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Article: SOtM sMS-1000 Audiophile Music Server Review

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How is this different from a Sonore device, other than the case work obviously?<br />

<br />

Second, I wish Peachtree would find a way to get their Grand Pre USB input working with Linux...


“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius

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Hi One and a half - Now that the newest versions of MPD support DSD I'm willing to bet the sMS-1000 will support it eventually.<br />

<br />

 <br />

<br />

<i>"...but no DSD is a show stopper."</i><br />

<br />

I'm curious why lack of DSD is a show stopper for you. How many DSD titles do you own and how many do you expect to own in the next few years? Also, have you heard many pure DSD titles via USB DACs? These are serious questions. I'm truly interested in your opinion on this.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Edited by The Computer Audiophile
Testing

Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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if you don't mind I would like to answer your question. Also, I rather not compare the two products and instead focus on some of the features of the SOtM Music Server series. <br />

<br />

The internal power supply / power filter / power distribution board is an SOtM design manufactured specifically for the SOtM Music Server series.<br />

<br />

Chris' review unit is a USB version of the SOtM Music Server series and it uses SOtM's very popular tX-USB PCI to USB adapter. The tX-USB adapter is available to everyone and is utilized as-is. Thanks for sharing SOtM! Anyway, the analog and digital versions of the SOtM Music Server series are based on custom SOtM designs made specifically for the server series. My point is that the SOtM server is not just a combination of parts from a catalog. <br />

<br />

In order to achieve a design goal for the server to have a slick hidden optical drive SOtM designed and manufactured a custom optical drive interface.<br />

<br />

The series also has a design feature to isolate the mother board from the audio boards (usb, analog or digital). <br />

<br />

In regards to PeachTree and lack of support for the Grand Pre USB: It's a shame that some companies continue to use USB interfaces that require special drivers and that the special drivers are not made for Linux:) I think this will change though as a recent Linux hold out has shifted gears. The situtation with PeachTree is also complex because some of their USB inputs are supported. Please ask if your not sure about support. I have been working on a compatibility list for quick reference http://info.vortexbox.org/tiki-index.php?page=Compatibility+Guide <br />

<br />

Jesus R

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What affiliation do both of the devices have with Simple Design?<br />

<br />

The Sonore with SOtM USB output is the same price as the SOtM SMS-1000 with identical USB output. Is the SMS-1000 the new Sonore or are they two separate devices?


“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius

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let me explain about DSD so we are all on the same page! I can enable DSD playback in five minutes. There are two version of MPD that can make this possible. One version is a modified MPD developed by Jurgen K. who is a member of this forum. The code works really well and that would be good enough, but good enough is not best! What is best is that MPD supports DSD officially. To that end I have been working with MPD and Jurgen K. and others on the development mailing list to add official DSD support to MPD. This code will be available to ALL Linux users as there projects become updated. This is part of the real work that happens behind the scenes and the part about Linux that few people understand. That is a topic for a post I have planned for another day though. MPD has been adding DSD support for some time now. The initial support was code I made available for DSD to PCM conversion. This work started before all the fun came about with native playback. The current repository version of MPD with a patch made available from Jurgen K. adds support for DSD DoP V1 standard. It's a work in progress, but it's working. FYI Vortexbox has had DSD to PCM support for some time now and a few weeks ago we added support for the DSD pre DoP V1 standard. The DSD DoP V1 standard will be added to all Vorexbox projects when it's ready. It's not a show stopper...it's a show delay and all you will need to do to get it on Vortexbox (when it's ready) is press the upgrade button from the gui:)<br />

<br />

Jesus R

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Thanks to Jesus for elaborating on development for DSD playback on the Linux platform. After some tinkering with Linux, all was good with FLAC native until it came to playing DSD and then it fell into a hole. <br />

<br />

Without derailing the thread too much, the distro I installed for Ubuntu studio allowed the use of a low latency kernel, whereas newer distros (11+) worked with HQ player, however natively the OS didn't support low latency kernel, although you could add this feature from an older version. If there is some debate about low latency kernels, well, why not use them, and make them tuned for the OS. The kernel is critical for recording and mastering purposes, so why not use this feature for playback. I could have installed Ubuntu, but that OS has so much thrown in, I didn't need 90% of the installed apps, which would have taken ages to uninstall. I'm not a Linux guru, so would have to look up and research, it all takes time and takes the gloss of enjoying music. <br />

That got all too hard, and no player other than HQplayer could play or convert DSD to PCM on Linux, so I ended up on the MAC with Audirvana +, which 'works'.<br />

