Built-in amplifiers develop into more and more uncommon as value factors rise. That is sensible on condition that there are invariably compromises concerned when packing each a preamp and energy amplifier with the partnering energy provide in the identical field.
When spending automotive cash, any thought of compromise needs to be the very last thing on the menu, but right here we’ve Moon’s new 641 built-in amplifier sitting on our tools rack making an attempt to persuade us that it’s value each penny of its £11,000 / $11,000 / AU$19,000 price ticket.
Moon created fairly a stir when it launched its North Assortment of high-end merchandise earlier this yr. The identify celebrates the corporate’s Canadian heritage and the gathering is made up of three tiers of parts with every tier comprising two merchandise.
The starter 600 collection degree consists of a music streamer (the 681) and the 641 built-in amplifier we’ve on check right here. The highest tier 800 collection merchandise are available at roughly double the value and break up the sign path in a different way, by providing a streaming preamp (the 891) and devoted energy amplifier (861). The center-ranking 700 collection echos the 800 collection parts however at a cheaper price. Whereas Moon has lengthy made high-end merchandise, the introduction of the North Assortment continues to be a daring assertion of intent and firmly pushes its focus upmarket.
If you’re anticipating the complete bells and whistles strategy from the gathering’s solely built-in amplifier then the 641 goes to disappoint you. That is purely a line-level system with no digital inputs, phono stage or headphone output. Bluetooth? Not on the menu both, which is a little bit of a disgrace contemplating the way in which it will open up this amplifier to be used throughout a wider vary of sources.
In fact, we recognise that not everybody will need all of those options and those that need them can at all times add extra packing containers to do these jobs. However, we really feel that a large a part of the enchantment of an built-in design is to have the neatness and comfort of every little thing in a single field, making it supreme for many who wish to minimise basic litter and the mess of connecting wires. The second a producer expects the client so as to add additional packing containers, that shopper would possibly as effectively have gone for the extra purist separate pre/energy strategy within the first place.
That stated, so far as line-level integrateds go, the 641 will slot into most methods with out a difficulty. On the again panel, there are 4 single-ended line-level inputs alongside a balanced XLR choice. There’s additionally a switchable line-level output that can be utilized to feed a separate energy amplifier for many who really feel the 641’s wholesome 125 watts per channel isn’t fairly sufficient, or that output will be configured for full line-level operation to feed, say, a recorder of some type.
Construct & design
We just like the Moon’s speaker terminals. There’s a single pair per channel and so they really feel suitably chunky and premium, completely avoiding the extra glitzy jewellery-type look of many who we see. That is however one instance of the seriousness with which Moon has developed the 641’s design. Look inside and you’ll find the neatly laid-out circuit is organized in a symmetrical twin mono association the place the left and proper channel circuits are break up all the way in which to having their very own energy provide with a devoted toroidal transformer. That goes some strategy to explaining the amplifier’s hefty 26kg transport weight.
There are numerous benefits to a twin mono association from minimising any undesirable interactions between the parts of every channel, bettering all points of sound high quality, to optimising stereo imaging. Such an strategy isn’t low-cost to do, which is why it’s only ever seen at extra premium costs.
The engineers have had one other take a look at how the quantity management works and have provide you with an answer that’s claimed to enhance sound high quality and keep distinctive channel steadiness whatever the quantity degree chosen, one thing conventional potentiometer-based designs don’t achieve this effectively.
Moon 641 tech specs
Energy 125 watts per channel
Phono stage? No
Line degree inputs Single ended x 4, balanced XLR x 1
Output Switchable line-level/preamp
Dimensions (hwd) 48 x 10 x 47cm
Weight 26 kg
Finishes x 1
There’s nothing to complain about in terms of the 641’s construct and end, it’s wonderful, simply as we’d count on for the cash. That elegant casework is immensely stable and is designed to scale back the quantity of exterior vibration that reaches the delicate inner circuitry. We love the texture of the massive rotary dial on the entrance, which works as a quantity management and a navigational device within the set-up menus and spins with a beautiful smoothness. The big 4.3in color OLED show on the entrance panel is crisp and clear. It stays simple to learn from a distance and makes organising a breeze.
We’ve to applaud Moon for the stunning BRM-1 distant handset equipped with the related North Assortment merchandise, too. Whereas most rival producers take the straightforward choice and purchase an off-the-shelf design, this dinky all-metal unit is one which the corporate has put loads of work into. It’s fantastically styled and a pleasure to make use of.
