SOtM SMS-200 Ultra Neo SE, TX-USB Ultra SE and SPS 500 SE streaming system
Korea has yet to become a country that’s associated with high end audio, possibly it’s too busy dominating the TV and car businesses, but there is undoubtedly a raft of brands waiting to make an impression on western markets. SOtM (short for Soul Of the Music) has been making inroads for some time, building a range of digital and amplification products that start at very accessible prices and rise to the distinctly exotic. The bundle seen here is put together by UK distributor Elite Audio and comprises the SMS-200 Ultra Neo SE network streamer, TX-USB Ultra SE USB regenerator and SPS-500 SE power supply, all of which inhabit compact cases that are just over 10cm wide. This means a set of three like this take up less space than most components.
SMS-200 Ultra Neo SE streamer takes an unusually hairshirt approach to its job; features are not what it trades on as anyone who attempts to attach a non-USB DAC will discover. SOtM is very much a forward-looking company and see no benefit in coaxial or optical outputs. SOtM also eschews wireless operation in favour of a direct ethernet link to the network; this is undoubtedly the most reliable network connection but not one that everybody can accommodate. The absence of antenna also indicates that there is no option to wirelessly stream to the SMS-200 Ultra Neo SE. Bluetooth and Airplay are not considered worthy too, and if high sound quality is the goal, this arguably makes sense. Going antenna-free also reduces the amount of RF noise that can get into the circuitry, which is definitely desirable.
What this streamer does have onboard (that its non Ultra alter ego does not) is an upgraded clock dubbed sCLK-EX, while the Neo suffix indicates that this SMS-200 is an updated version of the original model. SOtM doesn’t specify what it has done but says that this change brought “an extra dose of musicality to the party”. As SOtM does not have its own control application, you need to use a third party app to ‘drive’ this streamer; it’s Roon ready but can also be run with DLNA apps, including BubbleUPnP and HQPlayer. You choose which system to use by looking up the streamer’s IP address on a browser (using a network scanning app such as Fing) and activate the preferred control system. This isn’t as complex as it may sound and in some respects easier than turning the thing on, a process that’s not helped by the translucent green indicator/button on the front, which is also reflective and will apper to glow if there is the feintest amount of light in the room, so almost always looks like it’s on. Pressing it for a second will actually turn it on, at which point, it’s possible to detect an LED behind the green acrylic, press it for three seconds however and it shuts down. Let’s say there’s a knack to it.
The SPS-500 SE power supply is an upgrade to the switched mode wall-wart that is supplied with the streamer and in this bundle has a ‘Y’ cable that allows it to power both streamer and USB regenerator, which means just a single plug in the wall for all three units. It can supply 7, 9, 12 or 19 volts at 50W, the two devices in this package running off 7V.
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