Moon Nēo 430HA Reference Headphone Amplifier
Jan 16, 2016 at 7:57 PM Post #916 of 1,801

Mortalcoil

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  On Saturday I packed up my 430HA and shipped it to a buyer in Singapore. My SS headamp of choice is now the Auralic Taurus Mk2 exclusively.
 
What I am going to say below is going to ruffle some feathers on the 430HA/430HAD fans. I have done my best to be objective. Keep in mind that this is my viewpoint, based on my preferences and associated gear. As always, YMMV.
 
 
 

 
Well constructed viewpoints Tony.
 
Keep enjoying the Taurus.  From what I gather in the many reviews written its a stellar piece of gear.
 
Jan 16, 2016 at 8:02 PM Post #917 of 1,801

longbowbbs

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  On Saturday I packed up my 430HA and shipped it to a buyer in Singapore. My SS headamp of choice is now the Auralic Taurus Mk2 exclusively.
 
What I am going to say below is going to ruffle some feathers on the 430HA/430HAD fans. I have done my best to be objective. Keep in mind that this is my viewpoint, based on my preferences and associated gear. As always, YMMV.
 
Some words on why I sold the 430HA and kept the Taurus. I enjoyed the 430HA on many tracks. Anything slow, soft and vocal centric was rendered very well. Lovely warmth and body. But here is the big huge 'BUT' in all this - but I get the same effect from my tube amps (WA5 and Glenn 300B). What I want from a SS amp, more than anything else, is transparency. I want a window onto the source material. For me, the Taurus does this much, much better than the 430HA. I was getting better detail, dynamics and punch from the Glenn 300B amp than I was getting from the 430HA. When a tube amp beats SS at detail, dynamics and punch something is wrong in the world (admittedly, the Glenn 300B is an exceptional tube amp and I was using exceptional tubes, but still should not beat a high end SS amp).
 
The 430HA managed to take the first minute of Baba O'Riley from The Who and make it dull. The drive, speed and energy was gone. One of the best bits of music that humanity has ever made and the 430HA killed it.
 
I bought the 430HA very soon after its release. That was my mistake. I was expecting a more powerful and better featured version of the Taurus or GSX-Mk2. What I got was a SS amp that performed well on some tracks, but sucked the excitement and engagement from others.
 
I have a Simaudio 230HAD as a workplace / bedside unit. This unit I am keeping. The 230HAD is much closer to a transparent DAC / Amp to my ears. Still has some warmth in it, but does it with a much lighter touch than the 430HA. I did a bunch of A/B/C testing with a HeadFi buddy between the Taurus / 430HA / 230HAD (as amp only) - all 3 fed from the Vega DAC - and the ranking of the amps was pretty clear to our ears - Taurus then the 230HAD and lastly the 430HA.
 
It amazes me that Tyll would remove the Taurus from the Wall Of Fame to insert the 430HAD. It amazes me even more that Tyll could describe the 430 as a 'reference' amp suitable for use as a reviewer tool. I would have thought that a reference amp should be as transparent as possible - as close to the 'wire with gain' ideal as the skill of the amp designer can get. To my ears the Taurus ticks this box and the 430HA most assuredly does not. The amp section of the 230HAD does a better job of transparency.
 
All this isn't to say that the 430HA is a bad amp - it just isn't the type of amp I wanted. If you want a SS amp that is close to tubes in sound, and don't mind sacrificing some dynamics, speed and punch to get it, then the 430HA makes a lot of sense. If you already have a tube amp and want a transparent SS amp, then go get yourself a Taurus, or GSX-Mk2, or V281 or even a 230HAD - anything but the 430HA.
 
A word on the 230HAD. The amp section on this unit is rather good. Feeding it direct from the Vega highlighted how good the amp section really is. The onboard DAC is OK - nothing special - about what you would expect for the money. Hook the amp up to a better DAC and the 230HAD scales nicely. Both my HeadFi buddy and I preferred the Vega+230HAD sound to the Vega+430HA.

Tony this is why we all listen for ourselves. Enjoy the Taurus and the tubes! I sure enjoy my Studio Six when I want to go there.
 
Jan 16, 2016 at 8:56 PM Post #918 of 1,801

TonyNewman

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  Tony this is why we all listen for ourselves. Enjoy the Taurus and the tubes! I sure enjoy my Studio Six when I want to go there.

