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Sotm mT-1000 HiFi Knights

Introduction It’s safe to say that the South Korean SOtM (Soul Of the Music) operation is now known rather well to most enthusiasts into network based file playback. More than a decade long presence in the audio industry can do this only partially, quality items are the key ingredient and my first adventure with SOtM’s hardware proved me that this company’s portfolio has what it takes to be recognizable and liked. The finely executed sMS-200ultra network streamer reviewed here not only swiftly liberated me from my laptop for several weeks, but also stomped it on quality count, saved space and was priced competitively and reasonably. This petite machine’s performance was then pushed even further by the same company’s standalone sPS-500 power supply. Truth told, fidata HFAS-S10U obtained several months ago is the only reason why I didn’t pursue SOtM’s network hardware with its PSU.

SOtM’s offer based on complementary items is quite similar to i.e. iFi audio’s range and smart at that. Past purchasing a specific product, one can add extras meant to improve its performance, which was the case with sMS-200ultra and its optional power supply addition, however that’s hardly the limit. Key goods aside, SOtM’s portfolio is also packed with various tweaks designed to work at specific junctions of any setup. USB sorters, cables and standalone clocks aren’t exotic accessories these days, whereas SATA and LAN filters, PCI Express USB3.0 cards, internal oscillators and audiophile grade network switches, all based on proprietary circuits, we can safely label as niche items. As such, they require specific skills, show what SOtM is into and highly likely I’ll request some made by this operation in the not so distant future, but today’s mT-1000 is from elsewhere. This universal product tackles one of our hobby’s fundamentals, power. Is SOtM as potent on this count as it is in the digital domain? Now this remains to be seen.Build The mT-1000 arrived in a cardboard not much bigger than the product itself. Dark green colour scheme on the outside and one large foam form to precisely match the component inside is the standard SOtM case. The very first thing noticed past the mT-1000’s extraction was its generous size of (WxHxD) 106 x 75 x 526mm and 1.7kg mass. As one of key reasons why the decision to accommodate the mT-1000 was actually made, my GigaWatt PF-2 isn’t too far off. Similarities between both products expand far above just their sizing and weight.

SOtM mT-1000 of the Advanced II series is a regular power line strip as far as its visuals go; quite long and narrow hood sports six Schuko sockets, there’s one IEC inlet at one side and that’s it. One could say that there’s nothing to gush over, however closer inspection indicates quality materials and fine assembly. SOtM’s latest power effort is built like a proverbial tank and it truly shows, whereas fully aluminium enclosure based on several plates held together via screws also make it quite the industrial looker. The mT-1000’s side panels clearly show bottom a bit narrower than top, which also makes this design visually quite related to other standalone goods of the Advanced II series by the same operation, whereas fins seen on both longer sides contribute to this effect

SOtM mT-1000’s silver on black aesthetics might not be to each person’s liking. But as a nicely put together power component, it scores high in my book. Besides, such items usually land somewhere on the side or behind an audio rack, so that’s that. SOtM allows customers to pick their favoured outlets among three standards; Schuko, US and British. Less popular options are also available, however if not declared prior to purchase, the type will be installed accordingly to a shipping country’s standard. How thoughtful.

My loaner arrived loaded with Schuko sockets made by ABL, each equipped with spring-loaded caps to make them dust and water resistant. One of the product’s sides has several rows of small openings, very much alike the ones seen in other SOtM goods. I can’t tell whether this addition is related to venting, unified cosmetics or both. But it’s there, looks good if someone asks me and the same story is with the gold company’s logo near outlets. The mT-1000 sits on four pointy spikes nicely merged into its thick aluminium sides, yet no rests were found in the package. Due to audiophile racks’ veneered shelves prone to scratches, that’s something I’d address. Luckily I had several small round plates I could use, otherwise the product would have to sit on the floor.

The on-site description tells us that the mT-1000’s internal wiring is based on 8AWG stranded tinned copper, whereas a specially-shaped noise reducing filter block located around the main power line is applied only there to prevent detailing and dynamics decrease. It’s said that various power filters and conditioners can audibly limit the latter aspect in particular and that’s something I can agree with. It’s good that the SOtM team is aware of this potential bottleneck, whereas their effort to address it we’ll discuss a bit below. This aside, audio grade power filters should have at least basic protection circuit built in, but no information is to be found on the subject. Not only GigaWatt PF-2 scores high on this count, but also ups the ante via handy polarity and operation LED indicators and is substantially more affordable in comparison. The Polish product also arrives with quality LC-2 MK3 power cable, whereas the almost twice as costly mT-1000 doesn’t have any at all.Sound In order to review SOtM mT-1000, fidata HFAS-S10U handled storage and transport duties, then LampizatOr Pacific DAC (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.) took over to pass the signal to Trilogy 925 integrated amp and then to either Boenicke W8 or Martin Gateley’s soundkaos Libération. LessLoss C-MARC and Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence power cables were used and the mT-1000 skirmished with my GigaWatt PF-2. Both were connected to GigaWatt’s G-044 duplex wall socket, which ends my main power line (GigaWatt; LC-Y MK3+ 3X4 in-wall cable, G-C20A circuit breaker). Power cords which ran from each of my setup’s items occupied the same exact outlets in either power strip on duty.

