Is sooloos worth the money?

I saw a sooloos system in a local dealer. It has a touch screen, Raid 1 hard drive, very nice user interface with any music search criteria you can think of. It is hooked up to Bryston DAC and meridian DSP5200 active speakers. For that set up the music sounds very very digital, in some aspect almost like the mini stereo system you get at Best Buy.

I was very surprised to hear the sooloos sell for about $10,000. To me, it is just a very nice interface/software to read the music file, help you search and organize your music collection. It can not improve your audio performance whatsoever. It sounds like Mi-Fi with Bryston DAC and Meridian 5200 speakers. You still need to buy high end DAC and speaker to make it sound good. To charge $10,000 for a music organizer/software plus $1,000 hardware(touch screen, hard drive, CPU that have nothing to do audio performance) is beyond my believe. It is like charge you $1,000,000 for Microsoft Windows 7 (people can argue Microsoft can sell cheap because they sell lots of copies, but that is not our problem). Even with people have lots of money to blow, you should have a $50K+ system before you consider a $10K music organizer. They don’t even sell $50K system in my local dealer.

I like Linn’s approach better. I have Linn DS player that reads music file from your PC or Nas server and convert it to analogue signal. I need to spend $500 for a 1.5TB Nas server, 1GB network switch and some CAT6 network cables to set up the Linn DS with amp and speakers. Linn give you a Kinsky software to organize your music files for free although it is not as nice as sooloos. This is a more opened design than sooloos because sooloos charge a premium for touch screen, hard drive and other stuff that doesn’t effect sound quality. Then we can spend money on something that can improve the sound while buy non critical stuff cheap elsewhere. Sooloos probably has the best user interface in the market, but this is not the reason we buy high end audio.

I don’t know how many sooloos systems have been sold so far. I think sooloos should just sell the user interface to read music files and organize music for $1000. They do have a pretty nice interface.

This is just my opinion, maybe people who have more experience with sooloos can share their different idea.
i think the Sooloos is a wonderful product. unfortunately it's biggest attribute, the interface, can now be had for much less. you would not get a full sized touch screen, but you would have a great touch screen remote.

the Sooloos's biggest shortfall, the inability to deal with hirez files, is becomming a bigger and bigger issue as more hirez files are out there.

i have a high rez music server that uses an Apple iTouch as a 'touch screen' remote control which competes with the Sooloos in terms of ease of use, but it also sounds at least as good on redbook and does high rez. of course; it is much cheaper. not only that, but adding more storage to my server is dramtically less expensive than the Sooloos.

the server DAC i use, the Playback Designs MPS-5, is not cheap.....i think it's the best hirez server DAC at any price. there are many good less expensive server DAC's on the market.

anyway; the Sooloos is still a very cool product and if you are redbook 'only' it can be a great choice.....but there are slightly less slick but better performing and much cheaper ways to go.
I didn't know sooloos can not play 24 bits file.

Mikelavigne: You are the very few people who have the Playback MPS-5 in North America. Is it a hybrid cd/digital stream player? How does it compare to other high end digital stream player like DCS Scarlatti or Linn Klimax DS? Very few people even heard of Playback design in US, but it is well known in HongKong and listed as top 2 cd player along with DCS Scarlatti in HIFI magazine in HongKong.

actually; Playback Designs is quite popular here in the North least amoung friends of mine. of course, one of those friends is Jonathan Tinn, one of the owners of the company that makes and sells Playback Designs.

i have not heard the Playbacks directly compared to the Scarlatti or i really cannot commet on that. i have heard the Scarlatti, although never as a server DAC. my guess would be that the Playbacks Design would have advantages as a server DAC over the DCS in terms of it's complete elimination of jitter from digital sources.

it is the best sounding server DAC i have listened to.....and it even compares very well with my analog sources.....a first in my experience for digital. i have some pretty good analog sources.
i think the sooloos unit is way over priced and doesn't sound that good compared to a decent computer/jitter device/external dac setup. as for the interface, except for the touch screen, it doesn't offer as much as itunes release 9 IMO. also, the sooloos doesn't have the flexibility like a computer does for adding more external devices (like a NAS unit for example) and to hook up a backup device (possibly a drobo or nas for example).
I believe that Sooloos will have to cut prices drastically very soon or drop from the market. At 50% less it would still be at the upper end of the spectrum. Along with this it does have some limitations (as already mentioned) which precludes it from being an all out audiophile product.