 
There are some simple experiments anyone with the necessary gear can perform to confirm for themselves what I am saying objectively. This isn't just a case of "I didn't like the sound".
 
For example, on some tracks mixed from tape there can be a faint tape hiss artifact in the background. On very revealing gear this can be audible. In our testing, my buddy and I picked a track with such an artifact using the rig Vega -> AMP -> HD800S. On the Taurus the tape hiss was audible - faint and in the background, but if you listen for it you can pick it up.
 
Perversely, the Glenn 300B tube amp also presented the tape hiss. Not as easy to detect as with the Taurus, but it was there. Quite amazing detail retrieval for a tube amp.
 
On the 430HA? Nothing. Could not be heard by either of us. Some might say not being able to hear the tape hiss is a good thing - the point is that the transparency of the 430HA lagged behind both the Taurus and the Glenn 300B tube amp.
 
For those doubters out there - get the gear and do the testing - then see what you think.
 
Jan 16, 2016 at 10:22 PM Post #919 of 1,801

Mortalcoil

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There are some simple experiments anyone with the necessary gear can perform to confirm for themselves what I am saying objectively. This isn't just a case of "I didn't like the sound".
 
For example, on some tracks mixed from tape there can be a faint tape hiss artifact in the background. On very revealing gear this can be audible. In our testing, my buddy and I picked a track with such an artifact using the rig Vega -> AMP -> HD800S. On the Taurus the tape hiss was audible - faint and in the background, but if you listen for it you can pick it up.
 
Perversely, the Glenn 300B tube amp also presented the tape hiss. Not as easy to detect as with the Taurus, but it was there. Quite amazing detail retrieval for a tube amp.
 
On the 430HA? Nothing. Could not be heard by either of us. Some might say not being able to hear the tape hiss is a good thing - the point is that the transparency of the 430HA lagged behind both the Taurus and the Glenn 300B tube amp.
 
For those doubters out there - get the gear and do the testing - then see what you think.

 
 
We dont doubt you Tony, the 430HA is failing to "Rock your World".
 
I will say though after pouring through many posts on the 430 there was a time when your viewpoints were quite the extreme opposite, to the point that you exclaimed that the 430HA was far more musical and more endgame.
 
Tastes change.  http://www.head-fi.org/t/657266/auralic-owners-unite/1140#post_11357248
 
Jan 16, 2016 at 11:20 PM Post #920 of 1,801

TonyNewman

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We dont doubt you Tony, the 430HA is failing to "Rock your World".
 
I will say though after pouring through many posts on the 430 there was a time when your viewpoints were quite the extreme opposite, to the point that you exclaimed that the 430HA was far more musical and more endgame.
 
Tastes change.  http://www.head-fi.org/t/657266/auralic-owners-unite/1140#post_11357248

 
Yep - I was hit a 'buyer's honeymoon' syndrome. The 430HA is musical and warm and the sound is very engaging. It took quite a while for me to realise that in getting that sound the amp is also giving up quite a bit terms of dynamics and punch and transparency. That isn't my thing for SS amps, but I can understand why some folks really like this amp.
 
Jan 17, 2016 at 1:10 AM Post #921 of 1,801

Mortalcoil

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  Yep - I was hit a 'buyer's honeymoon' syndrome. The 430HA is musical and warm and the sound is very engaging. It took quite a while for me to realise that in getting that sound the amp is also giving up quite a bit terms of dynamics and punch and transparency. That isn't my thing for SS amps, but I can understand why some folks really like this amp.

 
 
Well at least its good to know its not all doom and gloom
wink.gif

 
Jan 17, 2016 at 8:52 AM Post #922 of 1,801

longbowbbs

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Meanwhile at HiFi+ Magazine the good news continues.
 

 
Jan 17, 2016 at 10:16 AM Post #923 of 1,801

Mortalcoil

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Jan 17, 2016 at 11:55 AM Post #924 of 1,801

hekeli

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  The 230HAD is much closer to a transparent DAC / Amp to my ears. Still has some warmth in it, but does it with a much lighter touch than the 430HA.

 
Is "warmth" related to bass? Because the first time I fired up my 230HAD loaner, I instantly thought "did someone activate a bass boost"? Using purely the amp, all my subbass-oriented test tracks sounded like they have an extra layer of bass hum that didn't belong there. At first it sounds exciting then got tired of it, since it made things sound sloppy. A/B'ing with Matrix HPA-3B and Audio-GD NFB-1AMP which sounded more neutral to me in that regard.
 
