The High Japanese Standard for Hi-Fi Audio Digital Libraries

The High Japanese Standard for Hi-Fi Audio Digital Libraries

Written by Kenneth Sawyer, In Gadgets, Published On
October 26, 2023

When you’re an audiophile, you care a great deal about the quality of the music you listen to, which means investing in some high-end equipment pieces to build up your hi-fi audio system is part of the experience and what sets you apart from the average music lover. Looking for the best of the best nowadays shouldn’t give you too much trouble as there’s no shortage of options of brands and products to choose from.

However, knowing Japanese tech quality takes things a step further than the rest means you won’t be wrong settling for what a brand like Melco has to offer. Short for Maki Engineering Laboratory Company, it was founded by Makoto Maki in 1975 as a family business in Japan. Although Melco Holdings Inc. is mostly associated with Buffalo Inc. because of the printer buffer product that propelled the company in the computer peripheral market in 1981, they’ve come to be known in the world of music equipment too with their impressive data storage devices.

Is Melco a Good Brand?

Melco Audio

The fact the chairman of Buffalo is an audiophile himself explains why the answer to this question is yes. In addition to their beginnings in the world of hi-fi audio with the exceptional turntables that made it to the UK in the 1980, the company has certainly set the bar high in music reproduction with the drives dedicated to audio.

Creating the first audiophile-grade digital library in 2014 certainly helped establish Melco audio products as top-tier in an already competitive market with other hi-fi pro brands and their products. Utilising the same level of quality, attention to detail and craftsmanship as they did with their first products, the company goes to great lengths to provide you with equally revered products.

To do this, they count on painstaking research into technology, advancements, and how they can be used to create exceptional networked devices and storage with high performance to satisfy your needs for audio of quality. This is true no matter whether you want to play your favorite music from the stored files, networked music, or stream music.

What is the Best Melco Streamer?

Designed by audiophiles and built to the highest of standards in Japan, there’s plenty to choose from as this brand offers a range of high-resolution digital music sources, each of which amazes with its practicality, ease of use, choice of components, as much as the exterior. As for which is the best, you be the judge. For the purpose of making it easier for you to make an informed decision, we’ve sorted their stellar Melco audio N server range from cheapest to most expensive.

Melco N100 – The Half-Sized Digital Music Library

Melco Audio

Available for as little as £1,999, this is a great starting server if you’re up for getting something that’s up to par yet won’t break your bank. Unlike the rest, it differs first and foremost in the notable size, which is the same as that of the Melco CD drive D100 and the Melco S100 switch. Just because it’s compact, however, doesn’t mean it’s any less functional than the alternatives.

In fact, the Melco N100 is the perfect option if you want to create a hi-fi system that’s functional yet doesn’t take up as much space. You can easily set it up with active speakers through a USB, or with a USB-DAC headphone amplifier and count on incredible sound quality. The user-friendly operation with the simple front panel interface further adds to its charm, as does the internal HDD capacity of 2TB.

It supports all hi-res formats up to 32bit 384kHz and Octo DSD. The CD fans can rejoice in the server’s compatibility with the D100 CD loader of the brand, and anyone into download music with the convenient downloading of HiRes music right into the streamer. Arrange and organise your songs as you see fit by composer, album, data, date, and format, then browse from the front panel, or even from the specialized Melco app.

Melco N1A – The Rotating-Drives Digital Music Library

Slightly more expensive than the N100 and the S100 network switch, traditionally this has been considered the entry-level model from the brand. From the mk1, the brand developed the mk3 upgrade with the new N1A EX series that comes with two hard drives with 3TB of memory. You can take control of the configuration, by choosing one of three options:

  • Raid 0 – 6TB storage with no redundancy;
  • Raid 1 – 3TB storage with mirror image on other drives;
  • Spanned Array – 6TB storage with no redundancy.

In terms of features, it comes with five USB ports each of which is added for a reason. The front is a USB 2 for import or ripping, whereas the others are for DAC, USB 3 import or ripping CDs faster than the USB 2, expansion, and backup. With the same connectivity as the N100, you can count on LAN and PLAYER ports, and support for streaming with options like TIDAL and Qobuz. Music presentation-wise, it produces a clean and refined natural-like sound.

Melco N10 – The Two-Box Digital Music Library

Melco Audio

With the advanced model of the N10 server, the N10/2 comes to about the price of the N5 (though it depends on which storage type variant you choose), the designers separate the signal-processing electronics from the power supply. This is a smart move especially given the low-noise result from lack of vibration, making for a quality audio outcome just as audiophiles like.

The head unit comes with data connectivity and processing electronics, whereas the power box comes with a high-performance linear power supply – both chosen and combined for the low noise. How much storage you get depends on the variant you choose, with the N10/2-H50 with HDD with 5TB, like the original N10, and the N10/2-S38 with SSD with 3.84TB.

The PCB it’s got is the same as that of the sold-out N10 45th Anniversary Limited Edition server. The N10/2 comes with the typical Melco beneficial features, like Ethernet ports (LAN and PLAYER), USB ports (even a DAC output), Intelligent Music Library suite (MinimServer and SongKong software). Besides being Roon Ready, the device is also DSD compatible, and provides you the chance to stream using TIDAL, Qobuz, or vTuner.

Melco N5 – The Next Generation Digital Music Library

This baby, including the latest N5-H50 release, is similar to the N1 flagship model but is luckily available at a more convenient price, mainly because of the brand’s effort to provide something for the wider audiophile clientele with the expected quality yet at a fraction of the cost. To get to a more acceptable price range, the designers substituted the SSD with HDD, and added more simplified functions, however, rest assured this doesn’t affect quality.

Melco N1 – The Flagship Digital Music Library

Not surprisingly, this is the brand’s expensive and reference music library product many audio quality aficionados dream of having. The new N1-S38 is dubbed to be “the best sonic performance in the company’s history” by the very company. With the audio-specific and custom 3.84TB SSD, a new chassis and casework, new electronic system set, new power supplies, new power transformer, and new supply and local regulators, plus the support for a switchable 10 MHz external clock output, this truly is an exceptional server piece.

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