SOtM sMS-1000SQ

Device Type: Music Server/DAC
Input: Ethernet, 4x USB data ports, Mic-in jack
Output: 1x USB, HDMI and VGA (for monitor), RCA pair, XLR pair (for sms-1000A)
Dimensions: 360×68×240 (mm)
Weight: 4Kg
Price: $3000.00 as reviewed (sms-1000U)

sPS-1000 Audiophile Linear Power Supply
Device Type: Linear Power Supply
Output: High level output: Voltage: 18Vdc, 19Vdc, 20Vdc, 21Vdc selectable, Current: 4A max, Mid level output: Voltage: 9Vdc, 10Vdc, 11Vdc, 12Vdc selectable, Current: 2A max, Low level output: Voltage: 5Vdc, 5.5Vdc, 6Vdc, 7Vdc selectable, Current: 1A max
Dimensions: 360 x 68 x 245 (mm)
Weight: 4Kg
Price: $1000.00

Availability: Authorized Dealers

I favorably reviewed the SOtM sMS-1000U Music Server back in 2013 (see review). Since then, SOtM has been working on their flagship music server that now comes with the "SQ" model designation. Among the upgrades from "U" to "SQ" is a standard Solid State Drive (32G SSD for OS), a high quality audio grade USB 3.0 host card using the company's tX-USBexp PCI express USB 3.0 host interface card, external power option for the audio USB output, and a "much improved ultra low noise regulator, jitter clock and active noise canceler." The idea being, better sound.

SOtM offers the sMS-1000SQ in a number of configurations. Options include a Vortexbox-based Linux OS or Windows OS, expanded internal storage (4TB HDD, 120GB SSD, 250GB SSD, 500GB SSD or 1TB SSD), additional internal storage (4TB HDD, 120GB SSD, 250GB SSD, 500GB SSD or 1TB SSD), a slot in DVD RW or Bluray Drive, ultra Low Noise Jitter Clock options (sCLK-48.0 for USB output model, sCLK-2224 for Digital output or Analog output model), and a Silver SATA cable for HDD, SSD or ODD. It should be noted that the analog output version supports PCM resolutions up to 32-bit/196kHz and it will play DSD files once they've been converted to PCM in the app.

The version under review, sms-1000U, includes the Linux/Vortexbox platform, 32GB SSD storage, and the USB digital output. The sMS-1000SQ supports most file formats (AAC, AIFF, Apple lossless, APE, DFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, MP4, OGG, WAV, WMA) and PCM resolutions up to 32-bit/384kHz and double rate DSD (via DoP). Tidal, Qobuz, and Deezer streaming are available through the ickStream plugin. You can also access Internet Radio.

Since there is no internal storage in the review sample, I mounted my Synology DS212 NAS as a Network Filesystem (NFS) using the Vortexbox web interface. This is not a simple one-step process but the downloadable manual from SOtM walks you through most of the required steps. What the manual leaves out is how to allow NFS access on your NAS, which will differ based on your NAS. I find Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) to be very easy to use, so setting up an NFS share for the sMS-1000SQ only took a few minutes.

You can use any compatible iOS/Android app for remote control as well as the browser-based SqueezeBox Server interface. SOtM recommends OrangeSqueeze for Android devices and iPeng 8 for the iPad or iPhone. I used iPeng8 on my iPad. Once you have everything set up and the sMS-1000SQ connected to your network via Ethernet, the iPeng 8 app will automatically connect to it and display your music library. If you add music to your NAS-based library after the initial setup, you need to go into the SqueezeBox Server Configuration settings and re-scan your library.

Setting up my Tidal account involved a few steps. You first have to activate the ickStream plugin in the SqueezeBox Server web interface. Once completed, Tidal will show up in the "My Apps" tab in the iPeng 8 app and you just need to provide your login credentials. Since I am a very big Tidal user/lover, this option was more than welcome.

The included sPS-1000 Audiophile Linear Power Supply allows for two connections to the SOtM server; one for main power, and one for USB output power. These connections are accomplished through the supplied short jumpers which are conveniently marked red on one end and blue on the other. I have to admit I was confused as to what went where but my contact at SOtM was kind enough to send a picture. Yea, silly of me I know. I also puzzled over the analog outputs since no internal DAC showed up in the config tab in the Vortexbox interface. I learned from SOtM that this unit was set up for display purposes at shows so those analog outputs don't output.

I like the overall look and feel of the SOtM components all clean, metallic, and minimal. They are nicely built and have a reassuring heft.

The review system included the Ayre AX-5 Twenty integrated amp driving a pair of DeVore Fidelity Xs. The DAC in-use was my reference Auralic Vega. For comparison purposes, I used my MacBook Pro running the latest version of the Roon software (v1.1).

