Dem of Melco in 500 System

I know little about this topic so forgive the basic questions and lengthy post; I haven’t found specifics on my issues in other threads with similar subjects. My Unitiserve is getting a bit clunky so I mentioned to a dealer from whom I was collecting some Stax headphones the possibility of changing it to a Core. He recommended trying Melco instead. So I have had a Melco N1Z/2 (non EX) and a D100 ripper/transport delivered (obviously dealer can’t set up/help as usual at the moment). For reference, I use a 500DR/552DR/ND555/LP12 system into Titan 808s with all Superlumina on one Fraim stack and 2 wall shelves connected to dedicated wall sockets into a separate Consumer Unit. The ND555 is powered by 1x555PS DR currently. I still have the CD555 powered by 1x555PS (non DR) on the other side of the room, (usurped in the Fraim by the ND) connected to the 552 with a long medium quality IC cable (forget which, a few £00) where the US, modem and Netgear switch are also located near the main BT socket, connected with Melco and Chord C-stream Ethernet cables and connected to the ND555 with a long Chord C-stream Ethernet cable and powered into a wireworld powerblock plugged into the regular power supply/consumer unit with a Powerline Lite. Initiatives underway already include changing the non DR 555PS for a new DR one and connecting that to the ND555 as I rarely use the CD555 any more, mostly Qobuz, Hi Res where possible. Unfortunately this will require splitting back to two stacks (again) and adding levels as I lack the amount of Fraim for this currently. Accordingly I have acquired some used levels of Maple Fraim to match the existing, as it’s discontinued, but haven’t found a base yet. This will mean the CD555 will be useable only by changing the PS’s from the ND555 as buying more 555PS’s/Fraim is not feasible, so isn’t likely to happen often if ever!

So the questions:
*Have others with similar systems found that they preferred Melco to the Unitiserve and/or Core?
*Does one need a server (in this case Melco or Naim US/Core) to use Qobuz: I guess not to listen, only to download files?

  • How would I likely find the N1Z/2 I have vs the N100, N1ZH or N10 and all vs the Unitiserve or Core?
  • For some illogical reason, I want to still be able to play CDs immediately, can I use the D100 to do this (I seemed to find different views on this)? Is it that you can if you connect the D100 directly to the ND555 with a USB cable as well as an Ethernet cable from the server?
    *Is the S100 switch worth a listen at some stage, or the Chord one vs the basic Netgear one?
    *I will have to have the Melco stuff initially across the room from the ND555, what have those with a similar approach found is worthwhile on quality/cost of cables? Which ones are most important to use the best quality on? I heard the connection from the Melco server to the ND555 is most important? But also what hierarchy between server to switch, switch to modem, modem to wall, D100 to ripper (and ND555?)? The lengths required also affect cost of course; once the Fraim base is acquired the server can go on it and use a HQ short cable to the ND555, possibly with the D100 too, but there will still be a long cable necessary to connect to the switch/modem.
    *Where does the benefit of the Plixir power supplies fit in terms of budgetary priority for SQ effect on the Server/D100/Switch/potential future HDD expansion unit, as I understand you can get a single, double or quadruple power feed unit. Will need to allow for some of the Melco units eventually being on opposite sides of the room as not practicable for even more Fraim and to move the main BT feed across the room.
  • How about using Powelines or Powerline Lites on the Melco? In which priority if not replacing all power cables at once?
  • Lastly; on initial listening between D100 rips to the N1Z/2 vs Unitiserve rips/files vs standard res Qobuz vs Hi Res Qobuz, there didn’t seem to be much between the Melco/US and standard Qobuz, with the Hi Res a bit “better”; so is it all worthwhile!?! Though I’ve had time to compare only a few tracks at lowish volume through the 808s (due to working wife/studying daughter) and through the Stax, more over the weekend.

Any relevant experience anyone can report would be of interest,

Thanks and apologies again for the length of post!


