Moonriver 404 = Midrange Magic

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The Moonriver 404 has recently received a running change / upgrade and all I can say is that while the amplifier before was great. With the lowering of the noise floor, increase in dynamics; a lot of micro detail is allowed to shine through the music. Spent the week alternating between the Graham LS6 and the LS5/9 and all I can say is WOW !

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On Afie Jurvanen's fourth Bahamas album - Earthtones (2018) we find the guitarist/songwriter joined by the stunning rhythm section of Pino Palladino and James Gadson. With decades of legendary albums to their individual credit, the bassist and drummer played together on D'Angelo's superb Black Messiah (2014). Jurvanen sought them out due to their work on Black Messiah and wrote much of Earthtones with these particular collaborators in mind. The result dials up the soul and slow-boiling funk while retaining Jurvanen's laid-back demeanor, all to steady, head-bobbing effect. A prime example of this is the slinky “Any Place." The midrange magic is palpable as Alfie Jurvanen sings:

Now my master has no master plan
To see us all through
As they say, the show must go on
Can't keep my public waiting long
Can't live my life inside a song
'Cause every song ends


Jasmine Thompson singing a cover version of Tears For Fears - “Mad World”, a dramatically slower version than the original. Listening to her sing, you forget about the equipment as you get caught up in the lyrics and sucked into the emotion that Ms. Thompson is conveying. It's a sad song, but you feel compelling to follow the lyrics as you get caught up in the story.

What can I say about Lalo Schifffrin’s "Ice Pick Mike" from Bullit (Soundtrack 1968) ? OMG, here is another sonic spectacle delivered with aplomb. If the BBC designs have a fault, it would be of omission, but there are no annoying egregious artifacts. The speakers absolutely disappear and throw a soundstage well outside the cabinets. So are we talking about the amp or the speakers; pretty hard to find fault with this compelling synergy.

Yello’s - "Oh Yeah" - 2009 remaster from Touch (deluxe, 2009) leaves listeners gobsmacked as they struggle to comprehend how the $3½k Graham LS6 can deliver so much bass from a single 6” woofer. The drive is relentless, the sound effects are a blast & the Swiss duo are having a ball ! Great, great fun. We’re having a party, what are you waiting for ?

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Are there more expensive amplifiers that deliver greater bass articulation - undoubtably.
Are there more expensive amplifiers that deliver greater HF extension - of course.
Are there more expensive, more resolute amplifiers out there - indeed.
But do all of those expensive amplifiers deliver the midrange magic that makes our hobby so special ? NO, not at all. Though the Moon River 404 clearly can within its power envelope and the right synergistically matched speakers.

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We are shipping amps out next week across the country and hope you get a chance to check out Moon River’s first remarkable instrument. For example, replace the Graham LS5/9 with a Harbeth Monitor 30 and I don’t doubt that you will have goosebumps. Ask your local dealer about the Moonriver 404, thank you for reading.
Philip

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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I was lucky enough to have been invited to spend yeterday afternoon in Philip's listening room as I knew I was going to be in for a real treat. When Philip gets so starry eyed about a product I always know that he is onto something. In this crazy world and unsettled times compounded by the ever increasing prices of top quality audio gear when Philip announces 2 systems that are so reasonably priced that one has to wonder if his thoughts were accurate. At the end of the afternoon it left me scratching my head to know that there are cartridges alone that sell for more than either of these two systems.

Initially I was excited to hear these systems. As we know Philip is the USA distributor for Graham Audio and over the past several months I have heard 4-5 different models of the Graham Audio speaker and have always left impressed with what I heard. Each time however the speakers were driven with expensive Gryphon or Luxman amps.

In our audio hobby we have seen the constant upsurge in MSRP of all components in our system. With this in mind Philip set out on a quest to find the perfect amplifier to show with 2 of his Graham Audio speakers, the LS6 with an MSRP of $3500 and the LS5/9 with an MSRP of $6800 in cherry or oak finish. After searching the world over Philip found what he considers the perfect mate for either of these speakers. His search ended in Sweden after auditioning the Moonriver 404 which has an MSRP of $3500.You can add a phonostage and DAC for a grand total of another $1200.

I was expecting something really good as I have known Philip for well over 15 years and he never disappoints when he invites me over. Well not only did he meet expectations I was also gobsmacked by the mid range magic of this amplifier paired with with of the 2 speakers. Close your eyes and you would be hard pressed to know that sound was coming from small book shelf speakers produced by an amplifier from Sweden with an MSRP of $3500.

