Sim Audio Moon Evolution Series, - I-7

Some great looking new equipment with the Moon Evolution series.
Any comments from any users or others that have demoed this new line? I am interested in the integrated I-7 model.
I have the supernova CDP, and I've yet to try anything side by side that betters it. I'm going to try again this weekend, w/ayre and accuphase going against it. I need a second CDP, and if I don't find better, I'll buy a second unit.
So, last weekend I packed it up and took it to the dealer, where it was put into a system with the matching I-7. Then we tryed a few different separate combos, and the I-7 did not hold up well at all. The winner (of what was available to try in this test) were the Rogue 99 pre/150 amp. By a large margin.
I know, we're talking tubes vs. SS, and obvious size differences. But the cost difference is not that bad, and I don't think I'd be happy listening to the I-7 in my system knowing that there's much better out there.
Two things - the i-7 had less than 50 hours on it - maybe it could change THAT much when fully burned in, but I would be really surprised. Second, I'm just a regular consumer fool, what do I know?
I think it's just a question of break-in, because I have heard the i-7/SuperNova combination beat out, in terms of musicality, their more expensive P-5/W-5/Eclipse. The Evolution gear sounds more organic, with a faster, more focused and revealing presentation. Of course, maybe the speakers used were also not a good match for the i-7. And the SuperNova simply "slams" any other CD Player out there I've heard at near this price. Sim gear has always been known to need a long time to break in. BTW, I heard it with Dynaudio Confidence C2's, and it sounded awesome. Funny thing is, before my dealer connected the i-7's to the Dyn's, it was connected to some expensive Levinson gear, so I asked to listen to that beforehand. The Levinson power and pre (the SuperNova was still the source) did not have the articulation and see-through quality of the i-7. I preferred the Sim integrated. Oh, it wasn't as powerful as the Levinsons (they were powerful monos), but it was tighter and better focused.
I think Sim Audio is nicely marketed and have quite a following. However, sonically speaking, you can do much better for the money....
The speakers used in my audition were Gallo reference 3s. the I7 had way more power than the first Roque I auditioned - unless tube watts really are more powerful than SS watts. I thought a watt was a watt. Anyway, I really WANTED to like the I7, it would have been an elegant and easy answer to my living room system search, but it had no depth compared to the others, and , well, I'm really bad at articulating what I hear, but the dealer was shocked too - I could see it in his face.
juaudio - I haven't found anything clearly superior to my supernova for the money - pray, do tell - what else should I be listening to? As I posted before, I'm looking for a second unit, and I'm open minded - but this is the upper limit of my budget for a CDP.
24phun, you are right on the money with your description of the 1-7, and it happens to be the same as with two previous MOON integrateds I once owned (one early, one late-generation of the i-5). Yeah, i'm a sucker for good looks. It least I WAS, but no longer.

I had my latest I-5 in a system with the wonderfull Verity Audio Parsifal speakers. These Moon units are very seductive, but ultimately sound dry, dark, with a one-dimension image. Where's the depth ?

After listening to the I-7, I find the same ''House sound''. If the new Moon series is developped and tuned by the same set of ears as the previous generation (and something tells me this is the case), all the self-proclaimed bragging and techno-talk jabble on Sim's website won't change a thing. These are sexy-looking, extremely attractive units - but sonically, at least for me - a major downer, and way overpriced as such.

Try something as inexpensive as the Cayin A 88-T and be amazed.
24phun and juadio:

did you get a chance to listen to sim's regular amps and preamps? I am curious to know if these separates exhibit the same sonic behavior as the integrated.
I have heard some of Sims new stuff at my local dealers and most recently at the Montreal audio show last month and it was some of the best gear available at the show, which I might add included some highly regarded tube stuff. It is FAR from one dimensional. The W8 with the Dynaudio C4 was out of this world ! UHF magazine bought the new W8 to use as their reference just recently. They have some good points about Sim stuff compared to other notable competators. Every Sim I have ever heard has more than impressed me. Maybe their integrated amps are their achilles heal product... have only heard (intensively) their seperates components so I can't really comment.

There is lots of great gear about that I'm sure compares and is no doubt as good or better then the I7. I suspect if you get good system synergy with the right speakers the I7 will compete with the best stuff out there. Never heard of Cayin, apparently another Chinese manufacturer with stuff that out performs many more expensive NA is alluded too. You can probably wipe your ass with any warranty they give you but at the 1-2K price point I guess if it breaks down no great loss. Nice looking stuff tho.
Arkio, you are probably right about your last sentence, but if your Chinese gear comes from a reputable US importer such as VAS audio for Cayin, then they do stand behind their products. I had a remote controlled that needed to be exchanged - no problems and no questions asked, and all with a smile.

