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Review: MOON 780D v2 Streaming DAC

Review: MOON 780D v2 Streaming DAC made a big impression on me, although it took me a while to really realize it. 

Review: MOON 780D v2 Streaming DAC- The Canadian high-end brand MOON by Simaudio – as they are officially called – can look forward to a steadily increasing interest in the Benelux. The manufacturer has been represented here for a long time by importer More Music, who has built up an enthusiastic and successful dealer network with it. This review focuses on the 780D v2 Streaming DAC. This top-class music machine represents the current ‘state of the art’ in streaming audio at MOON and they do it, as I think it should be at this high level, in their own unique way. As modest as Canadians usually are, so confidently MOON has created a streaming DAC with this device that offers its own view on the wish lists of today’s audiophile. With a special result.

The MOON 780D v2 is a beautiful, Canadian-built, quite heavy and above all very large streaming DAC. Due to the resonance-damping aluminum columns placed on the side of the – also in-house manufactured – metal housing, under which the conical feet are located, and between which there are real cooling fins, it measures no less than 47.6 centimeters in width. It is also no small boy in depth: 42.7 centimeters. When placed in a piece of furniture with a closed back, you must therefore leave enough space to be able to connect all the cables. That was no problem in my Creaktiv Trend 3-3 audio furniture, but future owners would be wise to measure the place where they want to place this streaming DAC. Also good to know: the conical feet do not have a soft plastic or rubber bottom, the contact with the ground must apparently be direct in MOON’s philosophy. Due to the weight of 17 kilos, sliding with the MOON 780D v2 has to be done with the necessary caution. But once it is in place, there is really something there. The one that I was given to stay with had silver ‘cheeks’ and a black front plate (it is also available in completely black or silver), and with its thick top plate with (large) in aluminum the embossed MOON logo, the massive ‘legs’ on the side and its large size, it made an indestructible – MOON provides a full 10-year guarantee – but also surprisingly elegant at the same time. In MOON’s philosophy, contact with the subsoil must apparently be direct. Due to the weight of 17 kilos, sliding with the MOON 780D v2 has to be done with the necessary caution. But once it is in place, there is really something there. The one that I was given to stay with had silver ‘cheeks’ and a black front plate (it is also available in completely black or silver), and with its thick top plate with (large) in aluminum the embossed MOON logo, the massive ‘legs’ on the side and its large size, it made an indestructible – MOON provides a full 10-year guarantee – but also surprisingly elegant at the same time. In MOON’s philosophy, contact with the subsoil must apparently be direct. Due to the weight of 17 kilos, sliding with the MOON 780D v2 has to be done with the necessary caution. But once it is in place, there is really something there. The one that I was given to stay with had silver ‘cheeks’ and a black front plate (it is also available in completely black or silver), and with its thick top plate with (large) in aluminum the embossed MOON logo, the massive ‘legs’ on the side and its large size, it made an indestructible – MOON provides a full 10-year guarantee – but also surprisingly elegant at the same time. then there is really something. The one that I was given to stay with had silver ‘cheeks’ and a black front plate (it is also available in completely black or silver), and with its thick top plate with (large) in aluminum the embossed MOON logo, the massive ‘legs’ on the side and its large size, it made an indestructible – MOON provides a full 10-year guarantee – but also surprisingly elegant at the same time. then there is really something. The one that I was given to stay with had silver ‘cheeks’ and a black front plate (it is also available in completely black or silver), and with its thick top plate with (large) in aluminum the embossed MOON logo, the massive ‘legs’ on the side and its large size, it made an indestructible – MOON provides a full 10-year guarantee – but also surprisingly elegant at the same time.

