I’ve always wanted to go to the Munich High-End show. But with the world on lockdown and the Munich show outright cancelled, I accepted an invitation from Bill Parish of GTT Audio to attend his version of Munich at his home/showroom in NJ. What was on display was a special world premiere of the Mola Mola Kula Integrated Amplifier ($13,800) with built in DAC and Roon endpoint ($8200) and built-in phonostage ($3000)—that’s $25k all in. Bill chose to match the Kula with the well-reviewed and all-around exceptional YG Acoustic Hailey speakers ($46,800) with Kubala Sosna Elation! cables completing the system (one power cord at $2000 for the first meter and $500 for each additional meter, and one set of speaker cables at $1500 for the first meter and $700 for each additional meter).
Before I get into specifics I had two impressions as I sat down: First, with any integrated, especially one as physically diminutive as the Kula, this would make an exceptional second system or office system; and second, wow, $47k Haileys on a $13,800 base price integrated—had Bill lost his mind?
About the size of the average CD player, wearing a chassis that matches the rest of the Mola Mola family’s curvaceous lines and style, the Kula is simple, elegant, and refined. If you’re looking for bling, pizazz, or wow factor, you’ll have to turn it on and connect speakers, because the Kula is dressed in formal wear, not gold chains and furs. Two upgrade cards are available; a complete Tambaqui DAC and Ethernet renderer with Roon endpoint and a fully adjustable phonostage that can service both your mm and mc needs with a wide array of gain settings and EQ curves. An nCore Class D 200Wpc into 8 ohms stereo amplifier rounds out the package with a more than sufficient selection of user programmable single-ended and balanced inputs.
Ewald Verkerk, sales and brand manager of Mola Mola, was present during my three-hour visit. He sat there like a kindergarten student on parents’ night waiting for his mother to see his dry pasta art for the first time. Ewald was beaming with pride and exploding with excitement to share his newest creation. Bill wore his usual poker face, with just a tiny smirk, as if he was holding a royal flush and waiting for his opponent to say he was bluffing.
Bill handed me the Roon iPad controller and sat back, waiting for me to inflict upon him, Ewald, and his system whatever struck my fancy. They had decided to keep the demo digital-only to show how simple a system this could be—internal renderer and Roon endpoint, DAC, integrated, and speakers. I’d have called it an all-in-one instead of an integrated amp, but I thought Ewald would punch me in the nose.
I adjusted the volume from the iPad app and heard a quiet series of audible clicks as the volume ascended to my selected target. A small light in the dial indicated just where the volume is heading, and when it got to its destination there was a subtle and exquisite dimming. This technology added nothing to the sonics, but bespoke a sense of style and luxury that more expensive components should take note of.