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Network player / preamplifier

MOON by Simaudio

Manufacturer: SIMAUDIO Ltd.
Price (in Poland): 24 990 PLN

1345 Newton Rd.
Boucherville, Quebec, J4B 5H2


Provided for test by: AUDIO CENTER POLAND

MOON by SIMAUDIO is a Canadian company founded in 1980 in Quebec. MOON 390 is its most complex device, combining a network player and a preamplifier. It also offers a set of digital and analog inputs, including phono ones for MM/MC cartridges. It costs, considering the abundance of features, not that much: PLN 24 990.

very country, organization, company, or simply - all forms of organized cooperation, have their founding myth. Founding myth is a kind of story about the beginnings, aimed at strengthening the sense of community, something common to all its members, something they can all relate to. For Simaudio, it goes like this:

Victor Sima, sound and music engineer, founded in St. Hubert, Quebec, a company called Sima Electronique with one goal in mind: to ensure high-quality reproduction of music without unnecessary frills, bells and whistles.

from: company materials

As every myth of this kind, this one also evolved. I have to admit though, that it evolved in the right direction.

The company was founded in 1980 by Victor Sima, sound engineer. His first product was the PW2000 integrated amplifier. The inconspicuous device was sold under the brand name Sima Electronics. It was deprived of most of the functions that were back then considered necessary. It was an amplifier with a simple housing and simplistic aesthetics. However, customers liked it a lot which allowed company to grow.

History | In 1995, the company was sold to Mr Jean Poulin. Company changed its name to Simaudio Ltd. In time, the company prepared a line of „reference” devices - named MOON. This name soon became the name of all devices made by this company. Today, when referring to their product, we usually call them "Simaudio" or "Moon", although the manufacturer uses the name "Moon by Simaudio".

In 2013, company was sold again and currently it's being run by its former employees – Costa Koulisakisa who is responsible for the sales and Thierry Dufour, an engineer; another engineer, Louis Lemire is the third person involved.

CWhat makes it different | Characteristics features of Moon products? Exceptional reliability and durability. They are offered with a 25-year warranty, which is absolutely unique and proves how sure of their products this manufacturer is. Another distinguishing feature is constant research and development work. The point is that Moon is run by engineers and - just like McIntosh and Accuphase for example - it defines directions of its development and the way it is done.

Each new generation of devices features specific, new system solutions, accumulated tweaks, sometimes a change of thinking. All solutions are developed in-house by Simaudio team, which allows company to have control over them and to know what to expect of them. The devices are made in company's factory in Canada, which gives them even more control over the final results.

| 390

Everything I'm talking about accumulates in one of its latest products, and certainly the most technologically advanced one - the Moon 390. It's a audio files player integrated into a preamplifier. The manufacturer describes it, to be precise, as: "network player / preamplifier ". This is a new class of devices, initiated, if my memory serves, by the Naim's NAC-N 272 model, which was introduced in 2015. Today, such a combination of an audio files player and preamplifier is more common - see Cambridge Audio's NQ Edge - but it's still a market niche.

And this is because designing a device of this type requires special knowledge - it is not enough to equip a file player ("streamer") with an adjustable output, these must be two equivalent products combined in one chassis. In this case, in one housing there are as many as three devices, or rather their latest versions: the MiND 2 streaming module developed by Simaudio, one of its line preamplifiers (with MM / MC phono input), the 350P, and the 380D digital-to-analog converter. Each of these components has its own independent value and each of them has to work well with others, but also independently.

Manufacturer describes it like that:

Generally, we can say that it (Moon 390 - ed.) combines the advantages of older 350P and 380D, adding further functions to the mix. Or in other words: you can think about it as an all-in-one system without a power amplifier section. Although this system is more expensive than the ACE, it offers higher sound quality and make&finish. The 390 will be our first product featuring the new MiND 2 streaming technology.

