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RussB

Technicians willing to make SOTM Neo Upgrade?

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The SOTM SMS-200 and SMS-200 Ultra network players have recently been upgraded to a new Neo version which is now available for purchase in Australia. See:

 

https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/249395-sotm-new-200-neo-versions/

 

The good news for owners of the previous non-neo versions is that these players can be upgraded. The upgrade involves changing a capacitor on the power board. A change to the face plate to include the word ‘Neo’ is also available, as an option in some countries.

 

Now that some positive reviews of the neo version are out, I’m keen to get this done to my ultra. Crux audio, the Australian distributor, say on their website:

 

“Already own a sMS-200ultra? Upgrades are available for $120 plus shipping costs back and forth to South Korea. Please contact us for details”.

 

I believe this includes the face plate which is the most expensive part of the upgrade in countries where owners have the option. I contacted Crux asking for the ‘details’. A week or two later I received a response asking where I bought it so they can advise, and after replying and mentioning I bought it second hand in Australia, have not had a further response from them in a month.

 

But given the change involves replacing a single capacitor, a local solution is surely preferable. Not only would this save the costs of sending the device to Korea, it would also hopefully mean less downtime.

 

There are now a number of reports in other countries of people performing the upgrade themselves after sourcing the capacitor through their local dealer. See:

 

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/34624-lets-talk-about-sotm-sms-200-ultra/?page=21

 

Obviously this may void warranty so that is a consideration for those with devices still under warranty.

 

Here is how one person who made the change described what is involved:

 

“You have to loosen the front and backside. Disconnect the cable to the button on the front and then pull out the circuitboards.

Disconnect the PSU board and loosen it from the backside. Desolder the capacitor and replace it with the new one. Be careful so the negative side of the capacitor comes in the right position.

Then put it togheter again”.

 

A local unofficial solution seems to require three things: sourcing the capacitor from SOTM or obtaining exact specs so it can be purchased elsewhere, instructions from SOTM, and a person with decent soldering skills who is willing to perform the change for others, for a modest fee. While some owners are no doubt willing to go it alone and back their own soldering skills, if you saw my last attempt at soldering you would know why I am not going down that path myself.

 

I’m guessing owners looking to outsource would be prepared to pay $50-$100 to someone to do the soldering, but interested to hear their thoughts on this. Much more than that and the official sending to Korea solution starts looking like the go.

 

So, to cut a long story short, are there any technicians or otherwise suitably capable solderers out there who are willing to perform this upgrade for others IF the capacitor and instructions can be sourced?

 

I have spoken to another party about the instructions and capacitor and am hopeful that this will be solved. I will update on this as info comes to hand. Hence my question here, is who in Oz is willing to take on the soldering job for those seeking a locally done upgrade? Where are you located, how much $ would you be looking for, and approx turnaround time?

 

A technician already servicing audio gear would be ideal but not sure whether a service charge of $50-$100 will be feasible. If it made it easier, or more efficient for you, would processing upgrades in batches of say 4 at a time help keep keep the costs for people down?

 

Also interested in any other ideas people have for how to organise a local solution.

 

 

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Great news! We now have a within-country solution for this. After persistent badgering by myself and no doubt others, John Daly of Sublime HiFi in Perth is now providing a service for making the Neo upgrade to the SMS-200 and SMS-200 Ultra.

 

John has been absolutely fantastic to deal with over this and his efforts to set this up, with SOTM’s approval, are much appreciated. Turn around time is much faster than sending to SOTM in Korea (1 week or less including transport to and from Melbourne). Contact John for further details.

 

Stay tuned for updates from Snoopy8 lumholtzii myself and others about changes in SQ resulting from Neo upgrade!

 

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@JDWest is John Daly from Sublime HiFi.  To make it even more cost effective, we sent 3 units together via Startrack Premium which went overnight Melbourne to Perth. This means that it is possible to upgrade and turnaround within  4/5 businesss days. 👍 

 

Best of all, my warranty is not affected.

 

p/s am hoping to borrow a std Ultra to compare (see SNA post). The 2 people I knew who had an Ultra all upgraded 😭

 

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Cost of upgrade through Sublime?

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13 minutes ago, Mike13 said:

Cost of upgrade through Sublime?

$135, which includes the postage back to you.  That's without changing the faceplate; extra $90 for that.

Cheers,

John (Sublime Hi Fi)

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Units arrived back today, sent on Monday.  😃 Because we had 3 units, it was cost effective to use overnight both ways, hence the super fast turnaround.

 

Normal courier/Express Post will take 2 days from east coast to Perth and  another 2 back, assuming no delays. And the technician does it after hours or on weekend.  So a 1 week turnaround is more realistic.

 

But I am sure John can do a quick turnaround if you pay for overnight there and back.

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So @Snoopy8, what do you think of the Neo upgrade?

I'm just listening to mine now.

Pretty good eh?

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19 minutes ago, a.dent said:

So @Snoopy8, what do you think of the Neo upgrade?

I'm just listening to mine now.

Pretty good eh?

