Review: Moon 250i v2 Integrated Amplifier

Review: Moon 250i v2 Integrated Amplifier - The Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier, a product of Canadian high-end manufacturer Moon, delivers a captivating, musically engaging experience

Moon 250i V2: An Affordable Moon Gem

For audiophiles seeking a genuine and uncompromising listening experience, Moon, a distinguished Canadian high-end audio manufacturer, has consistently delivered. Within their catalog of exceptional audio equipment, the Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier stands out as an affordable yet remarkable gem. Priced at 2,600 euros, this amplifier encapsulates the essence of Moon’s distinct sound signature while maintaining accessibility for enthusiasts. In this comprehensive review, we delve into the performance, features, and unique characteristics of the Moon 250i V2 after subjecting it to rigorous testing over several weeks.

Moon: A Legacy of High-End Audio

Moon, operating under the umbrella brand Simaudio, has established itself as a prominent figure in high-end audio. Their commitment to craftsmanship and sound quality has earned them a global reputation. While many Moon products command a premium price, they are all proudly “Made in Canada” and consistently reflect a commitment to excellence. The Moon 250i V2, positioned at the lower end of Moon’s product range with its 2,600 euro price tag, continues this tradition, delivering a taste of Moon’s signature sound without breaking the bank. This evaluation explores how the Moon 250i V2, a fully analog integrated amplifier, upholds the esteemed Moon legacy and provides an exceptional auditory experience.

Moon, operating under the umbrella brand Simaudio, has carved a prominent niche in the high-end audio industry. While their products come with ambitious price tags, they are synonymous with Canadian craftsmanship and a distinctive Moon sound. Among their offerings, the Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier stands out as an affordable yet remarkable audio gem, priced at 2,600 euros. This review explores this fully analog amplifier’s performance and characteristics over a few weeks of rigorous testing.

Technical data

moon 250i V2
Concept:Purely analogue integrated amplifier
Perfomance:2 x 100 / 2 x 50 Watt (4/8 Ohm)
Inputs:4 x Hochpegel (RCA), 1 x Phono
Outputs:1 x pre-out (RCA), 1 x headphones (6.3 mm jack)
Particularities:high-quality MM phono stage
Guarantee:ten years
Color variants:schwarz, bi-color
Dimensions (W x H x D):42,9 x 8,9 x 36,6 cm
Weight:10.2 kilos (piece)

The Unique Aspect of the Moon 250i V2

The ‘V2’ in its name hints at a predecessor, and indeed, the Moon 250i had a precursor with fine A/B amplification. What sets the Moon 250i V2 apart is its ability to deliver 5 watts in pure Class A operation, a low-distortion but resource-intensive feat. It offers a total power output of approximately 100 watts at 4 ohms or 50 watts at 8 ohms, typically sufficient for most speakers not requiring exceptionally high power. This capability, along with an unwavering power supply, showcases its stability.

Internally, the Moon 250i V2 reveals no secret circuitry changes compared to its predecessor. However, where it excels is in its features. A discreet MM phono stage, equivalent to an external unit worth 500 euros or more, is a notable addition. While the phono stage lacks user-adjustable settings, it features a final impedance of 47kΩ, a sweet spot for most MM cartridges. Sonically, the phono stage, like the entire amplifier, leans towards a rich, velvety, and refined sound signature. Moon’s confidence in their products is evident through their generous 10-year warranty.

Build and Design: Craftsmanship Meets Functionality

The Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier exemplifies the brand’s dedication to meticulous craftsmanship and functional design. It’s evident from the moment you look at this amplifier that it’s built to last and perform at a high level.

Elegance in Simplicity: The Moon 250i V2 embraces a minimalist design philosophy. It boasts a clean, uncluttered front panel with only essential controls, exuding an understated elegance that seamlessly fits into any audio setup. The front panel features a power button, input selection, and volume control. The controls offer a solid, tactile feel, and their placement is intuitive, making the amplifier user-friendly.

Rigorous Build Quality: The amplifier’s chassis is constructed from robust materials, ensuring durability and resistance to vibrations that could affect audio performance. The attention to detail is evident in every component, from the sturdy metal casing to the precision-engineered internal circuitry. This robust construction reduces the risk of interference or resonance that can negatively impact sound quality.

Versatile Connectivity: The rear panel of the Moon 250i V2 reveals a thoughtful array of connectivity options. It includes multiple line-level RCA inputs, allowing you to connect various audio sources such as CD players, turntables, or streaming devices. Including these inputs caters to both traditional and modern audio setups, making it adaptable to a wide range of preferences.

