Mola Mola Tambaqui or Denafrips Terminator Plus?

I need to pull the trigger, but there’s no opportunity to audition them. So far my thinking is:

Terminator Plus $6,700
+ Good reviews, lots of them
+ DAC only, no budget wasted on volume control, remote, etc.
+ Buy direct from distributor, no dealer mark-up
+ Tambaqui is 40% more expensive
- Less well-know Chinese manufacturer

Tambaqui $9,500
+ Good reviews, but fewer than Terminator Plus
+ Relatively cheap in my market
+ Very reputable manufacturer
- Sold through dealer network, increased mark-up
- Comes with volume control, pre amp, ethernet, bluetooth and remote which I don’t use

I’ve considered the dCS Bartok, but the Tambaqui seems to beat it while being 30% cheaper.

I listen to Tidal through a Roon Nucleus. Two channel, no headphones.
Amp: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated. Speakers: Focal Stella Utopia Evo.

Anyone heard both? Any help with this decision is much appreciated.

P.S. In the next few years I’ll try to audition a more "end game" DAC to match the rest of the system. For now it’s Tambaqui or Terminator Plus.
I was considering both of those DACs but I decided on the Romanian AudioByte VOX | ZAP | HUB because I think the tech on that is incredible. The HUB is not available yet but expected to be shipping in March. This is an FPGA based DAC.

The AudioByte (or Rockna)  guys today, likely know more about doing DACs than Bruno did in 2012 when the Tambaqui was created. Bruno is no longer part of the Mola Mola design team. Whereas, AudioByte and Denafrips have the original folks improving on the gear.

Of the 2 choices I would go with the TP+ even though all those parts in it give me pause for long term ownership. 
I listen to Tidal through a Roon Nucleus. Two channel, no headphones.
Amp: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated. Speakers: Focal Stella Utopia Evo.

Not trying to fork your thread but I see you have the Momentum Integrated.  I'm looking at completely revamping my amplification and that is one option I've got on the list.  How do you like it?

Once again, sorry but I'm new enough that I couldn't figure out how to message you directly.


It is @robert1976 that has the Momentum Integrated. I do not have it but I was in the same room as Dan A when he demoed the Momentum line a few years back. Sounded pretty good but I do not like the looks of the line.

I have the CODA CSiB and it is a killer integrated. I am getting the Krell K300-i integrated next week with supposedly new specs. That should also be very good. Both should appeal to the Momentum fans. 

To DM a user click on the User Name at the top of each post. The drop down that follows as a link to Message User.
Thanks for the input.
I suspect the Tambaqui is way newer; the earliest mentions online are from 2019. So it’s a modern design. Bruno having left the team is a downside, I agree.
@g9taylor My gear hasn’t arrived yet. Ask me again in May. After everything has settled and run in.
I have had my Terminator Plus for a little over a week. I upgraded from a Terminator that had for about 10 months. I added a Denafrips Gaia to my Terminator about a month ago. This was a significant improvement to the Terminator. 

My T+ is still breaking in, so I don't know how much better it's going to get, but after a week it has now easily surpassed the Terminator, which I thought was a great DAC. The biggest difference I've noticed is that recordings that I had previous thought were just not very good are now much more listenable with considerably more detail. 

If you decide on the Terminator Plus, I strongly recommend adding the Gaia. I haven't actually tried the Terminator Plus without it, but the improvement with the Terminator was so dramatic that I would expect it to be a well worthwhile addition to the T+, particularly since these two devices were designs specifically to work together. 

I have never heard the Tambaqui, so I can't comment on any comparison. 
I considered the Mola Mola as I had the Kaluga and Makua but decided on Lumin X-1.  Phenomanl DAC / Streamer all in one.  I am ow upgrading to Lampi Pacific.  Lumin has a great app, beautiful sound.  You should check it out.  Send a private email if you want to know more about mine that I will sell once the Pacific comes in.
I had.. audio byte vox, schiit yaggy, audiogd r8he, terminator, doge 7, with cascade mutec mc3 with se120 clock.     Among all, T plus stood out  in performance, significant jump from all the good dacs that I have previously owned.    With T plus with another level.
I do have some samples but from my systems.

For the source.. I don't think you can go wrong with T plus.  
Thanks, that helps a lot. For fun, you could play the Terminator Plus without the Gaia, just to hear the difference.

