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Simaudio Moon 888 mono amplifiers: Our first take

Simaudio's $120,000 Moon 888 amps aren't excessive, they're supernatural

Simaudio’s $120,000 Moon 888 amplifier shouldn’t be chastised for its opulence, but celebrated for its sheer technological audacity.

When I first heard about Simaudio’s new Moon 888 mono amplifier at CES 2017, which begs an outlandish price tag of nearly $120,000 per pair, I was near dumbfounded. How could anyone charge that much for a simple amplifier, and more to the point, what kind of Arabian prince would ever consider buying such a ridiculous thing?

Those points still ring true, after seeing — and more to the point hearing — the Moon 888 in person. But I’m here to tell you this ludicrous piece of audiophile mania wasn’t just my favorite piece of sonic gear at the show, it represents a visceral aural experience to be counted among the most impressive sonic moments I’ve ever encountered.

The goods

The Moon 888 is simply massive, a hulking pillar of pure audio muscle carved from hunks of sparkling aluminum with a weight of 250 pounds. The front plate is crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, while the side panels are actually die-cast into one massive piece. Venting on the sides helps heat dispersion, as does the enormous size and space of each unit. The amp looks shiny and stylish — if maybe a bit basic — but luckily Simaudio came prepared to demonstrate the guts of this engine block of an amplifier.

The first feature that hits you in the face are the barrel-sized transformers at the front.

Inside, the system betrays a labyrinth of circuitry, transistors, and capacitors, virtually all of which were custom built for the Moon 888 to Simaudio’s specifications. The first feature that hits you in the face are the barrel-sized transformers at the front, which are potted, layered in epoxy, and coated with chrome for a sparkling aesthetic, regardless of the fact that most of them will rarely, if ever, see the light of day.

Next up is the first of three capacitor stages, each of which grows smaller, yet closer to the transistors as you go. That last point is key, according to Simaudio’s rep, as the closer the capacitors get to the transistors, the easier it is to transfer power as needed. And that’s really the secret to the Moon 888’s near-supernatural accuracy and clarity. While the system’s 888 watts per channel is far from the most powerful you can buy, it’s the near-instantaneous availability of all that power that makes these amps so very special.

Performance

It’s all well and good to gaze upon sparkling aluminum and chrome, but listening to the Moon 888s in action is an experience that simply can’t be explained, especially when heard through the $62,000 pair of Rockport Technology Signis speakers Simaudio set up for the demo. That said, I’ll do my best to try.

Sound doesn’t audibly push forth from the speakers with the Moon 888s connected. Instead it seems to almost manifest in midair like a Harry Potter wizard — but without all the hullaballoo and swirls. The sonic image is just suddenly there, floating freely and openly in front of you, reaching ahead towards you, and back into the walls behind the speakers for an incredible level of depth and dynamic expression.

Instruments are vividly live in their resonance and attack, tearing down the veil between your ears and the music. Every single note is colorless, yet riddled with vitality and unadulterated transparency. Perhaps the strangest and most effective portion of the demo was the bass, which doesn’t hit your ears so much as it surrounds your body in buzzy waves of sonic electricity. This is sound that wraps around you and impedes upon your being, without ever feeling invasive or pressed. It’s effortless, free-flowing, musical wonderment.

Conclusion

It’s easy to feel cynical — hell, it’s easy to feel downright appalled by a lavish product of this caliber, especially in the age of increasingly bitter class warfare. But, like Sennheiser’s unearthly Orpheus headphones (priced at around $55,000), Simaudio’s Moon 888 shouldn’t be chastised for its opulence, but celebrated for its sheer technological audacity. That’s what we’re here for, it’s what we do. We build weird, wild, magnificent things — not because they’re necessary, or even practical, but because they are magical. And I’ve got the goosebumps to prove it.

Highs

  • Build quality second to none
  • Supernatural power and presence
  • Ultra-transparent sound signature
  • Power for days

Lows

  • Must be Scrooge McDuck to purchase