The BRM-1 contains a small show on the centre of the quantity dial that mirrors the quantity setting proven on the primary show and permits the listener to change inputs and mute. Our very early pattern has a small glitch the place the quantity indicator sometimes freezes on a quantity although we modified the extent and the amplifier has responded accordingly. Happily, this quickly kinds itself out and doesn’t show to be a severe annoyance in use. Even so, we hope Moon kinds out this concern quickly.
Any amplifier at this degree calls for a top-class system to shine. Our essential sources are Naim’s ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and the Technics SL-1000R/Kiseki Purpleheart file participant by way of a Cyrus Phono Signature/PSX R2 phono stage. We’ve a spread of audio system available together with the ATC SCM50, Wilson Benesch’s A.C.T. 3Zero floorstanders and PMC’s new Prodigy 5 towers. So far as cables go, we use appropriate premium choices from Chord and Vertere Acoustics.
As soon as absolutely warmed and steady, the 641 turns in a wonderful efficiency. It has all of the smoothness and fluidity that we’ve come to affiliate with Moon’s merchandise however delivers a degree of decision and perception that places it at the forefront at this degree. Large Assault’s Heligoland is a tremendous showcase for the 641’s skills. As we hearken to Paradise Circus it’s clear that the amplifier is resolving an enormous quantity of element. All this data is offered in an unforced means and organised right into a musically cohesive complete. We love the way in which the amplifier’s open and insightful midrange delivers vocals; there may be loads of texture and the 641 communicates any emotion effectively.
There’s loads of finesse on present and it’s coupled with an enormous quantity of muscle. The 641’s energy output is rated at 125 watts per channel into 8 ohms, however that’s solely half the story. That determine doubles because the load impedance halves, which suggests that there’s loads of grunt on faucet to drive any price-compatible speaker to excessive ranges. There have been quite a few occasions in our listening classes the place we gave up earlier than the amplifier did; its sound nonetheless as composed as you want.
This muscularity will be heard in different methods too, in grip and authority proven with low bass notes and the 641’s basic air of confidence. Rhythmically it’s on stable floor, sounding surefooted and enthusiastic when the music calls for. Songs resembling Paradise Circus are rendered with their drive and musical momentum intact, which implies that the leisure issue stays excessive.
We modify issues up by having a hearken to an outdated favorite within the type of My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters And Males, and the Moon continues to shine. It communicates the album’s infectious vitality brilliantly, capturing the enjoyable and emotion of the varied tracks effectively. This shift of drugs exhibits the 641’s innate transparency and its means to vary character with the music being performed.
Tonally, issues are even and balanced. Whereas the Moon doesn’t sound wholly impartial to us (its presentation is a contact smoother and sweeter than is good), this character makes the amplifier extra accommodating of poor recordings or any aggression within the partnering system. This OMAM album has a tough and prepared really feel to the manufacturing and that is readily obvious by the Moon but it surely by no means over-emphasises the shortcomings of the recording. This unfussy nature counts for lots contemplating the quantity of nice music that occurs to be poorly recorded.
As we change to Dvořák’s New World Symphony it turns into clear that the 641 can be able to rendering a soundstage with big scale. The advantages of the twin mono circuit shine by with the amplifier’s spectacular stereo imaging, with its wonderful depth and width. Devices are layered convincingly and stay tightly targeted, even when the music turns into demanding. There’s a mixture of stability and management within the 641’s presentation that may’t assist however impress.
This classical piece permits the Moon to stretch its metaphorical legs, displaying off its means to trace large-scale dynamic shifts whereas displaying sufficient delicacy to render the nuances with ability. This Moon built-in merges finesse and power higher than any rival we’ve heard at this degree, and that’s no simple job.
Over the course of this overview we strive a variety of music from Tracy Chapman’s quiet and intimate Let It Rain to With Tooth by 9 Inch Nails, filling the hole with the likes of Etta James and Louis Armstrong, and the Moon 641 by no means lets us down. It’s a excellent all-rounder with an easygoing character that permits it to fit into a variety of methods with ease.
The Moon 641 amplifier’s characteristic depend is perhaps sparse however the mixture of fantastic construct and vastly succesful sound high quality places it among the many finest we’ve reviewed at this degree. Extremely really helpful.
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