How much!? OK, the Sooloos system is hugely expensive. But you know what? Very few products have got every member of the Stuff team quite so ready to cash in a kidney just to get one.
The essence of Sooloos is simple. It’s designed to marry the best possible server interface with eye-popping sound quality – like an ultra-swanky Sonos system. Compression? None of that here: your music is stored at optimum-quality Flac for playback through your hi-fi.
Expandable to 100 rooms
Sooloos will even preload your system with the first 2500 CDs in your collection for free, so it’s ready to go out of the box. Even more helpfully, the system will also make a 192kbps MP3 file of the same tunes for transferring to your iPod.
The combination we tested has three key components. The first is the most obvious: the Control:One is a glorious 17in touchpanel that displays all you need to drive the system, and which also includes a CD drive for ripping discs.
Naturally, you can put together a system based on multiple zones, each with a Control:One – but if you want, the interface can also be ported on to your iPod Touch or iPhone. Blimey.
The Control:One links via Ethernet to a single Source:One, which is effectively the system’s preamp. The outputs of this connect to any hi-fi amp, just like a CD player would, so you’ll need Source:Ones in each zone you want music in.
Finally, there are two Store:One Network Attached Storage boxes: one holds the music; the other is a backup.
Terabytes of tunes
Our test unit came with one terabyte of storage, enough for around 2500 albums in Flac, but up to 3TB can be installed in each mirrored pair (7200 albums in total) – and more Store:One components can be added.
We never thought we’d find an interface that made iTunes look slow, but this is it: Sooloos writes its own software, and the result is genius. It really is as fast as you can think.
The touchpanel makes operating the system child’s play too, while info from the All Media Guide gives sleeve art, album credits, release dates and even reviews. The result is a musical epiphany.
Summing up is difficult without ignoring that price. This certainly isn’t a credit crunch investment. So let’s just say that it’s brilliant, and celebrate the very fact that it exists. Now, about that kidney…