Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 – HiFi Review

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 – HiFi Review


Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2

This is my HiFi review of the Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2; the Moon 780D is a streaming DAC and the Moon 700i is an integrated amplifier, they are a pair really.   These Moon products are probably the finest bits of electronics I’ve experienced hands-on and they are quite simply HiFi nirvana, for me.  They are up to date on the latest features, have the latest DAC technology, and the amplifier is heavy on power.

My HiFi dreams have changed in the last couple of weeks, I used to dream of the ‘stormtrooper’ Sopra No.2s I had a few years ago (see this review) and a Naim NAP 500 but my thoughts have wavered.   This site has always been about my HiFi journey to nirvana and this could be the end of it with the recent reviews of the Rega Aura and Planar 10 and these electronics, this really is something else.

Moon by Simaudio 700i integrated amplifier  – Design

The 700i is pure analogue so features one XLR input and four RCA inputs; there are no DSP shenanigans here

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Moon by Simaudio700i v2

The technical specifications are included from the site after the review conclusions.  The 700i has a true dual mono per channel set-up, so each channel, left and right, operates independently from each other. This ensures the best amplification is achieved. The channels only share the power cord input, the on/off switch and the chassis.

The 700i features Moon’s proprietary ‘Lynx’ technology that eliminates feedback and interactions from the speakers ensuring an accurate musical reproduction from the source.  Additionally, the amplifier is driven by an oversized proprietary shielded toroidal transformer that delivers lower magnetic, electrical and thermal loss that ensures improved power transfer and should contribute to better dynamics and current speed.
The volume knob has the usual Moon smoothness (not the soft click from the 600i) with an accelerated volume step if you lean on the remote or the volume knob. It increases in 1db steps up to 30db thereafter it steps by 0.1db increases to ‘infinity’ in 530 steps!!!

Hilariously, the manual says the 700i features what is described as an ‘ultra rigid chassis construction’.  This translates as ‘weighs a proverbial ton’ (28kg in fact, the delivery box is 33kgs in total).  It has taken two of us to get it out of the box and onto the platform! Of course, the weight is designed for minimal external vibration, no complaints, of course, just a lot of care.

The 700i has the Moon SimLink controller ports, in and out, which means with the 780D, it is a simple matter to turn the systems on and off with a single touch. This is great, and it could be used with other Moon products.  At the back, the speaker posts are big and solid and are separated by the width of the chassis, so cable management is comfortable.

The 700i is pure analogue so features one XLR input and four RCA inputs; there are no DSP shenanigans here. All five of the inputs are programmable with a bypass option, particularly for AV I guess, but with a volume knob this nice, why bother. The display menu allows you to program names for each input which is nice and very easy to do. You simply change the label using the volume knob. The display is the nice red big dot matrix Moon display; there is a display ‘OFF’ button option, that I’m using, but you can vary the display brightness if that is your thing. Finally, each input can be adjusted for gain by plus or minus 10db, useful for phono stages and the like.

Moon by Simaudio 780D streaming DAC – Design

… a femtosecond clock… …further confirms the approach by Sim Audio to these Moon products which is clearly of absolutely no compromise, whatsoever

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2

The 780D v2, like the 700i, has true dual mono per channel set-up; meaning each channel is processed separately with one DAC chip per channel running in mono mode (the chips are ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™). Each of these two DAC chips is programmed to process a single channel for the best possible sonic performance, whereby each chip contains 16 individual DAC circuits which provide for 8 differential mode DAC circuits.

The clock in the 780D is a femtosecond clock which makes for less jitter compared to other lower resolution pico (a Femto being smaller than a Pico) second arrangements and further confirms the approach by Sim Audio to these Moon products which is clearly of absolutely no compromise, whatsoever.

The Moon by Simaudio 780D streaming DAC is Roon Ready and features the excellent MiND 2 network streaming player that is very intuitive indeed.  With MiND 2, the MOON 780D v2 includes MQA technology, which enables you to playback MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. It is manufactured under license from MQA Limited.  There’s Qobuz Sublime+ in the 780D as well as Tidal and Deezer HiFi.

As a Tidal user, and a Naim owner, I love having this properly installed and look forward to Naim finally catching up here, as they did recently with Qobuz.

Inputs wise, you’re not left with any gaps for digital inputs with nine digital inputs including USB (hi-res audio), AES/EBU, SPDIF (x3), Optical (x2), Bluetooth® with Qualcomm® aptXTM audio support, and Ethernet/Wi-Fi. Additionally, the 780D supports native DSD up to DSD256 and PCM up to 384kHz (USB and network only).

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 – Performance

Review Set-up

Overall, these are probably the finest electronics I’ve ever heard in my ten years. The energy and vibrancy transferred by this system is as good as it gets, surely

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

In Black, with Black!

I have the Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 in my dedicated listening space.  I have the two-tone finish on these electronics and boy it looks good. The 700i and 780D come also in all silver and super mean looking all black. I’d probably go all black if I was choosing, but I never will so it is pretty academic.   Renaissance Audio supplied me with two Nordost XLR cables to connect the two together and I’m using the supplied power cables, although I have slipped in an Atlas Eos dd power cable to the 780D, just in case. I am around 4 meters from my excellent KEF R700 speakers, I’m using QED Supremus speaker cable.

