America’s Moon Audio is located in Cary, North Carolina in proximity to North Carolina’s famous research triangle. Living in and around the sophisticated vibes created by some of America’s top tier universities has rubbed off on Moon Audio’s diverse approach to high end audio. There are many ways you might have already run across Moon Audio’s expertise: a trusted retailer of top personal audio brands, perhaps, but probably most likely as a manufacturer of an entire portfolio of stereo and headphone cabling solutions. Since 2003 Moon Audio’s kingpin Drew Baird has set his company apart from the herd with dedication to sharing their extensive expertise and pushing customer audio experiences into a higher plane one individual at a time.
My recent experience with Moon Audio was established by reviewing a ‘full loom’ of their interconnects, power cords and stereo cables for use in my analogue based stereo chain. Consultation is a key aspect of the Moon Audio experience and given my current stable of humble gear (Clearaudio Maestro Ebony V2 cartridge, VPI Prime turntable, Fosgate Signature Phono Stage and Luxman LX-380, integrated for those interested), Drew personally recommended his Black Dragon line in order to complement the inviting tube driven sound my rig offers. Drew’s goal for this full loom review was to demonstrate what the Black Dragon cable line could do to enhance and focus a more tube-oriented audio experience. However, if you find yourself a digital buff or prize a different set of signature sonic attributes make no mistake that Moon Audio has you covered. Drew’s capable team has developed several lines of cabling solutions and can help you select between their Silver Dragon and Blue Dragon lineup depending on your preferences, goals and cabling budget.
In the cabling world Moon Audio is best known for the signature Silver Dragon line, but it would be a mistake to think of the Black Dragon series as a step down or perhaps second fiddle. The Black Dragon lineup was conceived specifically to fill repeated demand verbalised by returning Moon Audio customers for a slightly warmer presentation than could be achieved with the silver material-based Silver Dragon. The Black Dragon was born in essence to tread the tightrope of a finely detailed performance associated with Silver Dragon while adding a more inviting smoother presentation. The customised loom of Black Dragon cables Moon Audio prepared for my system included two sets of Black Dragon interconnects with RCA terminations, two sets of V1 bi-wire speaker cables with banana plugs and two V1 Black Dragon power cords. All the cables shipped to me were given a few hours of preliminary burn-in at the factory (Moon Audio recommends at least 40 hours of play before they can reach their full potential) and arrived to me neatly packaged and well-labeled.
The Black Dragon interconnect starts at $250 for a 1.5’ pair which is by no means ‘throw away’ money. Mr. Baird asserts that interconnects can provide the most bang for the buck in any system, so I elected to start my audition there. A $250 Black Dragon interconnect investment will buy you a completely pure low crystalline structure copper-based design, 99.9998% pure if you really feel like splitting hairs. The interconnect design is based around a new special stranded geometry containing four 21.5AWG gauge conductors. The new stranded geometry is a key upgrade to keep out unwanted noise interference over a solid copper core-based design found in Moon Audio’s Blue Dragon. The Black Dragon interconnect is then shielded with one foil shield and one complete multidirectional braided wire shield. Moving outward to the edge of the cable you will find the interconnect is Teflon coated, covered in a protective layer of Techflex and then fitted with a highly regarded Cardas copper based WBT NextGen RCA connectors. When the two Black Dragon interconnects were inserted between my turntable and phono stage and then again from the phono stage to the integrated, my first impression was something along the lines of ‘good God, this is a dead quiet cable!’. This initial impression of the Moon Audio cable held true over time and, after spending several weeks with the BD interconnect, I found the quieter background to be its most winning attribute.
The Black Dragon power cords which list at $400 per cord were next in the spotlight. The BD power cords are comprised of four 11 AWG stranded high purity slow drawn copper conductors. The BD power cords also have a newly designed quad-star geometry driving at a reduced noise infiltration. Inside the power cord there are two strands for the positive and two for the negative resulting in a total sized per signal polarity of 8 AWG. Again, similar to the BD interconnects, the power cord wraps the individual conductors in a Teflon tape to reduce thickness size and reduce dielectric value. The four wrapped conductors are next curled together and receive another Teflon tape wrap. The male and female outlets used are high quality three-pronged, Alpha Copper Furutech FI-11M with 24 karat gold plating and can support a 15amp and 20amp rating. Moon Audio’s materials-focused engineering for the BD power cords was by a good margin the highlight of the experience and really knocked my socks off across all my tests. As an illustration of the experience I would point you to Dave Mason’s criminally under-rated rendition of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ from his 1974 self-titled Columbia release. Playing this track without the BD power cord and then soon after with the power cords installed was the difference of taking a wet rag and cutting through caked sludge on a dirty window to see the light streaming in. Virtually all background noise was whisked away and it was as if the bass guitar, the drum kit and of course Mason’s talking guitar took another giant step out of mix into my listening room. Up and down my LP collection the Black Dragon power cords allowed players to hint a new angle in their respective performances and seemed to allow instruments and vocals to strengthen at the core and boil down to their very essence.
While still marveling at the visceral impact of the power cords on my system I last added the Black Dragon speaker cables to round out the audition. My pair was the internally bi-wired variety featuring two 6 AWG terminations on the amp end and four 11 AWG terminations on the speaker end and will run you $520 for a 6’ long pair. My requested terminations were Furutech rhodium locking banana plugs, but Moon Audio is perhaps even more fond of terminating the speaker cables with Cardas CCMS silver plated billet copper spades. The copper Black Dragon speaker cables–possibly even more so than the interconnects and power cables–are positioned to compliment the Silver Dragon line with their tonal vibrancy. Moon’s careful selection and results-based approval of copper in this application was not taken lightly and was only made possible by focusing again on a new special stranding geometry and ratios of four 11 AWG conductors.
With Moon Audio’s full loom plugged into my system and working as a unit, the sonic improvement was undeniable and quite head-turning. Each component cable of the loom presented its own distinct sonic advantages and disadvantages but in the physical world all cables were stylish to look at, well-constructed and extremely easy to manipulate and get into the right place behind a heavy credenza nestled tight up again a wall, thank goodness! While billed as a warmer sounding set of cables my ears gave me the lasting impression that the Black Dragon loom still favored more of an analytical presentation. My experience was that the Black Dragon loom helped corral my tube-based system’s warmth, added organising and detail to my soundstage, and never let my already warm system sound run off into any undue romantic interpretations of the music. Cabling is a personal journey though, and each will have to wade through the pros and cons of any interconnect, power or speaker cable selection on their own. The real slam dunk here is the value Black Dragon presents. The Black Dragon series is extremely well priced for the level of engineering, material selections and sonic benefits you receive in return. You could most certainly spend gobs more money than the Black Dragon on other cabling and probably would be able to bring your goals into better focus, but at quite a bit more cost. Moon Audio’s Black Dragon has illustrated to me that this cabling line now exactly marks where price and performance intersect and where the law of diminishing returns begins.
Type: Premium-class copper power, interconnect and speaker cables. Offered in various lengths.
Available power cord lengths: 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12-foot lengths
Available interconnect lengths: 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9,10.5, 12-foot lengths
Available Speaker cord lengths: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, or 16-foot lengths
Power Cord Pricing: Starts at $400 US
Interconnect Pricing: Starts at $250 US
Speaker Cord Pricing: Starts at $480 US
Note: Although Moon Audio is a US-based firm it routinely arranges sales and shipments to the UK and to Europe. Contact Moon Audio for details.
Manufacturer: Moon Audio
1157 Executive Cir. Suite 101, Cary, NC 27511 USA
Tel.: +1 (919) 649-5018