Integrateds - Revisited Yet Again

Speakers: NHT 2.5i's
Source: Rotel 971 transport, MSB Nelson Link III

Keeping both peices.

What do you guys think about using the Moon I-5 integrated? Good match?

The other day I tried out the Roksan Caspian... Found the bass a bit too heavy (admittedly, it was likely the room). The treble was a bit rolled off , although it was good (forgiving of less than perfect recordings). The midrange was recessed....too recessed compared to the remainder of the frequency range. This is also characteristic of the speakers and so, exacerbated the problem. Further, the sound was a little dry and lacked transparency.

I'm not saying that the Caspian is not a quality peice. It is just not a great match with my existing equipment (Which i don't want to sell right now).

Will the Moon I-5 address these issues? Is it a far more capable integrated? (it SHOULD be, considering it's 1000 bucks more).

By the way, i live in Canada, so the Moon equipment is a (relatively) good bargain.

Any comments regarding this integrated would be highly valued.


Steve - haven't heard the Sim in a long while and never heard it with NHT's so I'll offer a suggestion for an alternate choice. I'd like to suggest that you also consider either the Classe CAP-101 or CAP-151 integrateds. Not really sure of the pricing but if the 151 is in the same price zone as the Sim I5 I think you should try and audition one. Again as Classe is homegrown gear the pricing might work for you.
Hello, fellow canadian here. I will discuss affordable integrateds( except for a couple of more expensive separates) that I had the pleasure to own. The Moon I-5 is in my opinion not worth it's asking price even in canadian pesos. I owned two of them over the course of 5 years. My first unit was 5 years ago. It had a voume control problem, where static electricity discharge when touching it in a dry but heated environment during the winter months would make the volume go from 1 to 50 in a single spark. Blew my expensive speakers drivers. Sim would only look at the trouble after many months.What a cheap company. I had to yell my way in to get some action on this. Sold this unit after this was fixed. The sound was very lively, sparkling,as most reviews report, yet two dimensional and thin. I had a few other amps, Cary 572 monoblocks (beautifull), Musical Fidelity A-300 (detailed but somewhat bright), Electrocompaniet EC-3 ( a true gem), Sonic Frontiers Power 2 and line 1 combo, McCormack DNA-125 and Naim separates. A lot of gear that never gave me that magic sound. All connected to $ 11,000.00 (canadian $) Verity Audio Fidelio speakers. These great speakers were not the weak link beleive me. Last year, I actually purchased a Magnum Dynalab MD-208 receiver just reading the excellent reviews. What a mistake THAT was. Lifeless, thin and bright again. So what if it has a great tuner. The ''A'' rating for this machine is a complete joke sonically speaking. Plus it lights up like a Christmas tree with all these ridiculous bright blue LED's in a darkened room it's glaring at you in a tacky way. Turns out this had a ''Sim Audio'' amp inside. Not the Moon electronics, but the lower ''econo'' grade Celeste line amp.This confirmed by one Lionel Godfield, head of international sales at Sim. How could the lower-end Celeste amplifier section from Sim Audio power a machine that ends up getting an ''A'' in Stereophile? I was so insulted I wanted my money back the very next day. The dealer would not oblige, and I had to settle for an ''exchange'' in the form of -guess what- yet another Moon I-5 in silver. I had no choice but to accept it as he had no other ''high end'' integrated available for me. I figure since 5 years had past the Moon might be better. Forget it. This time I had Sonus Faber Grand Pianos, a stunning speaker for the price. Again, the Sim was lively yet lifeless to the point of fatigue. It was silver with a pewter logo. There are silvers with gold logo, black face with pewter logo ( my old one) black face with gold logos, black face with black ''legs'', black face with silver legs, silver face with the ''JR Ewing buckle belt'' oval you get the picture ? This Sim Company company is the most unstable product manufacturer around. They want us to beleive that these are ''options''. I think more that they have no respect for their customers and the need for stable product cosmetics that will not make the gear obsolete with revision number 1.333. Now the icing on the cake is that their ''new'' Moon I-3 is nothing more than a re-packaged lower-end Celeste line marked to pass as superior parts grade Moon standard. Not that it's not a good buy, you may like it, but parts quality is not up to the Moon standard, yet it has the Moon labeling and personnality all over. Are we audiophiles not deserving of a little respect here for our intelligence ?

Now if you like the sound or the I-5, many do, it's ok. The line has a catchy name with Moon. The units feel solid, but it's avant-garde neo-modern design, will probably not keep looking fresh for long. Just like the latest LEXUS might be trendy now, but is no match for a more sedate Mercedes in the long run design-wise.

Best sounding SOLID STATE integrated so far at least for me - Electrocompaniet EC-3, but watch for the bad potentiometer batch that has a scratchy low volume sound at low level. Many returns on this unit - check the electro forum at the company's website for this. Sonically, it smokes the Moon at one half the price, sounding tube-like and rich.