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Note the bridges

Towards the end of the review, I put these Moon electronics with the better matched, Paradigm Persona 3F speakers. The Paradigm speakers are from Canada as well, they certainly know what they’re doing over there. What a combination this is.

Moon Bridges

You can’t actually stack these guys on top of each other, so you’ll need the Moon Bridges if you want to do this. They are

Aluminum with special elastomer pads to prevent scratches and control vibration. If you look on the site, they really look the part.

Control

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

FRM-3 remote

The Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 uses the ‘FRM-3’ full function, all aluminum backlit remote control. It is a lovely thing, befitting of such a fine system. I’ve mostly used my (new!) iPad for the MiND selections and playlist building.  Being on the SimLink system, I also have the volume control on the iPad.  You can turn on and off these electronics from the MiND App on the iPad, if you choose.

Resolution

Firstly, I’m going to old favourites to hear this set-up. ‘New York, New York’ by Ryan Adams  – Live at Carnegie Hall (the piano version is my favourite from Nov 17, 2014) is simply perfect, with the mechanism of the piano coming through the speakers, feet shuffling across the peddles, the odd cough, it really is live recording perfection.  The energy from the artist is not lost and the detail is exceptional. After this, I always listen to John Meyer’s version of “Free Fallin” (co-written by Jeff Lynne, who knew?), the sound is crisp and clean and just beautiful.  Finally, after much random playlisting, I can’t move on without mentioning the exceptional ‘Some’ by Nils Frahm on this set-up, it is absolutely fizzing and captivating.

Dynamics

Now it is time to move up a few musical gears.  Having seen Mark Ronson’s documentary on BBC iPlayer recently, and being a massive fan of the fantastic Jamie Cullum Jazz show on Radio 2, I’m firmly hooked on early Hip Hop; one of the best ways of hearing dynamic changes in a system.  So it was an hour of Gangstar, Tribe called Quest and the Dream Warriors to get things moving up.  The thump and drive from these innovators are awesome in this system.  Mark Ronson’s production on ‘Ooh Wee’ (featuring Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife, and Saigon) is just out of this world and the bounce and depth are all here to behold.

With Paradigm Persona 3F floorstanders

Towards the end of this segment, I streamed ‘Starry Eyed Surprise’ by Paul Oakenfold, my KEFs have never sounded better.  At this point, I moved onto the Paradigm Persona 3Fs and started again, as it was clear my KEFs were absolutely on the edge.  I think it is important to note that your speaker choice at this budget is going to be critical, although it wasn’t hard to guess the KEFs would lose it when I cranked up Snoop Dogg or Stetsasonic.  The Persona 3Fs, like the 700i v2, are in a different league and my review of these will follow.  With the 3Fs dialed in, it’s time for ‘Regulate’, Warren G. and Nate Dogg…

…And what a sound, the rounded bass line from the opening has such depth you are immediately drawn into the lyric.  There is a huge amount of control delivered to the speakers by the 700i.  Next, the detail from the analogue crackles at the start of ‘Lose Yourself’ is more noticeable from such a clean presentation and the rhythm dynamic punch from the track keeps you hooked.

Tone

The amplifier always sets the tone of a HiFi system, in my view, and so the 700i drives this system forward wonderfully.  The sound is easy and warm, complete.  The soundstage and depth from the fantastic ‘Flight from the City’ by Jóhann Jóhannsson is the best I’ve ever heard it and it defines the amplifier and the accuracy of this 780D streamer combination.  Speaking of Jamie Cullum, the double bass on ‘Riverfest’ by Nerija is so punchy here, you can just hear everything.

700i with the Planar 10

Although I only had a couple of days overlap with the Rega Planar 10 and the 700i it was enough for me to understand the 700i is in total control of any input it receives.  Having adjusted the Gain settings in the 700i the 10 was so clean and crisp it was like listening to DAC output; I noted in my review of the Planar 10 that some of the warmth compared to, say the Planar 8, had gone somewhere. Still, what a privilege and experience to have such elite HiFi overlap like this.  I took the opportunity of playing with the labeling system in the 700i setup menu and changed the analogue input to ‘Planar 10’ which gave me an inordinate amount of satisfaction.

780D DAC from CD transport

Here I’m using a very old Technics CD player (with 80s disco lights on the front!) but the 4 times oversampled digital output from it is excellent.  I put the CD into ‘D2’ with a digital SPDIF cable and easily changed the input name to CD with one of the pre-programmed labels.  The output is good and very detailed.  The crisp and punchy Miles Kane track ‘Don’t forget who you are’ was delivered impeccably.

Bluetooth in 780D

The Bluetooth is good enough, although you can feel the difference between a MiND track and a Bluetoothed one.  I’ve got Tidal with MQA on my Pixel 2 phone which is fine but it is not in the same league as the MiND 2 output from the 780D.  It is useful to have though for radio, podcasts and the like, I’d say.

Connectivity has been fine, the first time you use it you have to pair using the discovery mode in the set-up menu on the 780D, my Pixel found the 780D without any problems at all and has connected without dropout since in the few times I’ve used it.

