For a company that’s usually pretty level-headed and not generally given to fits of over-excitement, MOON seems a little impatient just now.
I mean, is it me or is a 39th birthday an unusual anniversary to want to mark? Québécois aren’t, so the stereotype suggests, the most gung-ho or restive people on the planet – so the recent appearance of quite a number of pricey new MOON by Simaudio products – including the two tested here – strikes me as slightly strange.
Victor Sima established Sima Electronique in Quebec in 1980. By the 1990s the company had become Simaudio, and launched its first reference-grade series – the MOON range – not long after. By the turn of the 21st century, ‘MOON by Simaudio’ had morphed into an extremely well-regarded brand turning out some extremely well-regarded products.
Why not, then, wait another six months and have a proper Ruby Anniversary knees-up? Why launch a flurry of intriguing new products now, when in 2020 they could have been accompanied by cake and candles?
Perhaps MOON has something even bigger, even more lavish prepared for next year’s party… If that’s the case, well, the two products partnered here will certainly do to be going on with.
As far as the boxes themselves go, they could only be MOON offerings. The broad MOON aesthetic has been established for some time now – it calls for a slightly oversized and thoroughly over-engineered enclosures of the ‘power-packed sprinter’ rather than ‘rangy distance runner’ variety, with some modest and judicious curves to add a little visual pizazz.
Both the 700i v2 integrated amplifier and 780D v2 streaming DAC conform to the template. Each is 476mm wide, meaning they will dominate your kit-rack, and each is available in a choice of black, silver or two-tone (black and silver) finishes. Each features MOON’s startlingly assertive ‘red dot’ display (which is visible from across the road, never mind across the room). Each includes significant heat sinks down each side, each is heavy enough to (in the words of Laurie Anderson) stun an ox, and each feels built to withstand a medium-sized detonation. If you find you have need to invoke MOON’s ten-year warranty for either of these products, it seems very unlikely it will be because of any shortcoming in construction.
Given build quality that speaks of longevity the equal of that of the owner, then, it seems appropriate that both the 700i v2 and the 780D v2 are also specified to remain useful until the end of time.
The 700i v2 is a strictly analogue integrated stereo amplifier. It’s a true dual-mono design, with only the power cord and switch being shared by both channels – in every other respect each channel operates entirely independently of the other. MOON’s bespoke ‘Lynx’ technology puts in an appearance, with the intention (as ever) of virtually eliminating the global feedback loop – it’s an inconvenient and costly methodology, but MOON insists the resulting lack of interaction from the speaker back in the direction of the amplifier gives across-the-board sonic benefits.
Power, at 175 watts per channel into an 8ohm load, is a) provided by an oversized dual-mono power supply with Class A power output to 5 watts, and b) ample. Power is transferred and regulated by a custom shielded transformer design – MOON maintains its super-low thermal, electrical, and magnetic loss gives excellent regulation, improved power transfer, and increased current speed.
At the output stage, MOON is understandably proud of its custom bipolar output transistors which give, so it says, ‘unprecedented’ gain linearity. Very few companies of this size are prepared to do anything but fit off-the-shelf equivalents.
Around the back, the 700i v2 features four pairs of RCA inputs – the dual-mono configuration means the left-channel inputs and right-channel inputs are grouped together on either side of the panel. There is one pair of balanced XLR inputs too – like the RCA equivalents, each channel’s input is located on the corresponding side of the panel. Next to the XLR inputs, there’s a tape monitor in/out loop, and line-level RCA pre-outs in case you want to use a £13k integrated amplifier as a pre-amp. Elsewhere there are gold-plated speaker binding posts (the 700i v2 will power just the one pair of speakers), a bidirectional RS-232 for custom installation convenience, and ‘SimLink’ in/out micro-jacks. Connect the 780D v2 to the 700i v2 this way and press ‘play’ on the DAC to switch to the appropriate amplifier input.
Up front, the 700i v2 is reasonably uncluttered and logical. There are three degrees of display intensity (they’re easily described as ‘bright’, ‘very bright’ and ‘searing’, though these are not the official terms), and the display can be defeated altogether – which is a small but welcome mercy.