Own course

In the middle of the symmetrically arranged front is the MOON characteristic and very easy to read red LED display, which can be dimmed in a few steps or even switched off completely. If you choose the latter option, the display will only light up briefly if something in the status changes, such as starting a new album, or changing the sampling frequency or the selected input. When the display is off, a blue LED still shows that the 780D v2 is on. I would have liked that LED too, but that only happens if you switch off the player via the standby button on the front – or with the remote control developed entirely in-house, also made of metal. And then you still don’t completely turn it off, because even in standby mode, the digital and analog circuits remain at a minimum voltage to guarantee the best possible sound. A well-played analog circuit still warms up relatively quickly after switching on ‘cold’, but especially the digital circuits and especially the Clock benefit considerably from always being switched on. To the left of the display you will also find the buttons with which you select the desired input and the button to dim or switch off the display, which can also all be done via the remote control. With the four buttons to the right of the display you can adjust a number of settings in the Setup. This way you can change the name of the inputs or ‘turn off’ inputs that you don’t use. And you will also see that adjustment reflected in the app. So clear. The most striking at the front, and that brings us to the first point where MOON clearly charts its own course, which is the lack of a (large) color display. Personally, I don’t miss that at all, after all, all contemporary remote apps show what you’re playing in real time and in color. And with me, as with many others, the display is off by default anyway. Anyway, it is against market developments, the modern consumer seems to want the largest possible color display, because the eye also wants something. It is and remains a bit of ‘window dressing’, but it still shows courage for a high-end audio manufacturer to omit such a display, because it does not add anything to the sound quality (rather the other way around). is the lack of a (large) color display. Personally, I don’t miss that at all, after all, all contemporary remote apps show what you’re playing in real time and in color. And with me, as with many others, the display is off by default anyway. Anyway, it is against market developments, the modern consumer seems to want the largest possible color display, because the eye also wants something. It is and remains a bit of ‘window dressing’, but it still shows courage for a high-end audio manufacturer to omit such a display, because it does not add anything to the sound quality (rather the other way around). is the lack of a (large) color display. Personally, I don’t miss that at all, after all, all contemporary remote apps show what you’re playing in real time and in color. And with me, as with many others, the display is off by default anyway. Anyway, it is against market developments, the modern consumer seems to want the largest possible color display, because the eye also wants something. It is and remains a bit of ‘window dressing’, but it still shows courage for a high-end audio manufacturer to omit such a display, because it does not add anything to the sound quality (rather the other way around). the display is off by default. Anyway, it is against market developments, the modern consumer seems to want the largest possible color display, because the eye also wants something. It is and remains a bit of ‘window dressing’, but it still shows courage for a high-end audio manufacturer to omit such a display, because it does not add anything to the sound quality (rather the other way around). the display is off by default. Anyway, it is against market developments, the modern consumer seems to want the largest possible color display, because the eye also wants something. It is and remains a bit of ‘window dressing’, but it still shows courage for a high-end audio manufacturer to omit such a display, because it does not add anything to the sound quality (rather the other way around).

The backside of MOON 780D v2

Then we arrive at the rear. It is ‘well filled’ to say the least. Between the grounded IEC power input with integrated central on/off switch on the far right and a double analog output (single ended and balanced) on the far left, you will find two DIN connectors to which the optional external MOON 820S power supply can be connected, and no less than eight digital inputs; USB, AES/EBU, two Toslink and three S/PDIF coax, one with a BNC connector. The ninth digital input is aptX bluetooth, which does not require a physical connector. The same goes for Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay2, which are also on board. In a row above all these analog and digital inputs and outputs you will also find the connections of the bluetooth and the WiFi antenna, a set of recessed push buttons for reset and update functions (which are not mentioned in the user manual, so the advice is not to do it), the ethernet connection, the 3.5 mm connections for a 12 Volt trigger connection, an external infrared receiver and the in- and output for your own SimLink system. This allows you to operate a complete MOON system with your own remote control via one of the devices, while the rest can be out of sight. An RS232 port for custom install functions rounds out the rear panel connectivity feast impressively. This allows you to operate a complete MOON system with your own remote control via one of the devices, while the rest can be out of sight. An RS232 port for custom install functions rounds out the rear panel connectivity feast impressively. This allows you to operate a complete MOON system with your own remote control via one of the devices, while the rest can be out of sight. An RS232 port for custom install functions rounds out the rear panel connectivity feast impressively.

