Simaudio Moon MiND Network Music Streamer

Device Type: Network Player/Streamer
Input: Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Output: AES/EBU, Coax, Toslink, SimLink In/Out
Dimensions (W x H x D): 100 x 200 x 132mm
Weight: 0.4kg
Availability: through Authorized Dealers
Price: $1,300.00
Website: www.simaudio.com

MiND Reader
The Simaudio Moon MiND (MOON intelligent Network Device) is a UPnP/DLNA compatible renderer or more commonly a network player or streamer. In other words, the Moon MiND lets you play back your file-based music without a computer. Just add Network Attached Storage (NAS) and you'll be streaming your music in no time. A lot of people are also wondering—is the MiND an audiophile version of the popular and discontinued Squeezebox Touch? Let's find out.

Simaudio have developed the Moon MiND from the ground up. They did not opt to buy into someone else's networking solution like the one from Stream Unlimited which can be found in a number of similar devices on the market. Simaudio have also developed the MiND HD control app for iOS devices and its really this bit by which all network players live or die. If the interface to your music is at all clunky, playing music can be a drag. As you can see the MiND does not offer a touch display like the Touch so an iOS device is mandatory for controlling playback. According to Simaudio, an Android app is in the works and should be available by the year's end.

In terms of inputs and outputs, the Moon MiND offers a 100Base-T RJ45 Ethernet input as well as a IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi input. There's also a SimLink In/Out for use with other Simaudio products so that the MiND app can also control input selection on a preamplifier or integrated amplifier as well as volume and power. On the digital output side, the MiND does not have a DAC, we have AES/EBU, Coax S/PDIF, and Toslink. All outputs are capable of supporting up to 24/192 PCM data as well as WAV, FLAC, AIFF, AAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA-9, and OGG Vorbis file formats. The MiND also supports gapless playback as well as vTuner Radio. Additional streaming services should be added later this year. Also on the backside you'll find the wi-fi antennae and power inlet for the included wall-wart power supply.

The MiND's front aluminum panel, which comes in black or silver, is nearly blank except for a blue power LED and the Simaudio logo. Physically connecting your MiND involves connecting your Ethernet cable if you have one available, screwing in the included wi-fi antennae, connecting to your DAC, I mainly went with the AES/EBU connection to the Auralic Vega, and finally plugging the MiND in. There is no on/off switch so as soon you plug it in, its on. In order to set up the MiND as a wireless connection, you initially need to connect it to your network via Ethernet. Following the steps in the MiND Setup Guide is a snap and mainly consists of entering your wi-fi network SSID (its name), encryption type, and entering your wi-fi passphrase.

There are two recessed buttons around back; one is for updating the MiND's firmware and the other is for resetting the MiND to the factory default settings. I did not need to use either during the review period but the manual details the simple steps involved in both procedures. It's also worth noting that the Moon MiND can be incorporated into other Simaudio products including the Neo 380D DAC. "The goal is to have the MiND module available in all future DACs, Integrated Amplifiers and Preamplifiers going forward." according to my contact at Simaudio.

MiND Control
The MIND HD remote app is not only not a drag to use, it is relatively simple, straight forward, and damn near fun. When you first open the MiND app, you are greeted with "Zones" which is where your MiND will show up or if you have multiple MiNDS they will all show up. Once you select your MiND, you are presented with the play back screen. If you have multiple music libraries on your network, you can select which one you'd like to connect to by clicking on "Library" and making your selection from the list. I tried a few including MinimServer[Diskstation] which is running on my Synology NAS and the QNAP HS-210 running Twonky Media Server and within minutes I was presented with all of my music (913 Albums) in Album view. I found that if I tried to access sub menus immediately, the app would automatically go back to the main menu options and I'm assuming this happened because the app was still indexing the library.

Other views include All Tracks, All Artists, Composer, Conductor, Orchestra, [untagged], and [folder view]. These views vary depending on the NAS you connect to or more specifically what NAS server software you use. For example, when connecting to my Western Digital NAS running Twonky, I was also presented with Genre and Playlists options.