It's the sound, of silence
This review will fairly closely mimic my review of the SOtM sMS-1000U Music Server in terms of sonic performance. What I hear when listening through many purpose-built servers and network players/streamers is a lower overall noise floor. This makes the music sound more alive, more vibrant, and simply easier to listen to. It's as if some underlying subtle annoyance has been removed.

I am a fan of the music and work of Bill Dixon and I can still kick myself for missing out on the opportunity to study with him while at Bennington College where Dixon headed the Black Music department. I was fortunate enough to see him a number of times is very intimate settings on campus as well as at venues in NYC. Berlin Abbozzi (FLAC download - Free Music Production) is from 17 October 2000 and features Dixon on trumpet, Matthias Bauer and Klaus Koch on double bass, and Tony Oxley on drums. This music is filled with sounds both strange and familiar with Dixon blowing vengeance and fury through his uncanny control of his instrument. The space of this recording is big and vast and the music unfolds within it in a natural manner. Played through the SOtM sMS-1000SQ, you can hear the depths of the space and voices of the double-double bases in a powerful and focused way. Very nice.

I spent weeks just listening through the sMS-1000SQ to all kinds of music in all kinds of formats. Again, with all of the music I played, there was a very nice sense a natural ease making listening pure pleasure. When it came for some comparisons, I queued up my trusty old Don Cherry album Art Deco from a CD rip and hit play. I know this recording like the proverbial back of my hand and through the sMS-1000SQ it sounded wonderful; tight, focused, with pinpoint spatial accuracy. Each instrument was clearly defined and nicely voiced. Bass response may have taken the most noticeable sound quality hit as it became less distinct and more bloated. Bummer.

I switched over to my MacBook Pro running Roon and things took a clear and very easy to hear step away from that lovely sound picture. Spatial queues were more diffuse, the overall space of the recording became blurred, and a slightly unnatural edge crept into instrumental voices, especially Cherry's pocket trumpet. Of greater importance, listening became less natural, and more forced. There was more work to be done by my ear/brain combo to get beyond reproduction. This kind of change is most notable when listening over time and with the sMS-1000SQ in the picture, there was a more direct path to musical enjoyment.

Next up, or I should say next out, was the sPS-1000 LPS. While not as great a difference as the one between my MacBook and the sMS-1000S/sPS-1000 combo, there was a clear loss of refinement. Most notable here was a blurring of Billy Higgins drum kit which sounded as if I lost some amount of micro detail that makes things like cymbal hits and decay sound more convincingly real. Things also seemed to sound a bit harsher, as if dynamics had been stunted making for a less natural, more shouty presentation.

To sum up, the sMS-1000S/sPS-1000 combo delivers musical performance that easily surpasses my MacBook Pro running Roon. If wishes were fishes, I'd like to see SOtM add Roon as the playback control software since I find Roon to simply crush every other software interface out there by a country mile. It certainly makes iPeng 8 seem broken especially when dealing with its Tidal non-integration.

More Convincing Music
This is what we're after; music that sounds like music and not like reproduction. The SOtM sMS-1000S/sPS-1000 combo delivers on every sonic count that counts for me and I view it as a very worthy contender for your ears, your brain, and your music.

Associated Equipment

jazz and cocktails's picture

Michael- I'm confused about the SB inface- does the SOtM run LMS? if not, how are you able to use the SB web interface?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...the SOtM server runs Logitech Media Server.
jazz and cocktails's picture

thanks Michael- do you know which version, and whether it's possible to upgrade? looks like it can function as both a SB server and a SB device?

MaybeMay's picture

hi dear :)my name is May and I'm working for SOtM as a marketing manager, thank you for your interesting on sMS-1000SQ

Sorry, for such a late replay but answering on your question, I should be a yes man because, all is possible, it's possible to upgrade and can function as both a SB server and a SB device.

MaybeMay's picture

Hi Michael,
We have an update news for sMS-1000SQ and I believe you will be happy to hear it as well.
Actually we've been under development the sMS-1000SQ based on Windows OS and got an idea to integrate the sMS-1000SQ and Roon after your review, our users also got inspiration from the review and asked us to be happened in real and they are willing to wait for it.
In current stage, we made running Roon on sMS-1000SQ, and available to playback but seems having some bugs and asked Room team to support us. If we can in earnest start the discussion with Roon, the only matter might be a time and of course we will try to expedite and make our valued and potential customers satisfied with us.

I will keep you updated the integration news.
And again, congratulation on 4th anniversary!

