The Simaudio Moon 810LP Reference Dual-Mono Phono Preamplifier is unusually heavy. The lid alone weighs 7 1/2 pounds, and the total weight is about 30 pounds. This mass is expected in a top-of-the-line product from established Canadian audio equipment maker Simaudio. Boasting an outstanding signal-to-noise ratio of about 100 dB (depending on gain), the Moon 810LP is ready to play.
The $13,500 Moon 810LP is very configurable. There are 64 settings for input impedance/cartridge loading, 16 settings for input capacitance, and 16 settings for gain from 40 dB to 70 dB. Balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs and outputs are provided, as is trigger in/out and a connection for Simaudio’s optional Moon 820S power supply. Moon components are available in three color options: all black, all silver, or black with silver “wings”.
Other components on hand during the audition and review include an Acoustic Signature Montana Neo turntable with Acoustic Signature TA-7000 Neo and Origin Live Agile tonearms. Record clamps include an Acoustic Signature Grip, a Stillpoints Ultra-LPI mk2, and an Origin Live Gravity One. The best sound is obtained with the Grip clamp sitting atop the Gravity clamp. Also present are a ZYX UNIverse Optimum, Miyajima Destiny, and Tzar DST moving coil phono cartridges; BMC MCCI Signature ULN, and Aurorasound VIDA Supreme phono preamplifiers; Soulution 325 with phono and Benchmark HPA4 preamplifiers; digital is handled by a custom Windows 10 computer running JRiver Media Center with a USB-connected Audio-gd R7 Mk2 and Marantz SA-10 DACs, and RME ADI-Pro 2 Black Edition AD/DAC with external power supply; Valvet E2 SE and Benchmark AHB2 power amplifiers; Alta Audio Celesta FRM-2M and Magico S1 MkII speakers. The Magicos are lightly augmented in the low bass with a pair of JL Audio e110 subwoofers. The audio cabling is Audioquest WEL Signature and Mogami interconnects and speaker cables. USB cables are StraightWire USB-F. Power cords include my DIY power cord, and Straight Wire Pro Thunder. Power protection and purification are provided by a PS Audio Dectet for the preamplifiers and source components, and a PS Audio Quintet for the power amplifiers. The Quintet includes a standard 1/8″ trigger connection enabling remote turn-on and -off of power amplifiers that lack a 12V remote trigger, which is a feature that every modern component should include.
The first thing noticed after installation and after an hour of warm-up was nothing. This phono stage is quiet! Most phono preamps have some noise, since it is no easy task to amplify the tiny voltage from a phono cartridge. Where a line stage preamp typically amplifies an incoming signal about 3 to 5 times, a moving coil phono preamp is required to provide an amplification factor of around 2000!
The overall sound is very linear, with no highlighting of any small frequency range. The sound is nicely extended in the upper treble with not even a hint of harshness, even with hot commercial recordings. Depending on your taste in sound and the rest of your system, the 810LP can offer a perspective that is on the warm side. It certainly can’t be called a cool or analytical sounding component. The sound character is similar to the Soulution 325 with phono. Because of this character, there is a taste of warm tube sound, and the music has a natural feel to it.
As you can see in this image, the settings are accessed from the bottom of the Moon unit. The Owner’s Manual is available for download on the Simaudio Web site – link below. The feet are adjustable.
Bass is not at all dry or thin. On the contrary, bass instruments have a nice fullness and boom, pow, and bam. There is very good extension and detail in the lower bass. The midrange presentation of human voices has a clarity and correctness that is often stunning. This is critical because most musical notes have their beginnings in the midrange. Overall, the sound is relaxed and easy on the ears – never in your face, aggressive, or bright. Most of the time, this just sounds correct, especially when not listening critically. Even so, the high resolution offers a useful tool for dialing in tonearms and phono cartridges. Every small adjustment to tracking force, VTA, and other settings is laid bare for you to hear.
The sound is very dynamic and powerful when called for. The sudden impact from percussion can be felt in the eyeballs! Percussive sounds instantly appear, exploding out of silent nothingness. This is a truly dynamic phono stage.
The Tzar DST and Miyajima Destiny, with outputs of .25 and .23 mV respectively, played very well with the Moon phono pre. On the other hand, the 0.15 mV output from the ZYX UNIverse Optimum, together with its 1 Ohm coils, sounded somewhat strained, although refined and clear.
The Aurorasound Supreme is close in price to the Moon unit, at $12,700. The Supreme offers a somewhat different view into the music, with noticeably more powerful and room-pressurizing bass, similar midrange, and a much more open and extended treble region. The Supreme sounds more open and “airy”, as does the BMC MCCI ULN phono preamp. The Supreme’s soundstage is a bit more specific and focused.
There is no sense of grain or harshness in the upper frequencies, although a fine grey overcast is heard, as if the color and contrast adjustments, to use a video analogy, were decreased somewhat. There were occasional glimpses into ’10 LP’ sound quality. The sound character can be described as very pleasant. This model’s dynamic performance is especially noteworthy.
Overall Rating: 8.5 LPs
Link to manufacturer: Moon by Simaudio