MOON by Si­mau­dio Neo 350P Pream­pli­fier

NOVO - - PRODUCT REVIEW - Ge­orge de Sa

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.

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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

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