Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1 & H1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Wyred4Sound STP-SE MkII, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Bakoon AMP-12R; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics One SE Up NC500MB monos; LinnenberG Audio Allegro monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, Titan Audio Eros cords between wall and conditioners and on the amps
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: $1'200 without master-clock input, $1'400 with

Soul Of the Music becomes SOtM for short and the four components in their Advanced II range all use the same small chassis: a USB hub called txUSB-ultra; an external master clock called sCLK-OCX10; today's sMS-200ultra network player; and a linear power supply with four different output voltage settings called sPS-500. This PSU can replace the stock switching wall-warts of the first three; and those of numerous competitors including small phono stages and powered docks. In my review of the USB reclocker and noise stripper, I opined that the optional power supply accounted for 50% of its full sonic benefit. Hardly optional. Now one could grumble petulantly. Why wasn't such superior power built in? That would obviously increase enclosure sizes and sell prices. For tiered options and to remain in the bonsai audio class, for this portion of their catalogue SOtM prefer more but smaller boxes. Folks may build their altar to hifi one small brick at a time; with just the functionality they need.

Given the sMS-200ultra's compact 4.8x10.6x22.7cm WxDxH dimensions, there couldn't be any useful display. So there's none at all. This returns us to nomenclature. The 'network' in network player tells us that this box relies on a web browser for navigation which could be on your wired PC or wireless tablet. The 'player' in network player indicates that this isn't a transport which contains the files we wish to play. As a player, it's simply a hardware/software interface. It sits behind your locally stored files which connect to it via one of two USB 2.0 ports. Or it sits behind cloud-hosted streaming files via its Gigabit Ethernet port. Its internal sCLK-EX2425 module is the 'ultra' in the name. It reclocks any incoming data stream before outbounding it over USB to a DAC of your choice. Its voltage regenerators isolate your DAC's USB transceiver from the ultrasonic pollution of your switching router, tablet and PC. It's why the stock 9V/2A switching wall wart awaits sPS-500 replacement as shown next [don't use its 12V setting unless you specifically bought the 12V version of the sMS-200ultra]. The $200 external master clock option adds a BNC input. At just 1.5kg, the sMS-200ultra is a lightweight affair. For added gravitas when stacked, one may add the txUSB-ultra between it and the external drives (the txUSB-ultra will support two). For the full hit of little bricks and their umbilicals, each would be driven by its own linear supply but extremists would still add sundry footers, platforms, beastly power cords and call all of it good fun. Me, I remain an unrepentant iMac/PureMusic guy with a 27" Retina display.

sMS-200ultra, sPS-500 and USB 3.0 drive. The green LED bars double as power buttons.

The computer engine of the SMS-200ultra is a dual-core AMD chip augmented by 2GB of DDR3 random-access memory. Software processes embedded in SOtM's Eunhasu music player are for the Minim and BubbleUPnP servers; Shairport and LibreSpot for Spotify; the SqueezeLite and MPD/DLNA audio renderers; and Roon Ready Endpoint. The latter is promoted with a 60-day comp trial code. Because I have long since tagged my iTunes library just so; and because I don't stream subscription services in the big system, just on the desktop - I didn't wish to install then uninstall Roon. Asking US/AU/NZ distributor Kamal of Crux Audio for my ideal user path, he told me to log onto the eunhasu.local browser interface, launch the system setup icon, select the 'library config' folder and ensure that 'automatic USB storage mount' was checked. I'd then scroll over the Squeezelite icon to launch its software and click on the small button in the middle of the menu to launch the Logitech Media Server in a new window. Finally I'd connect an external USB storage drive to the back of the sMS-200ultra. Clicking the Music Folder tab on the left side of the LMS window, I'd see SOtM's USB1 and USB2 folders to commence file selection and play. If I couldn't see the music files in either the USB1 or USB2 folders, I'd go to LMS Settings on the right bottom side of the GUI and rescan the music folder (Settings - Basic settings - Media folder - Rescan - Apply). Having for years relied on .aif files locally hosted on the iMac's 3TB FusionDrive with an earlier version of iTunes, I hadn't used 3rd-party players other than PureMusic which works behind iTunes. In fact, I wasn't used to having to be online or networked to play music. Even when I purchase tunes, I do so with my HP work station. I then manually transfer files via memory card to the iMac before the same card slots into my bedside rig's SD card player. That's how our music computer remains securely offline. But the always-on generation goes to bed with their smartphones powered up right next to the pillow. They need to be connected at all times. They look at those of us who don't with incomprehension.