Balanced and Unbalanced Outputs: The amplifier offers balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs, providing flexibility when connecting to power amplifiers or powered speakers. This versatility ensures compatibility with a variety of audio equipment.

Analog MM Phono Stage: A notable feature of the Moon 250i V2 is its discreet moving magnet (MM) phono stage. This addition is a boon for vinyl enthusiasts, as it negates the need for an external phono preamp. Moon’s choice of a fixed 47kΩ impedance for the phono stage caters to most MM cartridges available today, simplifying setup and delivering a pleasing vinyl playback experience.

Sophisticated Aesthetic: The Moon 250i V2 showcases a sleek and timeless aesthetic with curved attachments on the sides of the front panel. This subtle design element adds a touch of sophistication while maintaining the overall clean and unassuming appearance. The unit is available in a classic black finish, complementing various audio setups.

10-Year Warranty: Moon stands confidently behind the quality of their products, offering an impressive 10-year warranty on the Moon 250i V2. This warranty period underscores the brand’s commitment to reliability and customer satisfaction.

In summary, the Moon 250i V2’s design and build quality exemplify a harmonious blend of aesthetics and functionality. Its robust construction, versatile connectivity options, and attention to detail make it a standout component in high-end audio equipment. Whether as the centerpiece of a dedicated audio system or integrated into a multi-source setup, the Moon 250i V2 combines craftsmanship and thoughtful design to deliver an exceptional listening experience.

Usability: Intuitive Control and Convenience

The Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier offers a user-friendly experience, combining intuitive controls with convenient features that enhance its usability.

Front Panel Controls: The amplifier’s front panel features a minimalistic yet effective set of controls. The power button allows for easy on/off operation, while the input selection button lets users switch between connected sources effortlessly. The volume control knob, with its solid tactile feedback, provides precise adjustment of audio levels. These controls are well-spaced and thoughtfully positioned, ensuring straightforward operation even in low-light environments.

Remote Control: Included with the Moon 250i V2 is a dedicated remote control, enhancing the convenience of operation. The remote replicates the front panel’s functions, allowing users to adjust volume, switch inputs, and power the unit on or off from a distance. This remote control simplifies the listening experience, especially when seated away from the amplifier.

Tube Anomaly Detection: An interesting and unique feature of the Moon 250i V2 is its Tube Anomaly Detection system. This function monitors the status and lifespan of the tubes within the amplifier. Users can easily keep track of the tube usage and receive notifications when it’s time for replacement. This proactive approach ensures that the amplifier consistently delivers optimal performance, and it’s a feature not commonly found in integrated amplifiers.

Phono Stage Integration: Including a built-in moving magnet (MM) phono stage adds to the convenience of the Moon 250i V2, especially for vinyl enthusiasts. This phono stage eliminates the need for an external preamp, simplifying the setup process. While there are no user-adjustable settings on the phono stage, its fixed 47kΩ impedance makes it compatible with most MM cartridges available in the market. This plug-and-play approach allows users to seamlessly enjoy their vinyl records.

Enhanced Connectivity: The amplifier’s rear panel hosts a variety of inputs and outputs, offering flexibility in connecting audio sources and other components. With multiple line-level RCA inputs and balanced XLR inputs, users can accommodate a wide range of audio devices, from CD players to turntables. Additionally, balanced and unbalanced outputs simplifies the integration of external power amplifiers or active speakers into the system.

Customizable Bias Setting: The Moon 250i V2 allows users to adjust the tube’s bias setting. This feature allows fine-tuning the amplifier’s performance to match personal preferences or specific tube types. While this requires a steady hand and careful adjustment, it allows audiophiles to tailor the sound signature to their liking.

In summary, the Moon 250i V2 excels in usability with its straightforward front panel controls, dedicated remote, and unique features like Tube Anomaly Detection. Including a phono stage simplifies vinyl playback, while the amplifier’s diverse connectivity options cater to various audio sources. The customizable bias setting adds personalization for those seeking to fine-tune their audio experience. Overall, the Moon 250i V2 offers an enjoyable and user-centric interface for audiophiles and music enthusiasts.

