SOTM AUDIO SMS-200 NETWORK PLAYER REVIEW

By now the Korean audio brand SOtM needs no introduction. They've established themselves on the market with cleverly designed products, that are frequently updated and bring a lot of sonic bang for the buck.

I've had a chance to play around with quite a few of their audio products and each on their own are feature packed as well of more than standard sonic value.

So what's interesting about the SOtM sMS-200? Well, first and foremost this is a Roon Ready network player, that incorporates SOtM own propriety ‘Media Player Board’ technology. In the era where Roon is taking (or already took over) the world of digital audio world sMS-200 closely supports it along with other duties formidable duties:

- DLNA renderer
- Music Player Daemon(MPD)
- Logitech Media Server(LMS)
- Squeezelite
- HQplayer
- Shairport

Network players seem to slowly, but surely penetrating the digital audio market. Some of the manufacturers, like MSB Technology, for example, are implementing the (network) renderer option directly into the DAC, which brings even better synergy and compatibility.
SOtM sMS-200 won't exactly "unload" the processor power from the computer, but it connects to the dedicated audio computer (or music server) via ethernet and from there transfers the digital signal to USB. This shortens the USB cable digital path to a minimum, as sMS-200 can be placed much closer to the DAC.

THE SOTM WAY


"The significance of sMS-200 comes from the dedicated ARM processor board developed for only audio purpose, it is definitely not the similar kind of those ready-made processor boards on the market offered with dazzling low price but not that much of high sound quality, of which the most of the audio product manufacturers experience deterioration of sound and are forced to use unnecessary features from the ready-made boards, but now it’s gone with the sMS-200."
What sets SOtM sMS-200 apart is its dedicated purpose. sMS-200 was built from the ground up as strictly audio oriented device. In that way, it can be optimised for the audio sound performance and works in absence of all the unneeded features.


"sMS-200 is particularly designed to provide the best sound quality based on our own unique technologies accumulated to date since those days of media players, and it is probably the only one capable product exceeding the current network players on the market in terms of functionalities."

OPERATIONAL 


SOtM sMS-200 offer plethora of features like Roon Ready, MPD, DLNA, SqueezeLite and others are available. It can be connected with the external USB storage device, that serves audio files, see the network shared folders and work seamlessly with the digital services like Roon and more functions can be easily added via a software upgrade.

Audio features:

  PCM 32bit/768KHz max, DSDx512 max
  Ultra Low Jitter Clock
  Ultra Low Noise Regulator
  Active Noise Canceller


1. Power supply connector
2. USB High-End audio grade USB port: Connect to USB audio device.
3. USB 2.0 - connects the USB storage device.
4. microSD card connector: The micro SD card with OS is loaded 
5. LAN Connector for the network cable.
6. Reset switch: Full OS reset. 

There are few different ways in how SOtM sMS-200 provides the music material. Digital audio files can be either stored on the computer, shared storage device or come from the digital streaming service like Tidal (through the Roon). 


The setup of SOtM sMS-200 was a breeze. It was a matter of connecting the ethernet cable, power supply jack and USB cable to my MSB Technology Select II DAC. Being a great fan of Roon, I've enabled it through the Eunhasu web interface and sMS-200 instantly appeared in the Roon player in the audio settings. 


During my prolonged review period, sMS-200 acted as Roon client without any problems or hiccups. It was the same with the OS- system upgrades. 

One can simply connect to the SMS-200 via Ehausu web interface, where all the settings are easy reachable throughout the icons. 


SMS-200 can be linked to MPaD, Squeezebox, Apple AirPlay, Roon, HQPlayer via the dedicated apps like MPaD, Squeezepad, Shareport or Roon computer/iPad/iPhone apps. 

As MPaD provide only the files, that are stored on the USB disk I've really enjoyed the Roon's handling of meta data, files across my computer and external discs as well as vast amount of playlist from the streaming devices. 

SOUND OR NO SOUND!?


At the end of the day, all boils down to the smooth and uncluttered operation and sonic outcome. So how should actually network player sounds alike? First and foremost, for sure it shouldn't introduce any of its own signature and this is exactly what sMS-200 engineers intended too. 


SOtM sMS-200 worked in absence of any major sonic imprint. It's always a bit too tricky to talk about ultimate transparency, as then one completely close the door any upcoming upgrades or better model. If out of all sonic descriptions I need to choose the proper word, then clarity surely fits the bill!  

What might be most interesting for all of you is how does it compare to the dedicated music servers, that incorporate network player. Well, SOtM sMS-200 acted boldly and proudly, holding its "mojo" even with the device up to the triple+ factor. That statement alone sums up my opinion about it...

CONCLUSION 


SOtM sMS-200 network player is features packed, easy to operate (plug & play) and is frequently updated. I've had no problem with at least five updates during my testing interval.


Refined integration with Roon and HQ Player are true, personal highlights. Close integration with HQ Player allows the digital audio connoisseurs and wizards to explore different sound fine turnings via with multiple settings, upsampling options, modulators etc. It's, so to speak a true digital tweaker paradise. 

sMS-200 raison d'être is simple and straight. It was designed to send the digital audio files via USB to the dedicated DAC with the minimum jitter and highest possible sound as well to communicate with a multitude of ways through the many "inputs" in absence of complex interaction and without the unwanted sonic traits.

I've liked and loved the SOtM sMS-200 simplicity, straightforwardness and trouble free operation. As said before  I'm a big fan of Roon and the sMS-200 seamless integration offers a great way to bring the world of the Roon even to the non-expert audiophiles and music lovers. 

For what it represents, how well SOtM team managed to implement a wide array of features and nonetheless for the sonic quality it can bring, I'm more than happy to give out Mono & Stereo Best Buy award. 

Matej Isak

PRICE


$510.00

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION


OS
  Linux
Audio player
  Roon Ready
  DLNA renderer
  Music Player Daemon(MPD)
  Logitech Media Server(LMS)
  Squeezelite
  HQplayer
  Shairport
Audio feature
  PCM 32bit/768KHz max, DSDx512 max
  Ultra Low Jitter Clock
  Ultra Low Noise Regulator
  Active Noise canceller
USB port
  High-End audio grade USB port x 1
USB 2.0 port x 2
Output voltage : +5.0V(+0.5V, -0.25V)
Over current protection : 0.8A at 20°C
Recommend output current : 0.5A >
Ethernet port
  RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
Power requirement
  Input Voltage : +6.5 ~ 12Vdc
  Power : Max 15W
Operating environment
  Operating temperature range: +10 ~ +30℃
  Storage temperature : 0 ~ +40℃
  Operating & storage humidity : 10% ~ 90%
Dimension
  106×48×152(mm)
Weight
  1.5Kg >
  

CONTACT


Moiz Audio
Ole Reistads vei 3
1068 Oslo
Norway

Telefon: +47 93 047 149
Epost: info@moiz.no

SOtM
#202, Suseoplaza,
(1557, Ssangyong-Dong)
84-9, Wolbong 4-ro,
Seobuk-Gu,
Cheonan-si, Chungnam,
Korea (P.31171)

Tel : +82-41-576-7663
Fax : +82-41-576-7664