Buying advice: McIntosh vs SimAudio for Integrated Amplifier/DAC.


Hello everyone,

I'm relatively new to the Hi-Fi scene, and would greatly appreciate your advice regarding my next purchase in the realm. So far I've followed a very modular approach, buying one component at a time, and have found a lot of info online and on these forums that guided me so far. But the next step is a bit tricky (and pricey) and includes a brand that I am completely new to; SimAudio's Moon.

The two products I am debating currently are the following:

1) McIntosh MA9000 ( https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA9000).

2) SimAudio Moon 600i v2  https://simaudio.com/en/product/600i-v2-integrated-amplifier/
+ SimAudio Moon 650D DAC ( https://simaudio.com/en/product/650d-dac-cd-transport/)

From a price point, I was surprised to find that the Mc is actually much cheaper than the SimAudio combo, which got me to a pause. I've never heard much of SimAudio as a brand, and my Audio dealer who I trust a lot swears by the SimAudio. But like everyone I've always wanted to gradually build up a complete McIntosh setup. But I'm wondering if the double Moon setup would actually yield better sounding output. I've demoed both products and they sounded slightly different to my ears, but both in it's own uniquely pleasant way, which has left me torn between them.

So I thought I ask the more experienced crowd here about the technical specs. Keeping in mind that the majority of my music listening experience is coming from a McIntosh MT5 Turntable with a modified cartridge, and an Auralic Aries G1 through Tidal and Qobuz. My dealer insisted that the Moon has a superior DAC. I'll of course be listening through Stereo through a pair of KEF R11 speakers.

Thank you very much in advance for any insight and advice, whether it's regarding the particular products, or about SimAudio as a brand vs McIntosh.
stereonewbie
Simaudio Moon 390 vs. McIntosh Laboratory C47

Not exactly what you want but does talk about the 2 DACs. I would take SimAudio over a MAC. I have never been a fan of MAC's. I found them too dark sounding.

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/1264-simaudio-moon-390-preamplifier-dac-network-player
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:
Ayre
Schiit
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.

Bob
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.