Source: company materials

| MiND 2

MiND 2 (MOON Intelligent Network Device) is a second generation of Simaudio's streaming module – the first one was used in the Moon 180. It has been developed in house This is a company's own development, which can be controlled from devices with either iOS or Android. MiND 2 allows you to play files, organize and search them, allows user to control other Moon devices, thus facilitating an easy operation of the entire system.

The streamer is compatible with Roon („Roon Ready” function), gives user access to Tidal including Tidal Masters, Deezer including Deezer Hi-Fi and Qobuz including Qobuz Sublime+. It also allows streaming of audio files from external NAS using the UPnP protocol, as well as from pendrives and USB drives. It features a MQA decoder and supports playback of PCM files up to 32 bits and 384 kHz and DSD to DSD 256 (both via a cable connection).

The streaming module is one of the most expensive audio components. Only large corporations and large companies can afford to develop ones. And that's because his firmware requires the work of several, sometimes even dozens or so talented programmers, and then it has to be constantly patched/improvement. There are only few medium-sized audio companies that have developed such modules, include such brands as: Moon with their MiND, Cambridge Audio with StreamMagic, Naim and Linn.

Preamplifier | The whole device is built around the preamplifier section - this is the heart of every device, including the Moon 390. It features unbalanced RCA and a balanced XLR inputs and the same combination of outputs; additionally, there is a fixed RCA output (for recording or for an external headphone amplifier). There is also a phono input. But it's not just any input, and a full-fledged phonostage for MM and MC cartridges, with adjustable gain, load and capacity!

One adjusts volume using a large knob on the front panel, using a remote control or through the MiND application installed on some smart device. Ale the information is displayed on a medium-sized, but of nice quality, monochrome OLED display. One can rather easily read all the information, although a bigger display wold be appreciated as the titles would not have to scroll through. No information concerning word length (bits) is displayed.

DAC | An analog signal may also be obtained from digital inputs because the Moon 390 features also a D/A converter. It offers a multitude of digital inputs, including RCA, TOSLink, AES/EBU and USB. The most versatile is the USB input, because it supports PCM up to 32 bits and 384 kHz and DSD up to DSD256. The converter features a Bluetooth signal receiver with a support for the aptX codec, that accepts PCM signal with sampling frequency up to 48 kHz.

A unique feature of the Moon 390 is the presence of digital HDMI inputs and an output. This is a true rarity in D/A converters because the HDMI license costs quite a lot of money. And it should be a standard feature for every device. It allows user to send signal to Moon from any Blu-ray player - including both, the video and audio signals. Oppo players allow you to send PCM (up to 24/192) and DSD signals - and Moon accepts and decodes them. The HDMI output (ARC) can be connected to the TV, so we can also convert the audio signal from movies watched on the TV.

Streamer | The most important digital source, however, seems to be the streamer, or actually an audio files transport - the MiND 2 streaming module. It supports audio files, unpacks them and decodes to PCM or DSD; it also supports MQA format. The player communicates with a router using an Ethernet cable (two inputs) or wirelessly over Wi-Fi. It allows user to play files from NAS and streaming services.

The Moon 390 was presented in Europe for the first time during Munich High End Show 2018. I like the presentation a lot, so it received the Best Sound award from us (more HERE).

The Moon 390 was placed on the center shelf of the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition rack and was powered using the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable. It was the heart of my system working with the Soulution 710 power amplifier (out of production, 135,000 PLN ) and Harbeth M40.1 speakers (also not produced anymore) that were placed on Acoustic Revive Custom Stand stands (a set - 80,000 PLN). It was connected with router using an Acoustic Revive Ethernet cable. I compared it with mu Ayon Audio Spheris III (140 000 PLN) preamplifier.

The source of signal was the Ayon Audio CD-35 High Fidelity Edition (80 000 PLN) and the Kuzma Stabi R turntable with 4Point9 tonearm (45 000 PLN) and Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux (32 000 PLN) MC cartridge. For comparison I used the GrandiNote Celio Mk IV phonostage (6000 EUR). For the assessment of the headphone output I used the HiFiMAN HE-1000 V2 with Bakoon Products International HPA-21 as my reference.

