Japanese audio specialist Melco has announced a new flagship product: the N1-S38 digital music library, which claims to offer “the best sonic performance in the company’s history”. That’s since it was founded in 1975, so that’s quite a bit.
What is a digital music library? It is essentially what Melco (Maki Engineering Laboratory Company) calls its music servers, which act as powerful and intelligent storage for your digital music files. However, you still need to add a DAC and amplifier to play music through your speakers.
The N1 would build on Melco’s expertise in digital music storage, transfer and playback knowledge, and the company’s “unique architecture that carefully transports delicate signal data while avoiding noisy high-speed elements and fast processors.” We can attest to Melco’s talents in these areas: we recently tested the N10/2-S38 (approx. £9399 / $12,200 / AU$15,495) and the less expensive N100 (£1999 / $1999), and both are five-star performers .
The N1-S38 is based on a new SSD-based platform and has been designed from scratch. It has a new chassis and housing, a new set of system electronics and new power supplies, including a newly developed high-performance transformer, power supply and local controls.
For the all-important storage portion, it has a 3.84 TB “audio-specific custom” SSD drive used in conjunction with Melco’s proprietary tiered, rigid SSD mounter. This is directly connected to the data path and bypasses any RAID controller, says Melco. The built-in memory has also been increased.
Handcrafted in Japan, the new chassis is built around a 3mm stainless steel base plate, which helps reduce unwanted vibrations that affect the music signal. The two-tone aluminum housing is complemented by teal LED lighting. An OLED display and backlit control buttons grace the front of the device, alongside a USB port.
Melco uses “molded Amphenol USB ports”, as opposed to the conventional USB connections, which the company claims can compromise ultimate performance. These are also more durable and are used for the DAC, expansion, import and backup ports on the rear panel.
To connect to your home network, Melco Neutrik offers RJ45 connectors and an enhanced LAN port. The N1-S38 also supports a switchable 10MHz external clock input – a first for a Melco music library.
The new Melco N1-S38 is now available in black or silver finish and costs £11,995 / €14,000.
Read our Melco N10/2-S38 review
And our Melco N100 review
2023 is shaping up to be a great year for hi-fi divorces, and I couldn’t be more excited