Jan 17, 2016 at 1:27 PM Post #925 of 1,801

TonyNewman

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Is "warmth" related to bass? Because the first time I fired up my 230HAD loaner, I instantly thought "did someone activate a bass boost"? Using purely the amp, all my subbass-oriented test tracks sounded like they have an extra layer of bass hum that didn't belong there. At first it sounds exciting then got tired of it, since it made things sound sloppy. A/B'ing with Matrix HPA-3B and Audio-GD NFB-1AMP which sounded more neutral to me in that regard.

 
I am not getting that effect on my unit. I will give it another try this evening and listen for wooly/boosted bass.
 
EDIT - ran several test tracks this evening through my 230HAD via the Vega. I'm just not getting woolly or over-emphasised bass. The Taurus has tighter and more detailed bass, but the difference isn't huge to my ears. The 230HAD amp is doing a decent job as best I can tell.
 
Jan 18, 2016 at 12:59 AM Post #926 of 1,801

hekeli

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I am not getting that effect on my unit. I will give it another try this evening and listen for wooly/boosted bass.
 
EDIT - ran several test tracks this evening through my 230HAD via the Vega. I'm just not getting woolly or over-emphasised bass. The Taurus has tighter and more detailed bass, but the difference isn't huge to my ears. The 230HAD amp is doing a decent job as best I can tell.

 
Thanks for testing. I was baffled because it's the first time I was actually hearing quite large differences between gear, and I had almost for a week. But yeah I might have been imagining, or then some other factor was at play (don't tell me it was the cables lool). Audio is strange.
 
edit: Should note that I'm using Sonarworks flat preset (the AB000B extended version) with HD800, obviously any subbass coloration could be more audible having ~12dB of boost. Listening to something like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMmqgBvNdVQ
 
Feb 23, 2016 at 1:32 PM Post #927 of 1,801

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Hi guys.  Is the Neo 430ha really as good as the reviewers say it is?  I currently own the Oppo HA-1 and been listening to my LCD-3f and HD650 through it in the past.  I have owned the Schiit Ragnarok and Yggy stack but sold them to try the Ha-1.  Wanted a more streamlined all-in-one package.  I have owned other nice headphone amps such as Bryston BHA-1f, Schiit Mjolnir, Schiit Bi-frost, Burson Conductor and so on and many nice DACs and other nice flagship headphones too.  I am looking for an end game headphone amp with built-in DAC.  I curious to know how the Neo would compare with the other headphone amps I have owned in the past.  Has anyone compared to the Oppo?  Additionally, I will be purchasing the new HD-800s when it comes out.  I hear the Neo is a all around good headphone amp that plays nice with many different headphones.  BTW, if anyone is looking to sell there Neo w/ DAC, PM me.  
biggrin.gif
 
 
Feb 23, 2016 at 3:46 PM Post #928 of 1,801

Sonic Guild

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  Hi guys.  Is the Neo 430ha really as good as the reviewers say it is?  I currently own the Oppo HA-1 and been listening to my LCD-3f and HD650 through it in the past.  I have owned the Schiit Ragnarok and Yggy stack but sold them to try the Ha-1.  Wanted a more streamlined all-in-one package.  I have owned other nice headphone amps such as Bryston BHA-1f, Schiit Mjolnir, Schiit Bi-frost, Burson Conductor and so on and many nice DACs and other nice flagship headphones too.  I am looking for an end game headphone amp with built-in DAC.  I curious to know how the Neo would compare with the other headphone amps I have owned in the past.  Has anyone compared to the Oppo?  Additionally, I will be purchasing the new HD-800s when it comes out.  I hear the Neo is a all around good headphone amp that plays nice with many different headphones.  BTW, if anyone is looking to sell there Neo w/ DAC, PM me.  
biggrin.gif
 


I used to own the Oppo amp but I forgot how it sounds! All what I remember that the Oppo is somehow bright to my ears! (hot treble)
I hate bright sound.
 
Let me give you an honest opinion, just stay away from the unrealistic and deceiving reviews made by people who claim that they are professionals. I don't believe that amps are supposed to add anything to sound stage, separation, bass....etc. Don't waste your time with ******** scams.
 