MOON 780D v2

MOON Technology

Inside are a number of MOON developments that make this MOON 780D v2 the special machine it is. First of all, there is the MHP module, which is put in its own housing, or the MOON Hybrid Power power supply. This contains both a linear analog power supply and a high-quality (digital) switch mode power supply. Some circuits simply work better with one power supply or the other, and MOON leaves nothing to chance. Further on in the circuit are twelve separate voltage regulators. Two of these are self-developed M-LoVo types (MOON Low Voltage Regulation) and four of them are equipped with i2DCf (Independant Inductive DC Filtering). As a result, each component receives the cleanest possible and most stable direct current. As noted earlier, the Clock in particular benefits from a constant and stable supply of power, and the temperature-regulated 150 Femtosecond Clock in the MOON 780D v2 is no different. This Clock provides extremely low jitter, resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding signal. The applied ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC chip is double implemented in a differential circuit. The left and right channels each have their own DAC, perfectly tuned to the other channel. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. and it’s no different for the temperature-regulated 150 Femtosecond Clock in the 780D v2. This Clock provides extremely low jitter, resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding signal. The applied ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC chip is double implemented in a differential circuit. The left and right channels each have their own DAC, perfectly tuned to the other channel. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. and it’s no different for the temperature-regulated 150 Femtosecond Clock in the 780D v2. This Clock provides extremely low jitter, resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding signal. The applied ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC chip is double implemented in a differential circuit. The left and right channels each have their own DAC, perfectly tuned to the other channel. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding signal. The applied ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC chip is double implemented in a differential circuit. The left and right channels each have their own DAC, perfectly tuned to the other channel. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding signal. The applied ESS ES9018S Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC chip is double implemented in a differential circuit. The left and right channels each have their own DAC, perfectly tuned to the other channel. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files. The digital inputs can all receive PCM signals with a sampling rate between 44.1 and 384 kHz, with a bit depth of 16, 24 or 32 bits. In addition to PCM, the 780D v2 also plays DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD256, and is both decoder and renderer (so full unfold) for MQA encoded files.

And then we come to the second ‘stubborn’ factor. MOON has in fact refrained from adding all kinds of DSP functions. So no internal upsampling, no adjustable filters, no convolution, room correction or parametric EQ… nothing at all. The digital signals that come in are processed as well as possible in their own resolution, and that’s it. Like omitting a color display, this is a remarkable decision, especially from a marketing point of view. Because audiophiles today are used to having ‘control’ over their digital signals. Analog tone control on their amps is an absolute no-go, but they do need fifteen different filters in their streamer, apparently. MOON has realized, however, that all that tweaking leads to unnecessary distraction from what it is all about: the music. They actually say: we can’t make it better than this, we are proud of this so you have to do it with this. Frankly, I find that a comforting thought. With my own streamer, which does have filters and other DSP functions, I set the filter of my choice once and never looked back after that. And I like that.

In that respect it is spicy that MOON does offer the listener the possibility to adjust the absolute phase of the digital signal. I know some audiophiles really appreciate that from the days when the big music labels still had their own studios. There are even copies circulating of a list once printed in a hi-fi magazine, in which the absolute phases of the various music labels are stated. But those times are over. Virtually all of the labels’ own studios have closed down to save costs, and the ‘absolute phase’ of modern music productions often recorded and edited at different locations is therefore literally ‘all over the place’. Albums sometimes have a different absolute phase per track, and it even happens that some tracks have a different phase within a track. Only you as a listener don’t know that, so you would have to listen and try out for each individual track which absolute phase sounds best. If you enjoy it that’s fine of course, but then you still listen to how it sounds and not to what you hear. The only reason this feature may be useful is when you connect the 780D v2 to a third-party preamp whose balanced inputs are in phase from the balanced output on the MOON 780D v2. That happens, but you can also buy special ‘reverse cables’ or adapters for that that solve it very effectively. Oh, I’m actually whining about details. I grant MOON this remarkableness, and whoever wants to dive a few steps deep into the menu for each album or track to adjust the phase, has my blessing. and so for each individual track you would have to listen and try out which absolute phase sounds best. If you enjoy it that’s fine of course, but then you still listen to how it sounds and not to what you hear. The only reason this feature may be useful is when you connect the 780D v2 to a third-party preamp whose balanced inputs are in phase from the balanced output on the MOON 780D v2. That happens, but you can also buy special ‘reverse cables’ or adapters for that that solve it very effectively. Oh, I’m actually whining about details. I grant MOON this remarkableness, and whoever wants to dive a few steps deep into the menu for each album or track to adjust the phase, has my blessing. and so for each individual track you would have to listen and try out which absolute phase sounds best. If you enjoy it that’s fine of course, but then you still listen to how it sounds and not to what you hear. The only reason this feature may be useful is when you connect the 780D v2 to a third-party preamp whose balanced inputs are in phase from the balanced output on the 780D v2. That happens, but you can also buy special ‘reverse cables’ or adapters for that that solve it very effectively. Oh, I’m actually whining about details. I grant MOON this remarkableness, and whoever wants to dive a few steps deep into the menu for each album or track to adjust the phase, has my blessing.

