Japanese Melco Audio has just launched its latest series of music servers, the N10/2 series. There are two models, where the N10/2-H50 has a mechanical hard drive of 5 TB and is a direct replacement of the original N10, while the N10/2-S38 instead has a noise-free SSD of 3.8 TB. This replaces the previous SSD flagship, the N1Z/2EX. Both are genuine high-end products, and cost more than many probably thought possible.
Melco claims to have hand-picked the drives themselves, to ensure “exceptional sound quality”. The improved circuit board is the same as first put in the N10 45th Anniversary Limited Edition, which is now sold out.
Separate power supply
Attentive readers will have noticed that the product is distributed on two boxes. The power supply is in fact completely separated from the main unit. Each enclosure takes up half a rack width, so they take up no more space in total than a standard hi-fi component.
Melco promises extremely low noise floor and high performance digital transport, and the products are built from the ground up with sound in mind. Melco will never use standard IT components or PC parts in its products, because they believe you can only get the best possible sound if the product is customised to the task already at the concept stage. This means that everything down to the Ethernet ports is designed with sound quality in mind.
Melco has worked a lot with the user interface, so that the products should be as simple as possible to use for newcomers, while existing Melco users will know their way around.
On the back of the main unit you will find two Ethernet connectors; one connects to the internet, the other to a network player. Thereby avoiding a network switch in between, which Melco claims adds audible distortion in the time domain (jitter).
There are also two USB connectors on the back, one for the USB DAC and the other for transferring music from extra hard drives or CD rippers. A USB connector also sits on the front of the main unit. All of these are type 2.0, which is more than fast enough for audio transfer. Newer USB 3.0 does have some advantages over 2.0, as the older variant requires the processor to constantly “ping” the player to see if it has anything new to send. Whereas with USB 3.0, the player sends the data stream as soon as it is ready. One would think that this could in theory give even lower jitter than USB 2.0, so why Melco is using the old standard we haven’t quite figured out. But in high end “old” often translates into “classic” or even “vintage.”
The Melco N10/2 is Roon Ready, supports DSD and can be app controlled via DLNA/UPnP. Supported streaming services include Tidal, Qobuz and vTuner, and you can download music directly via Qobuz Downloader and HighResAudio.com, without the need for a separate PC.
Together with a USB DAC, the N10/2 can be used as a high-resolution digital player, supporting resolutions up to 32-bit/384 kHz and Octo DSD.
The Melco N10/2 is controlled from the Melco Music HD app, from the front panel, or from third-party RF remote control (not IR).
Melco N10/2: Price and availability
N10/2 is already launched, and is available in silver or black finish. The price is €7,499 for the N10/2-H50 with mechanical hard drive, while you have to pay €9,999 for the SSD version.