reviewed the three-chassis Pass Labs XP-32 line preamplifier ($17,500) in March 2021, I wrote that "A great preamplifier will allow through so much information, so much of the music, that the shortcomings of lesser speakers and amplifiers can be forgotten. The Pass Labs XP-32 satisfies that definition." In the June 2022 issue, Jim Austin compared the XP-32 with the two-chassis XP-22. He was also impressed with what he heard: "The XP-32 was just slightly more explicit than the XP-22. It was immediately noticeable on any music I played," he wrote, concluding that he "thought the XP-22 preamplifier let through all the music, or all that mattered, but I guess it didn't, because the XP-32 lets through just a little bit more."