Over the Moon
Sound & Vision|August - September 2021
SIMAUDIO, an audio manufacturer located in Boucherville, Quebec, is well-known for both the build quality of its products and the whopping ten-year warranty it offers. Many of the company’s wares are decidedly high-end—the 230-pound Moon 888 monoblock amplifier ($118,888 per pair), which is rated to output a massive 888 watts at 8 ohms and double that down to 1,776 watts at 4 ohms, for example.
Howard Kneller

In this review, however, we’re sizing up Simaudio’s Moon 280D DAC, which features its MiND 2 (Moon intelligent Network Device) wireless-capable music streaming module. With a $3,000 price tag, the 280D falls squarely within the mid-level price tier for the streaming DAC category. Given the intense competition in that space, I was curious to see what, if anything, would cause the 280D to stand out from the pack.

FEATURES

The Moon 280D is not a completely new product for the company. It was first introduced in 2015 and has been continually updated, with the MiND 2 module added in 2018. The most recent updates bring Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2 support.

A fully asynchronous DAC, the Moon 280D’s ESS Technology Sabre ES9018K2M chipset is capable of processing PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz (including DXD) and native DSD64, double DSD (DSD128), and quad DSD (DSD256) signals, which are supported only through the USB and network (LAN/Ethernet or Wi-Fi) inputs. The 280D also fully unfolds Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files arriving via its network inputs.

Signals streamed over a wired or wireless connection from local UPnP servers and internet-based music services are handled by the MiND 2 module, which is controlled via the Moon MiND 2 iOS or Android controller app. A separate module in the Moon 280D handles aptX Bluetooth wireless streaming.

The MiND 2 module is Roon Ready and supports Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, and internet radio streaming, while Spotify is supported via its native app and the Spotify Connect function. Apple AirPlay 2 allows other music services to be streamed via their native apps. Lastly, the MiND 2 module permits synchronized multiroom playback on multiple MiND 2-equipped devices, with zones grouped together or run separately.

The 280D in my estimation easily rubs shoulders with the very best network music players at its price level.

Recent updates to the Moon 280D added Spotify Connect plus AirPlay 2 support for wireless streaming from an iOS device.

On the analog side, the Moon 280D features fully balanced differential circuitry and four-layer printed circuit boards with pure copper tracings. Careful attention has been paid to the 280D’s circuitry layout. For example, the clock has been closely positioned to the DAC chipset, while separate voltage regulators are used for the digital and analog sections.

The Moon 280D’s front panel consists of a 1/4-inch-thick aluminum plate flanked by a pair of side “cheeks.” Color options include black, silver, or two-tone (e.g., a black centerpiece with silver cheeks). Simaudio’s treble clef logo is positioned in the middle, above a blue LED power indicator and a standby button. On the left side are buttons for Bluetooth activation and input selection, along with a group of red LED indicators that show the active input, while the right side holds the second group of red LED indicators showing PCM sampling and DSD data rates. There’s no front-panel display, as Simaudio feels the listener will typically be sitting a good distance away and have album art and track information available via the Moon MiND controller app. There’s also no volume control, though both features can be found on Simaudio’s upper-level streamers, including the 280D’s big brother, the $5,900 Moon 390 network streamer/preamplifier.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM SOUND & VISIONView All

XGIMI – A Potent Portable

Even as TVs grow ever-larger, the projector category continues to be an active one, with more recent designs like ultra-short throw models giving viewers an alternative to room-dominating hangfrom-ceiling setups.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

A Classic Reimagined

KLH model five loudspeaker

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

Instant Atmos

KLIPSCH’S NEW Cinema series soundbars are the latest effort of an iconic, 75-year-old speaker maker to push new performance barriers while delivering a product that is quintessential, well, Klipsch.

10 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

MEDIA ROOM INSIDER: SENECA CINEMA

Do-It-Yourself Theater with a Twist

9 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

LCD Reloaded

IN 2020, Sound & Vision tested Samsung’s 65-inch Q90T series TV, an LCD model that lacked some of the features and refinements found in the company’s flagship sets from the previous year.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

OLED For Less

SONY’S NEW XR-65A80J OLED TV isn’t a member of the company’s Master Series—that designation belongs to its XR-A90J OLED models, which are spec’d to deliver higher brightness than the XR-A80J sets. And while we haven’t yet tested those pricier Sony OLEDs, the XR-65A80J is far from being a second-class citizen. Read on to find out why.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

Rack Your World

IF YOU’RE A boomer who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s like I did, you’ll remember that no home was complete unless it had a stereo system in the living room.

9 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

SPATIAL AUDIO RELATIONS

Ears-on with Apple Music’s new Atmos offerings

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

The Power Station

TRUE STORY. My very first hi-fi system featured a Rotel integrated amplifier—if memory serves, a model RA-20 of some 20 watts per channel.

8 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

THX Onyx DAC/ Headphone Amplifier

THX Does High-Res Audio

3 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021