Recordings used for the test a selec- tion)

  • Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms, Vertigo/Mobile Fidelity Labs UDSACD 2099, „Original Master Recording, Special Limited Edition | No. 1808”, SACD/CD (1985/2013)
  • Genesis, Abacab, Virgin/EMI 851832, SACD/CD + DVD (1981/2007)
| Tidal
  • Mike Posner, A Real Good Kid, Island Records/Tidal MQA 24/44,1 (2019)
  • Voces8 , Enchanted Isle, Decca Records/Tidal, MQA 24/96 (2019)
| Pliki
  • 2xHD. DSD, USB Flash, Master DSD64/DSD128
  • 2xHD. PCM, USB Flash, Master WAV 24/192
  • FIM Super Sounds! I, First Impression Music FIM DXD 066 USB, Promo USB Flash, FLAC 24/176
  • Krzysztof Komeda Quintet,, Kattorna w: Krzysztof Komeda Quintet, Astigmatic, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland 4648860, Master WAV 24/88,2 (1965/2016);
| Long Play
  • Joscho Stephan Trio, Paris-Berlin, Berliner Meister Schallplatten BMS 1817 V, „Direct-To-Disc | No. 53”, 180 g LP (2018)
  • Wojtek Karolak & Adam Czerwiński, In A Sentimental Mood, AC Records ACR 009, „Limited Edition | No. 470/500”, 180 g LP (2018)

Once upon a time (a long, long time ago) I reviewed Simaudio's Moon i-5 integrated amplifier for "Audio" magazine. Its performance was really good and so was the engineering - something that I particularly value in companies, that are able to perfectly balance these two elements - music and technology. It was a device that I did not have any serious reservations about, but only observations; I could only have some reservations in absolute terms, but none taking its price into consideration.

Listening to the 390, I felt as if I had come back to that time, for a moment I again heard the sound of that amplifier. It's about the sonic character, how different from what most „engineering” companies propose.

This is a character chosen deliberately, refined, devised anew. It be quite easily described: it is about musicality, musicality and... musicality. One can encounter such approach every now and then, but what's unique about the Moon 390 is that we get it regardless of the source we choose.

Audio files player | The most important question for me was how the 390 performs as a file player and preamplifier, because it is its primary function. It turned out right away, when I played the first recordings from pendrives with Master files, straight from mastering studies, that I heard something that made me sit down more comfortably and take a much closer „look”. The sound I heard was not much like the performance of most file players I know. It's fluid, dense and warm. This is how high-class turntables sound like (more on that in a moment).

One of the biggest surprises in first month of 2019, the Mike Posner's A Real Good Kid, available on Tidal in MQA 24/44.1. Highly recommend!

I compared this sound to turntable's for a reason. Moon plays music in an energetic way, but with saturation - it energizes this saturation, not the details. It is hard to call its performance detailed because - attention! - we go beyond this category with it, far beyond. We need sound to be rich in details when it lacks resolution. Moon offers a really good resolution.

What we get with Moon is sort of a 'picture'. It's a rich sound, with lots of flavors, but immersed in saturation. Interestingly, there is a lot of top end, which was clear when I listened to Astigmatic from the Komeda's album, from the master 24/88.2 WAV file, with a really strong cymbals performance - stronger than in the CD version. Moon, however, retained restraint, gently sweetened, gilded them, so to speak.

It gave a warm character to the recordings, but it also allowed me to listen to ones that I was sort of nervous about, because they often sound too bright played by file players. It was the case with the Anabasis by Dead Can Dance from 24/44.1 files, and with the excellent album A Real Good Kid by Mike Posner, available on Tidal in MQA files. It's just a classic, mainstream recording, which with Moon in some magical way, sounded more „serious”, had more musical sense, although the 390 was by fat the cheapest element of the system worth more than a small house.

