Moon Neo MiND – Review

Moon Neo MiND – Review


This is the Moon Neo MiND Network Streaming Music Player. Really, it is the perfect link to the modern world of streaming networked music and digital hi resolution playback of any kind. It seems to me that you could probably plug this into any existing HiFi set-up with a suitable DAC and you are immediately up to date.

Design

the Moon Neo MiND is a streaming network music player, when you turn it on it is ready to stream

As I have come to realise in my latter years, I really do prefer things generally to do just one job, for example it would be nice to have a TV that just does that, and does not need to be WiFi enabled so that when you want to turn the TV you have to wait three days for it to tune into BBC News! Another example, why do all Blu Ray disc players have to have YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.  included with them, it would be so much better, and cheaper, to have it doing just one job, namely playing Blu Ray discs excellently, not connecting to WiFi and telling me I’m out of milk!

Therefore, and notwithstanding the fact I walk around with an iPad, a Kindle and a smartphone (which is why I need a ‘man bag’), I want a turntable to just play vinyl and now I just want my CD player to be a transport that I just put into a DAC which just ‘DACs’.  Additionally, I would like to be able to stream music from a networked device that does just that and only that, for example using a Moon Neo MiND.  And individually they do it better than anything else out there.

Similarly, hearing the shift in audio quality, I have moved from a Naim Uniti 2 (which still sounds great by the way) to a NAC-N 272 streaming pre-amplifier with a power amplifier quickly following the switch (apologies for mentioning the N word in a Moon review).

So that is what the Moon Neo MiND is, it is a streaming network music player, when you turn it on it is ready to stream and do little else.  The only inputs are networked (direct Ethernet or WiFi) and Bluetooth and the output is digital, so you’ll need a DAC (preferably one that is just a DAC).  Output can be SP/DIF (digital coaxial), TosLink (optical) or AES/EBU (balanced XLR style).  The MiND stands for Moon intelligent Network Device.

Supported file formats are listed as Wave, FLAC, FLAC HD, AIF, AAC, ALAC, MP3 (vbr/cbr), WMA-9  & OGG Vorbis, all supported up to 24-bit/192kHz.  There is no DSD support.

The streamer is UPnP, Universal Plug and Play.  I’m not really into this side of things and Twonky media servers are a bit of a mystery but suffice to say the connectivity on the network side is, in the words of La Roux, ‘Bulletproof’.

In respect of control the Moon Neo MiND has Simaudio’s SimLink so the MiND can chat to other Moon components and therefore share the remote control, there are Apple and Android Apps as well.

The Moon Neo MiND features compatibility with Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz and TuneIn and vTuner  with others to follow by the look of it with a software upgrade (Not Spotify interestingly).

Dimensions and weight

The Dimensions (width x height x depth) are 17.8 x 7.6 x 28.0 cm.  Otherwise known as a half chassis, a Moon 230HAD would sit nicely next to this!  The unit weighs 3.1 kg.

Quality

I have been fortunate enough to have listened to the Moon 230HAD and the Moon Neo ACE and they were both of the highest quality you would hope for in this price range. Boxing is always good with Moon and the remote control is of a the quality you would expect (note T+A and a few others!).  As I have said many times now, MAYBE, if I had run into the ACE first I may just have ended up being a Moon fan, instead of a dreaded Naim fanboy (the N word again!).

Performance of the Moon Neo MiND

My Test Set-up

Moon Neo MiND

Half Chassis dimensions

I am listening to the Moon Neo MiND into a T+A DAC 8 & AMP 8.  The more time I spend with these two guys the better they sound, without doubt.  The Moon Neo MiND integrates into them seamlessly and sounds beautiful.  I have an Atlas Mavros SP/DIF connection to the DAC 8 which is as good as I can manage.  I’m digging around for the XLR digital connection just for that little extra.

The issue here is really how do you listen to a streamer that is just collecting a digital file processing it and just firing it off to the digital to analogue converter.  The digital signature is surely coming from the DAC.  However, I have been concentrating on timing and openness with tracks like ‘Bright Lights, Bigger City’, the very Familiar and dynamically great ‘Telegraph Road’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (no pun intended).