Network Server on 780D and Roon

My network server (a Naim Unitiserve, the old version, in another room connected directly to the router) connects seamlessly to the MiND control App and the 780D.  It is such a joy when this stuff works when you want it to, everything is there, artwork, clean resolution from my ripped tracks over the years, this is very cool and I’m delighted.

I have not played with the Roon Labs thing in this set-up.  I can’t justify the expense of it all or the energy of it.   Roon seems to me to be so unnecessary, I might be alone on this one but another £120/year on top of Tidal, etc?  I’m not getting it, I’m self-funded so I can’t get there.  I’m sure whatever it does this Moon set-up with ace it.

USB Input

With my Dell XPS and an Atlas Mavros USB cable with Grun, the output goes into the USB B at the back of the 780D with plenty of space around it (in D7).  The Moon driver is already on my laptop and I’m away, beautiful.  My few 24-bit copies on my laptop are gorgeous (Nils Frahm again, and my 96k, 24-bit OKNOTOK copy are always with me) and my DSD albums (both of them) sound great. I ask again, who has a DSD library?  I would probably conclude this set-up is the cleanest of them all but it all sounds so good it seems churlish to screw up my eyes to figure out where the energy is, so I move on.

Headphone output

The 700i has no headphone output, the best thing to do at this budget is to look at a Moon 430HA or, if you’re looking for something a little more forgiving on the pocket after outlaying on the Moon 780D & 700i, you could try the excellent 230HAD, that I reviewed in May 2016.

Overall

hifiandmusicsource.com

As I have already noted these are the finest set of electronics I have had in my hands in my ten years of reviewing and with the Rega Planar 10 recently, one of the best turntable sounds I’ve experienced.  The enduring feeling I have from this amplifier/streaming combination is the unbounded energy and vibrancy from all of the music I’ve played in the last two weeks, it has been nothing but a joy to sit down and revisit my favourite tracks, all-time albums, and new music.  I have not tired of it all once and I have a 430 track playlist that I’ll be going back to I’m sure.  On top of that my Hip-Hop playlist is burgeoning and is now a firm favourite.

I think it is wise to consider if you’re looking at these to think carefully and listen to some appropriate speakers.  I personally would quite fancy the Sopra No.2s would do a fine job here too and if I ever got my hands on a pair of PMC ‘fact.12’ speakers (still working on it), they might do a job with these Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 products.

Love

The sheer beauty of these electronics

The feature-packed 780D

No compromise by Simaudio

Every single detail from every single track I’ve played

The dominant soundstage

Like 

No compromise, so I love everything

Wish 

These two weeks don’t end

The retail prices are on the Renaissance Audio site, here.

Moon by Simaudio 700i v2 Specification

(from the Simaudio site)

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Click on the image to expand

Output Power at 8Ω 175 W per channel
Output Power at 4Ω 350 W per channel
Input Impedance 23 700 Ω
Inputs (RCA / XLR) 4 pairs / 1 pair
Monitor Loop (RCA) 1 pair
Gain 37 dB
Frequency response (full range) 10Hz – 100kHz +0/-0.1dB
Crosstalk @ 1kHz -100 dB
THD (20Hz – 20kHz @ 1 W) 0.015 %
THD (20Hz – 20kHz @ 175 W) 0.04 %
Intermodulation distortion 0.02 %
Shipping weight 62 lb / 28 kg
Dimensions (width x height x depth)
18.75 x 5.5 x 18.1 in
47.6 x 14.0 x 46.0 cm

 

Moon by Simaudio 780D  v2 Specification

(from the Simaudio site)

Moon by Simaudio 780D v2 & 700i v2 - HiFi Review

Click on the image to expand

Roon Ready device
DSD and MQA decoding from all digital inputs
Tidal Masters, Deezer Hi-Fi and Qobuz Sublime+ Music Services
Multi-room synchronized playback
9 digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF, Optical, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and aptXTM audio for Bluetooth®
Power supply using new MOON Hybrid Power (MHP) for exceptionally stable, ultra low noise DC output
Femtosecond clock resulting in much lower jitter and consequently lower distortion
12 stages of DC voltage regulation which includes 2 stages of M-LoVo (MOON Low Voltage Regulation) and 4 stages of i2DCf (Independent Inductive DC Filtering)
On-board programmable software for customization of the end-user interface

Frequency response (full range) 2Hz – 100kHz +0/-3dB
THD @ 1kHz, 0dBFS (A-weighted) 0.0001 %
Intermodulation distortion 0.0001 %
Dynamic Range 124 dB
Signal-to-noise Ratio 124 dB @ full output
Channel Separation 120 dB
Intrinsic Jitter 150 femto seconds RMS
Analog Output @ 0dBFS 2.0 V
Analog output impedance 100 Ω
PCM Bit-depth range 16 – 32 bits
PCM sampling frequency rates 44.1 – 384 kHz
DSD sample rates DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256
Shipping weight 38 lb / 17 kg
Dimensions (width x height x depth)
18.75 x 4.0 x 16.8 in
47.6 x 10.2 x 42.7 cm

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