Listening Experience

For those acquainted with Moon components, the 250i V2 immediately showcases the brand’s signature traits: a gentle, calm, and delicate sonic character that captivates listeners. This character is especially pronounced in reproducing voices and acoustic instruments, rendering them captivating. The Moon amplifier shines even more when handling recordings from renowned studios like Stockfisch, emphasizing the amplifier’s elegance and poise.

Comparing it to the Atoll IN300, a reference amplifier, the Moon 250i V2 demonstrates its refined yet laid-back nature. While the Atoll boasts more power and brightness, the Moon amplifier maintains subtlety and delicacy. In dynamic music passages, the Moon can feel slightly restrained compared to the Atoll, but it excels in preserving the overall musicality of the performance.

The Moon’s true strength is creating a harmonious and soothing listening experience. Its velvety midrange and tonal elegance gradually captivate listeners. Over time, its ability to provide a relaxed and engaging atmosphere makes it an excellent choice for extended listening sessions. This characteristic emerged when listening to Anne Clark’s album on the Moon Amplifier. It skillfully conveyed the artist’s voice, the harp, and the violin impeccably.

The Moon’s more relaxed approach stands out in a direct comparison with the Atoll, which leans towards brightness and energy. It helps to rediscover the emotional depth and subtleties in the music. The Moon amplifier may not be as dynamic as some alternatives, but its exceptional harmonious presentation makes it a unique and endearing choice for extended music enjoyment.

Sound Quality and Sound Test:

The Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier distinguishes itself with its signature sound quality, characterized by its musicality, delicacy, and a focus on the midrange. This amplifier exhibits a unique audio profile during sound tests that appeals to those seeking a refined, warm, and immersive listening experience.

Midrange Magic: One of the standout attributes of the Moon 250i V2 is its exceptional handling of the midrange frequencies. Vocals, acoustic instruments, and midrange-rich recordings are presented with captivating richness and clarity. The amplifier’s ability to reproduce subtle nuances in voices and instruments makes it particularly suitable for genres like jazz, acoustic, and classical music. The midrange is lush and velvety, drawing listeners into the heart of the music.

Tonal Balance: The Moon 250i V2 leans towards a tonal balance emphasizing harmonic richness and smoothness rather than analytical precision. This tonal character imparts a sense of warmth and musicality to the listening experience. It’s an amplifier that invites you to relax and savor the music, making it ideal for extended listening sessions.

Instrument Separation: The amplifier’s ability to separate instruments in complex compositions is commendable. It creates a soundstage where individual instruments and voices are distinctly placed, providing a sense of three-dimensionality. This spatial accuracy enhances the overall listening immersion.

Phono Stage Performance: Vinyl enthusiasts will appreciate the inclusion of the built-in MM phono stage. While it lacks user-adjustable settings, the phono stage offers a commendable performance that maintains the amplifier’s sonic signature. Vinyl playback through this integrated amplifier is characterized by its organic and engaging presentation.

Dynamic Range: The Moon 250i V2’s dynamic range is well-suited for less demanding speaker setups. It handles both low-level details and dynamic peaks with finesse. However, in comparison to more powerful amplifiers, it may exhibit limitations in driving particularly demanding or low-efficiency speakers to high volumes.

Versatility Across Genres: While the Moon 250i V2 excels in genres emphasizing midrange and acoustic elements, it may not be the first choice for listeners who prioritize fast-paced, dynamic, and bass-heavy music. Genres like rock and electronic music might benefit from a more robust and dynamic amplifier.

Comparison with Competing Amplifiers: In comparison to competing amplifiers, the Moon 250i V2 may not excel in terms of sheer power or dynamic impact. Some listeners seeking a more energetic and punchy sound might find it relatively reserved. However, its strength lies in its ability to create an emotional connection with the music, making it an ideal choice for audiophiles who value musicality and midrange presence over raw power.

Conclusion on Sound Quality: The Moon 250i V2 offers a signature that prioritizes musicality, midrange finesse, and a warm tonal balance. Its ability to create an immersive listening experience, especially for vocal-centric and acoustic music, sets it apart. While it may not be the most dynamic amplifier on the market, its unique character makes it a compelling choice for those who appreciate a refined and emotionally engaging sound profile.

Overall, the Moon 250i V2 is well-suited for audiophiles seeking an amplifier that elevates the enjoyment of genres with rich midrange content and values musicality above all else.