I prefer Album view wich is how I typically browse my music when using Apple's Remote App and I found the MiND app to be more responsive than Apple's in terms of refresh rate for displaying album cover art while scrolling through my library. While not instantaneous, album cover art showed up nearly immediately during scrolling. The MiND's Search feature worked very well and super fast, displaying results as you type. Nice.

When playing back music, you can add additional music to your current playlist in a number of ways including Top, Now, Next, and End. Top puts your selection at the top of the Playlist, Now plays it now, Next puts it after the current track, and End sticks it at the end of the current playlist. You can save Playlists by clicking on the Playlist icon and tapping Save which brings up the keyboard so you can name and save it. There's also an Edit option which allows you to remove tracks from the current Playlist.

Since the MiND is DLNA/UPnP compatible, you can also use other third party apps to control playback if you so desire. I briefly used the slick Creation 5 control app (see review) which worked very well with the MiND using DLNA folder browsing. While I do not have an Android device on hand, I've read comments from people who are successfully using the BubbleUPnP UPnP/DLNA app to control their MiND.

MiND Sound
Let's talk about using the MiND as a wired device first since that's how I'd recommend using it. I realize a lot of people do not have an Ethernet connection near their hi-fi but I'd say this is one upgrade that makes a lot of sense. For your main hi-fi system where you'll more than likely want to play back high resolution downloads, a wired connection is a must-have item.

To my way of hearing, the Moon MiND doesn't have much of a sound of its own. When connected to the Auralic Vega via AES/EBU, which was in turn connected to my Pass INT-30A and DeVore Fidelity The Nines, music was presented as I'm used to hearing it through the Vega when connected to my MacBook Pro with the added benefit of an apparently lower noise floor from which music emerged. This was evident in an increased sense of micro detail and more dynamic snap, even at lower volume levels. Music sounded generally more lively and resolute as compared to the MacBook Pro connected to the Vega via USB.

I also ran the MiND in wi-fi mode and resolutions up to 24/88.2 played back without incident. Both 24/176.4 and 24/192 files would play but with dropouts which I find unacceptable. Of course if you have a crappy wi-fi network you'll get dropouts and its literally impossible for me to know what kind of performance the MiND will offer on your wi-fi network since other factors including how much other traffic is chugging along your wi-fi will directly affect performance. If you want guaranteed playback with zero dropouts of up to 24/192 data, run an Ethernet cable. One obvious thing you can do to improve your wi-fi performance is to get a dual-band wi-fi router and reserve one band for audio-only.

In terms of sound quality, A/Bing the wired versus wi-fi was not a quick A/B since you have to reboot the MiND each time you make the switch. That said, I felt the wired connection offered more dynamic contrast as if the noise floor was lower as well as a heightened sense of tone color variation. This could have been in my head as opposed to being in the room but the thing that is certain is the ability to play back up to 24/192 files without dropouts using the wired connection had me preferring it to wi-fi.

Getting back to the sound of the wired Moon MiND, I'd say it offers a very nice, delicate, and forceful musical image with very little apparent noise. Again, as compared to my MacBook Pro, the overall sound image was more brightly lit in a good way when playing music through the MiND and tone colors appeared a bit brighter as well. Everything was more lit up, resolute, and detailed. There was also a very compelling sense of the space of the recording in each dimension which also draws you in closer.

MiND v Touch
In order to do a quick A/B, I left the MiND connected via AES/EBU and added the stock Squeezebox Touch to the Vega's input via Coax. The MiND once again seemed to shine a brighter light on the recording while providing greater apparent low level resolution and more saturated tone colors as compared to the Touch (for reference, used Touch's appear to be selling for $250-$300 on eBay). With the Touch, music sounded slightly more homogenized with a darker overall hue. String instruments had more pluck when called for and there was generally a better sense of dynamic contrasts with the MiND. These differences were readily apparent and more importantly I found that I was more drawn into the music with the MiND. Extended listening to both the Touch and MiND bore this out.

