Excerpt from full post by David Robinson:
“I’ve been saying it for several years now: Philip O’Hanlon of On a Higher Note runs one helluva fine room at the shows I’ve visited. His choice in music is superb, involving LPs, SACDs, DSD, and even open reel tapes at times. The best version of Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” was the one that I heard in Philip’s room a couple of years ago, for example. (I’d still love to find that German EP!) His values are always elegantly musical, and his product lines reflect high quality without blowing the doors off of your Swiss bank accounts. (Yeah, you know which ones I mean.) There is always a fine return on investment with Philip’s systems.”
“This room really drew me in, and not just for the fine whisky and wine that was generously shared after hours on Saturday night. No, it was the new combination of equipment that I was not familiar with as a system, and that I was hearing together for the first time. I had been really taken with the Mola-Mola kit last summer at THE Show Newport Beach, where they won an Audio Oasis! Award in tandem with Vivid loudspeakers, but this time around Mola-Mola was running with the Eclipse TD-712z MK II loudspeakers ($10,600/pair) and a pair of the Eclipse TD725SW subwoofers ($6,400 each). Luxman was in evidence once again, with the DA-06 DSD DAC ($4,990); for analog, LPs were twirling on the Luxman PD-171 turntable, sporting the phenomenal Soundsmith Hyperion MM cartridge.”
“The results were truly satisfying at the level of soul: LPs had the rightness of groove that made me sit back, unwind, and connect with the music. Dynamics were excellent, transparency was very fine, and the low frequencies were well in hand with the Eclipse subs, which were components that I hadn’t encountered before. The integration of bass with midrange and higher frequencies was very nicely done…commendable. Further, this room had a really interesting holodeck-like effect, with surprising soundstaging and imaging…for reasons that I would discover.
You’ll see in the photograph above one of the most remarkable things about the Makua preamp phono section: It was being controlled by an app on an Android pad! This app was the best thing that I’ve ever seen for controlling the parameters of LP playback. Bruno demonstrated this to me on the Android pad. It had all sorts of elements that you could select and change with the touch of a finger: Gain (via relay control), loading, mono or stereo, EQ, curves, cartridge type, etc., are all there. There were multiple stored profiles for just about every cartridge and just about every curve that’s ever existed. This is an exciting marriage of digital controls with pure analog preamp operation, since the digital domain is used only to set parameters in the analog domain. No A/D is involved in the playback itself.
Damn. This is flat-out fantastic. Vinyl lovers everywhere really need to check the Makua with phono section out…killer stuff, amigos!
… My experience with the On a Higher Note room, on two separate occasions, sold me. This was definitely an Audio Oasis! winner, with a number of surprises for me.
As a result, I hope to be able to try a complete Mola-Mola system in the near future.”