As for Sim Audio, try to find my post in this Audiogon thread, under the name of juaudio:

Regretfully, you can probably wipe your's too with Sim's warranty, or at the very least, you should be in for a trying experience should you require any warranty - or respect, as I have, with no results. Beleive me, the fact that a manufacturer is located in North America should not to be taken as an automatic guarantee of good service, when in fact some manufacturers take our good patronage for granted, as Sim Audio did.

My experience is of course, an isolated event...or is it ?
I've had the I-7 in my system for over a month & it is the best sounding integrated amp I've ever heard. It has awakened my B&W nautilus 803s speakers & reinvigorated my interest in audio. The soundstage is absolutely huge , the bass is unbelieveable & the seperation between instruments is astonishing. Whether I spin vinyl or CD I'm delighted with everything I've heard so far. It does take lots of breakin & it runs very hot, but thats not a bad thing in Canada in the winter. You couldn't pry this amp from my cold dead hands.
A response to Juaudio: there is no way that an importer, even a reputable one, will support a Chinese product the way you say. If, 6 years down the road, you need service and the importer is no longer the same one, you're screwed. If the factory that built the unit in China, which builds amplifiers today, and coffee makers for Cuisinart tomorrow, is out of parts, you're SOL. But this is built into the price you paid for the unit - that is, the service you'll get. Sim, for example, has a 10 year warranty, but you have to buy it new. Even if the machine is 3 months old, and you buy it used, according to Sim, you're SOL on warranty if there is a problem. Oh, sure, they'll fix it promptly and charge you, the only difference is that it won't be free, but the quality of service is still there. Unfortunately, the days of transferrable warranties are dying, because it costs companies a lot of money and does not support their retailers. I understand that. If we shop used, we pay the used price and get the used level of service. If we buy new, it's only better. The only way out is to sell new units at a higher price, to cover the misc costs of lost sales due to transferrable warranties. Many companies won't do that, out of integrity. They don't want to make you pay a premium for something that is uncertain, that may never happen. I respect that. That's why I buy new, but I will buy used if the price is very low, but with the full knowledge that if anything happens, it's out of my pocket. That's the mark of a good company, that lays all their cards on the table.

Now, onto the issue of sound - we all have to realize that our comments are born out of personal preference. If you like tubes, for example, chances are you'll hate Krell. If you like your music served up sounding like the real thing (i.e. adjectives like warm and sweet don't apply to a live performance), then chances are high you'll forget tubes - there is just too much harmonic richness in that sound, although pleasant, but sounds nothing like the real thing. This is engineering fact, not voodoo. There are a few exceptions in both cases, but I'm talking the vast majority here, not exceptions. So, if one guy likes the Moon i-7 and another hates it, it's probably because of personal preferences, not which is better. I listen to music, not measure it, just like user RKoh said, but I like to know that what I'm listening through is equipment that has taken a general step forward towards more accurate sound reproduction, not sideways towards a more euphonically pleasing, yet colored sound. The latter is an insult to technology, and IMO, should not be pursued, despite the fact that most manufacturers represent their products that way, through proclaiming these qualities and others irrelevant to real music as abundant in their products. For buyers of these products, IMO, you'll always be in the dark, and the industry is unfortunately not helping and mostly at fault.
Audio4ever, you raise some interesting points, although I do not agree with a few of your comments such as : '' adjectives like warm and sweet don't apply to a live performance ''

I find this statement quite incredible actually.
Sorry to be blunt, but this is highly subjective and probably means that either you do not get out to hear live music much, or that you put every live performance in the same category.

Have you ever heard a vintage Martin D-188 guitar live?

How about a Boesendorfer Model 225 Grand Piano ?

How about a (name your favorite Italian or German violin here) for a live concert ?

How about the greatest ''instrument'' the human voice ?

Beleive me, there is sweetness in the air...unless what you hear is poorly amplifier sound that kills the natural beauty of such instruments, most often accomplished with solid state amplification I might add, if you attend a ''live'' concert.

There are numerous occasions where ''sweetness'' and ''warmth'' can be experienced in live music performances.

I once attended a live unamplified concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I was on a business trip. The the DSO was supposed to play outdoors at a downtown location. Fearing rain, they moved the concert inside at a nearby hotel, in a last minute arrangement. I was sitting front row smack in the middle, and was moved beyond words. Beleive me NOTHING compares to unamplified instruments as far as sweetness and warmth is concerned...

I of course agreed that everything is subjective - but understand that there are many reasons for one to buy expensive audio gear, many having to do with things other than ultimate sound quality.

