Simaudio Moon Eclipse CD player Page 3

The Eclipse's top-end performance, dynamics, detail, pitch—you name it—were excellent. Transients were clean and fast, and instruments' power didn't diminish a bit as their pitches ascended. The cymbals on Duke's Big 4 were a luscious mix of bell-like ring and metallic shimmer. Triangles rang sweetly, their fundamentals cutting through the orchestra, their ringing overtones expanding out in a halo from the image itself. Even instruments like piccolos, and violins at the top of their range, seemed to have a wonderful, extended structure of overtones extending upward in pitch and space.

On a few occasions—particularly in my remodeled, much more "live" room—the Eclipse tiptoed right up to, but never crossed over into, being a touch hard and metallic. There's a very fine line between power, impact, and detail, and being a little too forward and forceful. Each time the Eclipse got close to the edge, usually on massed violins or perhaps a high piccolo run, I had to carefully recall a comparable live performance. Each time, I came to the conclusion that the Eclipse hadn't quite crossed the line.

Overall, the Eclipse's tonal balance was a little on the cool, analytical side of neutral. I mentioned the slight lack of low-bass weight, and although the mid- and upper bass weren't obviously lacking in power, impact, or definition, they didn't quite balance the Eclipse's heft from the midrange up. There was also a slightly forward perspective in the upper midrange that brought some instruments slightly forward in the soundstage, spotlighting them a bit. On Duke's Big 4, this was most apparent on Ellington's piano, its weight and prominence changing slightly as it moved up and down in pitch. These were slight shadings, however; overall, the Eclipse sounded quite neutral.

The Eclipse's character was also a great match for my pre-remodel listening room. I had always wrestled with that room: it was slightly warm and soft-sounding, slightly elevated in the 80-110Hz region and gently rolled-off on top. The Eclipse's cool perspective, lean and tight bottom, and bold, extended top fit in perfectly. Since the remodel, I come at neutrality from the other, slightly too-cool and live side, so the Eclipse's character was shown in stark relief—as were the inherent characteristics of the room itself.

All of the above characteristics reflect the Eclipse's performance with its HDCD chip bypassed. With the HDCD filter/decoder in-circuit, the player was an entirely different animal. There were noticeable reductions in detail, clarity, and transparency. Transients sounded compressed and their leading edges dulled, giving the entire performance a liquid, laid-back character. The perspective changed as well, becoming more distant, and the soundstage itself was recessed, dropping back a few feet behind the plane of the speakers. If you want to hear what this player can do, take my—and Simaudio's—advice: bypass the HDCD chip.

The Right Bastion for You?
The Simaudio Moon Eclipse has been a bastion of stability in my system for some time now, partially because its characteristics fit my listening biases and room so well, but mostly because it's a solid, superb performer. Its performance was excellent in nearly every regard, and truly exceptional in some. Its reproduction of space—of the sense of real, tangible instruments playing in an actual acoustic venue—was uncanny. It also excelled in the reproduction of dynamic transients and the resolution of the subtle details that make an instrument and a performance come to life. While it wasn't perfectly neutral, it was awfully close, and its deviations—a slight lack of low-bass power and a slightly cool overall tonal balance—were minor and very easy to live with.

The Moon Eclipse is a superb piece of hardware as well, lovely to look at and a delight to use. It's designed and built with care and an attention to detail, and it will not disappoint even the most discriminating audiophile, music lover, or connoisseur of fine equipment. Its quality is immediately and continually obvious, and, at $5295, it's not unreasonably priced with respect to its competition. There are wonderful competitors from companies like Mark Levinson and Wadia—even the futuristic Oracle, which I reviewed in October 2000—but the Simaudio Moon Eclipse definitely deserves a look and a listen. If you're looking for a bastion of stability and superb overall performance around which to build, upgrade, and modify a system, it's just the ticket. Very highly recommended.

3275 First Street, Unit 1
St. Hubert, Quebec J3Y 8Y6
(450) 445-0032