Canadian hi-fi brand Moon has launched its North Collection for 2023: a six-strong range of separates sporting new technology and designed to deliver high-performance streaming sound.
The North Collection consists of three levels: the 'entry' range 600 (681 music streamer with DAC and 641 integrated amplifier); the middle 700 series (791 streaming preamplifier and 761 power amplifier); and the 'ultimate' granddaddy pairing of the 800 series (891 streaming preamp and 861 power amp).
Every product is designed and manufactured in-house in Moon's home base of Montreal, Canada, just as it has for the last 40 years. Moon intends for this North Collection to both honour its Canadian heritage and act as a guiding star for the brand's intentions going forward in the future of hi-fi.
After decades of making hi-fi separates with a singular vision and purpose (its analogue-only 250i amp only recently added a phono stage), the new range finally takes a step many of its rivals already have in combining the DAC, streaming and pre-amplifier stages into one box. The power amplifiers stay separate, but a dedicated MoonLink connectivity feature gives users a level of integration between the products that few other hi-fi brands offer. In this case, the menu on the preamp/streamers lets you control elements of the power amplifier seamlessly.
In the pre-launch press briefing, Moon says that while outright audio quality is compromised in the one-box all-in-one designs that can juggle multiple jobs, a traditional separates system is admittedly clunky in operation. MoonLink takes care of that with the North Collection purportedly operating as one unit, but without compromising audio quality, promises Moon.
Encased in Moon's polished but very familiar-looking two-tone black and silver chassis, the North Collection has new elements such as contoured vertical heatsinks, a vent on top, OLED colour screens on all products bar the power amps, and new volume control technologies.
All six products feature "ground-breaking" technologies developed by Moon after years of research and development. These include the Moon Distortion-Cancelling Amplifier (MDCA), the Moon Damping Base (MDB) and the Moon Digital Engine (MDE). Aside from introducing many acronyms, what they do is reduce distortion to "previously unattainable levels" in the power amps (MDCA), offer mechanical isolation to protect against unwanted micro-vibrations (MDB), and improve the digital performance of each unit with greater accuracy (MDE). The technologies get more advanced the higher you go up the range, with the flagship 891 and 861 claiming to be "several orders of magnitude more precise" in regard to digital timing. The 800 products also have a bigger footprint than the 600 and 700 products.
Moon's existing MiND2 streaming platform and app returns for easy playback control from music streaming services and connected servers.
But Moon is also, we're told, "fanatic about volume control" and that's apparent with the ace up its sleeve: the BRM-1 remote control. Ungainly name aside, it's a uniquely designed, oval/ovoid remote control with a touch screen that displays the volume and artist/track info. It connects to the North Collection products using Bluetooth (not IR), is rechargeable and has a 150-feet range.
You can also play, pause and skip tracks using the touch controls, but Moon is at pains to point out that it has the same feel and smooth precision as the volume dials on the units themselves. Best of all? The classy-looking BRM-1 isn't an optional extra; it comes as standard with all North products.
Some technical specifications are in order. The 641 integrated amplifier delivers 125W of power per channel into 8 ohms. The 681 network player/DAC supports hi-res streaming from Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, and it's Roon Ready. There's also Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, MQA and DSD compatibility. At its heart is the MDE1 (an innovative and accuracy-led implementation of FPGA DAC architecture). All Moon preamp/network players have multiple analogue and digital connectivity, including an HDMI ARC port.
The 791 streaming preamplifier packs in a higher-performing MDE2 DAC with hi-res file support up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256, as well as a phono stage for moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. The matching 761 power amp is designed to deliver "absolute transparency and finesse", and outputs 200W per channel into 8 ohms.
The flagship 891 preamp/streamer and 861 power amp are billed as the "ultimate performance". The 891 uses the reference-grade MDE3 digital engine, while the 861 outputs a claimed 300W per channel into 8 ohms. The power amp can also be used in a mono block configuration, more than doubling the power to 800W into 8 ohms.
With the North Collection making its debut at the 2023 High End Munich show in a few weeks' time, it should be no surprise it has premium ambitions. And they are a pricey bunch, as below:
The 641 integrated amp starts the range off at £11,000 / $11,000 / €12,500. The 681 network player/DAC costs £12,000 / $12,000 / €13,500.
The 791 network player/preamplifier will cost £16,000 / $16,000 / €18,500, while the 761 power amp will cost £14,000 / $14,000 / €16,000.
The 891 network player/preamplifier will cost £25,000 / $25,000 / €28,500 and the 861 power amp will cost £23,000 / $22,000 / €25,000.
The first Moon North Collection products will be available from 1st October 2023 (the 700 range) followed by the 600, while the 800 products will be ready in time for Christmas 2023.
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