Overall, I'm not in a hurry to shell out that kind of money. If Sooloos doesn't get the features/price point right, I have confidence that someone else will!
it should be pointed out that Sooloos is owned by Meridian and marketed by 'brick and mortar' High End Home Theatre stores that typically have 2-channel as a sideline. it's not directed at the hard core enthusiast audiophile primarily but more a product which is a lifestyle statement. no one buys Sooloos thinking it's the best sounding direction to go. it's easy and fun and cool as hell.....whichj is likely good enough. the typical 'cheap' audiophile wants a better value proposition and does not get hung up on the interface as enough to justify the price.

my point being Sooloos does not need 'our' business to stay in business. the margins we might leave are of little interest to them. it's likely Sooloos will still be a viable product long after other current (more cutting edge and less expensive) products have gone away.
I would say no.

I have one of the first Sooloos Ensemble's with six 1Tb drives (three "active" and three back-up). I'm running the digital out through the Playback Design DAC (no CD in it). Based on my experience with Sooloos, both before and afer the Meridian buyout I would not recommend buying their product now. With V2.x software, they claim you can play 24/96k files. I haven't tied it yet. My main complaint with them is that with V2.x you can no longer export files other then to MP3. I have about 4K CDs loaded and am building another server that will do hi-rez using a Lynx AES16 card which means reloading all the CDs while not be able to transfer the files already in the Sooloos. This is going to be royal pain in the butt for sure, but I think it will be worth it to get out from under the Sooloos limitations. The RME audio card that Sooloos uses is OK, but far from great. It has a lot of capabilites built in, but they don't want to turn on any of the features. I've talked to them at length a number times about this and they just walk off.

In my opinion, I would just walk off and look for a better srever - like the one from Goodman's or build one using info from Computer Audiofile. IMHO.
I think, they always boost the sound quality, and the interface is pretty esy to use. I have multiple drives networked across multiple homes.
Take a look at the JRiver product. Download a full feature version with a 30 day trial and buy the product if you like it. The ver 14 software is free and called "Jukebox"

Media Center Release 15 running in 3D mode, combined with Windows 7 and a touch screen monitor $250 and up (depending of features and size) will provide the front end. Using the 3D configuration and your own sound card the server can be as fancy or simple as you want. The built in flexibility is hands down the best and allows you to reference your files to suite yourself.

A little elbow grease will take you a long way for $50 and modest point release upgrade fees.

No you don't need to spend $10,000+ when you may have most of what you need already. If you don't feel the need for touch screen, $50 is all that is needed to jump start your music server. The approach is on your terms your terms with the equipment that you can afford now with unlimited upgrade possibilities for the future.
I have a touch into the Berkeley dac and use ipeng app on an iPad for a remote, which let's me scroll through album art with a nice size touch screen. I love it and much cheaper than the sooloos. The interface is key and the iPad is awesome.
If you think the interface is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will use it for years and years to come, then...maybe.

Sooloos' advantage was being first out with a great user interface, but there are half a dozen (and growing) solutions out there that trounce it sonically for half the price. It's only a matter of time before someone betters their user interface too. Soon, you won't be able to sell a Sooloos system for even a quarter of what you paid for it.
I uase sooloos and linn klimax ds and 808.3..

Sooloos is connected to 808.3 DAC.

808.3 DAC is one of the best DAC .. IMO.

I use

Wilson audio ALEXANDRIA X-2 Series 2
Chord 14,000 monoral power amp
AREGENTO FMR speaker cable and interconnect cable
BOULDER 2010 PRE and 861 v6 pre processor.

I compared the sound qualities of these three digital audio source many times..