MOON 780D v2

MOON MIND 2

Because the MOON 780D v2 fulfills the dual function of DAC and streaming hub, it is equipped with the latest (second) generation of MOON’s own MiND 2 platform (MOON intelligent Network Device), which fulfills all streaming tasks. In this, for example, the indexing of the music in your network takes place, which goes very quickly because MOON uses the UPnP protocol for this. But the MiND 2 software does much more. For example, it makes the MOON 780D v2 Roon Ready, ensures that you can listen to music in multiple rooms simultaneously in perfect synchronization via other MiND 2 devices, and in the case of the MOON 780D v2 also offers full MQA support. It also contains a TuneIn internet radio module and you can use it to buy your subscriptions from Tidal, Use Qobuz or Deezer so that you can operate everything within the environment of the sleek and pleasantly intuitive MiND Controller app – brilliant name by the way. In anticipation of the listening test: I did my best to hear sound differences between the own app and Roon, but there were none as far as I’m concerned, they both sounded equally good. Via the MiND Controller app you can also control other functions if you have a complete MOON system, and through future updates the MiND 2 platform can be upgraded and expanded (that will be MiND 3 I think, and so on …). It’s nice that your precious streaming DAC is future-proof as far as the operating software and its functions are concerned. I did my best to hear sound differences between the own app and Roon, but there were none as far as I’m concerned, they both sounded equally good. Via the MiND Controller app you can also control other functions if you have a complete MOON system, and through future updates the MiND 2 platform can be upgraded and expanded (that will be MiND 3 I think, and so on …). It’s nice that your precious streaming DAC is future-proof as far as the operating software and its functions are concerned. I did my best to hear sound differences between the own app and Roon, but there were none as far as I’m concerned, they both sounded equally good. Via the MiND Controller app you can also control other functions if you have a complete MOON system, and through future updates the MiND 2 platform can be upgraded and expanded (that will be MiND 3 I think, and so on …). It’s nice that your precious streaming DAC is future-proof as far as the operating software and its functions are concerned. and through future updates the MiND 2 platform can be upgraded and expanded (I think that will be MiND 3, and so on…). It’s nice that your precious streaming DAC is future-proof as far as the operating software and its functions are concerned. and through future updates the MiND 2 platform can be upgraded and expanded (I think that will be MiND 3, and so on…). It’s nice that your precious streaming DAC is future-proof as far as the operating software and its functions are concerned.

Listen “MOON 780D v2”

The specimen I received had been played in, so it only needed 24 hours to warm up and stabilize. It took the place of my AURALiC ALTAIR G1 streaming DAC. He received power via an AudioQuest Monsoon power cord, ethernet came in through an AudioQuest Vodka CAT7 (via an English Electric 8Switch fed with an iFi iPower that is in a network wired with AudioQuest Forest CAT700) and the single ended analog connection took place via AudioQuest Water. interconnects. MOON itself recommends using the balanced outputs on the MOON 780D v2, but my integrated PrimaLuna EVO400i amplifier (equipped with PrimaLuna KT88 power tubes, PrimaLuna 12au7s as drivers and in this case a pair of 1960s NOS GE 5814A in the preamp) doesn’t have it. over balanced inputs.

