Moon Neo MIND £1700
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