MELCO N100 MUSIC SERVER
"Decades in the making"
MELCO N100 MUSIC SERVER
The award-winning Melco N100 is the starting point to Melco ownership. The half-width design is easy to place anywhere in the home, and despite its compact dimensions, there’s a choice of 2 TB or 5 TB storage capacities, enough for even the most avid music collector.
Easy to set up and use, the N100 benefits from simple front panel buttons to navigate the internal menus, plus music playback can be controlled with Melco’s free iPadOS app when connected to a DAC.
A half-width design, the N100 offers easy placement in the home, but with the sound quality benefits of high quality internals.
The unit can be further upgraded via a 12V / 4A Melco-approved supply upgrade from the Plixir Elite BDC Series.
Furthermore, the N100 is available with either 5 TB or 2 TB HDD drives.
The Melco N100 is hand-made in Japan and builds on a proven and unique architecture that ensures the impeccable transport of the delicate signal data while avoiding noisy high-speed elements and fast processors.
Key Design Highlights
Specially selected 5.0 or 2TB TB HDD drives for audio performance
Aluminum front and top panel with brushed finish
Easy operation via app control and from high-quality positive-click front panel buttons
2 mm-thick steel sheet chassis to minimize vibration
Dedicated ‘PLAYER’ and ‘LAN’ ports for better sound quality
Crystal-clear, easy-read, low-noise OLED display
2x USB 2.0 ports on the rear, and 1x USB 2.0 port on the front panel panel for easy back up, expansion and DAC connectivity
Easy music importing from flash, CD or HDD drives
12V / 4A DC power supply, upgradable
1 x specially selected 5.0 TB HDD, or ...
1 x specially selected 2.0 TB HDD
LAN Port-Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T)
Dedicated PLAYER port :
Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T)
DHCP server in isolated mode
2 x rear panel USB 2.0 ports
1 x front panel USB 2.0 port
USB player file support
DSF, DFF, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF and AAC
USB player sample rate support
16-32 bit (PCM) to 384 kHz :
Auto downsample to suit connected DACs
Gapless PCM support
1 bit (DSD) to 11.3 MHz
Markerless DSD support
DSD to 32 bit PCM conversion
OLED displays player sample rate
110-120 V AC
215 x 61 x 269mm (WHL)
with 5.0TB HDD
with 2.0TB HDD
Plixir Elite LPSU
12V / 4A
Review Extracts - Feature Insights
We’ve used a number of music servers over the years, and the Melco N100 is probably the slickest and least obtrusive we’ve come across. It just gets on with its job quickly and without fuss.
The front panel control layout is simple, but together with the small but clear display, the N100 is easy enough to set up. The supplied manual deserves a mention for being well laid out and easy to understand.
Connectivity is limited but covers all the essentials. There are three USB 3.0 sockets and two of these can be used to connect the N100 to external storage in the form of sticks and hard drives or optical drives for ripping CDs. The third is intended for use with an external DAC.
This Melco doesn’t have a built-in DAC, so if you want to use it as a streamer, playing music from its internal storage, for example, you’ll need to add one.
There are two ethernet ports, one of which is used to hardwire to your network and the other connects to a stand-alone streamer. There is no provision for going wireless here, and that’s fair considering the additional stability hardwiring gives. Network audio set-ups normally use a dedicated network switch, but the N100’s arrangement makes things cleaner and more direct.
Melco has a dedicated app, but it currently only works for the iPad. If you use an Apple or Android phone, you’ll have to use third-party alternatives, such as mconnect Player or similar, which work well enough.
Build quality is good with a solid casework finished to a high standard. The chassis is made of 2mm thick steel with the rest of the panels using aluminium. It’s a fan-less design to minimise unwanted noise and proves quiet during use. It’s clear that Melco takes a great deal of care over how its products are made.
We connect the N100 into our test room network and use our reference Naim ND555/555PS music streamer to compare its performance as a server to our usual Naim Uniti Core HDD unit. The other main difference between the servers is that the Naim includes a disc drive for ripping CD while the Melco doesn’t.
The company makes a dedicated unit called the D100 for £1099 ($1,250), but this one in fact adds CD Transport functionality.
We load the same music files (hi-res and CD quality) on both the N100 and Uniti Core and listen through our reference system, which includes a Burmester 088/911 Mk 3 pre/power combo and ATC’s SCM 50 speakers.
The differences aren’t massive but they are consistent, whether we listen to a Shostakovich symphony or Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly set. The files from the Melco sound crisper and cleaner. Leading edges are more precise and the overall presentation is a touch more stable.
We also use the N100 as a stand-alone streamer, listening to the music from its own storage and that of the Uniti Core. It can cope with pretty much everything from 32-bit/384kHz PCM to DSD512 and also supports Tidal and Qobuz. The Melco works well when partnered with the Chord DAC, and is right up there with the best streaming solutions we’ve heard at this level when partnered this way.
We listen to Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker and the Melco/Chord combo does an excellent job communicating the brooding mood of the track. There’s plenty of detail and it is well organised, with Cohen’s rough tones coming through with the right amount of gruffness and authority.
There’s a good amount of drive to that menacing bassline, giving the song a solid foundation. It all sounds impressively detailed, but with enough in the way of dynamic expression, punch and drive to prevent things sound too analytical.
The story is similarly positive when we play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The Melco/Chord pairing delivers a forceful yet controlled sound, one that has an expansive and precise sound stage that exploits the scale of the recording well. We have no complaints when it comes to outright sonic authority or punch.
Tonally, things are even and open, with a decent dose of natural warmth to convince. It’s a refined sound, one that never veers towards undue aggression or harshness.
The Melco N100 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a high-quality streamer with storage built-in and already have a capable DAC. The company’s computer heritage shines through in the slick, fuss-free operation, making the N100 highly recommended.
Sound 5 / Build 5 / Features 5