MOON by Simaudio Neo 350P Preamplifier
I have known of Simaudio for many years though my appreciation for their products has always been somewhat removed, until now. Simaudio is a Canadian manufacturer of high-end audio products, based in Boucherville, Quebec. Celebrating its 35 year anniversary this year, Simaudio was originally founded by Victor Sima, under the name Sima Electronique. Sima Electronique began manufacturing professional audio products; however, attention from audio enthusiasts soon led to most of its models finding their way into homes, rather than professional studios. By the 90’s, the company was incorporated under the name Simaudio Ltd. Simaudio had great success with its Celeste Series of audio components and by 1997, introduced the MOON Series, a reference-grade line of audio components. In 2005, a new flagship series was introduced, the Evolution Series but it was not until just recently, in 2013, that Simaudio decided to bridge the substantial price gap between the MOON Series and the flagship Evolution Series – enter the Neo series. Neo represents a step up from the MOON Series, with performance gains achieved through a number of design enhancements but also Neo embodies the aesthetics of the flagship Evolution series; thus providing a new and unique combination of performance, value and styling.
The Neo 350P preamplifier is a true departure in styling from the previous MOON 350P. Where the original MOON 350P was at most utilitarian in appearance, the Neo 350P presents a stylish and chic persona that is unmistakably analogous to its substantially more expensive Evolution Series counterparts. The Neo 350P comes in three different finishes: silver, black and, 2-tone (black with silver cheeks). Cheeks, yes, that’s how I would refer to the curvaceous protrusions that are found to the left and right sides of the face of the 350P, giving it a unique and alluring guise. Similar cheeks are to be found on Evolution Series components; however, there the cheeks are of solid aluminum, whereas, the 350P has cheeks of very well fashioned plastic – an imitation that is only discovered under close scrutiny. The 350P measures 16.9” x 3.5” x 13.1” and weighs 16.5 pounds, making it quite typical of components of its kind. Fit, finish and build of the 350P are high, with a solid feel to its panels, buttons, volume control and connectors.
The front panel of the Neo 350P hosts a large red LED display which shows the selected input source. Silver buttons on the front provide direct control of standby, media player input, display on/off, input select, tape monitor and mute. There is a blue LED below the MOON logo that lights for power-on and the volume knob also hosts a lighted red LED position indicator. There are also a couple jacks on the front panel - 1/8” for a media player and 1/4” for headphones. To the sides of the 350P are cooling fins, running flush front to back. At the back of the 350P there are 6 sets of analog inputs: four single-ended (RCA) and two balanced (XLR). One single-ended input doubles as a hometheatre bypass. Also, there are two sets of singled-ended (RCA) analog outputs (one fixed), a set of variable balanced XLR analog outputs and a monitor single-ended RCA input / output loop. On the back is also a main power switch, RS-232 port, a 12V trigger, SimLink input and output and the IEC power cord connection. In addition to all this connectivity, the 350P comes with a remote control, that works very well but is of the generic plastic variety.
MOON by Simaudio offers two factory installed options on the 350P; the review sample came with both installed, which would make it a 350P D2P. The first option is for an integrated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with four digital inputs (2 x S/PDIF coax, one USB, one optical). The DAC handles 24-bit/192kHz via a BurrBrown PCM1793 chip. The second option is an integrated and configurable MM/MC phono-stage that offers a singleended RCA input.
The specs for the MOON Neo 350P preamplifier are impressive - input sensitivity: 200mV - 5.0V RMS; input impedance: 22,000 ; gain: 6dB; signal-to-noise ratio (20Hz-20kHz): 120dB @ full output; frequency response: 5Hz - 100kHz +0/-3dB; crosstalk @ 1kHz: -96dB; and output impedance: 100 THD (20Hz-20kHz) 0.0005%. I invite you to check out the Simaudio website to see the complete specs.
The MOON Neo 350P preamplifier has been resident in my two channel audio system for over six months, during which time I’ve become very familiar with its contribution to the whole. Being a preamplifier, the 350P has an effect on the entire system – acting as the nerve centre through which everything is channeled. Digital sources in my system include a Rega Apollo CDP and a PC-based music library played via a Logitech Squeezebox Touch through an ADL Esprit DAC. The