A few random thoughts to add to your confusion!

Switch - lots written on these -check out other threads but there appears to be a real benefit for streaming by introducing an ER or EE switch to the chain. Very cost effective uplift, until you start digging into power supplies…!

Cables - the most important interconnect cable is the one finally connecting to the nd555. If you have a temporary set up I would stick with what you have and when things are brought closer together consider a high quality interconnect eg chord sarum t or music for a short run.

Capacity - have a think about what overall storage capacity you need for your music. The high end streamers tend to have quite small capacity drives. Have a think about are they going to be sufficient and, if not, how will you manage the overspill.

Melco v Innuos - some on here much prefer the operating functionality of the Innuos. There is another company in UK whose name I can’t recall who will build a computer with full roon functionality and large hard drive capacity which would be plug and play. I wish I had gone this route and avoided a lot of faffing about with computer type issues I know nothing about (nor do I wish to learn!!). I think most on here will steer you in the melco/ innuos direction rather than core - but I could be wrong!

Power cables - I found a real benefit to my innuos statement when I added a naim powerline. Worth experimenting with as I’m sure you’ll have some spare in your system!

Hope some of the above is of some help and that others don’t unpick too much of it!!


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@Steve and Dark Bear have both Melco servers and rippers. Should help.
I have the N1z2. For me it’s a great uplift vs my past Unitserve.


IIRC some also thought the Innuos Zenith sounded better - however that may well depend on which version specifically, which version of Melco, and how connected to the streamer.

I understand Melco has a ‘direct’ mode, however named, for best sound quality but reduced donvenience.

I had Ínnuos Zenith and Melco EX- Melco wins hands down in SQ. Both are connected to Cisco 2960, prefer this vs direct attached mode. Sold my Zenith now to fund MasterClock for dCS.

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I use a Melco N10 and D100 ripper combo and think they are great. The D100 works as a CD player also if you desire, just select ‘play CD’ vs ‘Import CD’ it connects via USB to the Melco.

I prefer the sound of my rips played via the Melco N10 to HiRes on Qobuz. Both are high quality but there is something very organic about the rips.

I would consider moving the PS555 from the CD player over to the ND555 if at all possible. 2 supplies are stunning when done right. You would also still be able to play CD’s via the Melco. I never do. I wait 5 mins for the rip and then play the rip as the sound is much better. The D100 is decent its just the rips via the N10 are better!

The Melco improves the sound of Qobuz steams as well. I guess the signal is routed through it so acts as a sort of switch.

I have not used the Melco switch, I use 2x Etheregen’s powered with a custom power supply that also feeds the D100. I have never used the D100 without an external P/S btw so all my comments above are based on powering it with s Sean Jacobs custom P/S

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My understanding of this is that the Melco D100 ripper only acts as a CD player if your Melco N1 server is connected to a USB DAC… is the N10 different in this respect with no DAC required? I have mine directly connected to my N1 via USB which in turn is connected via Ethernet to my ND555 and therefore I cannot play CDs directly from the D100… if you can I would be interested to learn how you achieved this… useful if a friend wants to play a CD without ripping it first. Thanks.

You do not need any server to listen or to download Qobuz files.

A server just makes your rips and downloads available for other devices (streamers, transports, mobile phones, TVs, etc.) in your local network.

Also, notice that the UnitiCore does not anyway support internet radio and streaming services.

This means that if you connect the Core to the ND555 with an SPDIF cable (thus bypassing the streaming card of the ND555) you will not be able to stream Qobuz data to the ND555 via the Core.

Thanks for the helpful comments. Some are very useful: Steve, the D100 connects to the Melco server by USB; to play CDs does it need to be connected directly to the ND555? By USB? Or can the server be connected by Ethernet cable?

Also how about control? I’m happy with the Naim App but it seems the Melco one has advantages. Does it work well with the ND555? Did I read that the Melco one is only IOS, as I use an old Samsung tablet for the Naim App at the moment?