Preamplifier | Using the term "magical" I did not mean some supernatural forces, of course, but how surprising it was. That's how good, sophisticated SACD and CD and file players sound like. In general terms, the performance reminded me that of Lumïn. But we have to take into consideration that with Moon we are talking not only about a network player, but also about a preamplifier - and this is something even more surprising. This is because the preamplifier is a critical element of every system.

If you like Dead Can Dance, Enya and Clannad, this is an album for you. Perfectly produced, beautiful in harmony, with covers of popular and classic music: Voces8 and Enchanted Isle, available on Tidal in MQA 24/96.

It seems that it is this element that gives Moon this particular sonic character. The SACD player connected via analogue inputs had a similar character, also similar to the turntable that was connected to the phono input. All the elements I mentioned regarding files playback were repeated - warmth, density, saturation. The treble was slightly weaker, but not enough to claim the tonal balance changed. There was simply a bit more focus now on the midrange and bass.

And the bass is well extended and dense. However, it also has Moon's intrinsic character. It is powerful, tuneful and dense. But there is also no clear attack definition, as it is rounded and smoothed. To a certain extent it is a reflection of what is happening in the top of the band. So one should not expect a perfect slam at the bottom, or clear contours. It's a different type of sound - more with whole layers then individual contours.

And again - we get the same results, regardless of whether we listen to music through line inputs or through the phono input. It's a similar presentation of timbre, texture, dynamics and momentum - I haven't mentioned it yet, but the device plays with a huge momentum. The space is built by it without the exact indication of the edges and placement, but with great interaction between various instruments. You can hear them in their own acoustic "bubbles”, they are somewhat separated, and yet presented together.

Phonostage | This is the case with files and external sources, including a turntable. The phonostage section, same as preamplifier one, is fully analog in Moon 390. And it is really great. It's clear that compared to external, sophisticated phonostages such as the GrandiNote Celio Mk IV, it's not the eighth wonder of the world. But without such a comparison, paired with a good turntable it will deliver an absolutely and completely satisfying performance.

The Joscho Stephan Trio's Paris-Berlin is a great example of a modern „direct-to-disc” recording. It was recorded in the Emil Berliner Studios and also there the lacquer was cut used to make a matrix; in this way usage of tape was eliminated from the process.

It is based on strong, dense, slightly emphasized bass, with the most important part of the range being the midrange. Treble is slightly rolled off. But the energy is transmitted really well, as if the speed was flawless. It is not quite so, the presentation is slightly calmed down, but a good resolution and momentum create the impression of speed.

It won't really bother you, I just wanted you to have a full picture of Moon's performance. I does not bother listener, because when listening to the extremely fast and direct album by Joscho Stephan Trio Paris-Berlin, a "direct-to-disc" recording I did not need anything else - the Moon's integrated phonostage did a really good job.

Headphones | Last but not least, there is also a headphone amplifier. I compared it to another amplifier that costs almost PLN 15,000 and I would say this: just like the phonostage, the headphone amplifier performed well enough so that most people would find an idea of buying an additional, external device unreasonable. It delivers a warm, dense, full sound, and every files format sounded really good. Differences between files of a CD quality and high resolution one were clear, but they were not big enough to bypass some recordings because of a less then high resolution. It just means that a differentiation is not particular, but timbre, saturation, layers - all these elements are presented in a very good way.


The Moon 390 is a unique device. Many all-in-one products have issues with proper balance between all their functions/elements. Almost always designers' efforts are focused on one of them, which automatically makes you ask about the reasoning behind all the others. Canadians did something else: around a great preamplifier they built a system with equally well performing components, sounding in a very similar way.