I’ve been happily using GigaWatt PF-2 for years at my main listening place, it never let me down and the same story is with its more affordable PF-1 sibling, on the job almost as equally long in my home rig. However, as good as they are, that’s hardly the end of the road, which one power related component sent my way a while ago has been rather bluntly proving me. This mysterious, rather costly and quite heavy conditioner will resurface in a separate publication, hence we’ll skip it this time around. But all I can say now is that my setup with and without this box is not the same, changes it introduces are severe. My PF-2 is nothing short but defenseless against it and so is SOtM’s representative. Yet this doesn’t mean that today’s contestants are alike, quite the contrary in fact.Power items and USB tweaks I got acquainted with thus far did a very similar job in general. Almost all of them I view as capable of addressing the same issues; grain, stiffness, textural paleness, upstairs itch and bloat at the opposite end. Sorters known to me acted similarly; they took the edge off, allowed music to flow more freely and made its canvas tidier, darker and these changes we can safely label as improvements. Power strips are known to trade effectiveness on all these counts in favour of agility gain, whereas proper conditioners usually milder and slower yet more musical reverse this order. To move along these lines further, my old GigaWatt PF-2 is a typical representative of its group, the mT-1000 is not. The latter has in fact far more things in common with conditioners as far as overall potency and sonics go. That’s why gap between this product and that mysterious machine mentioned above is lesser in comparison to the PF-2. Put shortly, SOtM’s newcomer is tiered higher than my reference strip on sound quality count.I can’t say whether this was due to my brain’s subconscious focus on speed early on, but this one arrived as the very first major disparity between both power strips. The local hardware was not mildly, but audibly quicker in comparison to the South Korean and expressed this constantly with no questions asked. ‘Five Miles Out’ by Mike Oldfield, Kodo’s ‘Daraijin’ and ‘Ring of Fire’ covered by Acid Drinkers left no room for guesswork, the latter specimen was explicitly polite and gentler. I wouldn’t describe the mT-1000’s input as lazy, but the edgier and feistier PF-2 had the upper hand. However, the case was far from closed as SOtM’s machine did a spot on job on every other count.Dynamics aside, differences in potency between both products were as equally clear. The mT-1000 favoured more suave approach and sounded more vividly in general; it moisturized the whole FR, removed more grain, was more tangible and weightier upstairs, whereas its slower and meatier bass lines were in check nonetheless. The SOtM created bigger, deeper and more breathable on-stage acts and very capably filled these with taller, gutsier and also more explicit and insightful sculptures to net more grandeur and presence points. The quicker PF-2 sounded more matte, a fair bit smaller and less orderly, more juvenile so to speak. All things considered, my daily driver’s opponent revealed seasoning of finer grade, behaved poshier and as such proved to be simply of higher tiered breed.My W8 speakers with the 925 integrated machine benefit from extra adrenaline injection, hence naturally I thought that the PF-2 would do better job with them. It didn’t. Additional speed it brought to the table I gladly sacrificed to have my floorstanders spatially even grander and more orderly and Martin Gateley’s dipoles clearly favoured the mT-1000’s company as well. SOtM’s power strip provided comfier yet slower and more expensive ride than its sportier, stiffer and less luxurious opponent. At this point, the decision in what fashion you’d like to hit your road is entirely up to you. Once all SOtM’s sonic virtues are taken into account, this one did the trick for me better than the PF-2 and as such it gets my vote. Summary The previous SOtM adventure proved me well that one of this company’s top digital sellers – sMS-200ultra – fully deserves to be held in high regard by network playback fans. Its matched companion PSU (sPS-500) also gave a valid reason to think that SOtM’s engineers know a thing or two about power. Now I’m happy to report that sonically their mT-1000 showed nothing less. SOtM’s hardware I’m familiar with is very nicely executed and the mT-1000 follows accordingly as well. Rugged tank alike aluminium chassis surely helps to justify this product’s ask to a degree and its aesthetics I’ve found interesting and safe. Once on hand, the mT-1000 feels like a pleasantly substantial quality item and hopefully photos show its top notch assembly as intended.

However, today’s hero is left behind my daily driver on bang-for-buck and functionality counts. The GigaWatt team’s been into power related components for years, they know how to spoil their customers, whereas SOtM’s adventure with such goods started just recently and there’s still some work to be done.The mT-1000 delivered where it mattered the most, thus it’s fair to say that SOtM’s on-site description strongly focused on sound quality is no marketing fluff. This review’s star didn’t beat my trusty several years old PF-2 senseless, but pulled almost all stunts more potently to sonically triumph in the end, which leaves us with a bit of a pickle; it’s either the packed with several useful additions and wallet-friendlier GigaWatt, or the costlier and vanilla-flavoured SOtM’s effort better on sonics. The decision is all yours, whereas the latter operation now has my full attention also as far as its power components go. It fully deserved it, I look forward to what’s next in the pipeline and ’till next time!

Associated equipment:

Amplifiers: Trilogy 925

Sources: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)

Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, soundkaos Libération

Transports: fidata HFAS-S10U

Speaker cables: Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence, LessLoss C-MARC

Interconnects: Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence

Power components: Gigawatt PC-3 SE EVO+, Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence/LessLoss C-MARC

Rack: Franc Audio

Accesories Wood Block Rack

Music: NativeDSD

Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. tax): SOtM mT-1000: €1’500

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