Music from the hard drive gives little fascination. Not so with Sooloos: the server system ensemble + control TEN (9300 euro) of Meridian networks makes a sensual experience.
Browse cover, album and press play button: as HiFi was easy, before there were hard drives, networks, and MP3 files. Today, many CD fans to spend more time with RIP, archive and tagging their collection than with pure music listening – and find a particular album often harder than in the past in the right-hand in the fullness of the data.
Everything could be so easy: Browse cover, select album, press play button. Sooloos, Meridian, the ultimate audio system makes it possible. As long as the solvent customer treats herself to the aluminum Panel control 10 to 5250 euros. On its stately touch screen navigation is a breeze: album cover build up in fractions of a second, the selection can be distinguish themselves with a few simple steps: after the participating artists, the date of recording or a musical mood.
The best part: the owner must not enter the information which Sooloos makes his choice. Via the Internet, accessing the system on the “All Music Guide” (AMG) databases and loads so-called metadata on its hard disk. Music managers can also like iTunes or Windows Media Player. But what other system already knows at the first attempt, on which albums a certain guitarist else listen? Because no CD database knows so well the domestic collection as yourself, the metadata using the screen keyboard or PC can be supplemented at any time and if necessary of course correct.
Small downside: Sooloos understands only English. While the functions of “Play”, “Pause” and “Swim” (so the random track playback is called here) easily go nor anyone from the hand, the selection of scenes a la “boisterous” can (violently) or “Cathartic” (cleaning) with limited language skills are already to the challenge. Fortunately no one must delve so far into the system: usually that’s enough, Sooloos make a few suggestions to make, that musical fit to the just-selected Panel.
With the latest software version 2.0, which had stereoplay test has become the electronic Librarian also the classical connoisseur: he searches for common names within the recording on the stored CD and represents it as a subtitle of the classic work. The movements of a Symphony haunt so not as solo songs in the archive around and “gapless” be played, so without a break. This is only possible with systems that are not just treat classical pieces such as rock songs.
Operation and cover display on the control of 10 are the remote control only a part of Sooloos, so to speak. Although, the display has a coaxial digital output can be connect directly with the hi-fi system, actually there but various clients for this purpose (see Glossary below). You connect the bridge to the plant with their analog RCA outputs.
So a client can stand directly at the amplifier while the display to reach of the listening area is posted. A digital output allows the operation of devices with SPDIF input, as an AV receiver, or the connection of an external converter module. There is also the typical for Meridian SpeakerLink – to connect with active DSP loudspeakers of the British manufacturer. Sooloos and two DSP boxes complement each other so that to a completely digital HiFi system: music flows without D/A conversion from the hard drive to the speaker.
Speaking of hard disk: the actual music library is in a disparate server, which is located either in the same enclosure as the client – this combination is then called “Ensemble” – or in a pure server module. A separate server has the advantage that he can – be banished along with fan noise in an adjoining room and automatically creates backups of all data on a second terabyte disk in the enclosure. For this he screws the price: 4000 euro for an ensemble of over 7500 euros for the best client/server combination.
Sooloos beginners might consider therefore mostly for an ensemble. Especially to subsequently extend the system: all components make contact with each other via the home router. Each new device must be connected to the network via Ethernet cable only, it is his colleagues by alone and is ready for use within seconds.
The controls Sooloos via Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer who do without the opulent graphics and functionality of the control 10, to the computer. The IP address of the music server is simply entered in the Protocol. Hang speaker on a PC or Mac, be also to play music use. The computer accessing it as a client on the Sooloos-Festplatte(n). The Web interface is something advised simply for a system of this price class meets but its purpose.
Also import and export music files require little computer knowledge. When the import function from the Web interface, Sooloos urges its owners to download the appropriate tax software (control PC or control Mac) from the Internet and install.
Then you can add files in the formats AAC, Apple Lossless, MP3, FLAC and WAV of the library. According to the Meridian Sooloos dominated the playback of high-definition audio data with up to 24_Bit and 192 kilohertz. However, you were not in the test “Symphonic Dances” by Sergej Rachmaninoff (Eiji OUE, HRx reference recording), which identified the Linn Akurate DS as a 24-bit / 176.4 kHz, without playing on the meridian system. The Studio master by Carol Kidds “then I’ll be tired of you” (Linn records) Sooloos anyway, were again (recorded with 24-bit and 96 kHz).
Also the ribs of large quantities of CDs is possible on the computer – if not the dealer takes over this task. Audio reference, the German distributor, bought the import of 250 CDs new customers, additional albums beat with a euro each record. Owner of a large collection can even calculate, when the purchase of a further Sooloos component is worth: the RIP station import four (5480 EUR), the up to 120 CDs to a record with a speed of 30 to 40 reads discs per minute.
Comparison: In the drive of the control of 10 a brand new CD takes about five minutes, scratched copies also longer because Sooloos with RIP software exact audio copy (EAC), which so often reads bad blocks until all data are safely landed on the hard disk. The ribbed FLAC copy on the server is of higher quality than the original sampled live from the laser with older CDs.
For playback on your iPod or other mobile players, generated by the system itself MP3 versions of the songs and puts them in a folder. On request they move immediately in the iTunes library on a computer, where they await further use.
Only one gripe with this automated procedure: the data rate of the exported MP3s is only 192 kilobits per second and can not be modified by the user. Who spends thousands of dollars for optimum sound quality, which wants to enjoy music in high quality and therefore higher data rate might go.
The sound of loss-free ribbed music leaves, however, hardly desired. Against the original CD in the high-end player Ayre CX 7e MP (test in stereoplay 6/09) the Meridian with vital, almost full-bodied presence played. The singers of the Bach Ensemble by Joshua Rifkin (Editions de l ‘ oiseau-lyre) seemed a step on the handset to connect to and to accentuate even more clearly. Only the finer modulation of the female voice Ayre secured a narrow lead at the end.
In addition to the more expensive NetWorker Linn Akurate DS (5200 euro, 2/08), Sooloos sounded a trail less transparent. In the rain noise by Jack of Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” (“In Between Dreams”) more and finer drops of water sparkled over the Linn just. With 63 points, Meridian approaches but very close to the British competitors.
In the client/server combination is ensemble a full fledged music system with hard drive, that would be controlled via a home network from the PC or iPhone/iPod touch — and a very good sounding music system. Really fun Sooloos only with the Control Panel control 10. The combination of extensive album information, called metadata, and intuitive operation is unparalleled in the industry. If you’re planning a purchase by Sooloos, who should best with calculate the proud price for this touch screen. He won’t regret it. The author and each stereoplay– colleague, who was allowed to use the control 10, want is difficult to get from him.
Client The actual network player that is connected like a stereo component with the plant. Sooloos includes two models: source one (4200 euro) audio outputs for a listening area and source five (5250 EUR) with five outputs for multiple rooms. There’s also the Combitool ensemble from this test. It combines a client with four outputs and the music server in a housing.
Router The signal box in any computer network serves as a data hub also Sooloos. The router also establishes the connection in the Internet – to retrieve song information and cover images or for software updates.
Server Sooloos music is stored on one or more hard drives. The combined instrument ensemble with an integrated client offers 1 terabyte space. The model Twinstore (3370 euro) also, a second plate but creates backup copies of the data. Any number of servers in the network can be combined for more memory.
Switch So not every Sooloos device directly to the router must be connected, source one and source five have built a so-called switch has four jacks. He serves as a digital multiple socket: allow the Sooloos components that interconnect.
Meridian ensemble + control ten