We decided to design, from the ground up, a discrete DAC whose unbeatable staying power results simply from being more than 10 years ahead of the performance curve. To put it into perspective: today’s best DAC chip available, claims no better than 22 bits’ worth of dynamic range and only 20 bits’ worth of linearity. High resolution music deserves better than that. To accommodate this, Mola Mola’s DAC is designed using circuits and digital algorithms that were entirely developed in house.
The converter is a two board stack that fits into one of the option slots in the preamp. On the first board, all incoming digital audio is upsampled to 3.125MHz/32 bits and converted to noise shaped PWM. On the other board are two 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 130dB SNR.
This is near the theoretical limit for 24-bit files and far beyond that of even quad-speed DSD. Uniquely, distortion remains below the noise floor even for full scale signals. A quick look at current and historic trends of high-end IC’s indicates that for the foreseeable future this kind of performance will remain unavailable to manufacturers forced to rely on the same “chip du jour” that also powers their competitors’ products.
Even by today’s exacting standards, extraordinary care has been taken to deal with jitter. Mola Mola’s DAC uses a home-grown asynchronous upsampling algorithm whose input frequency measurement slows down rapidly until after a few seconds of lock, the frequency ratio measurement is frozen. Frequency stability is then wholly determined by the internal clock, a laboratory grade 100MHz SC-cut oscillator. This is effectively an atomic clock sans the physics package (which contributes nothing to spectral purity but quite a lot to cost).
AES/EBU (XLR)Optical (Toslink)USB type BBluetooth (A2DP, APTX)Ethernet (for future purpose)
PCM up to 384kHz /32 bits (>192kHz and >24 bits via USB only)DoP and Native DSD up to quad speed (USB only)
Full-Scale Output Level: 20dBuSignal to Noise Ratio: 130dBTHD, IMD: not measurable (estimated -140dB)Bandwidth: Up to 80 kHz (apodizing response)Integrated jitter: <1ps from 10Hz upwards, <300fs from 1kHz upwardsJitter rejection: >80dB at 1Hz after 20 seconds of lock
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