Simaudio Moon Evolution 650DRecommended Reference ComponentCD playback is on the decline, while file-based playback from computers is on the upswing. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between formats with a source component such as Simaudio’s Moon Evolution 650D DAC-transport, which provides state-of-the-art playback of CDs and music files. The 650D isn’t cheap -- $9000 USD -- but Doug Schneider reviewed it last month and declared it to be the best digital source component he’s heard.

The 650D is based on Simaudio’s even pricier Moon Evolution 750D ($13,000) -- they look identical, and have the same high quality of build and similar circuit designs. In some ways, the 650D can be thought of as a scaled-down 750D; in others, it can been viewed as a companion model -- it’s been designed to have a sound distinctly its own, a sound that some might prefer to the 750D’s.

Simaudio Moon Evolution 650D rear panel

On the rear panel are four digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU (XLR), and two S/PDIF (RCA, TosLink). All inputs support up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, but it’s the USB input that will be of prime interest for computer-based audiophiles; these days, that’s the most popular way to hook up a DAC such as this. The USB input operates asynchronously, which means that the 650D controls the timing of the digital datastream from the computer, thus reducing jitter. Any jitter that does slip through the USB input -- or any of the 650D’s other digital inputs or CD mechanism -- is dealt with by Simaudio’s Moon Asynchronous Jitter Control in 32-bit mode (M-AJiC32) circuitry, which, the company claims, reduces it to only 1 picosecond. And at the heart of the 650D’s digital-to-analog circuit is ESS’s 32-bit Sabre32 Ultra DAC.

According to Simaudio, their engineers optimized the 650D’s CD-playback capabilities so those who spin discs won’t be shortchanged. The 650D’s disc transport is a proprietary design that floats on Simaudio’s M-Quattro suspension mechanism. According to Doug Schneider’s review, CDs, and files ripped from those CDs and streamed from a computer, sounded essentially the same. In the rare instances in which he could hear subtle differences, Doug said, “When a comparison of these tracks or portions of tracks wasn’t quite a draw, my nod went to the computer -- it had just a touch more presence, slightly stronger image focus, and a hair more detail, particularly with the back-of-stage stuff and those subtle decays.”

But what sets the 650D apart isn’t its styling, build quality, features, or the fact that it plays CDs and music files equally well. Instead, the player distinguished itself in Doug’s system with its unique sound, in two ways in particular: Its reproduction of the high frequencies was silky-smooth and nonfatiguing without ever sounding dull or rolled off; and it balanced extreme detail with extraordinary musicality, never sacrificing one for the other. From Doug’s review: “The 650D was able to resolve the finest details -- it’s hyper-revealing -- with the most musical and nonfatiguing sound I’ve heard from any digital source. The 650D’s soul is as analog as it is digital.” Doug also surmised that the 650D could be the digital source that turns LP aficionados on to digital with few, if any, regrets.

But $9000 is a lot to pay for any digital source component, particularly as outstanding sources with similar functionality can be had for far less. What sets the Simaudio Moon Evolution 650D apart from the rest is not only that it functions as a state-of-the-art CD player and DAC that supports up to 24-bit/192kHz playback through its digital inputs; it also has a sound that’s not only unique but uncannily natural, and sets a new benchmark for musicality and resolution from a digital source.

Manufacturer contact information:

Simaudio Ltd.
1345 Newton Rd.
Boucherville, Quebec J4B 5H2
Phone: (877) 980-2400, (450) 449-2212