I also smile with your mention that one may need service 6 years down the road, and that you may use this as one of the reasons for not buying non-North-American products.

Heck, even some local manufacturers have trouble respecting warranties even when buying new from a dealer. (Yes, Sim Audio comes to mind in this respect)

Secondly, honest now, do you feel that the average passionate Audiogoner will keep his gear for a period of 6 years? Some do of course, but in my opinion, most do not. And since most warranties cover initial owner, it becomes a non-issue.

Also, if I read you correctly, high prices, like Sim Audio gear, have a good chunk of the selling price going into the expected under-warranty-service-expenses and not quality and sound? That would make sense to me. But there IS a limit to this. Maybe this explains the high performance/quality ratio of some Chinese gear, where virtually all of your hard-earned money goes into the product - as the warranty and service issues may become non-issues over time. Think about it. It does not take a rocket scientist to fix for example, most Chinese cd players, and amps, tubes or solid state, as the parts are very often the very same ones used in higher-priced ''North-American'' gear,(which are no-longer warrantied to subsequent owners anyways) with about the same reliability record.

For me it comes down to enjoyment, pure and simple, all things considered. Forget tubes or solid state, or where it comes from. If you enjoy it and it's worth your money and effort, what else matter?

One last comment that may shed some light on your ''objective'' evaluation of Sim Audio products.

Under your user name, Audio4ever, Audiogon shows a total of 14 answered posts from you, each AND EVERY ONE concerning a rave comment on a vast selection of Sim Audio Moon gear: Moon I-5, I-7, Moon ''Rock'' amps, Andromeda, Titan amplifier,Moon P-8 preamp, Supernova cd player, CD-3.5 cd player,P-8/W-8 combination,and I'm probably missing a few.

Every single post that you put up on Sim gear sounds like you actually know these units intimately, as you speak from a high vantage point.

Now, are you connected or have interest in Sim Audio as a company? Or are you a multi-millionaire that happens to buy expensive Sim audio units every other Saturdays for you to provide expert advice on ?

I am not bashing Sim, I happen to not think very highly of their products and their prices. And this after owning (for real) two of their products. But I can respect that other people like these products and it's ok for them.

Sorry, but after witnessing all these glowing 14 posts you made on ONE manufacturer, there goes your credibility, or, more to the point, your objectivity out the window.

Let's give credit to Audiogon for being able to provide some tools in forming an opinion. Is this a great place or what ? Thanks Audiogon for giving us access to all this information !
Thanks for your comments - well said, I feel in most cases. I'm a big Sim fan, and as I mentioned, I used to sell the product a while ago, alongside Classe, which is why I know their philosophies so well. Things can change over time, as it has shown to be with Classe, for example.
On the issue of how live music sounds, it If you are listening through a guitar amp, you are not listening, technically, directly to the live performance. While it is true that a few instruments can have a sonic signature of their own, in particular the guitar in question and yes, the "reverb" or harmonic richness of a Boesendorfer piano, this merely makes the reference point. Meaning it sounds lifelike. If a particular piece of equipment or system makes it sound more lush or rich, it is adding euphonic coloration, as pleasant as it may be. It is nonetheless coloration.

My approach (and I say mine because it is borne of my observations and thus the opinion concluded thereafter) is that high fidelity means approaching the possibly irreproachable - a perfect reproduction of a live performance. However, it is this persuit that is what hi-fi should be all about, not how "sweet" it sounds, or how "round" or "fat" or "warm". When I listen to Rush, for example, those synthesizers and guitars can sound downright screachy, sometimes because the recording is not great (as is usually the case with Rush, unfortunately), other times because that's what the musician intended. When Neil Peart slams the snare, or hits the high-hats, the brashy sound of the cymbals is really brashy. I don't want to hear it homogenized and sweetened. That is not hi-fi, even it makes this recording more is not reproducing what is on the disc. I want to hear it as it was recorded. I feel that is the true mark of high fidelity, the persuit of perfect sound reproduction. Eliminate the equipment from the equation if its perfect, and concentrate on other factors - speakers, cables, recordings and room acoustics. Any deviation from this puts our persuit of technological advancement in this field into an alternate goal, one that is not defined, out of focus and deviated from reality.
So, that's why I like Sim gear. It may or may not be your cup of tea, and I'm certainly not the one to tell you which to buy. However, I believe my comments are both logical, and probably eye-opening for many. I agree about Audiogon, it is a great source of information and information exchange, as we are doing now. But at the same time, you can probably see how it does hurt many manufacturers who try to market their products to you through the many fine brick and mortar dealers out there, which are quickly diminishing in number, or changing their ways of doing business mainly (not entirely, but mostly) because of audiogon's ability to market products at greatly reduced prices...this is in part good, but also bad because we lose the (I feel) valuable asset of a good dealer with listening facilities and a cheerful smile. I'm lucky in that when I worked in audio retail it was before this website existed (also ebay, and several others etc....) so the retail end was actually better.
Audio4ever I do applaud your honesty in at least showing your link to Sim Audio, thus showing a natural bias that would be considered normal under the circumstance. Still, it does technically take away from a certain objectivity in your evaluation of the Sim gear, that other members that do not have this connection might have over you.

