After many good and loyal services, the Moon 310 LP has been replaced. We were interested to find out how the Canadian company would justify a new product with better capabilities within this price range. The answer to that is the Moon NEO 310 LP phono preamplifier. At first sight, there are no dramatic changes. It has the all-aluminium housing with the same size as the Moon 310 LP. Only the aluminium front panel has been changed for a rounder design.
The audio circuitry uses military grade components. All the copper connectors have been optimised to deliver a low impedance. It seems that the most obvious changes apply to the power board and more specifically to the filtering and regulation of the stages. In fact, the manufacturer has announced that the external power supply is less justified for this setup… We shall see…
This phono preamplifier is of course MM and MC compatible. To pair it with most phono cartridges, the board has several jumpers to select the gain, loading and capacitance. It offers 4 gain levels, 5 impedance levels and 3 capacitance levels. The RIAA equalisation curve is particularly good and an IEC equalisation curve can be selected, which is a unique feature. Though it is similar to the RIAA curve, it has a low-pass filter that eliminates infrasound below 20 Hz. It acts a bit like a natural subsonic filter. It has comprehensive connectors, namely one RCA stereo input and a ground plug, an RCA stereo output and a real XLR symmetrical output! It can be connected to the input of a symmetrical preamplifier to deliver its full potential.
It also has the traditional IEC male outlet, with a four-pin XLR next to it, intended for Moon's 320 S power supply unit. This 320 S delivers a high quality DC current that tops the capabilities of the 310 LP. The jumpers will need to be moved internally to make it compatible with the device. Like with many high-end systems, this phono preamplifier does not have a power switch. It must be left on permanently for optimum performance.
We paired it with a mid-level vinyl turntable and an Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge, then with a high-end turntable with 3 low-output MC cartridges. From the opening bars, the potential of this new Moon NEO 310 LP phono preamp is obvious. It boasts mind-blowing capabilities in terms of transparency and definition. Like its predecessor, the silences are...silent! Playback is free from any unwanted noise. It delivers the end of notes, reverberations and atmospheres with unprecedented subtleness and legibility. The dynamics are incredible, giving the music an amazing tempo and punch. The transient cues are incredibly short. The frequency response is very wide and balanced, it does justice to all the registers. Contrary to Moon's claims, we found that adding the 320 S power supply unit was quite useful! It may not be as spectacular as the older model, but the dynamics seem even better (could it be possible!?) and the frequency response is broader! The bass has more impact and is more articulated. The transparency level is on par with the very best! This phono stage favours neutrality and authenticity. It does not improve and add colour to the music, it just transcribes the music as realistically as possible, with the best musicality!
We naturally embrace this choice that seems to perfectly fit the term 'Hi-Fi'. Let's not forget that this is precisely what 'High-Fidelity' is, regardless of what others might say…
Highly recommended! Franck
RIAA Stereo preamplifier: MM/MC
Asymmetrical inputs: pair of RCA Gold + ground
Asymmetrical outputs: pair of RCA Gold
Symmetrical outputs: pair of XLR
Adjustable impedance: 10, 100, 470 ohms, 1 and 47 KOhms
Adjustable capacitance: 0, 100 and 470 pF
RCA adjustable gain: 40, 54, 60 and 66 dB
XLR adjustable gain: 46, 60, 66, and 72 dB
Curves: RIAA + IEC (Subsonic filter)
Signal-to-noise ratio: 110 dB (MM) - 88 dB (MC)
Signal-to-noise ratio (Option 320S): 114 dB (MM) - 92 dB (MC)
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz (+/-0.5 dB)
Crosstalk: -100 dB
Intermodulation distortion: < 0.005%
Consumption: 6 watts
Weight: 3.100 kg
Dimensions: 17.8 x 8 x 28 cm