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 logos....do 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 !