Best integrated I ever owned, TUBE OR SOLID STATE - my current one - the absolutely incomparable Audiomat Arpège. It has it all. Power, speed, incredible detail retrieval, lush sound, great looks, is built like the finest jewelry, and is very reliable to the point of forgetting that it is a tube amp, until you see the glow of tubes through the smoked plexiglas faceplate. Very classy. I actually like it more than my previous Power 2 Line 1 combo. The Arpège is EL-34 based, and is an abolute steal for the price. Compared to the I-5, well, it's not a fair comparison. The Arpège trumps it in musicality. It made me a beleiver in the high-end magic once more at last. Hope this helps. Good luck on your way to musical satisfaction in this great hobby !
hello there,

thank you for your detailed posting on the Moon I-5.

I am aware that many companies use marketing hype in their product sales and
I suspect that many 'pay in' to audio magazines for good reviews- or at
least that the reviews are biased in some way for some reason or other.

I'm just not sure where to turn now, given my current setup.

What do you think of the Classe pieces, as the individual who posted before
you suggested?

I was initially going to go for a Unison Research Unico, but I cannot find
them anywhere in Canada anymore. I think that its combination of tubes and
solid state would have been excellent as a match for my system - just enough
tube to smooth it out a bit and to give me a nice midrange, yet with the SS

At this point, I want to steer clear of full tube units. I don't want to
bother with the upkeep. Hybrids are still an option, but if I find a nice
sounding ss piece, I'll go for it over tubes.

Again, Classe gear ok? Any others that come to mind?

Check out a BAT VK-300xSE or a Jeff Rowland Concentra II. I haven't heard the Moon I-5, but I have heard the integrateds from Krell, Classe and Levinson and the Rowland and BAT beat them all. I would go with the BAT myself, although the Rowland isn't far behind. It comes in 3 options, solid state, 6922 tubes, and the SE version with the 6H30 'super tubes'. Good luck.

If you like the idea of hybrids, Unico is one answer. Belles 250i is another. Pathos Classic One (newer version may match better with your NHT's, though older version may be a bit more tube-like) as well.

I also heartily concur on the Electrocompanier ECI-3. I would have bought that had I not found a deal on the Pathos Twin Towers.

I haven heard the newer Classe gear, but it had a reputation for being a little dark sounding, so may not be what you want.

John makes a good point above re: BAT 300. I have never heard it, but what I've heard ABOUT it says it's a real winner as well.

My personal preferences:

- ECI-3 (more so because what you get for price is great)
- Belles 250i or BAT 300
- Unico
i listened to the sim and others a few years ago and purchased the mcintosh ma-6500 integrated amp to go with my nht 2.9's. The nht's need a lot of power and they need a smoother sounding amp to tame the forwardness of the nht line. The mcintosh did not have enough power for the 2.9's (and the ma-6900 was not out yet). I even tried bi-amping the 2.9's with nht's sa-3 subwoofer amp, better, but something was missing. I then purchased a classe preamp and cd player with a pair of odyssey monoblock amps and things got much better. Classe equipment have a nice warm (tube-like) sound to them. Same with the Mcintosh. For integrated amps, i would listen to the Classe 151 and the Mcintosh ma-6500 or the ma-6900. I had all nht for quite a while (audio and home theater use, 2.9's, 1.5's, super zeros, super ones, super center 2, 2-sub two's) and have sold all of them (except the 2 sub two's) and purchased smoother sounding speakers. I think you would open up your options on front end equipment if you would change out your speakers. If you keep your nht's, IMO, you will need to stick to a warmer sounding amp and an amp with a lot of power, a hard combination for an integrated.
being that you are about the bryston b60. beautiful clean window of sound and a 20 year warranty. just a thought
I thought I5 brighter that Musical Fidelity A3.2 int. with latest AP Virgo II (or III?). The older M-F A300 ($1,000 used) sure doesn't sound bright to me but would in comparison to EC stuff I guess. A-300 would be a good choice for budget int. Concentra II is nice but should be for $6,500.
Forgot to mention, following my lengthy e-mail...YES the Unico would be a nice amp for you. Go for the hybrid if you can. There IS a dealer in Montreal I beleive, very nice man as I almost purchased this unit back in December. Forgot the dealers name, but will post it if it comes back to me...about Classé. Here is what I think of it, as I am a previous owner of a cap 151. Very powerfull, solidly built, but definitely not as refined as the class-leading integrateds out there. Comparisons with Bryston come to mind. Both have a ''full'' sound, but midrange is somewhat grainy and high frequencies can sound harsh. You must use audio cables that are softer sounding and round-out these unit's sound or else you will be kept on the edge....One issue with Classé service-wise...( try this for yourself) I once phoned the company, wanting to speak to a technician about a slight hum I was hearing. I was told that...''since Classé is soooo busy answering the needs of their clients WORLDWIDE I could expect a technician to return my call in ...a couple of weeks!!!'' Try the same with Cary ( in my humble opinion, they should be no less ''busy'' than Classé) and you can usually talk to someone like Kirk on first try, or at least the same day.

Don't mean to be knocking on fellow-canadian companies, but I've just had enough of companies that sell gear that cost an arm and a leg, without the accompanying respectfull service. At least if the gear was stellar-sounding, but it's not.

that felt good!!!!