So the Gaia is purely a reclocker to remove noise? Would you expect me to hear a difference when streaming from my Roon Nucleus?
actually.. t plus feed the GAIA so much more fluid sounding. GAIA will likely improve any dac but with T plus synced clock, it was better to my ear. From what I under, one clock is to reduce jitter other one is to sync music. I am not techy but from listening.. much more fluid and organic sounding.

I was using another one .. AudioGD di20 but GAIA  made a noticeable difference.  Not recording can carry out the sound or not.   

this is sample without GAIA but with di20.   Running homemade PC with youtube or roon for my listening.
The Gaia is primarily a reclocker, but also has buffering and optical isolation between the inputs and outputs, and can select between many different types of digital inputs and outputs to multiple types as well. When used with the Terminator Plus, it can also synchronize the digital outputs with the clock(s) generated by the DAC. 

The Terminator seems to really prefer the i2s input. I initially was using a Bryston Bdp-2 (with the upgraded IAC board) connected to the Terminator over AES3 (DH Labs D-110). I also tried connecting my Roon server (NUC running ROCK with LPS) directly to the DAC over USB (AQ Diamonnd) but I preferred the connection through the streamer. 

When I got the Gaia, I first connected the NUC to the Gaia using my USB cable, and the Gaia to the Terminator using the AES3 cable. This was an improvement over using the streamer, but not a huge improvement. After several days with this hookup, I got a cheap HDMI cable and tried an i2s connection to the DAC. Wow.  This was pretty dramatic, and that was with a cheap cable with no burnin. It continued to improve a bit more as I waited a couple weeks to receive my Tubulus Argentus i2s cable. This cable was even a bit better but no where near the difference as switching to i2s in the first place. 

When I got the Terminator Plus, I hooked it up the same way, but added two clock cables between the DAC and Gaia. Cold out of the box, it wasn't quite as good as the Terminator, but after warming up for 24 hours, I think it probably reached parity and had continues to improve. 

As I said, I've only had it for a week, so if it's anything like the Terminator, I expect most continued improvement for at least another several weeks. Once it's fully burned in, I may do a little experimentation with different cables and connections. 

Cold out of the box, it wasn't quite as good as the Terminator, but after warming up for 24 hours, I think it probably reached parity and had continues to improve.
You mean the cold-out-of-the-box Terminator Plus is not a clear improvement over the cold-out-of-the-box standard Terminator? You're counting on burn-in for the Plus to show it's advantages over the non-Plus?
@robert1976 The Tambaqui algorithm or design was conceived by Bruno in 2006 (approx). I read an interview he gave on ASR web site on this. The Tambaqui was given a good rating on that site and he participated in the discussion to promote it. The DAC was first released to the market as an add-on module to the Makua preamp. This was a $6K option. This was regarded very well and Mola Mola decided to release the DAC module as a separate DAC called the Tambaqui. Some people preferred an external DAC.

I was initially thinking of getting the Makua since I needed a preamp and DAC. However, the Benchmark HPA4 preamp came into the picture touting the same sound as the Makua. I tried that out first at a much lower cost and it turned out to be a great choice. I was considering the Tambaqui next as the DAC. However, I went another way with the DACs by buying 4 cheaper DAC's which  currently have.
@yyzsantabarbara Yes, that's true of course, their DAC technology existed way before the stand-alone Tambaqui was introduced. Thanks.
for me.. T plus cold start still way better than anything I heard or had that is including the terminator.   Does improve over 10 days period. Imaging and details that contribute to emotional factors are very best.   After hearing Tplus.... audiobyte which I felt it was better over terminator ..hit the road with burning rubber.  I would say Gaia will add good things to any DAC out there.  