Reasons to Buy the Moon 250i V2 Integrated Amplifier:

  1. Musicality and Midrange Excellence: If you prioritize musicality and have a penchant for genres like jazz, acoustic, and classical music, the Moon 250i V2 is an excellent choice. Its ability to render midrange frequencies with richness and clarity is a compelling reason to invest in this amplifier.
  2. Warm and Inviting Sound: The Moon 250i V2’s warm and velvety tonal balance creates an inviting and immersive listening experience. If you prefer a sound signature that is smooth and easy on the ears, this amplifier delivers just that.
  3. Built-In Phono Stage: Vinyl enthusiasts will appreciate the integrated MM phono stage. It adds value to the amplifier and ensures you can enjoy your record collection without needing an external phono preamp.
  4. Instrument Separation: This amplifier excels at instrument separation, creating a detailed, three-dimensional soundstage. If you enjoy dissecting complex compositions and hearing each instrument distinctly, the Moon 250i V2 does an admirable job.
  5. Reliable Build Quality: Moon is known for its build quality and reliability. With a 10-year warranty, you can trust that this amplifier is built to last, offering peace of mind for your investment.

Considerations Before Buying:

  1. Not Ideal for High-Energy Music: If you primarily listen to fast-paced genres like rock or electronic music that demand a more energetic and dynamic sound, the Moon 250i V2’s tonal character may not align with your preferences. It leans towards a mellower presentation.
  2. Limited Power Output: While the amplifier’s power output is sufficient for most speaker setups, it may not be suitable for driving extremely demanding or low-efficiency speakers to high volumes. Consider your speakers’ requirements before purchasing.
  3. No Digital Connectivity: If you rely on digital sources and expect features like Bluetooth, DACs, or streaming capabilities, this amplifier does not offer those options. It is a purely analog integrated amplifier.
  4. Price Consideration: While the Moon 250i V2 is positioned as an entry-level option within Moon’s product lineup, it still falls within the higher price range for integrated amplifiers. Budget-conscious buyers may find more affordable alternatives with similar features.

In Summary: The Moon 250i V2 integrated amplifier is an excellent choice for audiophiles who prioritize musicality, midrange richness, and a warm tonal balance. It shines in genres that emphasize acoustic instruments and vocals. Its built-in phono stage adds value for vinyl enthusiasts. However, it may not suit those seeking a highly dynamic or bass-heavy sound. Ensure that its sonic character aligns with your musical preferences and speaker requirements before purchasing.

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Conclusion – Moon 250i V2

The Moon 250i V2 is a refreshing departure from modern, feature-packed amplifiers. It embodies the essence of a classic integrated amplifier, delivering a straightforward analog experience without Bluetooth, DACs, or streaming capabilities. Priced at 2,500 euros, it represents Moon’s commitment to delivering quality sound with no frills. While it may not cater to those seeking ultra-high-resolution audio or high-speed dynamics, it finds its niche in offering a velvety and harmonious listening experience—a pleasant companion for long, immersive listening sessions.

Advantages of the Moon 250i V2 Integrated Amplifier:

  1. Musicality: The Moon 250i V2 delivers a musical and engaging listening experience, making it well-suited for genres like jazz, classical, and acoustic music.
  2. Smooth and Warm Sound: Its warm and velvety tonal balance provides a smooth and inviting signature that many audiophiles appreciate.
  3. Integrated MM Phono Stage: The built-in MM phono stage is a valuable addition for vinyl enthusiasts, eliminating the need for a separate phono preamp.
  4. Instrument Separation: This amplifier offers exceptional instrument separation, allowing listeners to hear intricate details within complex musical compositions.
  5. Reliable Build Quality: Moon products are known for their reliable build quality, and the 10-year warranty adds peace of mind for long-term ownership.

Disadvantages of the Moon 250i V2 Integrated Amplifier:

  1. Limited Power Output: While suitable for most speakers, the amplifier’s power output may not be sufficient for driving demanding or low-efficiency speakers at high volumes.
  2. Not Ideal for High-Energy Music: It may not be the best choice for enthusiasts of high-energy music genres like rock or electronic, as it leans towards a mellower sound presentation.
  3. Lack of Digital Connectivity: The Moon 250i V2 lacks digital connectivity options, including Bluetooth, DAC, and streaming capabilities, limiting its versatility with modern digital sources.
  4. Higher Price Range: Despite being positioned as an entry-level option within Moon’s lineup, it still falls within the higher price range for integrated amplifiers, which may not be budget-friendly for all buyers.
  5. Limited Features: It is a purely analog integrated amplifier with minimal features, so those looking for advanced digital functionality or tone control options may need to consider external components.