To accompany the N10, Melco also supplied a D100 USB optical disc drive. This features ‘the latest generation’ of CD drive, and USB 3.0 connection to the Melco (or a PC or Mac).
The ripper itself is a bit of a star in its own right, both in and out of a Melco system. That probably won’t make it the door opener (if you are using one to rip to your Mac, you probably won’t upgrade to the full Melco experience as a result), but it is fast, efficient, effective, and delivers files that are extremely accurate and entertaining. But it’s the N10 that’s the headline component.
I last looked at a Melco N1 a few years ago and the software was good, but could do with a bit of a boost. Fast forward to 2019 and the latest software in the N10 (which trickles down to the N1 models) is just that boost. It hasn’t materially changed that much (it still relies on a user interface with minimal graphics, so you can end up scrolling through a list if you are not controlling the N10 from third-party (either some kind of control point app – Melco recommend its own app, BubbleUPnP, or Linn Kazoo/Kinsky, or a media renderer). But in a way, the N10 is a back-office server device that migtrated to the front of the house; it’s not meant to have a slick interface, it’s meant to just do the job.
It does the job beautifully. A server needs to achieve the goal of sending music to playback devices efficiently, and robustly. The Melco does these things, but also makes the music sound great, too. It’s a really excellent storage device that works equally well as a USB source and as the music server on a network. I marginally preferred the sound of Ethernet, because it’s a little bolder and direct, but the differences are minor.
Most importantly, however, the difference in quality between the Melco and most servers (and especially if you are still using a computer as source) is ‘significant’. There is a lot more air around the music, a lot more space energy to the music and a lot more impact to the music. Depending on what you use, the difference could be between good sound and remarkable sound.
There are some operational issues that need discussing. First, although the days of a Melco product being ‘picky’ about connectivity are behind the brand, the way the Melco connects with other devices can get in the way of delivering gapless playback. This generally means flipping a digital switch in the DAC or renderer. A more important omission – and one that doesn’t look like it can be resolved any day soon – is that Melco is not Roon Ready.
I also think it’s best to think of the Melco concept as the best home music server there is. Of course, connecting to Qobuz, Tidal, or Spotify are quite easy to implement through the Melco, too. But first this is a dedicated music server for your own collection of music, and the N10 is the best that collection of music can sound. It replaces almost anything that runs from a conventional computer, no matter how ‘hi-fi’ that computer is trying to look.
Type: Music Server/Player
Capacity: 3TB HDD (×1)
Connections: USB2.0 type A Front ×1, Rear ×2, Gigabit Ethernet port ×2
File types supported: DSF, DFF, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF, AAC, MP3, WMA, OGG, LPCM (Server), DSF, DFF, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF, AAC (player)
Sampling rate: 44.1K, 48K, 88.2K, 96K, 176K, 192K, 384K, 2.8M, 5.6M, 11.3M
Bit rate: 16-32bit (PCM), 1bit (DSD)
Dimensions (W×H×D): 215 ×69 ×269mm (main unit),
215 ×61 ×273mm (PSU)
Weight: 3.5kg (main unit), 5kg (PSU)
Type: CD ripper
Discs supported: CD (CD-DA disc read only) DVD/BD (DVD/BD data disc read only)
Connections: USB 3.0 Type A ×1 “TO DEVICE”,
USB 3.0 Type B ×1 “TO HOST”
Compatible with: DELA N1 series, Windows 10, Mac OS
Dimensions (W×H×D): 215 ×61 ×269 mm
Manufactured by: Melco Audio
Distributed by: Kog Audio
Tel: +44 (0)24 7722 0650