SimAudio Moon Neo 240i Integrated Amplifier
SimAudio Moon Neo 240i Integrated Amplifier
SimAudio Moon Neo 240i Integrated Amplifier

SimAudio Moon Neo 240i: High-end Integrated Amplifier

The Moon 240i amplifier is the youngest in the Simaudio catalog – a kind of basis, a starting point. However, Simaudio position their equipment as high-end, high-end, so it is logical to impose strict requirements even on the basic equipment – reputation obliges. Moreover, the Moon 240i should be considered not only as an amplifier, but also as a full-fledged digital source.

The appearance of the Simaudio Moon 240i is recognizable. Now, even in the junior line, the cases are made in the corporate style with side curves of the front panel. It’s nice that the company has stopped making primitive designs for entry-level devices, because in the past the line – sort of “bricks” – looked boring. Manufacturing and assembly are of high quality, there are no frills or simplifications. Good metalwork, normal fit.

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There is no tone control, but the inputs can be adjusted for different sources to equalize the volume level. Input renaming is available. One convenient thing for devices of this class is a linear mini-jack input on the front panel (in modern realities it can be useful). There is also a headphone output.

On the rear panel there are: a pair of line inputs, a MM phono input, two optics (up to 24 bit/96 kHz), two coaxials (up to 24 bit/192 kHz), a USB input (up to 32 bit/384 kHz and DSD), RCA output for a power amplifier, subwoofer or through channel in a recreation center. Alas, there is no digital or analog balanced switching, which is quite expected for this price category.

The internal structure of the amplifier is not exactly audiophile-style, but it is neat: a decent-sized power toroidal transformer and an amplifier in class “AB” – here the manufacturer is very conservative, and I like it. Perhaps, I was a little confused by the moderate dimensions of the capacities in the power supply (I expected larger ones) and the fact that all the digital hardware was assembled on one board. However, the boards are our own; I did not see any OEM modules (including a USB input). However, if the developers have achieved the declared qualities and characteristics, then okay. In addition, Simaudio has options for those who want a separate digital source, preamplifier, power amplifier, equalizer, balanced circuitry and remote power supplies. But at a completely different price.

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The digital part is built on the ESS Sabre32 ES9010K2M chip. It’s unusual to see this chip (more common for portable use) in a stationary device, but since it’s present here, nothing can be beat. However, you shouldn’t be too embarrassed in advance: after all, the company’s developers, judging by experience, think about what and where they put it, and what they want to get.

Next, let’s look at the rest of the features and functions of the device. If you listen to high-rez or DSD, especially taking different versions of the same album, the difference in favor of high-rez is noticeable. But there is no effect that ordinary 16/44 sounds obviously bad.

Yandex.Music from a smartphone, transferred to the analog input on the front panel, immediately loses noticeably and falls out of the overall picture in terms of quality. The difference is obvious. Therefore, such listening cannot be considered other than general informational. If you connect the linear output of a decent player to the same input and listen to Hi-Res formats, the picture will be different. By the way, I note that here I very clearly heard the sound and character of my player, I recognized it. My pair of transport and DAC, connected to the analog linear input, was also easily identified by ear. In the overall picture, I found both the handwriting of familiar components and the already studied handwriting of the amplifier.

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The phono stage was also better than expected. It seems to be simple, designed only for MM heads and devoid of additional settings, but it is quiet and not prone to the obviously synthetic sound characteristic of many budget circuits using operational amplifiers. As an option for a simple turntable or as a temporary solution, it will do just fine. But otherwise, if the built-in DAC seemed to me quite harmonious in comparison with the amplifier, then the corrector (if vinyl is an equal carrier) is worth choosing an external one.

The first and main thing I wanted to understand about the Simaudio Moon 240i was whether this device had signature features, character, and appropriate affiliations with the manufacturer. Yes, I have. The sound and handwriting are recognizable, even if you look at older models. In details and nuances, of course, the difference is significant, but the continuity is obvious. Honest, smooth sound, a minimum of personal interference and embellishment, high detail and good dynamics are worthy qualities.

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The second thing that was important was to evaluate the built-in digital part and its position in the system. The situation turned out to be completely equal; the built-in DAC does not conflict in any way with the amplifier in nature and, as the comparison showed, does not itself add any significant coloration. So using the 240i as an all-in-one makes sense. Well, if you need all the same things, but also streaming – Simaudio Moon Ace .

Yes, I haven’t directly compared it with the 240i, but I very much doubt that there will be any significant differences. A network node, a streamer, is a thing that should perform its functionality but have minimal impact on the sound. However, I will not guarantee anything regarding Ace, I will only repeat that when evaluating the functionality and choosing, it is worth remembering the existence of an alternative. Well, the last important point: although the 240i is fully intended to be used as an independent and self-sufficient value, which simplifies the construction of the system, its style requires careful selection of acoustics not only by formal characteristics (they always need to be taken into account), but also by sound affinity. In order to ultimately obtain a system that reveals the best properties of the apparatus, and not a system in which they are covered by contradictions. When choosing, I would advise you to focus on detail and dynamics, while avoiding acoustics with a clear emphasis on one or another part of the range, or acoustics with too pretentious personal style.