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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan], Aura Note Premier
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 + Vibex Two 1R on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transports, Wyred4Sound minT, Gato Audio DIA-250, Gallo Strada II + TR-3D
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 9.5m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail: €699 for headfi amp, €499 for optional twin-cell battery supply

Yup. That name really is a mouthful. sHP-100 & mBPS-d2s. Crickey! Mind the odd mix of small and capitalized letters too. That's rigorously de rigueur for Korea's SOtM. The company name is short for Soul Of the Music. I simply never grokked why 'of' got the big 'O'. Isn't that as plebeian as 'the' to stay small? Shouldn't it really be SotM?

As soon as we pick on names of course, my own is apt to follow. I'd be told to spell it Sergeant eBay. Better not go there. But look into my hardware listing above. You'll note that I and the mBPS-ds2 are old chums.

So I'm protesting for pure sport. I've used SOtM's endlessly power-cycling 24/7 battery supply on their USB-to-S/PDIF bridge for a long time. It's also an option for their new sHP-100 headphone amp. Since my endless batteries are tied up powering the dx-USB HD, I told their May Park that if her boss wished for his new box to be reviewed with the upgraded power supply, she better send me a second one. No way was I suddenly gonna run my USB receiver off its plebeian switching wall wart. SOtM's battery option makes a decisive difference. Audiophilleo figured it out too. They offer a battery option for their USB bridge. Romania's Audiobyte don't even make theirs optional for the equivalent Hydra X+. Nagra's four-component external PSU includes one battery feed. Serbia's Auris Audio offer a battery option for their flagship Largo tube preamp. Red Wine Audio does naught but batteries. Batteries are trending.

Back to being earnest, the sHP-100 is a multi culti by combining, in one box, a PCM24/192 DSD128 DAC with USB, coax and Toslink inputs; analog i/o with analog-domain volume to act as a mini preamp that gets portables into the more serious hifi loop; and a headphone output to triple as headfi amp.

As AMR have done for their iFi range, SOtM's Euro importer showed his stack of identically sized Korean boxes in a small tower rack for the Munich reveal.

Whilst wrapping up logistics for this assignment, May Park wanted to know if I'd accept a LAN cable for review. The only listening I do via actual Ethernet is 16/44 streaming with French music kings Qobuz. That means a generic 10-meter LAN link from my Swisscom router behind the work desk to my music iMac on the other side of the living room.

I doubted May meant to send 10 meters of some etheric designer wire. If she did, I committed to brief commentary embedded in this review. I'd not dedicate an entire writeup to it. My own multi-culti leanings have strict limits. But having owned and reviewed various SotM gear, I felt on solid ground.

My two-box super-clock'd fully kitted-out USB bridge has worked flawlessly since I reviewed and bought it. SOtM's full-size preamp/DAC which I tested was well built, fairly priced and competitive with Metrum and AURALiC. In short, SOtM were on my white not black list. If they had a LAN cable which they believed in, I'd give it a whirl. "We do have a 10m LAN cable because we made it for the Seoul audio show. If this length fits your system, we'd send it along too. Also, we have a rack specially made for our products. Its name is TraySOtM made by Takt, a Korean manufacturer we’ve been working with since their design is unique and offers great performance. We will send the two-tier version." I agreed.