I own the Mcintosh C50 preamp with the MC452 stereo amp. I think they are very fine pieces. The Simaudio Moon is usually better. Let your ears decide but Simaudio Moon has always sounded great to my ears.
DAC's are evolving rapidly. I wouldn't buy anything over $2K, as it will be outdated in a year or two.
Other brands to consider:
They offer upgrades and are very competitive for their price range.
Aurender is another brand that is highly regarded, but much pricier.
From what I have heard, Simaudio is no slouch either.
Thank you so much for the responses and insight. I appreciate it!
@Bob; I do realize that, but the good news is that the Mc has a modular DAC that can be removed an upgraded at any point in the future. I think it's their first time to design an IA that way.
As for the Moon, the DAC is it's own separate unit, which more or less means the same, except with a heftier price tag.
I guess the point of my question is if SimAudio is a brand that is in the same league as McIntosh or not :)
You're not going to get a definitive answer but my experience having owned a number of pieces of both brands and having helped friends who own gear of both brands is that, for me, Simaudio has been preferable in every case. The friend who has a full stack of McIntosh gear admits the thing he likes most about it is the lighted meters.
Thanks Sfar! I appreciate the answer, and it definitely is appreciated. Out of curiosity, do SimAudio gear have the same "longevity" as McIntosh? I mean most people keep their Mc equipment for 10 or even 20 years if it's maintained properly. Does the same apply for SimAudio, or does it's value depreciate faster than Mc?
I have the Sim 700i with a Yggie Schiit Dac. Match made in heaven, killer combination. The Simaudio brand/products are very impressive and highly regarded in the industry by users and reviewers. I prefer SA over the Mac line, but clearly both are very respected companies.
SimAudio has a 10 year warranty. Almost as good as Bryston's 20 year amp warranty. Yamaha has a 10 year speaker warranty on the new NS 5000. Long warranty period to me means confidence by the manufacturer in their gear.
I don't know anything about the depreciation rate of the two brands, I suspect that McIntosh owners tend to hold onto their gear longer because of its long history as a company, the prestige of owning that brand and its reliability. Personal preference in terms of the aesthetics likely plays a role, as well. But, again, there's no definitive answer to which is a better choice. Some people would rather drive a '57 Chevy Bel Air than an Audi A6 and that's just fine with me.
My approach to building my reference system was to build synergy, it has taken a while. Some pieces are expensive, some are not relatively speaking, however the system sounds amazing. I didn’t put much weight into depreciation rates, focused mainly on the best sounding system I could build. I don’t see a lot of SA 600i or 700i for sale, I believe their owners hold on to them because they are really good components, they don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but what they do they do very well. Good luck on your search.
Thank you so much guys. This has been incredibly helpful! I definitely got many answers, and all around great advice!
Should be under preamp/amps.
I don't have too much experience with Mc, but I do recall them sounding pretty "dark". This was mentioned by another commenter here.
I have a Moon ACE and love it. I really prefer the Simaudio sound. The 10 year warranty is pretty great too. If money wasn't an issue, my next upgrade would be a Moon 390 + 330a.
I've also noticed more used McIntosh gear for sale than Simaudio. Maybe that's a good sign of Simaudio's quality.
Keep the DAC separate. Buy a Luxman L-509x Integrated Amp.
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I have been enjoying my Simaudio Moon 390 for a week now, and it keeps getting better. My Rega P6 and Ania MC sound fabulous, so I'm rediscovering my LP collection, the HDMI connections are good, while the USB audio is somewhat better. Nice that I can set the HDMI video, then switch to the USB audio and have both working. I trust that they will do firmware upgrades to keep up, and this little unit has replaced four separates and the associated cables. Now, what to do with the old cables? Quality problem.
And, I use ATI 4002 signature amp, considering adding two more amp modules and passive bi-amping for more headroom.
To the OP, I have some very similar/same equipment as to what you are considering. In my main 2 channel system I have the KEF R11's like yourself & I am powering them with a McIntosh MA8900 which is very similar to the MA9000 with the upgradable DAC you are considering. While the DAC in the MA8900 is very good, I am running my server to a Schiit Yggdrasil (A2) DAC and then on to my amp. I find that the Yggy has a slightly better sound to me than the onboard McIntosh DAC. I have zero experience with any Simaudio Moon pieces but they are widely regarded and many people love them. Good Luck!
Between the two; I would pick Simaudio.
That being said; I'm not even close to being totally knowledgeable of these two brands.
Why not pic the Moon Preamp dac and the McIntosh amps? Save money on the amps and get the better sound of the Moon at a lower price. I heard this combo at an audio store in Boulder driving $130K Sonus Faber speakers. It was amazing!
I have Moon & McIntosh...
I have the Moon 280D Streaming DAC... It was an upgrade from Node 2i streamer using the internal DAC of McIntosh C2600 preamp.
My amp is a MC 302.
I have been impressed with Moon. I am exploring upgrading - DAC and amp (I must admit I want/need more power).
I'm early in the process and I will be comparing Moon 390 preamp with 400M amps against C2600 with MC 462 with Moon 390 only functioning as a DAC.
Based on what your are comparing the Moon products are a step above the McIntosh products. That being said both companies make good products and its really about what you like better and if there's a difference if the cost difference is worth it.
Good luck and enjoy the process