Melco N1A Music Library | Stereophile

Michael Lavorgna gives the Melco N1A Music Library an extended listen for Stereophile Magazine and continues his love affair.

The awakening continues as audiophiles around the world are beginning to see the benefits of better storage and serving. Melco Audio is leading the charge, with groundbreaking products like the N1A Music Library. This cleverly designed piece of equipment eliminates the noisy computer and quirky NAS drive from your streaming audio system. The problem is that computer or NAS are simply not designed for the high-quality audio playback. We've spent several years trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Melco products, like the N1A Music Library, solve this problem. Not only are they easy to use, but the sound quality is far superior in comparison too. No more complicated setup and maintenance. No more hassle. Just great sounding music. The Melco N1A Music library sells for $1999 US Retail. It's available in Black or Silver. Find a Melco retailer near you.

*It should be noted that there is one error in this review that we would like to address. The "Player Mode" does not need to be engaged to enjoy the benefits of the player ethernet output. Without engaging this mode, the player ethernet output will allow the use of UPnP control applications via your home network, such as those used on mobile devices, while still providing the best possible sound quality. Your home network is attached to the LAN ethernet port, giving the N1A and therefore your network player access to your home network (including WiFi and internet service) and any devices attached to it.*

Melco N1A music library
Melco N1A music library

Excerpts from the review:

Setting up the N1A and getting music into it was a breeze. I keep a backup of my NAS-based music library on a USB drive, so I simply connected that to the Melco and said "OK." Using my iMac, I also dragged and dropped to the N1A new music purchased after that initial transfer.

The Melco N1A Buffaloed my combination of MacBook Pro and Synology NAS. It destroyed them, embarrassed them, gave them a good schooling. Music sounded obviously—frighteningly—more refined, more spacious, and more natural through the N1A. End of story. I can't imagine anyone in this universe who does nothing else while listening to music making the same comparison and not hearing this difference.

To my way of thinking, unless you plan on building your own N1A system, why fret? The proof is in the listening. So I listened to the Melco N1A as a server using a number of DACs, including my reference Auralic Vega ($3499) and the lovely Metrum Acoustics Musette ($1399). The differences remained clear as stated above, regardless of which was converting my bits.

In order of sonic preference, the Melco nudged out the Antipodes DS—quite a feat, seeing as the Antipodes is no slouch in terms of sound. Through the Melco, music sounded that much more crisp, refined, and natural. While the Antipodes does things the Melco doesn't (it has an onboard DAC, for one), the Melco costs $1500 less.

The Melco pretty much creamed both of my NASes, too, though not as much as it had my MacBook-NAS. Music opened up more, sang out more truly, let me get into it more deeply.

The Melco N1A is the least expensive server of this bunch, yet I find its sound quality on a par with more expensive models, and in the ballpark with the best costing up to $6000. If you're looking for a server that sounds better than any stock computer can and you want to keep things simple, think Melco.

Read the full review.