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 aimed at audiophiles who wish to “store and protect their 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 for many music lovers. Seeing a gap in the market whereby HiFi companies are generally relying on conventional IT-based music storage solutions, Buffalo Technology 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”.
Makoto Maki, the founder of Melco inc. and Chairman of Melco Holdings Inc, said, “The origins of Buffalo go back to the high-end audio company Melco, which I founded to use all of the available engineering resources at the time to craft Hi-Fi products of outstanding performance. For various reasons, Melco changed business focus to IT products and became Buffalo, and it gives me great personal satisfaction as a real audiophile to see that my team of Audiophile engineers at Buffalo have been able to create an innovative Hi-Fi product, truly worthy to carry the name Melco on the front panel, which surely leads the way in bringing musical delight to users of streaming Hi-‐Fi systems.”
“The Melco N1 is designed and manufactured as a high end source component for digital music. It’s designed to be not like IT peripherals but like consumer electric appliances, to reduce/stop any stresses normally encountered by computer audiophiles.” said Masakazu Araki, Senior Product Producer of Audio at BUFFALO inc.
The company’s press release continues “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 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.
Internal and external data communications are differentiated with separate and isolated power supplies, whilst SSD data management (N1Z only) 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 N1Z uses 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 an 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, which are also optically isolated on all lines, contrasting to the IT industry norm of using isolating magnetics or transformers. The Ethernet connectors have data transfer indicating LEDs, which can be extinguished to provide the purest connection environment.
The MML has 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 OLED front panel display and navigation buttons. During playback, the display shows the selected track along with sample rate and can be switched off if required.
Storing music files to the MML is via the USB 3.0 socket on the rear or over the LAN, whilst backup is done via the 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.
Expansion to over 12Tb is easily achieved by simply adding a USB drive to the dedicated rear-mounted EXPANSION port.
The flagship N1Z is provided with SSD storage of 1Tb total capacity, which can be arranged simply to backup internally or to backup externally from the front panel OLED display.
Two completely separate power supplies are provided with additional high capacity Melco smoothing banks, all housed in a solid H frame reinforced extruded aluminium enclosure. The Japanese TAOC-branded insulation feet provide insulation from external influences.
The N1A is fitted with AV HDD of 4T total capacity that has been circumspectly selected for better sound quality. Expansion and backup options are exactly as the N1Z. In addition, a front Panel USB port is available for importing from a USB thumb drive.
Both models are hand-built in Japan.
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.