Philip wasn't dreaming when he found himself pinching himself with this combination as I was too. Granted these little speaker lacked the lower register of larger speakers, the overall sound was truly terrific and the music he played I was quite familiar with as the songs all came from Philip's most recent demo disk 22 of which I have a copy.

As Philip said the mid range was lush. I sat for several hours and the only time I moved was helping Philip switch from the LS 5/9 to the LS 6

Either of these 2 systems would be something anyone would be happy to own as the sound I heard made me wonder how such small speakers out throw such a big sound stage and sound so good. These were truly mid range magic

Thank you Philip for the invitation and for lighting up my ears with this system.At a time when components are increasingly rising in price it was sobering to hear a system such as this for $7K-$10K.
 

XV-1

Well-Known Member
May 24, 2010
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Always great to see a preamp or preamp stage that has a tape monitor loop. Makes for easy insertion of eq when needed and back to purity of signal when not needed.
 
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The remote control for the 404. BTW, the power button does not work on this model. But the input selector, volume control & mute are all operational.
Its a simple remote that works well. Uses 2 x AAA batteries.
 
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Remote Control Clarification.
The power button engages the Tape Monitor in or out of the circuit.
Sorry for the confusion.
 

Folsom

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Oct 26, 2015
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Sounds nice but pretty moronic to use "404" as the name.
 
Why do you say so Folsom ? Care to enlighten us ?
Thanks
 

Folsom

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Oct 26, 2015
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Because it gives the impression of some weird thing about something missing. Everyone has seen this a lot. It's the synonymous missing page error.

 
Folsom,
You are correct but MoonRiver will continue with this nomenclature for the foreseeable future. Next product in the pipeline is the 505 phono stage, see the photo below. External phono stage; tube input stage, four inputs. Approx. $3,000 retail, expected in approx. two months time.

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Because it gives the impression of some weird thing about something missing. Everyone has seen this a lot. It's the synonymous missing page error.


Angel Number 404 Meaning

Folsom
Here is a different meaning for 404 that I was unaware of:

With a message of happiness and celebration, angel number 404 is here to help you remember that you are surrounded by souls and angels who adore you and the work that you have done to create a better future for yourself.

Everyone understands that hardships come. But the number 404 admires your effort and patience in riding out the storms so that you can enjoy all of the great things that are also headed your way. The sacred angels are very proud of your work and effort.

Read more here.

Cheers
Philip

P.S. Thanks, I learned two pieces of trivia today about 404.
 
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Folsom

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All I'm going to say is it's a good thing it's a nice product.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
All I'm going to say is it's a good thing it's a nice product.

You have to hear this $3500 amp to understand that it is an excellent product
 
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The optional internal MC/MM phono stage module in the 404 was recently upgraded with little fanfare. Though they still have crowds of people out on the streets at night in Sweden, no social distancing or Lockdown in place. I hope it works out for them; I guess history will be the final arbiter of whether that was a smart move or not. Back to MoonRiver: no press release, no hoopla, just a quiet running change. No $$ price increase. $550 I think.

1. Gain for the MC stage has been increased from 40dB to 60dB
2. Cartridge loading was originally set at the factory at 100Ω with resistors soldered in place, but MoonRiver has since changed to deep sockets to allow for resistors to be inserted into the sockets, without any tools or soldering. I inserted blue 400Ω Vishay metal film resistors in the photo above.

Playing my 1979 Luxman PD-444 yesterday with an Abis tonearm and a Miyajima Zero mono cartridge, listening to the MoFi reissue of Frank Sinatra's "Sings for Only The Lonely" (mono) OMG; OMG, Frank was in the family room; large & lifelike. His voice palpable & immediate, with a rich, warm texture. The Nelson Riddle orchestra was in great form. The orchestration was superb and benefited from the extra microphones used in the recording. The mono Capitol recording used a dozen microphones, while the stereo used two. This has always been one of my go-to records and it did not disappoint. The 404 was driving the Graham LS5/9 monitors perched on Gig Harbor Audio steel frame stands. Great stuff.
 
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MoonRiver_Mission_small.jpg

I thought it was a nice touch to print The Mission Statement onto the 404 motherboard.
 

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