While modern technology has provided music lovers massive storage for their collections and unbeatable convenience when it comes to playing music, some would say that the emergence of files instead of physical media has sucked the romance right out of the musical experience. Rather than an impressive CD tower, you have a hard drive. Rather than setting a needle on a vinyl record, you double-click play. Rather than waiting in line at midnight to get new releases, you just download them as soon as they pop up on iTunes.
Sooloos is a New-York-based company that aims to put some of the tactile enjoyment back into music with its Sooloos music system. Though it remains a digital music system at its core, the interfaces the company has built for its high-end home theater system are designed to appeal to less tech-minded users who appreciate music for music and want an elegant way to manage their collections.
The system comprises of three different parts categories: the store series to hold music collections, the source series to produce audio signals on the speaker end, and the control series to allow users to manage everything in between.
Starting with the control series, everything about the system screams luxury. The main controller, a 17-inch touch screen, is built into a chic machined-aluminum bezel, and designed to sit on a piece of furniture like a sort of stereo-operating kiosk. The graphic-heavy interface uses album covers to spice up the music selection experience, along with other music metadata including album, performer, and genre. And to make adding on to music collections easier, CDs can be imported in lossless quality within minutes directly from the unit. The smaller micro and remote controllers shrink the same concepts down to offer control of the system in different locales.
Image Courtesy of Sooloos
On the backend, the store components handle archiving all those songs and albums in digital form. Since the Sooloos system doesn’t use lossy compression formats such as MP3, the storage units have been designed to accommodate massive amounts of uncompressed data. They come in one, two and three terabyte sizes, which Sooloos says should be enough to accommodate 2,000, 4,000, and 6,000 albums, respectively. They’re also meant to be purchased in tandem so that they can be configured as redundant RAID arrays, meaning that the failure of one won’t lead to an entire library worth of music disappearing.
To push that music from bits and bytes to audio signals that a conventional amp can deal with, Sooloos source components offer both analog RCA and digital S/PDIF outputs. The different versions, such as source:one, source:five, and source:micro, provide different numbers of outputs to support anything from a full home theater setup to a smaller bookshelf system, and the system can handle up to 32 different zones.
Since Sooloos expects users to load hundreds, if not thousands of albums onto its systems, the company has also devised a way to ease the transition from CDs to files. Users can send in all of their albums with the purchase of a Sooloos system to have the company pre-load it with everything, including album art. To load CDs en masse at a later point, it also offers a robotic autoloader to import up to 200 CDs at a time, without feeding them in one-by-one.
As one might expect, the price for building one of Sooloo’s opulent music systems matches the almost-excessive specifications to a tee. A basic combination of a one-zone output box, 17-inch display, and a pair of 1TB storage units, would run for $12,900. While this well out of the price range of the average Joe, serious audiophiles who want the source fidelity and interface quality of their systems to match the capabilities of their multi-thousand-dollar amps and speakers may find it worth the money. More information on the different components can be found at Sooloos.