To the best of my knowledge you cannot control Naim streamers with a UPnP or OpenHome control point unless you turn the Naim streamers into OpenHome devices using BubbleUPnP Server.

Apropos BubbleUPnP: if you have an Android table you could try the BubbleUPnP app. It is in my view one of the best apps and allows you to seamlessly control DLNA, UPnP and OpenHome devices.

You would need to use the SPDIF input on ND555, not USB.

@MichaelF you are correct. I used the Melco initially with a separate Dac whilst ripping music pre the ND555. I have never had the need to listen to a CD since. I have still not ripped my entire collection, maybe by the end of the year! I just see no point when it takes only 5 mins ish to rip. I have almost all CD’s ripped anyway so its only if I want to listen to something thats not ripped and not on Qobuz. Rare. The CD replay via a dac was good but not as good as a rip so for 5 mins of time I would never use that function now. None of my friends have CD’s :joy::joy: they have been streaming since Spotify became a thing! Quality is not their concern!

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Thank you for the confirmation Steve. Like you I have not ever had occasion to play a CD since I have my entire library now ripped and as you say any new CDs are available to play almost immediately if in the ripping process on the D100.

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I have a Melco N1ZH/2 which I use with a Buffalo BRXL external blu ray/CD drive for ripping. This was recommended by my dealer and is £1000 cheaper than the D100. The rips are very good, better than those from DBpoweramp, but perhaps not quite as good as those made on the D100. Possibly worth a look and you can play the CDs directly from the Buffalo drive if you wish, although I use it only for ripping.

I am sorry but this characterization of CD rips makes no sense: either a rip is an exact copy or it is not an exact copy of the original data. In the second case, it is rejected by any decent ripping software included dBpoweramp. There are no good rips, better rips, not quite as good rips as, etc. If you are not confident about the capability of a ripping system to make exact copies of the original data, just buy downloads and forget about ripping.


My system is similar like yours 500DR/552DR/ND555 no LP12 …SL2sp and my server to ND555 is Melco N10…i did audition core before buying Melco…i preferred Melco…but it`s not a fair comparison,Melco is much more expensive even yours is about twice the price

it`s impossible to use it to ND555

I am sorry but I disagree. You can hear the difference very clearly. Otherwise why would anyone spend £1200 on a Melco D100 ripper? I was merely advocating a relatively cheap improvement over DBpoweramp which I have used for more than 6 years. I’m sure there are numerous variables that contribute to what you actually hear from a rip or, indeed, from a hires download. Each to his own.


I have a full Melco stack N10, D100, S100 into a DNS2+555DR. I have it connected by the S200 switch at the moment but also sometimes ethernet direct. I also have it conncted via usb to spdif using a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB/Spdif. See my profile for a run down. The 3 methods of conection all have different sound signatures and suit different types of music, you would need to experiment to see which you prefered. Being able to play CDs with the D100 is a useful and we use it that way every now and then, it sounds great but probably not as good as your CD555! Powerlines make bit of difference to the sound, go for your main Melco unit first.
Listen, decide, enjoy, make backups!

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I have no doubts that you can hear differences between rips but the question is which conclusions do you draw draw from this fact.

If you hear a difference (on the same system, when served from the same device, at more or less the same the same time, etc.) between two identical files, then you have a bias.

If the two files are not identical, then they cannot be both perfect copies of the same CD.

It is all too easy to make a rip that “sounds better” than a bit perfect copy, but this is not the goal of ripping.

For a ripping program/device, the highest priority is to make perfect copies, not to generate new data that please a specific customer, in a specific system, etc.

The fact that the D100 costs more than an off-the-shelf CD reader doesn’t mean anything. It hopefully has a much better build quality than a cheap 30$ CD reader, it is perhaps faster, it is built in limited numbers, it is sold by a manufacturer of HiFi devices …