I’ve reverted back to causal listening mode for the past while while waiting for the MU1, Tambaqui, and fancy cables to arrive - just enjoying music. I tend to flip between states with the most time just listening to music.
But a day ago my used Tambaqui arrived. I couldn’t wait for my Shunyata cables to arrive, so I picked up a pair of Audioquest Red River balanced cables to try it with. The Tambaqui only has balanced output connections so I couldn’t use my RCA cables. My first impression after a day of listening - wow, I’ve heard this effect before! Will get to that later.
This is an utterly different sound than what I experienced with the Merason, with my Gryphon Diablo DAC, and with the Aurender N20. In fact this is at the totally opposite end of the spectrum from my experience with the Aurender N20. Here is what I found:
- Unbridled resolution at all frequencies. Without being lean or bright!
- Resolute, stable, rock-solid bass and mid frequencies. Density is great despite the extreme clarity.
- Lighting fast. Like really, really fast. Transients are really, really quick but not at all hard
- Neutrality compared to my Gryphon DAC module which has a boosted low end. So yes, the Tambaqui has less bass and for once I consider this a good thing with other elements being allowed to shine as they are supposed to.
- More bass snap/punch
- Imaging is fantastic with tremendous solidity with respect to positioning.
- Everything is effortless and unforced, but lively and engaging
- Really, really great connection with the music. Not sterile despite the extreme precision.
- Better fine dynamics than my Gryphon DAC
- My Innuos PhoenixNET Ethernet switch is a match made in heaven. It takes the Tambaqui’s sound and adds a focused liquidity to it. Although I guess technically it’s the other way around considering the signal flow.
Music is just fantastic and it’s actually tough to listen critically which is just great! This is clearly better than my Gryphon Diablo DAC module.
Are there any negatives yet? Two but these don’t bug me one bit:
- Could use a touch more body to have vocals and instruments be “larger” - maybe? But maybe this would remove the space needed to do all the things it does so well. So I don’t really think this is a real criticism.
- The space between vocals and all instruments is highly precise, but maybe with not quite as much distance between everything compared with my Gryphon DAC? With all of the positives I don’t even think of this as a negative, more of just a point of note. My Shunyata Omega AES and Sigma NR V2 balanced cables should help separate things when they arrive, not to mention the 4X hardware oversampling of the MU1. Which I’m told is in-transit finally!
Really liking this and feel it is totally aligned with what I am seeking. But it may not be for everyone. It reminds me of exactly the qualities that my Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker cables provided - detail that was really satisfying, delivered with lightning speed and without any lean-ness or hardness.
While this is right up my alley I could see how some may prefer a more fleshy and organic sound closer to what the Aurender N20 offered. But this is just perfect for me. And there is no tension or nervousness that my Gryphon DAC exhibits. It’s completely taken away my urge to tweak. I WILL tweak but because I will consciously do so rather than feeling compelled to do so. I haven’t even removed my speaker grills because it just sounds great and I’m too busy listening to music! This is effortless stress free listening - but with gobs and gobs of detail!
I know the less good things tend to come out with extended listening over weeks. But I really feel like I know this type of sound from my experience with my Valhalla 2 speaker cables, oddly, and that it’s totally aligned with my tastes. I would think that anyone who likes the Valhalla 2 speaker cables, which I know is not everyone, should really try this DAC. I know some people don’t like the Valhalla 2’s but I imagine some of these people may be exposing issues elsewhere in their system with the Valhalla 2’s and attributing the brightness they hear to them. Even in this thread I’ve been blaming issues on the wrong components only to find out later! On that note I’ve always thought the Diablo may not be the fastest sounding amp around but turns out it was the Gryphon DAC module holding things back.
The Tambaqui is clearly a cut above the Merason at more than double the price. But I will go back to the Merason to try it with the balanced interconnects. I still really like this DAC!
Will be interesting to see what the MU1 can do with my Gryphon DAC but at this point I’m guessing I’ll be stuck on the Tambaqui permanently. It’s perplexing how it can be so revealing while totally avoiding sounding lean and while being so musically engaging.
Oh and just for reference - this was all done with the USB output from my Innuos Zenith MK3 and PhoenixUSB.
Sound wise, I’d be totally happy if this was the end of the line. I could live happily with this sound. But now I’m at +1 boxes until my MU1 arrives!