Will it work? Copland preamp and Moon I-5 Int Amp

I was thinking of adding a Copland preamplifier to drive my integrated amplifier, will it work and will it give me what I want?

My system consists of a SimAudio Moon I-5 integrated amplifier driving Totem Hawks. My source is SimAudio's Moon Equinox CD player.

My last upgrade to my system was to get some excellent interconnects. Now the CD player sounds as if the output jacks were connected directly to the amplifier input jacks, as if there were no interconnects at all! In other words there is no colouration of the sound, no filtering, no delays or smearing to interfere with timing or percussive elements. Needless to say I have been enjoying this system for some time......however.....

Both the Hawks and the I-5 have a reasonable reputation for having a wide and deep sound stage. (Sure, maybe neither is the best in this area but they aren't all that bad either.) Lately I have been wondering if I could do better with my system. I have heard excellent reports about the Copland preamps. One of their strengths that is often sited is the holographic imaging. I was thinking about picking up a used Copland 301 or 305 and using it for my preamp; driving the HT bypass inputs of the Moon I-5. (I presume this would by-pass the preamp section of the I-5.)

Do you think this would be a good choice for my next upgrade? Do you think that this would improve the overall sound of my system? Or is there a better place to look for improvement?
I would go one step further. If your attracted towards the copland pre, why not swap out the I-5 with the copland integrated amp. One less costly set of interconnects thus a shorter signal path . If your happy with the I-5 why add another pre amp? Copland products are very underated and well built products. Cheers
Unless the manual for the Moon says that a set of the inputs bypasses the preamp section I would assume that they don't. You can call Moon and confirm.
The inputs on the I-5 labeled "A4" are designed as a pass-through that does not engage the preamp so that should work as the input for your preamp. I haven't used them that way but I can't think of a reason it wouldn't work.
well it SHOULD work but I think I would sell the I-5 and get a SimAudio power amp or a Copland power amp to use with the Copland pre. Not sure that an integrated amp used as a power amp only is the best scenario.

also, IMHO speakers are more responsible for "holographic imaging" than any other gear ... if your speakers are not capable of imaging like a demon, no gear in the world will be able to squeeze that out of them. So if it is imaging you want, you may do better to replace your speakers.

Good input so far thanks.

I agree that using the Copeland to drive the I-5 would be an odd choice. Long term I would add a SimAudio power amplifier, however money is still a limiter so one thing at a time. I am hoping that I would hear an overall improvement with the system by using the Copeland as the preamp. Why? Because I hear the Copeland preamps are excellent (for the amount of money spent). Second I don't think SimAudio is known for their top rank preamps, amplifiers yes, but not preamps.

Regarding the speaker as a limiting factor, that is also a good point. I heard comments that the Totem Hawks are pretty good for imaging and sound staging but I haven't had a lot of other speakers. So the question I would ask you more experienced Audiogoners would be, is the Totem Hawk good enough with regard to imaging that I should be able to hear improvements with better system components or is there more to get out of my system with alternate speakers?

well ... the Arro or Model 1 woud easily out-image the Hawks at some loss in bass response ... I also remember hearing at one time that Sim used the Totem Tabu as the speaker during the voicing of the I-5. Tabu should have similar bass to the Hawk. It is an older model so you will only find them used and they are rare compared to a Model 1

Sim is well regarded for both preamps and amps in my opinion. Not sure I would abandon the I-5 if the main thing you are looking for is better imaging.

Personally I would look into something like the Totem Model 1 and a sub if you listen to music where a sub is needed. The Model 1 is an easy resale if you do not like them and can always add a sub down the road. Another speaker to consider would be the Gallo 3.0 or 3.1. These are fantastic imaging speakers that should work well with the Sim and have equal or better bass than the Hawks ... maybe not as decor friendly though. Can also add the "bass amp" later for 20hz extension from the Gallo's.

I agree that in your situation having the I-5 as the center of an evolving system makes great sense. I owned the standard I-5 and now have an LE version. I use it as an integrated in warmer weather and as a preamp with a Class A tube power amp in the winter. It sounds fantastic and I've never owned a piece of gear with better thought-out controls and build quality. I've compared it with only one stand-alone preamp, the very well regarded AE-3 DJH, and couldn't hear any appreciable advantage over the I-5 LE.
Jeff, Sfar,

Thanks for the input. To summarize your opinions are that the I-5 pre-amp section will sound very similar to using the Copeland pre-amp in its place, correct? Or in other words the I-5 pre-amp stage is just as good as the Copeland.

Sfar, do you have any other speaker suggestions for better imaging?

What about the Moon Equinox, without spending a lot, is there another CD player that would give me better imaging / sound stage but would otherwise equal or better the sound of the Moon Equinox?


Rova - I wasn't making the case that the preamp section of the I-5 is just as good as the Copeland, I don't have any experience with the Copeland so I wouldn't be comfortable comparing the two. I was saying only that I've found the I-5 could function as a very, very good preamp and shouldn't be dismissed as a way to experiment with your system.

As far as imaging, the best speakers I've owned are several ProAc models and my current favorites, the Devore 8's.
same here ... never heard a Copland pre BUT the I5 I did own and I found it very competent as an integrated amp or preamp (never used it as a power amp) ... my opinion is if it is imaging you are after, a speaker change will get you closer than a preamp added to your system

good luck!