I also connected the MiND to the Vega DAC via Coax and the sonic traits I described above more or less traveled with this output change. I will say that the AES/EBU connection appeared to offer a lower noise floor as micro detail and apparent dynamic contrasts did not appear to be as great via Coax. That said, I'd still give the overall edge to the MiND when compared to the Touch. The MiND's Toslink output came close to the Coax performance but there was a touch less apparent resolution as if the background wasn't as noise free. I also noticed that the AES/EBU connection seemed to impart a greater sense of ease overall. Of course we're also comparing the cables involved so this is not necessarily just a question of the type of connection being used. When all is said and done, if given the choice I'd recommend connecting with the MiND via AES/EBU.

A Simple MiND
The Simaudio Moon MiND is a very well thought out product. The MiND HD app for the iPad in its current incarnation (1.0.2) is a pleasure to use while sonically the MiND offers a very transparent view into your music. When compared to my MacBook Pro and Squeezebox Touch, the MiND proved to be more engaging to listen to over the long haul. For people looking to take their computer out of their computer audio, the Moon MiND should be considered a serious contender.



Associated Equipment

Also on hand and in use during the Moon MiND review; Squeezebox Touch, Auralic Vega

COMMENTS
derneck's picture

Been waiting for your review for months. Now that you reviewed the Sima so favourably, I can finally ban my MacBook from the listening room.

One thing to mention is, I always felt Macbook / Audirvana via USB outperformed my Logitech Transporter via AES/EBU into the same DAC (Metrum HEX). It could have been the cheap Mogami cable too. Either way, I will get a Mind based on your review.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

;-)

Enjoy (and I'd be very interested to hear what you think once you've had some time with your MiND).

Suggs24320's picture

Thanks for the review. Questions about setting up a NAS with the MiND...I currently run iTunes with Pure Music 2.0, on a Mac mini using the Apple Remote app. Will this software work via the Mind? Presumably needs moving onto the NAS? Will the Simaudio app work with the Puremusic software?

plakey's picture

Thanks for this review, I'm looking for a replacement for my SB Touch / CIA Power Supply. I'm wondering how the Moon MiND might respond with better power? I've always eyed the Auraliti in this realm and I see it has an outboard power option. Have you dmoed the Auraliti?

Michael Lavorgna's picture

But I have yet to read someone feeling that a better power supply degrades the sound.

Have you dmoed the Auraliti?

Not yet...

plakey's picture

Thanks! I feel this really is the next interesting thing... the "file streamer". It's a really elegant solution to how to play all the files on a NAS. It is truly like a "transport" for files.

plakey's picture

P.S. I couldn't help but see "The Well Temptered Piano" box on your shelf in the picture. It's very rare to find a fellow La Monte Young fan...

Michael Lavorgna's picture

;-)

Cheers.

Dr.McG44's picture

I have had the Mind(380D DAC with Mind) since late December.  I have yet to have the streaming working for any longer than 5 hours.  When it freezes the unit has to be powered off and on at least three times before the unit is available to stream again.  I have had little reponse from the manufacturer other than it must be the network, must be your server etc.  I have tried the minim and the asset servers and neither have worked.  I have had my network examined and no issues were identified.  I have sent them information that clearly indicates a problem with their firmware as well as their app. No correspondence. 

The DAC is great.  

Streaming however does not work and I would NOT recommend it unless you like to reboot it frequently.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And I definitely listened to it for longer than 5 hours at a time with no problems.

winning's picture

I have a 380D as well and have had no luck staying connected to the DAC/MiND. The streaming is without a doubt tricky to configure. The app freezes and I am forced to shut down and restart the app and turn the DAC off and on in order to light up system. Was a very frustrating experience all in with the troubleshooting it took to learn where the problem lived and that it was actually the software and not my network connectivity or the DAC itself. MiND aside, the DAC is incredible. The software has potential, but needs to be tweaked. Also would be nice if Simaudio would port the software to OSX.

oldominion's picture

Sorry for the slight derail that follows...the MiND looks great, I've always heard great things about Moon products, but this review has raised more questions in my mind than offered answers. I can only hope there are other readers who, like me, feel a bit straightjacketed at worst, simply confused at best, about this rapidly expanding world of digital audio.

Michael writes, "For people looking to take their computer out of their computer audio, the Moon MiND should be considered a serious contender."