I find it very encouraging that people are working on a DSD solution that can play DSD to either a capable DAC or PCM only for Linux. For appliance makers such as Auraliti, Stom this is good news, but it’s not available, now. <br />

<br />

@Chris<br />

I own 5 DSD albums, 65 .dff files purchased from Blue Coast and Channel Classics, 51 .dsf files which were redbook converted to DSD with Sony DSD Direct. The aim of Redbook to DSD conversion was a) to see if it worked, b) The sound c) library management (covers etc). It works for all three, but the sound goes through too many conversions without a DSD capable DAC.<br />

<br />

Even though I don't have a native USB DSD DAC, there are only a handful of them at the moment and as a consumer, that is not enough choice, and with ever decreasing brick and mortar hi-fi stores, auditioning is not going to happen soon. Finally agreement between hardware and software has recently being achieved with DoP, so that's a big deal for DSD. Placing bets on $2000 equipment is not in my nature, but positives for equipment such as Playback Designs, is. Agreed, that the sOTM player *could* play DSD since it runs on MPD, but at the moment, for this review, it *doesn’t*. I would not be prepared to put money on a might be, that’s why it’s a show stopper. At this point in time, if a DAC can’t decode a DSD stream while maintaining a backward compatibility with Redbook, it’s not covering all bases, the same would go for players, appliance or software only.<br />

<br />

There is a marked difference between DSD -> PCM than buying say a 96/24 PCM version of the same material. I bought the Christie Winn album in .dff and .flac from Blue Coast and the winner by a clear margin is for DSD native. You become hooked on the songs themselves, and the bonus of high quality playback even with a PCM conversion is a great icing on the cake. So the quantity of tracks in DSD doesn't have any bearing, it's the quality of sound that's important, and to date is rarely found on PCM issued material, although often hyped as such. If the files play great on DSD ? PCM conversion, I would expect DSD ? DSD DAC would be even better! <br />

<br />

The other issue is standardisation. To date, PCM hires files are available in so many sample rates, I have bought far too many DACs/converters to keep up with the changing availability of hires output. 96/24 was an achievable rate with modest equipment, then 176, 192, now talk of 358/24. Come on! Development in PCM is still ongoing to achieve what DSD can achieve with a simpler comparable technology from the 90's.<br />

<br />

The only audio standard that's remained the same is DSD and Redbook and both items come from Sony & Philips. One of the difficulties faced by DSD acceptance that would stop it gaining. is the owner of the technology Philips and Sony, the latter fallen on hard times of their own making. Commercially Sony may stop supporting DSD technology tomorrow, (they are shedding 10,000 jobs atm), which is a shame, but understandable considering other stuff ups along the way, like Betamax, Mini-Disc, Memory Stick just to name a few, hardly surprising. So if that's the case, with limited support in the future, we may as well be listening in PCM after all and live with a compromise with 'that's about the best we can get and good enough will have to do'.<br />

<br />

I for one, do not want to be part of that mire or mediocrity, worthwhile excellent sound reproduction is doable and with current technology in software achievable for all to enjoy. If it can be played on Linux, I would be all ears :) <br />


AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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did you flip sides on me with your last post:) <br />

<br />

What you tried before with Ubuntu is different compared to the DSD solution for MPD. <br />

<br />

You said, "At this point in time, if a DAC can’t decode a DSD stream while maintaining a backward compatibility with Redbook, it’s not covering all bases, the same would go for players, appliance or software only." This is an extreme point of view and IMHO it's premature to say this for a format that has just come around to computer audiophiles. It also sounds like your trying to future proof products in an industry that is consumer driven into constant change....good luck with that. <br />

<br />

You can compare native DSD to DSD2PCM converted and I would expect them to sound different. However, if you don't have a DSD DAC then DSD2PCM is a really great option. As much as I'm supporting the native DSD playback idea I'm not turning my back on those with PCM input....stayed tuned:) <br />

<br />

If you have a DSD DAC and you need DSD playback I can work with you. However, no sale of an SOtM server can be contingent on DSD support until it's an officially supported format. <br />

<br />

Jesus R

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Guest Caner

Will there be any plans to implement a thunderbolt interface in the future?<br />

<br />

I have no plans to upgrade my current system as it has been extensively revised very recently. Still I am very exicted about the possible prospects of thunderbolt interface use both in D/A Convertera as well as music servers (although I do not know if that would bring any advantage to current designs really).<br />

<br />

Thx<br />

<br />

Caner

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SOtM and Simple Design are independent companies. I own Simple Design along with Adrian L. and we have no ownership in SOtM. The server projects are independent with Sonore being my own fun project. <br />