You must be in the upgrade group that John mentioned.  Just got it today, still burning in.  Initial impressions are positive, but it relies on music memory, hoping to borrow a std Ultra to compare.  I'll post something in next few days...  

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Prior to burn in the only clear difference i noticed was an improvement in naturalness of vocals, and i was also hearing or noticing a few more other sounds. Not sure about the rest yet. Burning in at present. How about you a.dent ?

 

 

 

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I have now had my Ultra Neo burning in for two and a half days, powered on the whole time and playing music about 60% of that time. I’ve now had a much more detailed listen and here are my observations to date.

 

The burn in seems to have made a difference, with an initial shrillness no longer noticeable. I’m not sure what type of capacitor is involved, and how long it will take to be fully burned in, but I’m assuming it will be diminishing returns from here on.

 

Voices with Neo are noticeably more natural, and just nicer and more engaging to listen to. This is great.

 

The upper bass and lower mid-range are also noticeably more pronounced. This is having a number of consequences with my gear and set up. First, it is adding body / weight to vocals. A good example of this was Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game which I have listened to a lot prior to the upgrade. Lou Reed’s Take A Walk on the Wild Side is another. Overall this is an improvement for me as my sound has been a little on the lean and bright side.

 

Second, the overall sound has become warmer and less fatiguing. This changes the tonal balance of my system in a way that makes a lot more music enjoyable to listen to. I recall reading somewhere that a good audiophile test track to test for overall tonal balance is Toto’s Rosanna. Prior to the Neo upgrade this track sounded good but was just a bit on the lean side....I found myself thinking just a bit more oomph in the bass would be nice. Similar with The Police DSDs. These now all sound much better balanced. Being able to enjoy a wider range of music is a big tick.

 

Third, I’m getting a bit of boominess on some fairly bass heavy tracks that is clouding definition. There is also a bit more muddiness on some tracks where there is a lot of activity in the bass range. Associated with this is that the midrange can be less open and transparent. Less clean sounding. My system and set-up are prone to this. I have room nodes in the bass that require attention through room treatment or Roon’s PEQ (next project on my list). I was getting away with it prior to the upgrade with the leaner sound, but I think it is going to need attention now that Neo is on board. But I’m hopeful this can be sorted. Interested to hear what others who have their bass sorted experience in this area.

 

Another impact of the Neo upgrade is that the depth of soundstage may have reduced slightly and there may be less sense of air. I’m not sure about this, and whether it is associated with greater midrange warmth resulting in reduced transparency. Interested to hear what others experience, although it will no doubt be system dependant.

 

Finally, I was interested to hear what impact the Neo upgrade has on dynamics. SOTM state in their promotional materials that the upgrade slightly reduces dynamics, but the reviews I have read online did not notice a reduction. In my system, I suspect that the dynamics has reduced by a very small amount, with this change being less apparent than any others I have mentioned.

 

Given the Neo impacts tonal balance, the effect it has on SQ will no doubt depend on the type of sound one is getting prior to the upgrade and the type of music, and recording quality listened to.

 

Overall, there are more gains than losses for me at this stage so I’m certainly happy I’ve upgraded [emoji3]

 

Looking forward to hearing what others report!

 

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Thank you @RussB  for being the catalyst to getting the Neo upgrade service set up here is Australia.  I was thrilled that it was possible to get the upgrade done in less than 1 week from the east coast of Australia for the additional cost of overnight freight.

 

I have still to get hold of a standard Ultra to compare, so all comments are based on (unreliable?) music memory.  The Neo upgrade improved on the voice, particularly the my reference pieces with female voices.  Diana Krall : My Love Is and Linda Ronstadt :  What's New came across well.  The other things was a small improvement in the bass, but not causing any boominess like RussB encountered.  Diana Krall: My Love Is has a double bass which will shake more systems and it sounded good  I am running dual subs with the 2 channel system and the bass has been optimised by MSO.  Ideally, I should be re-running the optimisation.

 

Did not come across anything negative. 

 

In summary, a small but worthwhile upgrade... 

** added

After 1 week, the Neo upgrade sounds even better.  The female and male voice is coming across well.

Edited by Snoopy8

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Good to hear [mention=161413]Snoopy8[/mention]. I’m certainly finding both male and female vocals to be a bit sweeter, and a bit more full bodied, with Neo. If you manage to succeed in running a comparison with a non-Neo Ultra it would be interesting to see if there is any difference in detail in vocals etc. Main update on my front after another week is that I’m now getting better bass definition following installation of some rpgs, confirming that there is no bass definition loss with Neo.

 

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Sorry for having been a bit tardy for putting down my thoughts here, but here goes on the upgrade.
It’s more musical for sure, possibly it’s in the timing, but it is hard to say. It’s shame That I can’t A/B/A them. Wherever the improvement is coming from, It is worth the upgrade for that alone. Additionally, it provides a slightly richer, more natural tone the sound. As others have noted, this is very evident in voices, but also in the timbre of instruments, either high or low pitched. Put both of these improvements together, and the combined effect is making digital music sound more like music ( for me ). Certainly it’s the best that I’ve been able to achieve thus far.
So, pretty similar thoughts to others.

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