Entotem is not your average hi-fi start-up. Rather than the one man and his dog in the garden shed that has been the traditional beginning for many in this business, Entotem consists of 10 men with a background in data storage who decided to combine their skills. Their goal was a product that did everything: ‘one box to rule them all’ if you like. It’s not hard to see the appeal of such a device in an age where space is in short supply but stuff seems to multiply. Audio enthusiasts are rare in being savvy enough to know that more is never enough when it comes to equipment, but our number is not growing. Entotem therefore set out to build a one-box solution for the modern age and, at the Bristol show in February 2015, showed Plato in prototype form, but that prototype was surprisingly close to the final production version.
Plato is a music and video streamer with a 2TB onboard hard drive and an integrated amplifier with an MM/MC phono stage. The device also features a modular construction, allowing for expansion to accommodate future upgrades or configurations. Crucially, Plato runs on the Android platform, which separates it from the herd as much as its UK build and some unusual features. By using Android, Entotem opens Plato up to work with any app that’s available from the Amazon store. This means Spotify, YouTube, Tidal, etc, are already available and any future audio or video format will launch through Plato long before most rival audio companies would be able to develop their own software. The limitation to this is that apps loaded onto the player can only be operated from the touch screen on the player and not the control app on your phone or tablet. Entotem will incorporate some key services into its own app, but having to use the relatively small (by tablet standards) screen on the device is somewhat restrictive, especially as apps like Spotify that run in portrait mode end up sitting sideways on the display. The Plato control app will run on any Android device, and there will be a version for iOS by the time you read this.
The few affordable one-box streaming solutions I’ve encountered typically had corners cut on amplifier quality. It’s very appealing to a manufacturer to opt for a switched mode power supply and Class D output stage because they are small, efficient, and are usually inexpensive. Entotem has avoided that pitfall by building a dual mono, linear powered Class AB power amp into Plato. The unit can be bought without the amp onboard and used as a source/preamplifier for a £900 saving.