<br />

Regarding the Peachtree Grand Pre consider that SOtM makes an analog and digital version of the server..<br />

<br />

Jesus R

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think about the evolution of USB Audio. USB products came to market with 16/44.1 capabilities, then 24/96, then 24/192, then 32/384 and now DSD64. There is more though...DSD128 and so on. Thunderbolt has a long way to catch up and only time will tell if it's even needed. If it is needed the Vortexbox project will look into it and see what is possible. However, it's up to the Authorized Builder to implement it. <br />

<br />

The focus right now for SOtM is to develop a PCI-E version of the tX-USB card. Update: tX-USBexp ES prototype is work and undergoing tests...samples to follow...<br />

<br />

Jesus R

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Team, this morning Vortexbox has been updated to allow DSD beta testing. This update brings in the latest MPD code along with a patch by Jurgen K. that adds DSF support to the existing DFF support. Go to the Vortexbox web GUI and upgrade your unit. Then contact me so I can help you set it up...<br />

<br />

Jesus R

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I managed to find a user manual for the SOtM. It’s an Atom based server with free software and a pretty enclosure, an enclosure you can probably buy for a couple of hundred dollars. Am I the only one who thinks selling maybe 5 or 6 hundred dollars’ worth of functionality for 3k is wildly overpriced?

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First, it doesn't really cost 3K - your exaggeration.<br />

Second, it has specialized hardware and software setup for audiophile grade sound that you won't find on any off the shelf unit, and probably not on one you build yourself. Yes the basic OS is free, the specific implementation is a variation for the SOTM. You absolutely will not be able to build the same functionality and level of performance for $500-$600.<br />

<br />

Is it worth the price? 10 people, maybe 10 different answers. That is an entirely different question to the question of how good it sounds or how good it looks, and what that is worth. To you, obviously not much. To others, the looks for instance, might be worth quite a bit. Ever hear of WAF?


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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You didn't include the SOtM USB output board, power filters, clock upgrades, etc., etc.- all of which are directly responsible for the quality of the sound.


Tidal Audio Agoria Loudspeakers; VAC Master preamp; Merrill Audio Christine preamp, Jens Phono Preamp & Veritas Monoblocks; Bricasti M12 Source Controller, M1SE DAC & M28 Monoblocks; Spiral Groove SG-2 TT with Centroid Arm & Ortofon MC Anna Cartridge; Tape Project/Technics RS1500 reel-reel with Bottlehead Tube Repro Pre; Sonore Signature RenduSE network player; Ansuz & Synergistic Research cables; Symposium Isis racks & rollerblocks

INDUSTRY AFFILIATION: Dealer- XtremeFidelity.net (VAC,  Bricasti, Merrill Audio,  Sonore, Aavik, Ansuz, MG Audio Design, Synergistic Research & others)

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<i>The focus right now for SOtM is to develop a PCI-E version of the tX-USB card. Update: tX-USBexp ES prototype is work and undergoing tests...samples to follow...</i><br />

<br />

any chance sotm would make a mini-pci or mini-pcie version of this card? would be great for those of us who use headless boards, e.g. alix.

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i have several questions i think i am pretty knowledgeable but some of what you and others write about really confuses me.<br />

my old(very old in terms of my pc)system consists of hp windowsmediacenter xp with realtech hd soundcard and a spdif digital out coaxial cable connected to yamaha rxv2500 avr and highest priced(at the time) cambridgesoundworks tower speakers w/powered subwoofers and remainding 5 speakers higher priced cambridges,for analogue 7.1 reproduction for my collection sacd's dvdaudios i use yamaha dvd-audio sacd dvd changer and outlaw icbm-1 bass manager<br />

4 yrs ago i ripped my 600+ collection to first widowsmediacenter&player in wmlossless AND to mediamonkey in flac including my dvdaudio discs using dvdaudioextractor(thanks to [email protected] ca!)- took me all winter the reproduction was verygood not as good as nativediscs via yamaha changer-alas i lost all of it when the pc crashed as did my maxtor onetouch4 external backup failed also<br />

question#1-this SOtM does it store the music on its own harddrive or a<br />

pc?<br />

question#2-if stored on the pc does the pc's sound card have any function or does the music bypass it on its way to SOtM and is it an absolute necessity to have external dac before music gets to the avr and IT"S dacs(burrbrown 192kHz/24 bit)<br />

question#3- if yes to above and i need a pc soundcard in my new pc what do you recommend and if i need an external dac i cant possibly afford the berkeley stuff above would i be satisfied with the halide design dac hd- will i get the same goose bumps listening to jim morrison and the end as you did if i use the halide dac?<br />

