Another sonic virtue offered by the Moon Neo 260D was its accuracy regarding the size of the soundstage. If the music was recorded in a small recording studio, you could easily tell because of the location of the players next to their microphones. However, if the music was recorded in a larger space, like Smokin' Out Loud was, you could pick up the size of the venue because of the space between the players and the front-to-back layering of where they were positioned.
One of the most important aspects for me to enjoy any music is how the timbres of different instruments are being re-created by the piece of equipment I am reviewing. If this particular factor - the quality of the timbres and natural overall tonality - is not satisfactory, then nothing else matters to me as a listener. One of my favorite Milt Jackson albums is Night Mist (Pablo Today) because the recording itself captures the natural tone and color of Jackson's vibes as I heard them in real life at his concerts. The Moon Neo 260D was able to reproduce the special tonal quality of Jackson's vibe playing in a natural way, while other DACs and CD players often tend to harden it or make it somewhat steely-sounding.
• In the Moon Neo 260D, Simaudio has taken much of its innovative technology from its reference-level Evolution Series and implemented it in this transport/DAC.
• The build quality and physical appearance of the Moon Neo 260D are at a high standard, which lends itself to a pride of ownership.
• This transport/DAC offers excellent micro-details, yet it never loses its overall silky-smooth perspective.
• It produces powerful and accurate dynamics with great punch in the lower frequencies.
• It is able to render very natural timbres and tonality that are rarely found at its price point.
• The Moon Neo 260D can reproduce certain high-resolution material, but not the DSD (SACD) format.
Competition and Comparison
The CD players that would be at the same price point as the Moon Neo 260D would be the Ayre Acoustics CX-7eMP, which retails for $3,500, and the Marantz Reference Series SA-11S, which retails for $3,999. I found the Ayre Acoustics CX-7eMP's overall tonality and how it reproduces timbres to be rather dry-sounding compared with the Moon Neo 260D. The Marantz Reference Series SA-11S reproduces its tonality and timbres in a manner that's more similar to the Moon Neo 250D, but it falls very short of the Moon Neo 260D in the areas of micro-dynamics and low-end grunt and extension.
Simaudio's Moon Neo 260D is very impressive in its performance, particularly in the areas of timbres/tonality, accurate soundstaging, and punchy powerful dynamics and bass extension. It is a good-looking piece of equipment that was enjoyable to use and is built to give its owner trouble-free use for a long time. If you still spin CDs, it provides a high-level transport for your collection, along with the ability to be driven by your computer or streamer. If you are looking for a DAC or CD player in this price range, I highly recommend you listen to the Moon Neo 260D before you purchase your next piece of equipment.