Though my 34-inch widescreen Z display caused a lot of blur on his end, Kamal Bekkari's remote log-in via TeamViewer had him quickly install the ickStream and Tidal plugins so I could access my Tidal Hifi Subscription through the LMS portal [see below]. But 'seeing' my external USB hard-drive's backup iTunes library still was a bust. Kamal tried various things including having me switch SOtM's external power supply to 9V. Still, the drive's contents eluded scanning to show up empty despite all of its album folders sitting correctly in the drive's root directory. Kamal was certain that LMS should be able to recognize an iTunes library. He promised more digging before he'd log in remotely again the following day.

Already clear was that just mentally replacing 'plugin' with 'app' opened up the same download appeal which has smartphone users add endless features and functionality to their devices. The software side of the sMS-200ultra is just as configurable. It lets users remake their interface and what it can do. By the same token, configuring these options does require some networking background; or a watch'n'learn session via remote control. Here working with a professional who offers such a service—dealer, importer or maker—is mandatory to not feel hamstrung; or like an idiot.

By definition, the physical location of such a setup professional is immaterial. Their availability isn't. That must be ascertained at purchase time. If a dealer sells you a network player but can't support you with IT-related issues... you might want to think twice before buying there. This breed of component behaves just like a networked computer. That will exceed the comfort zone of legacy hifi dealers who started during the age of vinyl, cassette and CD and haven't made the full transition. Likewise for legacy audiophiles who—cough!—started their career back when. They might really enjoy the modcons of networked audio but also need help to get up'n'running. In my case, Kamal had run the issue past SOtM. They offered to step in. They wondered whether my USB 3.0 HDD was incompatible with their device; or just incorrectly formatted. As one of my iMac's backup drives, the latter was likely. The next remote session would thus link up with South Korea not the US. What borders?

At the appointed time—18:00 hers, 9:00 mine—SOtM's May Park emailed requesting the session ID and password. I watched her download a 64-bit putty.exe file to eunhasu, then open the root@eunhasu:/dev window to inspect my Buffalo drive. It showed that eunhasu couldn't recognize its partition table due to a 'mac' signature. To use this drive, it would have to be reformatted, hence wiped to erase all files. Not. For review purposes, I thus decided to stick to the thumb drive. This was another case of OSX doing things its own way, making life difficult when trying to reach outside the Apple universe. With Tidal and the thumb drive happy, it was time to go sonic. To sweeten the SOtM deal, I added one of their Ethernet purifiers to the CAT5's receive end.

Comparators would be the Soundaware SD card reader feeding the Aqua DAC via AES/EBU; and the iMac via PureMusic and USB. With these sessions, my only changes would be pre DAC; what in hifi legacy days was called a digital transport. When that category launched during the pre-jitter days, there was initial ridicule. If bits were bits, how could different transports and their cables connecting to D/A converters possibly make a difference? Whilst we've learnt otherwise since, the ridicule repeated itself first with USB audio, later Ethernet audio. Again we learnt that there was more than met the eye. For this assignment, not only were the transports different but so had to be the cabling - Ethernet + USB for the SOtM; AES/EBU for the SD card transport; just USB for the iMac. To minimize those variables, the Curious USB cable remained the same. For the sMS-200ultra, streaming files off the thumb drive would involve only USB to transport them. The CAT5 connection then just forwarded play instructions from Eunhasu's browser window. Only when streaming Tidal files would the CAT5 add itself to transporting actual musical content. Perhaps that's why I thought the thumb drive's more direct connection sounded slightly better than Tidal?