Melco Audio N100 Review
Music and the way it is being consumed by the end user has changed and especially over the last decade with so many people now getting their music via online music services and the demand has grown considerably which is driving the demand for products from the High End audio industry, making them adapt in many ways and offer better solutions for us all to enjoy this wonderful hobby. To be honest it is a win win situation as the industry is booming and what we get is a better quality and overall experience with good quality music and cheaper products and that also filters down from the higher end audio companies to us. Melco Audio comes from a computer industry background as it is part of the huge Buffalo HDD and IT solutions company. When you think of computers and HiFi the two generally do not offer the best quality as there is so many variables that can affect the quality of sound from a PC and the transportation of your music files, most notably noise and how it affects the quality of sound is what plagues a computer from all the components that go into PC's but Melco Audio is the HiFi purist side of Buffalo and they take it very seriously indeed and that is why their products have been a huge success with many audiophiles.
This is my first introduction into the world of Melco Audio having owned other streaming systems from the likes of Aurender and reviewed a few including the brilliant dCS Network Bridge and Rossini systems so have a bit of experience on what makes good HiFi when it comes to these music streaming boxes, power is one of the most critical parts of a good device and can also make or break a system too, luckily Melco Audio have this covered.
Features and build quality
The N100 has a steel and aluminium chassis which is weighty and feels very solid and the unit I have is finished in black but silver is also available but it matches my Cyrus Audio components perfectly as the chassis is the same width. The front of the unit has a nice digital display which looks and works really well, with big scrolling bold text for what track and artist is playing and when you get to my age bigger is better as my eye sight is not what it used to be, a power button and USB input is all that is on the front of the unit. At the rear you have another two USB’s one of which is used to feed your connecting DAC and also two Ethernet ports, one to connect to your LAN and the other for connecting to a network player should you wish to use it. For my review purposes I am just connecting the LAN and USB to my DAC. It also has a 2TB HDD built in which I have preloaded with high resolution audio files. You can use the N100 as a stand alone player without the need for a network and use just the HDD for music playback but I have NAS drives which contains most of my music files, you can also add a CD drive which Melco Audio sell and an add on HDD which would push the price up but at 2TB it is plenty for what I need. All of the magic goes on inside the box, which is why the N100 has an audiophile grade power supply which is electrically silent and built with one purpose of feeding a steady and stable voltage. All the software is hand written by a specialist team in Japan purely for the purpose of music and nothing else. The music data structure is clocked just like the ones built in to high end CD players.
If you are fortunate enough to own an iPad then you will have access to Melco Audio’s own HD Music Player available from the App store which unfortunately is not on Android, but a UPnP app will allow you to control the music from an Android device. It works extremely well with very intuitive UI and controls, Qobuz and Tidal can also be controlled via this App and I am using Qobuz with mine. With the latest firmware 4.10 it is now also Roon Ready so if you wish you can control all your devices and DAC’s via Roon software. It just needs reconfiguring in the unit to turn this function on and is very simple to do.