I'm firmly in that camp.

(I mentioned in the comments following ML's review of the Bluesound Vault that my SB Touch was starting to act up and that I would (probably) buy a LONG ethernet cable, drill two holes in my floor (one of them through tile, the other through 75 yr old hardwood), remove part of my basement ceiling in order to run the cable from our office computer to our living room where my stereo resides...Anyway, you get the idea. A total PITA. And I've since decided not to do it.)

So I want my computer out of the mix. Still, it appears to me that products like the MiND and an attached NAS would continue to rely on a home computer as the primary conduit through which one might *at the very least* RIP cd's... 

My question: Do products like the MiND presuppose that a consumer is no longer interested in ripping cds to their libraries?

Or does one buy an Apple Super Drive and upload cds to an iPad, then transfer files to the storage, then delete from the iPad...

I'm no luddite and have bought plenty of stuff from HDTracks and the other merchants Michael's mentioned on this incredibly helpful site, in addition to his other blog, Twittering Machines, so have a fairly substantial library of purchased music in my iTunes library.

Still, I've got a quarter-century's worth of cd's that I continue to enjoy.

I guess, in closing, I'm really surprised that the Bluesound Vault is among the minority of network streamers, at least respected ones, that include a drive (Olive, maybe a few others). I love buying files online and recognize the value of this method of purchasing stuff, however I still have 25 years of cds as well...Am I the only one facing this conundrum?

Again, apologies for the derail, and I hope my DigitalAudio 101 questions aren't too basic...

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I rip my CDs directly to my NAS so its a one step process.

Vincent Kars's picture

That is a nice compact box!

(20 should be 200)

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Fixed.

oldominion's picture

a hardwired connection between NAS and computer, correct?

Or can a NAS be ripped to via wifi network then hardwired to player such as Touch?

If not, would it be highly inconvenient to unplug NAS from home stereo, lug it once a week to the home computer, update libraries, tote back to living room, plug back in...?

I know this has been done gone over a hunnert times, but the way my system is set up does not allow for any hardwiring to my home network...Office and living room literally on two opposite ends of house.

As Bob Nastanovich once yelled, "I'm tryin'! I'm tryin'! I'm tryin'!"

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...connects to your router via Ethernet.

Since it is a network device, any network attached computer or network player like the MiND can access its contents whether these devices are connected to your network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Does that make sense?

oldominion's picture

MAkes sense. Thanks. 

Then of course I'm back to my original problems:

1) Increasingly poor (decreasingly?) wifi inside my house, ergo my frustration with the dropouts of the SBTouch.

2) Inability due to home layout of hardwiring anything in my living room.

For now, I'll stick to records!

 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I have not covered these but Google wireless bridge and you'll see what I'm talking about. Basically, they connect to your existing wifi network and allow you to connect devices to them via Ethernet.

deckeda's picture

If you're getting dropouts playing non-hires files (like ripped CDs or other 16/44.1 files) then your wireless network could be improved. In other words, don't sweat lack of Ethernet unless you play hires files; you could just improve your WiFi and be good to go.

Like any radio, WiFi has range and quality issues to address. Environment plays a role. Some of us can get by with a $30 or 10-year old router. Others should probably spend $100 or more for a modern and faster/stronger router because their house, network topology or environment requires it.

Michael's suggestion of extending your WiFi's range by employing a second router is a good one. It's also a good idea to consider your present, main router's capability as well as its physical location.

labjr's picture

I'm a bit confused with streaming myself. Other than convenience, how is it better than connecting a computer to a DAC via USB?  How about some block diagrams?

Thanks

Michael Lavorgna's picture
oldominion's picture

sorry! I've read everything on the site about NAS's and thought I had my head wrapped around them but clearly not. As I understand it, they need to be hardwired via ethernet to the home network, yes? Yes! And thence hardwired to the player, ie Touch or MiND.

Am I in the tiny minority of audio fans who find a lot of the endless combination of ripping vs storage vs playing vs wiring somewhat tiring?

Perhaps yes. However I'd still love to think that a well-priced and well-designed 'one box solution' with ample storage would be the answer to a lot of prayers.