It is all about treble level! The more the treble the more sense of air, separation and soundstage. Less treble means more bass and  little narrower sound stage (somehow). 
 
So if you want to get an amp, aim for the following:
1- How clean is the single (has nothing to do with sound, just makes you feel proud about your gear).
2- Floor noise (has nothing to do with sound, just the amount of hissing in black background). 
3. Power to drive headphones.
4. Brightens (which will affect soundstage and bass). 
 
 
My opinion about the Moon:
1- The cleanest single ever! Due to advanced circuit and power supply. I live near to radio tower and the ONLY amp that does NOT have interference with radio is THE MOON! I don't know why!
2- ZERO noise compared to ALL other amps.
3- POWERFUL can drive any headphones you imagine.
4. Natural sound signature (the amp will disappear between your headphones and source). Not bright at all also not ****ty warm like tube amps. I can listen to it for hours with ZERO fatigue. 
 
Anybody claims that the Moon will add any sound signature to your gear, DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.  PERIOD 
 
Feb 23, 2016 at 6:38 PM Post #929 of 1,801

dnlee480

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I used to own the Oppo amp but I forgot how it sounds! All what I remember that the Oppo is somehow bright to my ears! (hot treble)
I hate bright sound.

Let me give you an honest opinion, just stay away from the unrealistic and deceiving reviews made by people who claim that they are professionals. I don't believe that amps are supposed to add anything to sound stage, separation, bass....etc. Don't waste your time with ******** scams.

It is all about treble level! The more the treble the more sense of air, separation and soundstage. Less treble means more bass and  little narrower sound stage (somehow). 

So if you want to get an amp, aim for the following:
1- How clean is the single (has nothing to do with sound, just makes you feel proud about your gear).
2- Floor noise (has nothing to do with sound, just the amount of hissing in black background). 
3. Power to drive headphones.
4. Brightens (which will affect soundstage and bass). 


My opinion about the Moon:
1- The cleanest single ever! Due to advanced circuit and power supply. I live near to radio tower and the ONLY amp that does NOT have interference with radio is THE MOON! I don't know why!
2- ZERO noise compared to ALL other amps.
3- POWERFUL can drive any headphones you imagine.
4. Natural sound signature (the amp will disappear between your headphones and source). Not bright at all also not ****ty warm like tube amps. I can listen to it for hours with ZERO fatigue. 

Anybody claims that the Moon will add any sound signature to your gear, DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.  PERIOD 


Nice input. Thank you. Does yours have the built-in DAC? How is the DAC section of the amp? To my ears, I feel like Sabre DACs have a brighter sound.
 
Feb 23, 2016 at 6:43 PM Post #930 of 1,801

Mortalcoil

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  Hi guys.  Is the Neo 430ha really as good as the reviewers say it is?  I currently own the Oppo HA-1 and been listening to my LCD-3f and HD650 through it in the past.  I have owned the Schiit Ragnarok and Yggy stack but sold them to try the Ha-1.  Wanted a more streamlined all-in-one package.  I have owned other nice headphone amps such as Bryston BHA-1f, Schiit Mjolnir, Schiit Bi-frost, Burson Conductor and so on and many nice DACs and other nice flagship headphones too.  I am looking for an end game headphone amp with built-in DAC.  I curious to know how the Neo would compare with the other headphone amps I have owned in the past.  Has anyone compared to the Oppo?  Additionally, I will be purchasing the new HD-800s when it comes out.  I hear the Neo is a all around good headphone amp that plays nice with many different headphones.  BTW, if anyone is looking to sell there Neo w/ DAC, PM me.  
biggrin.gif
 


Having owned a few amps over the years and more recently the Bryston BHA-1 I can tell you that the 430 is in another league alltogether.  Detail, drive and musicality is what I hear when I plug my HD-800 into it.
 
Great synergy with the HD-800 making them a mucical headphone.  The 430 is an amp that could quite possibly change peoles opinion on the HD-800 in that it brings out the best the 800 has to offer.
 
The DAC section is a shade warm perhaps but still very detailed.  I myself have been switching between my Naim DAC and the 430 and would say that while I feel the Naim offers a bit more punch and sparkle the Moon DAC is a great addition and a very good value as a one box solution if you so choose.
 
Plays nice with my TH-900 and would imagine some stellar things from the LCD / Moon combo.
 

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