Sooloos + 808.3 DAC is best sound quility to me.
Better then KLIMAX DS in every aspects.
On sooloos system, hi-end DAC is very important.

And sooloos worth for the money.
Sooloos also available 97/24 hirez file.

In may opinion,the one who wrote threads above have never expriened the sooloos with higi-end DAC.
Add some more experiences about soloos and Pc-fi.
To use music files as hifi audio source the most important factors are "speed" and "stability" . The sooloos system using "UNIX" OS , so it is very quick and stable . I was expend almost the same money to make the hi quality level with the sooloos system but sound quility is not the same league.
My computer source system..
-Weiss Minerva
-Apple Mac Mini
-HI quality monitor
-Qnab and Bufallo Nas
All these system are naver not expensive IMHO.
But soloos system beats the computer- fi in every aspects.
Choi - my knock on the Sooloos is that you have to add the DAC, which makes it little more than a mission specific computer. Yes, it's fast, fluid, and a great user experience, but the sonics are all wrapped up in the DAC you choose and have little to do with the Sooloos itself. This just isn't a sustainable price scale given Moore's law and the competing landscape in my opinion.

I go back to the original poster's question: is it worth the money? In the here and now, for some the answer is yes. In the long run, you won't get similar value from it like you do other HiFi products.

The only most importent reason to use sooloos is it's sound qualty .. It's great user interface is just secondary for me.

Sooloos beats the most expensive pcfi system in case with the same DAC.

Go back to the original poster's question is it worth the money?

My anser is "YES" because the sound quality of the Sooloos as CD transport is the best compare to upper $20,000 CDT (I've tested many timees) with same DAC.

With the pc-fi?
They are not same league. IMHO
Hi Choihifi,

Very interesting observations. Thanks for sharing your experience in comparison to your own computer system which already seems quite good.

I also use Wilson speakers (the older X-1/Grand Slamms) and have the Zanden Signature DAC.

i am not too familiar with the Meridian system, and have been trying to read about the different options. I am thinking about the Control 15 (User interface with 1,000 CD losses capacity in one single unit...and RCA digital out).

My question to you is: Are you saying the Sooloos Control 15 digital output into a DAC would be better quality sound than pc-fi into the same DAC?

thank you for your advice!
Hi Lloydelee21

Yes Control 15 sound quility is far excellent.

I tested many times control 15 vs Itune(macbook pro+ amara+Weise Vesta(digital out onty moder of Minerva)or Jriver(on WINDOW).

Sound quality of Control 15 is not same leage with PC-FI.
sooloos is an overpriced device. i have heard it, played with it, and unless you hook it up to a very good dac (no different than a pc or mac in this regard), it sounds like .....
also, the upgrade charges for an additional disk, etc... are out of this world. Price a normal disk drive and then price the sooloos upgrade for the same amount of disk.
i much prefer the flexibility of my mac mini setup and the sound from it with pure music and a nice external dac (pure music and an external dac are key). IMO!!!
Ultimately, the sooloos will sound as good as the dac it is hooked up to (seems everyone here that has used it did so with an outboard dac). Then, to me, for the price, it is merely a file server with a really nice (and fast) gui. Now, if I can reproduce a digital file server and create an equivilently appealing interface, why spend the money on a sooloos? (assuming utmost compatability with transport & dac, lowest jitter, etc)
I think Choihifi is speaking in salesman talk. There is no way, no how the Sooloos can be used for critical listening. No way. It is a excellent background music for when one is gardening.
I agree with the fact that a premium DAC is essential for decent sound on my control 15. I also have a Sooloos MS600 that sounds better using the analog outs using their internal DAC. The question is: "Is sooloos worth the money?". To this, I say a definate YES! I listen to music all day long every day of the week. Before Sooloos, I was lucky to listen an hour a day. I admit, I'm LAZY and cd's were better than records because you have to change them twice as much as cd's. Now I listen whenever I wish with little or no effort. My answer is YES, YES, YES, it is worth the money.
and my answer is NO.....if we're talking musically. it is easy to use.