This is my review of the MOON 110 LP v2 phono pre-amplifier, it is an excellent piece of equipment. The 110 LPv2 is both moving coil (MC) and magnet (MM) compatible thanks to an array of easily adjustable dip switches on the underside of the compact box.
The Moon 110 LP v2 is a very flexible and clever piece of equipment allowing for the widest range of cartridges and listening tastes to be catered for. As someone who switches between different cartridges frequently (as a function of reviewing turntable products), I would certainly like to buy one of these.
The design is simple with straight inline horizontal connectors input/output that I much prefer. The dip switches needed for tailoring the box are on the underside and you really need to disconnect everything to set the box up as you prefer. There are impedance loadings (47kΩ, 475Ω, 100Ω, 10Ω), capacitance loadings (0pF, 100pF, 330pF, 430pF) and gain for both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) (40dB, 50dB, 54dB, 60dB, 66dB). You can even select the playback curve you prefer (IEC/RIAA).
As with all Moon by Simaudio products, the build quality gives you a huge degree of confidence in the product and here there is no exception
As with all MOON by Simaudio products, the build quality gives you a huge degree of confidence in the product and here there is no exception. The smooth box is a heavy black metal and the facia has a classic MOON by Simaudio look, with an understated model reference and a glowing blue dot. My only niggle is that there is no on/off switch which I think would be helpful for those of us whose plug array is difficult to get to, plus I’m used to turning on and off my usual Rega Fono box at the front! This MOON 110 LP v2 is a clear competitor to the Rega Fono MM and Fono MC, plus it does the job of both.
In the box
The MOON 110 LP v2 comes with the power lead and a ‘dip switch pen’. This is a very nice touch from MOON as these dip switches are tiny, you’ll definitely need reading glasses. The instructions include recommended settings for typical MM and MC cartridges, that I have used successfully.
I’ve had the opportunity of using the Moon 110 LP v2 with a moving coil cartridge (Apheta 2 on a Planar 8) and a moving magnet (Elys 2 on my own RP3).
Apheta 2 Moving Coil
In this example, I have replaced a Rega Fono MC with the MOON 110 LP v2 in between a Planar 8 and the awesome Rega Osiris integrated amplifier. I took my settings for the Apheta 2 from the Rega website where the impedance setting was 100 Ohms and the capacitance was 1000pF. Rega recommends the Gain switch for their stages is set ‘ON’. Obviously, this is a tricky one so I settled for the 60 dB setting in the MOON 110 LP v2 instruction manual.
In performance terms, I found the MOON 110 LP v2 was at least as good as the Fono MC with the characteristic wide open audio space from the Apheta 2 cartridge. I will add at this point I had put on a fair few hours of vinyl by this point as I assumed the box was brand new so I spent the morning on admin and tidying up to do this.
The crystal clear resolution from the Planar 8 was still there with the new 110 LP and the rhythm and bounce and the huge finale from the likes of ‘Telegraph Road’ did not disappoint. I also had a good listen to Coldplay’s ‘Everglow’ with its huge bassline. Here again, the 110 LP delivered an excellent sound.
I did at this point have a play with the IEC/RIAA ( International Electrotechnical Commission/Recording Industry of America) playback settings (using the dip switch adjustment). I have to say there was not a great deal of difference in my ears, particularly as I have a pretty transparent set-up here.
Rega Elys 2 Moving Magnet
I may humbly suggest this is a more common use for a phono stage such as this, particularly as my Rega Fono MM sits between the classic Rega RP3 and a Naim NAP-N 272.
There is a little hum from the phono stage, until about 50 on my pre-amplifier, this is better than my own Fono MM.
Here, I have thus far found the MOON 110 LP v2 to be a better performer than my usual Fono MM phono stage. This is impressive as it is costs only a fraction more but has a huge amount of flexibility in it. I have slightly brighter presentation but that will be a function of my input and Gain settings. Resolution is improved here and overall I’m delighted with the presentation. My (new) copy of Hunky Dory is crystal clear and the guitar string detail of ‘The Belway Brothers’ falls out beautifully as does the rolling piano in ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’.
I have definitely preferred the incremental gain from the Moon 110 LP v2 with the Moving Magnet set-up that I have and I would be very happy to recommend this Phono stage to anyone with a suitable new turntable set-up in Record Store Week.
I am rather impressed with this diminutive box of Phono tricks. If you are in the market for a moderately priced phono stage for a new record player, I would recommend the MOON 110 LP v2 for a good long audition. Then you might as well just buy it!. The same goes for a new cartridge investment, if you are buying a new cartridge or turntable, this need not now lead to you replacing the phono stage every time and if you are on an audiophile journey (many incremental changes over a period of time), as I am, you would do well to start your phono stage journey here, and not buying another one. If I had auditioned this before I purchased my existing MM phono stage I would have done very well over these last six or seven years.
Improved MM performance
There was an ON/OFF switch
More on the MOON 110LP v2 here and with many thanks, again, to the excellent Renaissance Audio.