I am sure you understand that an individual that has purchased gear with his own money, above other brands, will be perceived as more credible when compared with someone else with ties, ( current or past) to a manufacturer. It does not mean the gear is not worth an audition, but I am always concerned about superlatives from one individual, on one manufacturer, as applied to the complete manufacturer's line of products.

Even professional reviewers are often credible. When you hear things like '' I like it so much I bought the review sample'' Hogwash. I too would probably like it if I was able to purchase, let's say, a Moon W5 amplifier at dealer price, or 50% off retail. Furthermore,do we really think that a reviewer can be taken on an all-expenses paid trip to Europe, at the invitation of a manufacturer, and then be taken seriously on a glowing review ? (Pathos comes to mind here)

When evaluating or even commenting audio gear, objectivity is key, starting with no ties to either a manufacturer or dealer, and certainly no kick-back of the likes that are enjoyed from reviewers.

This is why I feel Audiogon is getting to be a bit too much dealer and manufacturer dependent, at the expense of the individual who is not in it for profit only.

I understand that manufacturers have it rough with dealers, and that Audiogon may be some kind of a threat. If Audiogon is so appealing to so many, I think you can partly blame the manufacturer-retailer system for establishing a price structure and retailer system that no longer justifies paying some of the exhorbitant prices in high-end Audio, where the dealer and even the manufacturer, once they have you money, are wondering where the next sucker is coming from.

Not always of course, there are good manufacturers and dealers still around, but they are diminishing in numbers,the dealers are, at least.

I also feel that it is up to the manufacturer to design and implement the way they will treat the customer, as this is a chain, with the manufacturer being a first important link, the dealer being a second important link.

Some others still, are thinking of the ''after-link'' or the after life their product will have in the used market, and mostly the satisfaction and well-being of subsequent users of their products. Bryston, with their 20 year transferable warranty is an extraordinary example. One that others not dare to imitate. Ever wonder why? It would be too simple an excuse to just say that Bryston makes an ordinary built and ordinary-sounding product and that the price is hyped for warranty coverage. While their is surely some provisions for this, I think the plain truth is even easier to extract. They are worth every penny on build quality and sound, have a loyal following, and are very reliable as their units plainly to not break down that often, as to not be a burden on warranty expense for the manufacturer. Talk about a winning proposition for everyone involved, including respect for subsequent owners.

Speaking only from my own humble direct experience, some manufacturers do not care much about the strength of these links, ( manufacturer and dealer) and prefer to spend big bucks on reeling the customer in, in a marketing show of ''galactic proportions'', from product sexyness that has cosmetic changes to their products faster than the time it takes for you to spell ''Moon'', to glossy ads in magazines and buying ''reviews'' in influencial magazines.

Many manufacturers do this of course. Some don't, if only because they do not have the economic means to afford it, or to have big-budget ad programs. All the better for us, I say. May take us longer to find out about worthy products by word of mouth and by actual, objective users of products on Audiogon and other sites, but sometimes this longer road is worth it, as long as people commenting are actual users having spent real money, and that their opinion is given in true objectivity.
Audiokicks - something else, just to clarify. I said I used to work in a retail store selling several high-end brands. That does not mean I have any ties with any of them, other than the obvious fact I own Sim gear. I bought them some time ago, obviously through my dealer for whom I've worked for, and yes, I got a great deal, call it a "friend accomodation". I could just have easily have had Classe, Magnepan, and Krell at the same type of discount. I chose what I chose because I preferred it. Also keep in mind that unlike retail customers, many of who are intelligent people but people not in this industry, you know only a small part of what we know that goes on behind the scenes, so all my comments should also be viewed as potentially educational when the comments are of a factual nature, not my opinions. Opinions don't educate, they form opinions. Nobody is trying to brainwash nobody here, and your own listening will reveal what gear is best for you. The person who spent thousands of dollars at or near retail may be more biased, in fact. When many spend that kind of cash, they try to find ways to justify their purchase even if they feel deep down inside they bought the wrong thing. The best most objective viewpoint would obviously come from someone who owns nothing, but can compare everything.
Please see my review of the I-7 on another Audiogon post re. the I-7. My ears tell me it is really excellent.