I want to congratulate you for your professionalism and your dedication to audio. I am an audio enthusiast, but far from being an expert like you.
I saw your two reviews of preamps: the Anthem STR Preamplifier and the Simaudio Moon 390. I would like to ask you which of these two you would recommend for me. I only listen to music in a 2.1-channel system, using Tidal through a Bluesound Node. I have a pair of MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL X speakers and a subwoofer from the same brand: the Dynamo 1600X.
I live in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and here there are very few audition rooms, and many brands are not available. It’s very difficult to carry out comparison tests between different brands or models; I imagine it’s a similar situation for a certain percentage of your readers.
In my case, my purchasing decision must be certain. I have to import the preamplifier, so there is no possibility to return it if I’m not happy with it. I thank you again for your advice—it’s very valuable to me.
I thank you in advance for your comment.
The answer to your question is quite easy for me: Get the Anthem STR.
The main differences between the two preamps are a built-in network streamer on the 390, which the STR lacks, and full bass management and room correction (Anthem ARC) on the STR, which the 390 lacks. Since you have a sub and a capable network streamer (your Bluesound Node), you would gain no benefit from the 390’s built-in streamer, but would greatly benefit from the STR’s bass management and room EQ.
If you were to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the two preamps in terms of sound quality—that is to say, without room correction or bass management—in a blind, level-matched test, you would likely hear no difference. Both preamps are competently designed, low-noise, low-distortion audio devices. And even if you were to detect a very subtle audible difference in favor of the 390, this difference would be dwarfed by the sonic benefits of the Anthem’s bass management and ARC room correction.
In your situation, it’s a no brainer—buy the Anthem STR and enjoy.
Let me know what you end up with, and your impressions.