It’s been more than a couple years since I unboxed a Simaudio integrated amp. WG recently did their latest entry level i-1 gear and loved it and truth be told I kind of felt a little left out. I really wanted to hear that amp. But sometimes a bit of patience is rewarded in the audio reviewing game. (Hey Magico; You reading this?!)
In any case, the payoff came in the form of Simaudio’s latest mid-priced models the i3.3 integrated amplifier and CD3.3 disc player. One of the unique features of the MOON i3.3 is its configurability thanks to an options package, which includes an internal digital-to-analog converter (USB-2, S/PDIF & TosLink digital inputs), an internal RIAA phono preamplifier (MM & MC) and a balanced line-level input. These are available in any combination, and can be acquired either at the time of purchase or as a future upgrade. In my book this is really forward thinking on the part of Simaudio.
Under the hood, the i3.3 is rated at 100Wpc into 8 ohms and doubles that to 200Wpc into 4 ohms due in no small part to the four bipolar output devices per channel in the amp section and the oversized power supply which uses Simaudio’s own custom toroidal transformer design. It runs Class A output to 5 watts for greater efficiency There are 5 line-level inputs including a front-mounted 1/8” mini-jack for personal media players
It’s sister CD player the CD3.3 uses a proprietary CD drive system with in-house developed hardware & software. Its drive system is mounted on Simaudio’s M-Quattro gel-based 4-point floating suspension for vibration damping. It includes a digital input for use with a PC, music server or stand-alone transport, optional balanced analog outputs (matching the same option available for the i3.3). Other specs include internal upsampling with 24-bit/1.411MHz processing, a BurrBrown PCM1798 high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz Digital-to-Analog Converter and 8x oversampling digital filter and a precise 25PPM digital clocking system.
[detail of i3.3 rear panel showing optional connectivity]
In both instances there’s the customary attention to detail, fit and finish that Simaudio is known for and which I’ve experienced first hand repeatedly over the years. The units are heavy and have a permanence about them. Buttons and dials and rear panel connectors have a positive, quality feel. Also in furtherance of the already superior connectivity and convenience these units offer a SimLink controller port which allows for 2-way communications between other compatible MOON components like naturally the CD 3.3 player. For example I could hit play on the CD player and the integrated would automatically switch inputs to CD. Pretty cool.
A couple things immediately stood out when I powered up the gear. The exemplary start-up speed of the CD transport and software met the high standards that I’m accustomed to with Simaudio players. Speed actually is also a sonic attribute of Simaudio gear for as long as I can remember. Transient speed, fast tuneful bass immediately made themselve heard. Driving a full range loudspeaker like the new Sonus Faber Liuto or my own compact ATCs they exemplified terrific bass control, good extension and a smooth, refined top-end with no evidence of grain or grit. The integrated also operated without any glitches switching inputs from my computer/USB to Sat TV/optical to DAC/Coax and back again to CD/RCA. Not to mention analog LP. It gave this old audiophile chills to remember that the only "options" I enjoyed a few decades ago in the predigital age was LP or radio! Simaudio has really covered the bases with the new i3.3. Look for my full review in Issue 198 of TAS.
[Detail of CD3.3 back panel;note the SPDIF input & output]