The streaming world has all but been cracked, but there are still many audio enthusiasts who have a good, existing system with a range of fine digital products from a previous generation. They have no real way of adding streamed music content from a local or online source to their existing system and have no real inclination to sack a fine digital product from the bygone age of maybe a decade or so ago. For them, the Moon Neo MiND streamer is the perfect tool.
MiND stands for ‘MOON intelligent Network Device’. It’s not the first UPnP renderer MiND device in Moon’s arsenal, but this one is designed to be a little more ‘shelf-friendly’, with its gently rounded front panel and solid Neo series build quality. It also takes advantage of a couple of years of development over the original box, and that makes things just that little bit smoother and easier.
The Neo MiND doesn’t feature an in-built DAC. Instead, it has an Ethernet port, a slew of traditional digital audio outputs (Coaxial, TOSlink, AES/EBU), a pair of aerials for wireless/Bluetooth play, and a trio of 12V triggers for multiroom use. Simply connect the streamer to your local network (wired or wirelessly, the manual is comprehensive enough to make both pretty easy), download the iDevice or Android app to a phone or tablet on the same network, and you are done.
The app works well too, albeit using a paged menu system instead of more immediately intuitive apps like Linn Kinsky, or Naim’s app, and especially Roon. If anything, the one point against the Moon Neo MiND (aside from repeatedly typing out that lower case ‘i’) is it lacks Roon support. Given the cost of the Neo MiND relative to the cost of a full Roon license, this is possibly not a deal-breaker, especially as we have been reliably informed (by Dr. Seuss, no less) to see some Roon in the Moon, soon!
I used the Neo MiND in a wired Network with a Naim Uniti Core doing the music serving, and with a trusty-but-rusty Wadia 121 DAC as converter, through its S/PDIF input. Attaching it to the Wadia is a perfect example of the Neo MiND’s primary use; a well-loved DAC that was designed in the early part of the century, and supports 24/192 PCM and USB, but has no provision, and no possible upgrade path, for network connections. The Moon Neo MiND has enough digital outputs to allow most DACs to retain their original connections (if this Wadia were connected to a CD transport via S/PDIF, there was still AES/EBU and Toslink available, and either of these could also be fed by the Neo MiND. In effect, the Wadia 121 ‘sees’ the Neo MiND as just another digital transport. The use of S/PDIF has another advantage, as it allows direct comparison between the output of the Naim Uniti Core and the Neo MiND playing the same tracks, because the Naim has its own BNC-equipped digital output.