This CD player was introduced almost two years ago and has since been upgraded to meet the standards customarily found in only a few very high-end designs. This player will interest those consumers who pursue the quest for accuracy, musicality and build quality. Simaudio, based in Quebec, has been around since 1988, beginning operation as Sima in 1980. In 1992, the company launched the Celeste line of electronics which offered a complete series of amps, preamps, integrated amps, phono preamps, etc. A few years ago the upscale Moon series was introduced. It was designed to address the audiophile market and includes, power amplifiers, preamplifiers, integrated amplifiers, a tuner and the CD player under review. We understand that the Celeste series has been discontinued to allow more time to develop the company's interest in high-end equipment. Thus, the Moon Series of components is now the company's main line. The Moon Eclipse CD player was developed over a couple of years and offers many interesting technological advances as we shall see later in this report; but first the unit's
All Moon components look rather stunning and it seems that a little Europeanor at least French Canadian-styling has been employed. The Eclipse is a two part CD system made up of an elaborate outboard power supply and the main unit which accommodates the player's DA conversion and transport. Thus, we have the power supply measuring (WxDxH) 11-1/2 x 13 x 2-1/2 inches. It sports only a small indicator light on the front panel, with the on/off switch and umbilical cord connection on the rear. The main unit measures 17 inches wide, 4-1/2 inches high and 14-1/2 inches deep. This is a top loading player and the designers have beautifully integrated the CD well and small handle to achieve a visually pleasing component. The front panel accommodates a small standby button in the centre under the large company logo, a large display window on the left and an array of push buttons on the right. These buttons operate the display, phase, the 96/24 input, program, time, scan, repeat and random functions. The display sports large, easy to read, red LEDs. On the unit's top right hand side another keyboard operates the stop, play, skip and fast forward/reverse functions. A pair of RCA and a pair of XLR (balanced) outputs and the connector to the power supply can be found on the rear of the unit. The component is supported by four large legs which are part of the chassis and comes with small cones to help decouple it from the surface on which it is placed. This is a handsome component, finished in steel gray and black and offers a well-thought-out, logical layout.
As we mentioned earlier, this CD player offers a few interesting features, beginning with a suspended, floating CD transport. The Simaudio designers borrowed suspension design from turntable manufacturers to overcome and correct vibration and resonance problems-and it works extremely well, as we shall see. double action suspension is employed and augmented with sophisticated tracking and damping devices. The transport is a Philips CD-Pro 2 and to assure low jitter and improve stability, a 5PPM clock system is employed. D/A conversion is achieved with four Burr-Brown PCM1704uk units and final processing is achieved with four Burr-Brown DF1704 digital filters, all operating in a fully balanced configuration.96kHz/24-bit processing is achieved when an external transport is connected via the rear digital BNC input.
The external power supply has eight stages of voltage regulation. Both units feature an elaborate system to eliminate electro magnetic interference, including dual, shielded transformers arranged to complement completely balanced circuitry. And then there is the clamp. It must be placed on the CD and the drawer must be closed before the unit can be operated. The clamp is not the ordinary puck, customarily found in Philips-based transports. Rather, it's a machined piece that fits tightly over a small part of the spindle and should be regarded as an important element of the assembly.
Specifications aren't necessarily indicative of a unit's performance, but the Eclipse's are impressive: signal to noise ratio is 106dB (A weighted); dynamic range is 112dB; digital filtering is 24-bits, 96kHz; digital output in BNC at 75 ohms is 0.5 volts; analogue filter is proprietary 6dB/octave; analogue output is 25 ohms, 4 volts maximum; slew rate is 50V/ps. And now to...
For our auditioning sessions, we simply connected the player to our existing system, which was made up of a pair of Wyetech Lab Onyx monoblock amplifiers (reviewed in this issue), Opal preamplifier, a pair of B&W 801s (also reviewed in this issue) wired with Nordost's Valhalla cables. After a burning in period of about 100 hours, we settled down for some intensive listening with material ranging from sophisticated classical music to raunchy blues - and all of us were surprised. Having been spoiled rotten listening to some very high-end and high-performance players, we didn't expect the sort of finesse apparent with the Moon Eclipse. The most conspicuous element of this player is its ability to extract resolution right across the audible frequency spectrum. In the bass regions, this translates to body, weight and completion of the deepest recorded note. In the midband areas, program material is absolutely articulated and integrates effortlessly with frequencies above and below. In the high frequency domain, resolution continues way up into the dogwhistle range and, surprisingly, does not interject what we know as digital glare - a hardness often found in even high-end players. Though a touch harder than some players we have auditioned, the Moon maintained a very high degree of musical accuracy throughout our auditioning sessions. Imaging-setting up a precise and realistic sound stage-takes a backseat to none. The player's elevated resolving skill, inner detail, focus on instruments and voices and front-to-back reach puts it in a class reserved for only the best CD players around. The Eclipse's tonal equilibrium is outstanding with no audible bumps or dips throughout its frequency range - an important factor for those who play back discs for musical enjoyment. Even those who actually listen to the component will appreciate this player's smooth flowing musical information. Some of the player's idiosyncrasies - there are some with every player - are convenience based and include placing the clamp on the spindle after loading the CD into the player's well; and it is important to close the player's drawer manually for, unlike some Philips top loading transports, the Eclipse will not operate with an open drawer.
Synopsis & Commentary:
It is our opinion and our Editor's assumption that the Moon Eclipse's secret of providing "musicality" along with accuracy is its very sophisticated suspension system. It functions much the same as an upscale turntable, such as the Oracle, for example. While the suspension system looks rather fragile, the abuse we bestowed upon it while we auditioned the player proved that it is rugged enough to handle considerable mistreatment. The tiny tiptoe-like feet (supplied) added dimensional realism to program material with a noteworthy improvement in height. Though we placed the player on a resonance inhibiting shelf, we noticed that placing it on "ordinary" furniture didn't diminish its sound quality when its tiny "feet" are attached - we find this to be another advantage. It is important to use excellent interconnects as only then can listeners expect the Moon's sonic merits to reach their pinnacle. Poorly produced discs will sound, well, poorly produced. However, when the production quality of the CD is in line with that of the player, listeners can expect to hear information far above DVD-based, multi-channel audio, currently the hottest subject of discussion. The Moon Eclipse player offers futuristic technological innovations based on solid, proven formulae and, most importantly, ears. While the technology helps create the component, the ears experience the result which, with this player, preserves the art form-the music.