Might that one box be the BS Vault? 

 

 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Since its really meant to centralize a number of functions, as you point out. Once Bluesound adds additional service providers including more music download sites, you'll be able to rip, store, purchase downloads, and stream from Internet sources all from within their app on one device. But the Vault does require an Ethernet connection.

labjr's picture

My understanding of NAS is just another name for a no frills, minimal chipset, linux server with no monitor that you access with a web interface. 

I think they coined the term "NAS" so people don't compare the value or lack of it, with cheapo desktop computers.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I'd say that's a very apt description.

& NAS devices start at under $200 so I'm not sure what your referring to regarding value.

labjr's picture

The inexpensive NAS boxes have features of 15 year old computers. Like 500mhz cpu with 256MB ram. The expensive ones aren't much more powerful.

With FreeNAS, one can repurpose a desktop that's not being used , for virtually nothing, and end up with a much more powerful box that actually has more than one use.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And a tractor doesn't corner as well as a Porsche ;-)

derneck's picture

It's not like it doesn't exist...!

 

http://www.porschetractors.com

deckeda's picture

Am I in the tiny minority of audio fans who find a lot of the endless combination of ripping vs storage vs playing vs wiring somewhat tiring?

I concur that getting a viable topology is what makes or breaks computer-based audio. Not only do we have to deal with sound quality and file formats and storage, but additionally, the interface. Unless the ergonomics of the faceplate were really bad, that's something we never had to worry much about with hardware-based control surfaces.

And that's a big part of the Touch's appeal. While not perfect, it does give you something the MiND and similar boxes don't: an interface on the box. You walk right up to it just like a regular component and begin controlling it.

That's why Michael spilled some virtual ink here discussing how well the iOS app works. Many of these extra-layer-of-abstraction solutions (phone apps) are kludgey.

Be thinking of your computer and related parts as pieces of the stereo, not computer stuff that's used for the stereo as a "side job."

labjr's picture

Another thing I noticed is streaming appears to give up the asynch transfer advantage of USB and clock it to a S/DIF or AES/EBU input of the DAC like a USB to S/PDIF connverter? No?

I feel like If we were doing this all along, adding a computer to use as a player that uses asynch transfer would seem revelatory.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And revelatory!

labjr's picture

"In other words the MiND let's you play back your file-based music without a computer"

So what's in the box, a mouse with a tiny Victrola?

Michael Lavorgna's picture

So what's in the box, a mouse with a tiny Victrola?

You're describing a DAC. The MiND is digital all the way through ;-)

firedog55's picture

I'm very interested in something like this, but one that also plays DSD. I understand Auralic is coming out with a streamer that plays DSD later this year. I think Sonore also makes on that will playback DSD if you encode it to a flac-DoP "shell". 

I'm a bit conservative, but I'd wait a few months to see what else is around. I think by the end of the year this will be a competitve segment with several high-end devices on the market.

labjr's picture

The Auralic should be interesting. It's going to have a USB host output. I wonder how they'll swing that?

derneck's picture

That's most likely how :)

The MiNDer's picture

Michael I would be interested to know whether you were using the currently available version of Simaudios app from iTunes store or whether Simaudio gave you a beta App to use. I have similar issues to Dr.McG44 (and have seen other similar forum comments) in that the MiND unit freezes unless I keep both ipad and app open (which drains the battery fast and the ipad cant be used for anything else). Come out of the app or close the ipad and it freezes. The MiND then has to be rebooted. The MiND replaced another streamer (Cambridge) that worked flawlessly so it is not a network problem. When I use other streaming apps with the MiND  all works OK so everything is pointing at the Simaudio App being the problem?.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...of the MiND app which I downloaded from iTunes. Since I did not experience this problem, one guess is that I may have been using a more recent firmware version but this is only a guess. I will contact Simaudio and see if they can provide some info.

pdxdon's picture

I have owned a MiND for about a year. Occasionally it needs re-booting. It tends to come in clumps and then settle down for a while. I am using the newest app version and firmware.

It could be improved, in my opinion, if it remembered your main library and your preferred search method, and if the tracks were in numerical, rather than alhabetical order.

