Melco N1A & N1Z
Melco, the audiophile division of leading Japanese computer peripheral company Buffalo Technology, has announced the launch of its Digital Music Library range with its first two products - the N1A and N1Z. Featuring audiophile-grade components and construction combined with unique data transfer and protection software that requires no network setup, Melco Music Libraries (MML) are the perfect solution for audiophiles who wish to store and protect their precious music files, whilst playing them back at the highest possible quality.
Melco enters the market at a time when the dedicated digital music library is becoming a necessity. Seeing a gap in the market whereby Hi-Fi companies are generally relying on conventional IT-based music storage solutions (with all of their inherent issues including lack of intuitive software and compromised audio performance), Buffalo Technology, the leading Japanese manufacturer of computer peripherals and storage devices including NAS, commenced a two year project lead by a group of dedicated Audiophiles. The result is the revolutionary Melco High Resolution Digital Music Library. Incorporating audio-grade SSD (N1Z) and HDD (N1A) drives, both MML's have been designed from the ground up as high-end HiFi components. From the high-quality power supplies and rigid front facia and chassis through to the dedicated Network Player, LAN, Expansion and Backup rear-mounted connections, audiophile components have been utilised in every conceivable area of the design to optimise data integrity and to remove the possibility of interference and noise.
Melco Direct Streaming Music (DSM) Regardless of the precautions and optimisations within a digital music source/network player, it all comes to nothing when sensitive music data is put onto a LAN network. Compromises such as commodity grade data cables and data switches designed purely for rapid data transfer all have a detrimental effect on music files. To combat this, the MML has a dedicated Ethernet port for direct link to the network player. By removing the necessity for external network switches, this architecture not only ensures the best possible data delivery from the MML to the player, but also exposes the benefits of carefully engineered precision Ethernet cables.
The dedicated Player port establishes the relationship between the MML and the player, including management of the player IP address. A separate opto-isolated Ethernet port provides a high-quality connection to the LAN, so that the network player will still be connected via the MML and, therefore, can be controlled by iOS or Android devices, whilst also connect to music streaming sites or Internet radio. But for the simplest purest playback of High Resolution music on a network player that has its own control, all that is required is the MML and a precision Ethernet cable. Audio performance is paramount as the industry moves beyond the legacy standards of the CD format. This makes such issues as data integrity and jitter even more critical. For this reason, the MML range uses none of the IT industry norms in creating this solution.
Internal and external data communications are differentiated with separate and isolated power supplies, whilst SSD data management is especially optimised as the requirements for audio are quite different to PC requirements (music data is written infrequently and is rarely modified, rendering the usual SSD lifetime optimisation algorithms as inappropriate, especially as they also tend to impact on data integrity, as they operate in burst as required). The MML uses highly stable purpose-built SSDs designed especially for audio playback, as they have a low level and consistent management algorithm that has zero impact on data integrity. All digital processes, including the external Ethernet communications, are derived from a precision ultra-low jitter data clock to ensure total freedom from jitter-induced artefacts on final D/A conversion.
The low jitter Ethernet connectivity is provided by RJ45 ports of exceptional stability and precision, which are also optically isolated on all lines, contrasting to the IT industry norm of using isolating magnetics or transformers. This ensures absolute freedom from interference and noise, which is otherwise fed into sensitive analogue electronics in the playback system. The Ethernet connectors have data transfer indicating LEDs, which can be extinguished to provide the purest connection environment. Power supplies are critical in all high-end audio applications. Not only does the MML separate power supplied for internal and external data communications, but also specially designed components minimise common mode interference, protecting delicate analogue circuitry elsewhere in the playback system.
In the spirit of the MML being a true Audiophile source, the MML does not have a web server and does not require a computer to either configure it or to enable it to play. A versatile array of useful customisations is available from the informative OLED front panel display and navigation buttons. During playback, the display shows the selected track along with sample rate. For ultimate audio performance, the display can be switched off during playback. Storing music files to the MML is simple via the USB 3.0 socket on the rear or over the LAN, whilst backup is easy thanks to the dedicated rear-mounted BACKUP USB 3.0 socket, which starts to backup the music data onto any external drive with enough capacity upon connection. The dedicated socket also supports the data recovery as well. The Melco N1A has a UK SRP of £1600 and the N1Z of £6200. Both models are available from selected Hi-Fi specialists from mid-November. Press release and photos by Melco.