After a day of casual listening while playing (during which I could already determine that the MOON 780D v2 left my AURALiC behind) an intensive period of listening began, in which I reviewed a very extensive and varied diet of music. Everything passed by, from large-scale classical (Gerviev’s crushing performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring, with the Kirov Orchestra) to super-dynamic trio jazz (Tsuyoshi Yamamoto’s Misty, on the Three Blind Mice label) and from fat stoner rock (Wo Fat’s delicious album The Black Code) to pure electronics (Modular Works V by State Azure) but a kind of reference album that I have been reaching for lately is Verve, by Sebastian Plano. His extensively recorded neoclassical music is not only stunning, but also has a very transparent and dynamic production. The energy of the piano stands out in particular, which makes a clear distinction possible between my really beautiful ALTAIR G1 and this MOON 780D v2. I sometimes say that the differences between the still affordable and considerably more expensive high-end have slowly become smaller in recent years, and I stick to that – but with a clear note, so read on! Especially in the field of digital technology, developers in the price range up to roughly 3000 euros can do such beautiful things that you no longer fall out of your chair when you put a streaming DAC of 15,000 euros next to it. Yet – and here comes that note – the differences were still very audible. It wasn’t so much about tonal tuning, though the MOON played with more authority and sophistication in all areas than my own streaming DAC, but about things like timing, low level detail, spatial placement and lifelikeness. Sebastian Plano’s piano through the MOON was simply more tactile, faster and more dynamic, and it had much more texture, especially in the low tones. The detail in the rendering of the space around the instruments was considerably greater, the virtual picture painted in front of my mind’s eye was also sharper and there seemed to be nothing more standing between me and the music. The latter is rather vague, I realize, but I mean that it took me less effort to believe the music. The music flowed easily into my ears, and left me wanting more.

‘Listening holistically’

Another example of what an ultimate high-end product can do to your display is make you fall in love all over again with music you’ve known almost your entire life. As the quality of products comes closer together and the differences become more difficult to interpret, as a reviewer you increasingly have to resort to tried-and-tested but long unused methods to be able to make chocolate from what you hear. That will probably be different for everyone (as long as it’s different from your usual methods) and so for me that was ‘listening holistically’. I no longer focus on certain partial aspects of the reproduction, but I start to ‘feel’ what the music does to me like a kind of hippie with my eyes closed. Relatively new albums – which I always like to use to broaden the musical horizons of my readers – are less suitable for this. What matters is whether music that has traveled with you all your life and that you know inside and out can surprise you again.

I like to use a mixtape that I got from a friend in the early 90’s, which contains psychedelic underground music from the second half of the 80’s. For the connoisseurs: this concerns artists such as Tuxedomoon, Edward Ka-Spel, Shriekback, Shock Headed Peters and Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown. That mix once became the soundtrack to an important period in my life, like a cassette tape in my Walkman. I later played it digitized from a DAT tape, and for several years now I’ve freshly ripped the tracks I could retrieve from it and rearranged them in the mixtape order. I’ve been playing this mixtape at least once a month since the 90’s, it’s by far my most listened to music. And what I kind of hoped happened. One evening, with dim light, some candles and a stick of incense for the right atmosphere, the music took me another hour and a half to a dream world in which time and space flow into each other. It was like getting stoned without smoking weed, or like a wonderful mental release without crying, for those who can imagine more than that.

The MOON 780D v2 managed to extract so much extra texture from the old and sometimes absolutely not audiophile recordings that I actually heard details that I had forgotten over the years. But without sounding fierce or overly detailed for even one second. The best words to describe what the MOON 780D v2 absolutely excels at are ‘transparency’ and ‘credibility’. As if I was no longer allowed to look at the artists through a beautifully cleaned window, but really stood on top of them with my nose. I almost had to wipe away a tear. And when that happens, the music has just got that little bit of extra magic with which top high-end still manages to distinguish itself from the ever more emphatically at the gate clattering pretenders to the throne. That doesn’t sound very spectacular on paper, but the outburst of emotion that listening to that mixtape caused this time really was. And those are the differences for which you as a manufacturer really have to be on the cutting edge of the technology, and for which you as a music lover with an ear for better reproduction must have a considerable budget to own such a new top product.

MOON 780D

Conclusion – MOON 780D v2

It should be clear that the MOON 780D v2 made a big impression on me, although it took me a while to really realize it. When I listened to it technically, I could absolutely hear that it sounded fantastic and was better than my own streaming DAC, which cost less than 1/5 of the still quite impressive price of the MOON. Yes, that gets you the cuckoo of course. But as I said, it took a deeper level of listening to experience the quality of the 780D v2 in its full glory. This is a streaming DAC that could silence the digital versus analog discussion, where it’s all about the music, the whole music, and nothing but the music. Where the technology is so good that Clarke’s Third Law comes into effect. This world famous science fiction author (from 2001:

shable from magic”. There you have it, dear reader. That actually says the same thing in eight words as what I just rattled out of my writing loom in nearly 3,300 words. Go hear it, but above all: go experience it!

Price of MOON 780D v2

MOON 780D v2 streaming DAC € 16,500

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