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SOtM sHP-100 Headphone Amplifier & DSD DAC Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
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SOtM sHP-100 Headphone Amplifier & DSD DAC Review
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ImageSOtM, a Korean audiophile component manufacturer, is slowly but surely making the industry sit up and take notice. They offer a line of impressive and versatile computer audio products that compete with much more expensive solutions. The company is being very well served by their U.S. importer/dealer, Simple Designs LLC.

I was so impressed with the SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server & mBPS-d2s Intelligent Battery Supply that I absolutely had to have a look at more SOtM products. The sMS-100 network streamer is among the highest value digital source components I have ever come across. At $449, it is a no brainer recommendation. The SOtM line up smartly caters to those with different needs and budgets.

The flagship SOtM streamer, the sMS-1000 is a more sophisticated unit with advanced inputs and outputs, a linear power supply, and balanced analog outputs. The matching sDP-1000 DAC and preamplifier is the perfect partner for the sMS-1000. And at $2500 and $2900, respectively, the combo offers a complete solution.

It just so happens SOtM’s US importer offered me the sHP-100 DSD DAC and headphone amp for a follow up review after I liked the sMS-100 so much. I immediately replied in the affirmative and one came to my doorstep not much longer. The sHP-100 sells for $700 and is housed in the same style case as the sMS-100 and the mBPS-d2s battery supply.

The sHP-100 can be powered via USB or with an external power supply, including the mBPS-d2s. As a matter of fact, they can be purchased as a combination direct from the US web store. The unit is very nicely made, and exudes quality.

The DAC is feature rich with TosLink, Coaxial, and USB inputs, as well as a mini jack analog input. There is also a front 1/4 inch headphone jack, and a pair of RCA outputs around back. LED lights on the front panel indicate which input is in use. And here is the cool part -- the volume knob controls output for both the headphone jack and the analog outputs, effectively making the sHP-100 it a DAC and preamplifier.

The sHP-100 has more tricks up its sleeve. On the bottom of the DAC, there is a switch which lets you choose between fixed and variable line output. There is also a headphone impedance selector for better headphone matching. The mini jack line input allows you to connect any portable device, or any analog source.

Under the hood, SOtM says, “the unit uses AK4113 Dir chipset from AKM for Coaxial and Optical digital input and supports 24bit/192KHz playback. For USB input, it supports 24bit/192KHz PCM and DSDx64, and x128 playback through a multi core RISC processor by XMOS and also USB audio class 2.0. All digital input sources translate via the CS4398, flagship DAC from Cirrus Logic to analog signal and output via LME49720 & TPA6120A2 from TI.  Also the unit minimizes the distortion of audio signals by the volume control circuit by using an exclusive audio variable resistor from ALPS.”


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