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The MS5 ships in a very stout carton with ample foam-liner protection. Tightly ensconced in various layers and cutouts one finds the—much to be improved—owner's manual, power cord, Ethernet link, remote pad, remote pad battery, pad battery charger, wifi antenna, antenna USB adaptor, external USB socket with USB cable and finally the chunky and immaculately finished server itself.

Support, analog circuit board & Western Digital hard disk

Since the MS5 lacks any hard controls save for the rear-mounted power mains and standby switches, operation without a remote pad is impossible. Run down its batteries, misplace or damage it and you'll be decommissioned. To establish the comm link between pad and server requires wifi. Here you have two options. 1/ Enable the wireless function of your existing Internet router. If that's encryption protected—it should be—you'll need to enter that alphanumerical key into the pad. 2/ Leash up the included wifi antenna to one of the MS5's two USB ports. Once the green LED in the USB adaptor blinks to confirm activation, this new wifi network shows up on the pad as QAT-MS50638E. Tap on the password line to call up the virtual keyboard. Enter 'qatqatqat'. Wait for the authorization and synchronization protocol to conclude. Once you're connected, the wifi symbol appears on the pad's screen. Connect an Ethernet cable to your router for meta data (unless you're already running it wirelessly) and begin to rip your first CD. Should you need to mechanically eject a disc, insert a pin into the hole beneath the drive slot (a flush-mounted push switch wouldn't mar the fascia but be more convenient to operate).

Transformer, DAC circuit board,  DAC digital circuit board
Support, TEAC CD-ROM drive

If the MS5 can't retrieve the meta data or album art because the online data bases it taps into don't have it, the disc can still be ripped. Afterwards you'll simply need to manually enter the title, artist and track names with the virtual keyboard. The cover however will be MIA. At present QAT's OS will initially recognize ä, ö and ü umlauts and characters like å, ç, ğ, ş, ý when a disc is first loaded but not import them to memory. This leads to annoying renderings like Bj?rk [see left] or H?sn? ?enlendirii where each non-standard letter becomes a question mark.

QAT's OS also lacks a provision whereby the user can save already ripped tracks before a complete rip gets aborted. Should a disc not import properly to the very end for example—perhaps the final track on the outermost spirals can't be read—none of the already ripped tracks will be saved. Rip speeds vary from album to album or even track to track and can be very slow. The fast-spinning hard drive can be quite audible during this data acquisition but turns perfectly silent during playback.

Albums may be tagged from a collection of pre-loaded or custom genre identifiers with single or multiple tags. You could thus call Mozart's Requiem symphonic, classical, chorus, Harnoncourt or anything else that will later help you to quickly find titles with targeted search queries when your library has grown substantial.

Transformer,  DAC digital circuit board
DAC & analog power supply board
CPU radiator

The QAT pad can be viewed horizontally or vertically and includes a pop-out brace to stand up. The touch screen is clearly not as responsive as the latest smart phones from Apple and Samsung but the user transition is no more difficult than returning from the ultra-smooth gear box of a luxury car vacation rental to the clunkier gear shift of your own high-mileage oldie.

DAC digital circuit board

QAT engineering is to be complemented on their good-looking friendly GUI. It runs various shades of grey and orange and is quite intuitive to use. Legacy users familiar only with infrared or RF wands and their instantaneous response times must however account for the occasional wifi freeze when this fancy remote won't respond or has dropped the connection; and that upon power-up the comm link takes its time before all systems are a go. But that's no different than a cellphone looking for a wifi network in a downtown café before you can retrieve your emails.

People sensitive to wifi's radiation effects on the brain must obviously pass on this or similar products. The absolutely essential remote pad cannot be hardwired even though it sports mini and full-size USB ports. Using the MS5 means a domestic wifi network, period. If you respond with headaches or other physical reactions, skip QAT. Most people simply don't seem to be bothered by wifi's low-power microwave radiation.

CPU radiator
DAC & analog power supply board