Over the weekend I auditioned the Auralic Vega (using a Sim 300 D now) and compared going USB in with a computer with the Moon. I slightly preferred the sound using the MiND, but then it could have been down to cables. I too had a Touch before and found it somewhat frustrating to use. The difference was not significant, though.

It works well overall. Whether I keep it depends more on whether I need the money to upgrade my DAC to either the 380D Sim or the Vega, which is a sgnificant improvement.

labjr's picture

I'd be curious to see how well the Auralic Aries product works when it comes out.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

I hope to get one as soon as they are available.

fje00's picture

I have the 380D with the Mind card, and it has been rock solid. Absolutely no issues with freezing. I rip CDs from a windows PC across the network to an WD MyBook 3 TB drive. Also have HDTracks file downloads on there. It's connected Eth ernet to a gigabit switch. Mind also connected ethernet to the same switch.

I control the Mind using the iOS app on an old iPod Touch. I also use my android phone to control it. Any dlna app will work. I use Bubble UPnP.

edit: typo correction. Changed "HD" above to WD for western digital. These are inexpensive NAS like devices. Buy a couple on Amazon. One for backup.

And I've also used the PSAudio dlna app for iOS to control the Mind. Very nice. I found that one when before the Mind I had the M1Clic from Musical Fidelity and was having problems with their control app locking up the M1Clic.

Antonmb's picture

I guess this should serve as a reminder of just how ahead of its time the Squeezebox Touch was. Multiple digital outputs, even USB with the EVO applet; up to 24/192; a user interface on the device AND a variety of apps; internet radio AND streaming services like MOG and Spotify; wifi or Ethernet; multi-device syncing; all for $299. Here we are a year after the Touch was discontinued still wating for as comprehensive a replacement. 

Antonmb's picture

One question not answered in the review, can the MiND play steaming services like Spotify, MOG (now Beats), etc?

fje00's picture

I dont think the Mind can stream from Spotify, etc.  on my 380D w/ Mind I have Sonus Connect on digital coax input to 380D.  The Connect has support for all the streaming services. I use Spotify quite a bit that way for demoing potential music purchases. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...but, from the review:

The MiND also supports gapless playback as well as vTuner Radio. Additional streaming services should be added later this year.

Details as to which streaming services will be added were not available.

bondmanp's picture

One feature of SBT I could not live without is the random play function (random album or songs).  Does the Apple or planned Android app for MiND offer this feature?  Being able to hit a button without creating a playlist and have music start to play is wonderful, and I have been listening more often as a result.  AFAIK, however, the SBT doesn't allow you to save playlists (at least not when used with a Vortexbox server).

Still, $1300, plus the cost of a tablet (I don't have one) for GUI is hardly what I'd call a replacement for the SBT.  An upgrade, perhaps, but not a replacement!

Michael Lavorgna's picture

You can play the contents of the queue in Random order.

Who called the MiND a SBT replacement?

bondmanp's picture

Nobody... but your introduction posed the question.  I attempted an answer. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Good answer.

branon's picture

Why compare this with the squeezebox touch and not with the more contemporary bluesound node?

Did I miss something.

I used to have a squeezebox touch- great little thing but it was not NAS friendly (You had to install an app and had to reindex the files....) and moved to Sonos eventually. 

But yesterday, I installed a pioneer network N50 which I am very happy with (particularly the fact that it has airplay makes it so much more convenient) so far. I was looking at the bluesound node but, the main advantage of the n50 was the built in dac for other sources. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And a lot of people are looking for something to replace it.

Why compare this with the squeezebox touch and not with the more contemporary bluesound node?

I did not have the Bluesound Node here for the majority of the time I was reviewing the MiND. I will certainly compare the MiND to the NODE in my review of the latter.

mschlack's picture

I've been using my Squeezebox Touch with a Windows Server. Can the Mind find the library on that? It's just files on shared drive. Or do you need a standalone NAS?

mentt's picture

Mind or Aries mini with LPS and jitterbug? Price is almost the same. I am planing to us it with Chord Hugo DAC(no AES/EBU input). Which one will have better sound quality?

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