question#4- i will never ever rerip those cds AGAIN except for the sacds and dvdaudio discs-do you recommend any ripping sevices ie musicshifter,pickledproductions etc who is best most highly recommended?<br />

question#4 why do you need playback software ie jriver or mediamonkey(doesnt the SOtM do that) if you use them and have a ripping service rip,load and megadata your discs will using jriver or mm corrupt the megadata or replace it with their own?<br />

question#5-having asked all this should i just say the hell with it and buy a meridian sooloos mc200 and have the highend store rip/load it for me? and will i still need an external dac with the sooloo?( my cfo willnot approve she'll just say listen to pandora&sirius the hell with your cd collection)<br />

thankyou for your time and i hope you(chris) or someone else assist me i just cant seem to get feel for what is needed or not needed.

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1. It has it's own HD or HDs. It's a server, not a streamer.<br />

<br />

2. there are 3 models: one with USB out to a USB DAC, another with various digital outs (not USB) to those who don't want or can't work with a USB DAC; a third model with a DAC built in and analogue outs -Just like a typical preamp or soundcard.<br />

<br />

3) You Don't need a soundcard for this - that's part of the point. For models one and two above you need a DAC with a suitable input, and the analogue outs of the DAC plug into your audio system (preamp or integrated amp for most users, or in your case your AVR). Since the third model has a built in DAC, it connects via standard stereo interconnect cables to your audio system (pre or integrated or line in on your AVR).<br />

<br />

The idea of this is that it IS the "PC" - a specialized one optimized for music playback only and is an audiophile level PC, unlike any typical PC and soundcard. In other words, if you have this, you don't use a "regular" PC for quality music playback through your sound system.<br />

<br />

4) Not sure what you are asking. This server doesn't have it's own keyboard or monitor. Genrally the idea is that you operate it with smartphone, tablet, Squeezebox, etc. So you need some kind of playback software. <br />

<br />

Megadata - most rippers can be set up to do the megadata as you like, but in all cases you will have to do some editing of the megadata afterwards with a megadata editing tool like mp3Tag to get it just the way you want it. I don't know of ripping services that are separate from a service you get when buying expensive hardware. If you find one it will probably be quite costly. <br />

<br />

5)The Sooloos mc200 is certainly a good option. I'm not sure it is really easier to operate than the SoTM server, as it also needs something like an iPad to operate it. My understanding is that the Sooloos MC200 has analogue outs and you can connect it directly to your sound system if you wish. (BTW, the Sooloos control 15 is another story, though, and may be the most user system friendly system out there.) <br />

<br />

If your store will rip your discs for you that is certainly a consideration. But again, you will find that some metadata needs to be edited afterwards. No automatic system will write the metadata perfectly for you (in some cases the data on the disc itself is wrong or inconsistent). <br />

<br />

If you are using computer audio, you MUST back up you files. Shit happens, and if you don't have backup you may lose your rips again.<br />


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Nice review and a nice looking unit but I was a little confused about the relationships between the different companies here - Sonore, Simple Design, is SOtM a company?... it's hard to work out who makes what!<br />

<br />

I have recently been talking to a user of the MPaD app who was having trouble getting it to show cover art. Turns out it wasn't fully configured - it required a configuration such that the server was serving the cover art via a separate HTTP server. I found the answer on the CA forums -> http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Auraliti-and-MPaD-Cover-Art


 

bliss - fully automated music organizer. Read the music library management blog.

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SoTM - korean company<br />

simple design - see sonore.us; a US seller of Computer Audio hardware, and designer of their own line of servers and DACs under the Sonore brand.<br />

<br />

I think I said this right, Jesus or Chris can correct me if I'm wrong.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Good review, Chris, as always.<br />

<br />

You used the USB version of this product, which makes sense because you have the hot Berkeley USB converter. But it seems to me that although there is an ever-growing number of USB enabled DACs, most of them don't do such a good job with the interface and generally sound better through S/PDIF or AES/EBU -- at least that's what I'm reading. So you end up having to use an expensive USB converter. I would like to know if the USB version of the SOtM sMS-1000 is clearly better than the version with the S/PDIF and AES outputs. If you used that latter version directly into the BADA DAC, how would it compare to using the USB version via the converter? <br />

<br />

Dan


Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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<i>why can't you use the 1d board with the SOtM tX-USB pci card? We get a lot of requests for pic-e, but I can't see needing a mini pic-e or mini pci...<i><br />

<br />

maybe i'm in the minority, then. i have a preference for the smaller, headless boards.

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