Making digital music to get to the level of coherent Cd or analog or better .. not many choices out there.
Interesting how no one in this thread appears to have heard the Mola Mola Tambaqui extensively.  I have owned it- wonderful dac- it took Aries-Cerat level digital to beat it...
Where do you find a Tambaqui for $9500 USD?  It's $13,400 now...Rather a big jump in price isn't it?
I’m not in the US. Prices vary around the world for this Dutch piece of gear. $13.5k is a serious jump from $9.5k, I’ll admit that. 
I went ahead and bought the Tambaqui. It’s wonderful, competes with DACs double its price.
Note there is a new Terminator II (not plus) Avaliable now, someone on another thread preferred the T II (for his specific reasons) to the +.
If you have the money you won't go wrong with the +


I had Termi and Plus side by side. Ran both with a Gaia. Clocks connected on plus. I found the plus was slightly more full sounding, maybe, just maybe, ever so slightly “colored” for my taste compared to the Termi. I also found an almost indiscernible loss of delicacy in quiet passages. This was very subtle, and would not be noticed unless playing side-by-side on very select foolish harp. I wanted to like the plus better, I just didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the plus is outstanding. Just a matter of personal taste and system synergy. Price was not a deciding factor. The Terminator plus went to a new home and I kept the Termi. (For reference, I’m running high-end Levinson separates/monos and BW 802D3s. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly a revealing system). Maybe I’ll wait for the next incarnation. Then again these are getting very very pricey. Probably deservedly so, but the PLUS and GAIA combined are slowly approaching the stratospheric prices of the likes of Mola Mola. I absolutely love my Termi with the GAIA. I think I’ll sit tight and see what the future brings. Competition may eventually bring down the prices of Mola Mola and such closing the price gap. Strikes me that such technology may be cheaper to implement than R2R soon. Who knows. I have not heard the Mola Mola...yet. 

@luisma31 - I don't think 73max compared the Terminator II with the Terminator Plus but I could be wrong. The Terminator II has barely begun shipping, and 73max did not mention the Terminator II. 

I had a Terminator and purchased a Terminator Plus. I found the Terminator, particularly when connected through the Gaia, to be an outstanding DAC. But I still prefer the Terminator Plus sound - a bit more detail and air with a more focused sound stage. 

As I understand it, the Terminator II and the Terminator Plus are essentially the same DAC, with the Terminator Plus using a hand-selected OCXO clock and R2R board. In other words, the R2R boards and clock modules that test the best are sorted for these DACs. Whether that's worth the extra ~$2K I can't say. I haven't heard the T2.

It took quite a while for the both the Terminator and Terminator Plus to break in. I think the Terminator Plus took even longer than the Terminator which I suspect is because of the change to supercapacitors. I'm not sure how long 73max gave the T+ to break in, but it was a couple of months of 24/7 operation before it really reached it's peak for me. In the first 2-3 weeks, I thought my Terminator sounded better. 

I don't think 73max compared the Terminator II with the Terminator Plus but I could be wrong

 You are correct, there is no mentioning of the T2, my bad I mixed up both.
But I thought it was particularly interesting from his comment that he tested both Gaia + Terminators and was close for him, you on the other hand have a different but yet valid perspective which validates the obvious that the + sounds better than the non plus model, I missed your earlier post with your comments, allowing enough time for the caps to break is important.

I can only speak for the Terminator (original model) which later I upgraded with the second DSP board. Note I preferred the Amanero board sound over the upgraded board during its first few firmware iterations, then around October 2019 the firmware update (think it was 3.3.2) was released and that improved the sound of the new board over the old Amanero. At some point I am planning to get either the 2 or the + but that's onhold for me now.

In other words, the R2R boards and clock modules that test the best are sorted for these DACs. Whether that's worth the extra ~$2K I can't say. I haven't heard the T2
Yeah this is a good topic, I think it could, this is all related with production batches, resistor drift and linearity and the such which is all related for these ladder resistor DAC's.

Hello @robert1976, I’m trying to find a DAC that matches my Focal Scala (Very tempting to your Stellia). And I consider the Mola Mola Tambaqui for a month (I’m using Chord Hugo TT2 as DAC at the moment). How do you feel about Mola & Focal combo? Could you share some of the insight about the Tambaqui and a little of your thought 😁. 

Hope this comment find you soon.

@darkknight8586 The Tambaqui is a great combo with Focal. It's a very neutral DAC and definitely not bright.

@robert1976 thank you Robert. Btw, do you still use the Gryphon combo? Or change to another brand (Boulder, Constellation, Vitus, Burmester, Tidal,…)?

@darkknight8586 I now have the Boulder 3010 pre amp and 3060 power amp. And a Lampizator Horizon on order :)

The Denafrips Terminator was recently upgraded to 12th Anniversary Editions, for both Terminator II and Plus versions: