Mola-Mola Kula Integrated Amplifier Page 2

The default and a simple Apple Remote, with no more than a 'ring' controller, menu button and play/pause functions, has been something of a stop-gap for Mola-Mola, and the once-optional £500 'main remote' not always appreciated at this price level. But by the time you read this the Kula will be supplied with a custom remote at no extra cost (and existing owners also supported in hindsight). Nevertheless the Mola-Mola app – as stylish as its hardware products, and a delight to use – remains an excellent alternative for smartphone users.

sqnote Coming Clean
That's certainly the case with the Kula as a whole – at least once you get stuck in and set it up to your taste. The volume and preset selectors are particularly precise in their operation, the former accompanied by a muted clatter of relays as you operate it without music playing. And, despite PM's reservations about the upper limits of its power this is just one of those amps with a seemingly effortless ability to drive a range of speakers with real conviction. Moreover the Kula remains equally impressive across every one of its wide range of input options.

1121mola.remWhat's notable is that, despite all the digital circuitry and high frequency switching in action under the bonnet, the sound is rich, clean and entirely organic, with a smooth and inherently natural-sounding presentation that makes just about any music captivating. During the run-in and familiarisation period I was listening to some of the early 2021 Proms using Roon and – despite the relatively low bitrate on offer – I found myself thoroughly enjoying them. In particular, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's performances of the last Mozart symphonies, conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev, proved a very pleasant way to while away a Sunday evening.

Solid Ground
The Kula is one of those amplifiers that's so easy to enjoy you rapidly take for granted all the good things it's doing. If you do concentrate on the sound, rather than the music, then it's not hard to appreciate the solidity and focus of the soundstage it creates with a good pair of speakers, the ease with which it paints instrumental and vocal timbres, and the effortless dynamics even when playing at high basic levels. But most of all, it's the way the amp just gets out of the way of the music. Whether playing via the conventional analogue or digital inputs, or feeding it with Roon, the Kula lives ups to its manufacturer's claims of both transparency and 'putting the music first'.

A Good Read
With the well-crafted recordings on Prince's posthumous Welcome 2 America set [Legacy, n/a cat no; 96kHz/24-bit download], the amp slips easily into the groove of the opening track, thanks in no small part to its combination of deep bass reach and speed. Those qualities carry the listener right through this remarkable album, recorded over a decade ago, shelved, and now revealed as some of the purple person's best work.


Our fully-loaded Kula included the phono module [far right] that adapts to multiple equalisation profiles via the app controller; custom PWM upsampler/DAC on three SHARC DSPs [near right]; plus the main switchmode PSU and NCore-inspired Class D amplifier [left]

The resolution here isn't of the kind to enhance every foible of a recording, instead it's all about communicating the music as directly as possible, as is the case with the cover of 'Sail On Sailor' from the latest Los Lobos album, Native Sons [New West NW6516], paying tribute to writers and bands from their native Los Angeles. This far from the cleanest production job you'll find, but it's a great listen, with the band's cover of War's 'The World Is A Ghetto' sounding jazzy, big and magnificent in the hands of the Kula.

And the Kula is pretty much agnostic when it comes to musical styles, delivering bags of presence with Tiffany Pollack's suitably swampy and reverb-laden Bayou Liberty set [Nola Blue records, Bandcamp download], with its home-brewed bluesy rawness. With similar effortlessness, it sounds crisp and detailed with Raffi Besalyan's solo piano set, The Sound Of Black And White [Sono Luminus DSL-92249; DXD], delivering a fine impression of the instrument in the spacious studio acoustic.

It's a focused, but not spot-lit, performance, and the Kula does a fine job of bringing out both the detail and the ambience here, creating a glowing, attractive sound that encourages the listener to keep on listening – and exploring the music collection. If the Mola-Mola Kula were a novel, you'd be hard pressed to put it down!

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Mola-Mola Kula is an unashamedly upmarket integrated amplifier, especially in the fully-loaded guise reviewed here, but it lives up to its striking looks and company pedigree with a sound that's not just captivating, but entirely more-ish. Across the musical spectrum this amp belies all its cleverness with a sparkling yet weighty presentation that's effortlessly enjoyable, and hugely impressive.

The Netherlands
Supplied by: Sound Design Distribution Ltd, Cardiff
0800 0096213