Moon Neo MIND £1700

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

Moon Neo MIND al­ready sounds like a James Bond gadget, but trans­late the acro­nym and it ar­guably gets even more so: Moon in­tel­li­gent Net­work De­vice. Why ‘in­tel­li­gent’ is the only word there that doesn’t de­serve cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion is any­one’s guess, but it’s clear Moon likes a bit of sci-fi drama in its nomen­cla­ture.

But even if the name isn’t to your lik­ing (we’re quite keen, as it hap­pens), the MIND’S sonic charms are uni­ver­sal.

In sim­ple terms, the MIND doesn’t sound like a typ­i­cal streamer. It is al­most en­tirely free of those tell­tale de­fi­cien­cies in tim­ing and dy­nam­ics, per­form­ing with a level of mu­si­cal­ity we’ve heard rarely, if be­fore at all, in this price bracket.

Space to breathe

We feed it Manch­ester Orches­tra’s A

Black Mile To The Sur­face, and get the tex­ture of Andy Hull’s lus­cious, wa­ver­ing vo­cal lines, set among har­monies painted with broad, bold strokes.

The MIND ren­ders voices with full body and de­tail, but more im­por­tantly with such a level of ex­pres­sion that songs’ char­ac­ters are not lost even when play­ing over Blue­tooth or via a com­pressed stream.

The nat­u­ral de­liv­ery of vo­cals catches our ear, but, as the al­bum thick­ens in its in­stru­men­ta­tion, the MIND swings open its doors to show us the amount of space avail­able, and just how much it is able to of­fer each in­stru­ment with­out los­ing com­po­sure or a sense of or­gan­i­sa­tion.

A gen­uinely hu­man per­for­mance

Fans of Moon’s sig­na­ture sound will be pleased with the tun­ing: there’s no lack of punch, no short­ness of in­ten­sity, but it has that more laid-back tem­per­a­ment of many of its sta­ble­mates.

It’s noth­ing re­ally to do with tim­ing – it does that well – but it has a gen­er­ally more re­laxed char­ac­ter, sid­ing to­ward a gen­uinely hu­man per­for­mance rather than the up­tight and me­chan­i­cal de­liv­ery of some com­peti­tors.

There are draw­backs, to be sure, in­clud­ing the for­get­table aes­thet­ics, lack of a dis­play and an app that’s re­li­able but less in­tu­itive than the best. What’s more, you’ll need to bud­get for a dy­na­mite DAC if you don’t have one al­ready.

Do those draw­backs make us fools for giv­ing the MIND a sec­ond Award in two years? On the con­trary, it’s tes­ta­ment to its awe­some au­dio qual­ity that we’re com­pelled to give it one de­spite them.

It doesn’t look par­tic­u­larly flashy, but the MIND is the best-sound­ing streamer out there

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