It's offers a warm sound with a strong bass and with a momentum. Huge space and depth of sound are also its distinguishing features. Bass is not particularly well differentiated and selective, and the top is rather warm than detailed. But that's Simaudio's idea for a sound of their components. With Moon everything sounds good, dense, nice, it has a swing. A logical, stable application makes operation really smooth and friendly. Turntable, SACD player, file player, headphone amplifier, preamplifier - each of these elements I checked during this test was marked in my notes with same description: "very good". So I have no choice but to present the Moon 390 with our RED Fingerprint.

The Moon by Simaudio has developed their own style that is based on combining two colors of the devices' housings - silver and black, on the separation of three elements of the front panel - round side "wings" and the middle, flat part that hosts all the buttons and knobs. This design style is not exclusive for Canadian company, as you may find a similar one in Mark Levinson's products. However, there is something is in this layout, shapes, colors, in the particular combination of these elements, that tell you right away, you're looking at a MOON's product. The company offers few possible finishes, with entire silver or black front, or with silver „wings” and black center part.

Front and rear | The housing was made of two materials - steel and aluminum, with front and sides made of the latter. Its design resembles a "shell" – bolted together from several elements and with reinforced thick front and top, as well as side panels resembling heat sinks - these are not really radiators, and narrowings add more rigidity to this surface.

Although it is an extremely complex device, its front wall's design is clean and easy to "master". Volume is controlled using a large knob, and the other setting can be changed using small buttons. The information is displayed on the OLED display - really nice one, well organized. When user changes an input or turns the knob, the proper indications are enlarged to the size of a whole screen.

It's the rear panel that clearly indicates the abundance of functions and options. There are more connectors there than in classic preamplifiers and D/A converters. On the left side there is the analog section – the PCB behind it is fixed inside at the very bottom of the device. There are RCA sockets (gold-plated, soldered, nothing particular about them) and XLR ones - also gold plated. Going further, there are HDMI ports - four inputs and a single output (ARC). Above there is space occupied by digital inputs. The only missing kind is BNC input.

Inside | The interior is divided into two parts. There is a power supply at the front and audio circuits in the back. The power supply was closed inside a metal screen. This is important feature because it is a switched-mode power supply, thus generating a lot of high-frequency noise.

There are three PCBs with audio circuits. At the very top there is one with digital inputs, a MiND 2 module and a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth receiver module. Only the latter was sourced from an external manufacturer. A signal from the digital inputs goes to the AKM AK4115 receiver and the XMOS chip accepts the one from the USB input. The FPGA with an implemented file player is the Lattice LCMX.

Decoded PCM and DSD signals are converted by the ESS Technology Saber ES9026PRO DAC chip. It is an eight-channel system in which four DACs operate in parallel in each stereo channel. Right next to it there is a headphone amplifier, based on multi-pin circuits with small heat sinks on top of them.

The volume control is carried out by two NJR Muses 72320 stereo integrated circuits. The rest of the preamplifier stage was built around Burr-Brown integrated circuits and classic NE5532 chips. There are many WIMA polypropylene capacitors around. The outputs are switched using hermetic relays.

Remote | The remote control is nice looking, sturdy and it also works with Simaudio's CD players. ■

Dane techniczne (wg producenta)

| Preamplifier
- Nominal input impedance: 22kΩ
- Maximum input signal: 5V RMS
- Maximum gain: 10dB
- Nominal output impedance: 50Ω
- Crosstalk (1 kHz): -116dB
- Frequency range: 10Hz – 200kHz (-0.5dB / -3dB)
- S/N: 125dB
- THD+N: 0.0004 %
- IMD: 0.0003 %

| Headphone amplifier
- Output (600Ω / 300Ω / 50Ω): 100mW | 200mW | 0.8W
- THD: 0.005 %
- IMD: 0.005 %

| General
- Power consumption idle: 25W
- Power consumption standby: 20W
- Power consumption in „low power” standby: 4W
- Weight: 10kg
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 429 x 89 x 333mm

Distribution in Polsce


ul. Henryka Sucharskiego 49
30-898 Kraków | Polska


Reference system 2018

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Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

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Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
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Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
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Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


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Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC