So far, so Pink Integral, but with slightly less overall dynamic impact, yet greater front-to-back stage depth. So far, so Gryphon Callisto, but with slightly less bottom-end kick. What the Moon delivered, however, that gave it its own claim to greatness, was an airy, breezy openness which manifested itself best with the new Chesky CD of the Persuasions singing Beatles classics. This is an a cappella release recorded with all the care the Chesky musters, rich and silky and - on the best systems - in the room. This amp caresses the voices, and spreads them across the soundstage. It soon emerged that the Simaudio is more at home with the refined and the delicate than the raucous.
Not that that stopped me. Corey Harris's 'High Fever Blues' off Fish Ain't Bitin' (Alligator), with its sharp bursts of New Orleans-grade tuba and trombone saw the Moon rise to the occasion - fast, sharp and requisitely raspy, but with all the bloom needed to convey the tuba's weight. On top, a gravely voice, plus some Dobro. This is a heady mix which the Moon both separated and blended with the skill of Thai chef balancing coconut milk and chilli.
All this for 2500? There are lot of rivals in the marketplace, not least being UK-made pre-power combinations, all manner of S.E.T. integrateds of negligible output - hell, in this day and age, the figure even includes some very tasty A/V receivers yielding better than 100Wx5. But the Simaudio Moon i-5 has - build quality and functionality aside - little to do with crackpot, fringe, A/V or other disciplines. It is, for my money, a sane solution for those who want painless stereo.
Which reminds me: because the 2500 price point has psychological importance, and because the distributor is watching the margins, the remote is an optional extra. Daft, I know, but that's commerce. But knowing what the distributor is charging the retailer for the remote, I would posit that any shop NOT throwing it in for free would be the kind of store I would not expect to survive long into the 21st Century.
Quite where the Simaudio Moon i-5 will end up in my (eventual) final tally, I don't know. But away from the integrated pack, it emerges as something of a little miracle. How so? Because it juggles sonic excellence with non-masochistic functionality, and audiophile credibility with confidence-inspiring build quality. Conceptually, its main rivals are the dearer Pink Triangle, Krell and Gryphon offerings, but likely candidates for ownership may well be seduced by that irresistible price tag.