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The RipNAS acts as fully functional media server with two mirrored hard drives. It connects to the home network via bog-standard Ethernet wire and fulfills multiple functions. It rips commercial audio CDs in ca. 5 minutes (available formats include FLAC, WAV, AAC, WMA, MP3) and taps into various online meta-data banks to properly identify the ripped discs and their tracks. As server, it then serves up its ripped files to the network and runs periodic data backups via its mirrored RAID1 drive. Very friendly is the fact that the Squeezebox immediately recognizes the installed RipNAS as media server.  Should the 2 x 500GB internal storage fill up, the RipNAS sports four USB sockets to expand into external hard drives.

The RN looks hot and quite Apple-ish, a bit bristly with its external heat sinks and handles its assigned tasks without hiccups or noise. Its behavior vis-à-vis PC and network is exemplary and managed from the computer via a Windows Home Server console included on CD-R. On which, the RipNAS of course also works as standalone machine when the PC is powered down and here the developers came up with a neat wrinkle. Various included CD-Rs assume switching functions to change Codecs. Want to rip from FLAC to WAV? Insert the appropriate CD-R into the RipNAS which gets spit out in due time and presto, ripping concludes in the new format. Yes, what?

The impatient gent in the checkered sports coat in the back wants to know how it all sounds. It’s a simple question with a more complex answer since the Squeezebox offers analog and digital outputs. But the squeeze has been around for a while to no longer be an unknown quantity so let’s focus on the brand-new Sumoh amp instead. So just a brief comment to the SB’s analog outputs which pass a clean signal off the internal Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC to be more than passable. Lossless rips sound sprightly, clear, highly differentiate and lively. Nothing is really amiss and it’s not criminal to drive a valve amp direct from the squeeze. Yes, what?

The checkered sports coat demurs that the RCA sockets aren’t pure gold, not cryo treated and only a few millimeters apart, all far from audiophile approved. And? The gent should revisit the SB’s sticker and regain his bearings. So, Sumoh, what gives? Let's start at the beginning. Unpacking gets giddy with comprehensive ancillaries. For just €199,  this includes a useful digital RCA cable to meet the SB, four gold-plated but somewhat funky banana interfaces and the aforementioned DC umbilical to run the SB sans wall wart. The amp itself is purist pretty, with a barely 15x15cm foot print and lowrider 4cm clearance. The fascia is grained black aluminum with a central blue LED and nothing else. The back sports the mains switch, the digital input and banana terminals. The power supply is internal and accepts AC voltages from 85-250 volts to suggest an SMPS. Fired up, a few seconds pass until the power LED confirms dim status. As soon as a digital signal is sensed, the Sumoh leaves standby, the LEDs brightens, a relay clicks audibly and presto, tunes.

This is the juncture at which the obligatory warning needs insertion. Don’t feed the Sumoh a fixed signal! It's got no volume control of its own and always puts out full steam. Uncut 2 x 30 watts into 4 ohm won’t blow up every speaker but might affect your hearing and nerves. Ergo, only sources with variable digital outs, please. Like the Squeezebox in short.