It does simplify things but goes back to the issue of using a piece of equipment (the NAS) to perform a task it was not meant for. You must insure that the processing capacity and memory of the NAS support the extra mathematical strain. Otherwise the remedy will be worse than the illness it is trying to cure. Roon add a lot of value by retrieving pictures and extra content related to the music you own or listen to from a variety of streaming services. It actually integrates services like Tidal and Qobuz in the same interface you use for everything else with the same rich added content. Besides growing complexity, the only downside with Roon is that it comes at an extra cost and requires either an annual $150 fee or purchase of a so-called $500 perpetual license. Since there is no such thing as perpetuity where software licenses are involved, one can easily plan to spend $150 every few years for the pleasure of listening to one's own music in style.

You probably wonder why I spent so much time going over so many options for file playback. It's because the SoTM SMS-200 under consideration is one of those new components which not only bridges across a huge diversity of segments. Had I not spent time describing all those possibilities, it may not have been quite as obvious how much of a jack of all trades the SMS-200 really is. The only thing the SMS-200 does not offer is an internal hard drive. You'd have to upgrade to SoTM's full-featured server for that. Otherwise the sMS-200 offers everything else I have described and many things I have not touched on yet, making it a rarity and absolutely unique at its price point.

The purpose of the SMS 200 is to send files to a USB DAC with absolute fidelity and minimal jitter. As I painfully illustrated already, in that role it is far from unique. How it adapts to your system is what makes it unique. To keep things simple, the sMS-200 is a small box with a LAN connection to integrate into your network; with two USB inputs to attach external hard drives; with a dedicated low-noise USB output to feed your DAC; and with an external wall wart switching power supply which can and should be upgraded to SoTM's dedicated battery power supply. Their battery power utilizes the same intelligent charging technology found in SoTM's DAC. It charges one battery whilst the other one powers the unit with seamless transition from one to the other. I have owned their DAC for a couple years now. I can count on two fingers the times when the battery swap disrupted playback. I consider the upgrade mandatory. Performance achieved a significant leap up when using battery power. You will hear it as higher resolution and more drive, all well worth the extra $450 as the stock unit sounds fairly average without it.

Once connected to your network--through an Apple Express setup as a network extender in my case to ensure a robust connection to my router--all you need do is call up your favourite Internet browser, Safari in my case, and type the address of the SMS-200's interface 'Eunhasu.local'. Voilà, up pops the setup page which gives you a first taste for how much of a chameleon this little box is. The very unique feature of the SMS-200 is that from this control page, you can turn it into the device of your choice. If you click on Roon, it will turn itself into a Roon client and make itself visible to the Roon server and receive streamed files with all the benefits of Roon listed above. If you are like me not ready to pony up $500 on a new platform for the privilege of listening to your own files, you can choose the option of running the SOtM as a MPD&DNLA server just like my Auraliti player, and to pilot it with either an iPad app like MPaD or a desktop app like Theremin. Once activated as an MPD client, the SMS-200 appeared as a control option in MPaD just below the Auraliti. I could switch from controlling one or the other with a simple click. The primary limitation of this option is that it really only delivers files stored on an external hard drive attached to the SMS-200. It is really not convenient  for retrieving files stored elsewhere on your network.