Wish you make a time to cover up tX-USBhubEX as one of valuable audio accessories in very near future and keep an eye on our mini server(a tentative name: sMS-200), it’s coming up with new design and features in a couple of months for sure!

Thank you :) May from SOtM

romaz's picture

Excellent review, Michael. Thank you. Can you comment on how the experience with this server compared against the Antipodes DX that you reviewed earlier this year and maybe even against the TotalDac Server you reviewed a while back?

MaybeMay's picture

Hi all, here I brought the update news for Roon integration with sMS-1000SQ, this integration is currently available on sMS-1000SQ Windows ver., still we are under testing some points, so couldn't officially annouce its availability, but keep positng the news.

- Available windows OS on sMS-1000SQ -

Windows 7 (Support video device driver on 32 bit OS)
Windows 8.1 (Support video device driver on 32 bit OS)
Windows 10 (Unsupported video device driver)
Windows Server 2012 R2 (Unsupported video device driver)

- Available music player software on sMS-1000SQ Windows Ver.-

Under testing : Tidal, Qubuz, Soptify, WiMP, Audiophile Optimizer (Windows Server 2012 R2 only), Fidelizer, JPLAY

- Available video playback on sMS-1000SQ Windows Ver.-

Capable of playing video on Windows 7 & 8.1 32bit OS
Capable of playing with under 4 Gbyte video file
DVD& Blu-ray Media can cause an issue while playing.

Thank you!

MaybeMay's picture

Here is the update news about 'Winodws Server 2012 R2 + Audiophile Optimizer on sMS-1000SQ', the programs below are working perfect with the combination.

- Tidal, Roonserver
- Logitech Media Server
- Foobar2000
- JRiver 20

MaybeMay's picture

Here is the update news about sMS-1000SQ Windows version.
The test is based on 'Winodws Server 2012 R2 + Audiophile Optimizer', sMS-1000SQ Windows 7x32 bit and sMS-1000SQ Windows 8.1x32 bit.

The listed software below are working good on the above sMS-1000SQ Windows OS.

- Tidal, Roonserver
- Logitech Media Server
- Foobar2000
- JRiver 20, 21

Thank you.

Mike Rubin's picture

I have an sMS-1000u with which I am so happy that I'd consider upgrading to an SQ version. My unit of course uses VortexBox, but I would consider changing to Windows for the sake of sound quality even if it meant needing drivers for my DAC. In general, I prefer JRiver to LMS as a player if only because I prefer the interface and everybody's talking about Roon, but I haven't had too many issues with VortexBox other than that it sometimes fails to find my DAC. Given a choice, and primarily on the basis of sound quality, would SOtM recommend the VB version over the Windows?

MaybeMay's picture

the sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition is the new way of music server based on Windows OS besides the original Linux OS based sMS-1000SQ.
In general sense, most Windows OS based servers provide lower sound quality in comparison with Linux OS based server but the diversified compatibility and program support, user friendly operation and such convenience functions have been attracted to secure wide popularity of Windows OS based servers.
And finally we can proudly announce the Windows OS based server which is not simply the same as the existing windows based servers on the market, our sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition is unequaled and capable to playback the best sound quality among others.

Here are the points why sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition is so special,
First, in order to enhance the weak of sound quality on Windows OS, the Audiophile Optimizer gaining popular favor from worldwide audiophiles is installed as a basic standard feature to secure the sound quality equivalent to Linux OS. The Audiophile Optimizer optimizes Windows OS and reproduces the highest sound quality by tuning OS. In short, SOtM sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition is purified by Audiophile Optimizer
Second, the users can easily obtain the high quality internet streaming service via ROON program, and capable to build the multi-zone network audio system configuration up.
Third, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 OS can be installed as an option for those users desiring the common PC operation such as internet surfing, video playback and etc. With that, the sMS-1000SQ can be referred to Windows OS device, which is specialized in obtaining the high quality sound, allowing using of all functions on Windows OS based on the reputable sMS-1000SQ Hardware performance.
Fourth, sMs-1000SQ Windows Edition uses tX-USBexp with sCLK-series clock as the basic feature and allows external power to the USB audio port presenting the highest sound quality.
Plus, the sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition allows using the internet streaming services like TIDAL or Qobuz, and common music playback programs like Foobar2000 and JRiver.
The sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition offers the best sound & technic as the original sMS-1000SQ does, both sMS-1000SQ series provide the most satisfied sound quality no matter what kinds of audio systems users may desire to build...

Hope this comment would help your decision.
Thank you :)

MaybeMay's picture

The sCLK-series clock is not installed as a basic feature, it is an optional choice by users to take an advantage.

Thank you

MaybeMay's picture

we should count down for the sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition, it will be ready soon!