For comparison I have been listening to the Moon Neo MiND versus the Bluesound Node which is similarly a streaming music player ONLY, although not in the same price band.

WiFi connection

I have played with the WiFi, it works, I don’t like it so prefer the Ethernet connected networked option.  Basically, because there is no display on the MiND, I plugged it into to the Ethernet anyway, synced the App to the MiND, where it then received the Network settings, key, etc. I had to put in the password, turn it off, disconnect it, turn it on and then Bob is your Uncle.  Although it seems to me that you may as well leave it ethernet network connected.  If you need to move it around though the WiFi is there.  Moon do not promise Hi Res from the WiFi but CD quality is available.  WiFi set-up is also available through the Bluetooth connection.

Networked

Simply plug the router into the Ethernet connection, all is beautiful, and this is definitely the preferred option.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth pairing was perfect and easy, it sounds great and there was no interference from moving around, phone in pockets, etc.

Control

iPad

The Moon MiND App is in the Apple store and on first loading found the MiND without trouble.  I have to say the App is cumbersome, annoying indeed, compared to the Naim App for example, but it is manageable and after a while you do get used to it.  Logging into TIDAL was easy enough and my Playlists were all available.

Moon Neo MiND

LED Indicators for sample rate

My networked WDCloud was visible and accessible through the App.  This enabled me to stream hi resolution files, my 24 bit 192kHz tracks are delightful.  The front of the Moon Neo MiND has LED indicators on it to confirm the PCM sample rate, for example 192kHz is indicated with 48kHz LED and a 4x indicator (48 x 4 =192kHz).  The DAC 8 confirms the sample rate on the display.

TuneIn Radio works a treat with the streamer, again, on the App choose TuneIn from the library, search BBC 6 Music and you are away.  Great stuff.

At the end of all of this, the iPad App is fine and does do everything you want.  It is not as fluid or intuitive as the Naim App but it is a mile better than T+As effort and some others I have experienced.

Android

The Android App is painful, there is one.  It did not work with my Nexus 6P build so I have no comment.  I had it working OK if I remember with the Neo ACE so maybe an update has upset the App.

Tidal App with Bluetooth

When not using the iPad I used my Android phone with Bluetooth. I found it easier to stream TIDAL through their App and just Bluetooth in which is simple enough.  Control on the Tidal App is the best and the Bluetooth stream is very satisfactory, at 44.1kHz.

Streaming Jamie Cullum’s Podcasts from the iPlayer on my phone was also very satisfactory indeed.

Remote Control CRM-3

The Moon Neo MiND comes with their very nice remote control.  There is no variable volume output so volume control does not work but it would do if you were linked to a Moon Neo ACE, for example.  Skip, pause, play etc are fine and the remote is one of the better ones.

Output

Output from the Moon Neo MiND is digital, through SP/DIF (Coaxial), Optical or through balanced cable output (AES-EBU).  It will go digitally into a DAC, digital preamplifier or the like but you need a DAC of some kind to process the digital output.

Overall

this Moon Neo MiND is in a league of its own

Overall, the Moon Neo MiND is a fine performer, beautifully balanced and consistent in performance.  Its output is rhythmic, evenly paced and hugely enjoyable.  Paired using high quality Coaxial cable output with the T+A DAC 8 & AMP 8 it is a truly aspirational sound.  It is wide, dominant and offers a wonderfully deep sound stage.

My sense is that the set-up I have is particularly special with over £4,500 of T+A electronics and amplification the MiND music streamer, retailing near £1,700, is well placed.  The Mythos Super Towers I have are now run in beautifully and it all adds up to a tremendous dominant, open and yet smooth sound.

If you are not in this price band, you could argue for a Bluesound Node that is a third of the price but this Moon Neo MiND is in a league of its own, in my view.

Love 

Simplicity

Clarity

Neutrality

Like 

half chassis dimensions

Bluetooth

Wish 

Android control was better

for nothing else to be honest

The Moon Neo MiND is retailing near £1699 and a quick google will reveal distributors.

Simaudio UK retailers website here

 

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