Moon Audio – Capital AudioFest 2014

Drew Baird’s Moon Audio produces a solid a selection of custom cables, but what he brings to an audio show is so much more. Being a online retailer at a meet allows for Drew’s table to be unusually diverse in its presentation. Setups range from the practical portables to fantastical flights of fancy.

Pictured above is Drew’s 300B Cary amp which was originally intended for loudspeaker use, but has since been lovingly adopted by a head fi crowd yearning for a tube sound done well. The output from this setup on display was as accomplished as the deep blue custom paint job that graces the exterior (the picture here hardly does it justice). Sitting next to the Cary was the recently released Grace M920 DAC/Amp combo ($2,200) that looks to challenge (or channel?) the popularity of the Benchmark series of similar products. Alongside a host of popular headphones, one could also find a few elusive pairs of the new Grado “E series” (including the RS-1e above) making introductions.

The second half of the Moon Audio table housed a portable powerhouse section, including Centrance, CypherLabs, and Astell and Kern. Pictured in the lower right you can even find the new foldable V-Moda on-ear headphone called the “XS”. According to the company website, the new V-Moda includes memory foam ear pads and a “400mm M-Class Dual Diaphragm”, where “M” stands for a “modern audiophile” sound signature.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises on Drew’s table was the BMC PureDAC ($1,800). I’ve seen this DAC before pulling digital duties for loudspeaker setups, but this was the first time I had seen one close up in a personal audio meet. So why all the hubbub? Headphone application definitely doesn’t look like an afterthought. Not only does the DAC include both a lovely 4- pin balanced XLR and SE output, but the entire right side of the faceplate is designated for headphone responsibility with its own dedicated volume control and mute button. While the full-size component won’t collaborate with desktop space the way the Benchmark or Grace may, from what I heard on the show floor the sound was very competitive to some of the best in this price range.

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