Melco Mania

Whilst looking at various options beyond my Raspberry Pi to stream Qobuz and Tidal and maybe 1GB worth of ripped files.

Is it over kill and benefit?

Is your question, “Should I buy a Melco music server”
Additionally are you wanting to know if that solution has tangible benefits over similar alternatives?

What system are you looking to add that server to?

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I have heard a number of the Melco derivatives and they do sound really good, but i have only heard them in nd555/252/552 or S1 statement systems. It would depend on your system fir it to be a worthwhile upgrade or spend the money elsewhere…new streamer if you have a pc or nas?

A Nova, I have no intention of going multi box.

I have been looking at a NUC, but specing it up hits £800 latest 8th GEN I7.

I could not justify the price of a Melco when i had my Nova, they are more expensive than a Nova except for the new cheaper version N100. I used a Uniti Core. The Melco can do streaming, but so does your Nova. The bit i like about Melco is the direct downloads to the unit, not via a pc…but it does not rip cd,s…like the Core.

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The main benefit of the Melco products is the isolation of the Ethernet interfaces between the typically noisy LAN and the path between the hard drive inside the Melco server and the streamer/DAC.

I spent a fair bit of time myself looking at music servers covering Uniti Core, various Melco’s, Innuos, and also home baked NUC/NAS type setups.

I didn’t find one that really ticked all the boxes, the main benefit I found with the Melco products was sound quality so if that is top of your list you can’t go wrong really. If you want a more “does it all” solution that also has a CD drive and pretty UI then I found the Innuos products to be very good, albeit with a slight loss of sound quality vs the Melco servers.
If you want a “Naim on the box” solution then the Uniti core does a good job but potentially won’t sound the best but looks nice in a rack and has the OS on flash and not on the HDD as well as having a BNC digital output.

I’m leaning towards a homebrew solution using optimised components that allows me to configure and modify how I want.

Price wise to get something nicely integrated, easy to use and with acceptable sound quality across a range of systems (1/2/3 boxes) I’d probably lean towards an Innuos Zen Mini

There was quite a bit about Melco by happy users on the old forum, but unfortunately I think it’s search capability is still restricted to thread titles - but it could be worth a look.

I recall that ome people who have compared prefered the Innuos Zenith to the similarly priced Melco version.

My own interest is as spa store-renderer (aka player), to feed direct to DAC without streaming live across a network - I.e. a ready-built off-the-shelf equivalent to what I presently have (MAC Mini-Audirvana) for when that reaches end of life. I did once compare mine with a Melco N1A, in a dealer’s demo room, through Dave DAC, Bryston 4Bsst power amp and PMC Fact 12 speakers, when there was no obvious difference in sound quality. (But it was only a very brief comparison, so I can’t say if there were subtle differences that would take time to appreciate).

Innuos have a range of similar products, then there is a the ALLO Digi-One Signature, and I recall there’s something from DCS. At one time I thought the Uniti Core might be a contender, but received wisdom suggests not as good. And then the more DIY end, e.g built around the UltraRendu and Raspberry Pi, where people fuss with power supplies etc - those are different in not being one-box ready made solutions, but maybe less costly for the same result.

And how they all compare with one another in sound quality (to me the most important factor), and usability (likely to be more of a consideration to me in the future), is very hard to know as there tend at the most to be binary comparisons, by different people in different systems, and some impractical fo own trial without buying. So any information anyone can give with direct comparative reviews of any against any other is useful!

innuos zen mini? 1k euros

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in black please! i know you prefer black my friend

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I ran a Melco N1A for 3 years. Super product and it worked well as a USB source and latterly a UPnP server. I only moved on from the Melco due to adding Roon so a Nucleus now provides ripped files from an internal SSD drive and Tidal to my main hi-fi, headphone system and various other devices in the house. A Cisco 2960 (for me anyway) provides as good a quality replay as the Player port on the Melco. Mileage of course, may vary. This setup has allowed me to enjoy both local and streamed content with no difference in quality via an excellent GUI. Love it.

Thank all will read up on the other black options :grinning:

Picking up an Innuos Zenith mk3 tomorrow (in black) which is replacing a Melco NA1.

The Melco was/is great and very much better than my Qnap, but the Zenith is a league ahead of it and all other Melcos that I’ve tried.

Intrigued by the comment above suggesting that a Cisco 2960 is a sonic replacement for a Melco, I found that it actually enhanced it and use both.

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Interested in hearing why you think this Dave. Specifically, are you referring to relative sound quality?

Yes, there is also the dCS Network Bridge. I don’t want to become a bore about this, but it’s a superb streamer. I don’t use it for local streaming only via Tidal. But not cheap even SH.
There’s a thread on it on this Forum and one on a fishy place too in case you want to know more.

Nice. Would love to know your comments on how much better than a Melco NA1/2. I recently replaced an older QNAP with a Melco NA1/2 and thought it to be a worthwhile upgraded. I also compared to a Uniti Core and preferred the Melco. In my case it works as a music server only, feeding a Nova.

Also have a Cisco 2960 and a few ethernet isolators but have not used it with the Melco. Will have to try.

Hi KJC and Ants,

Just back from Sonority, where I picked up the Zenith, Steve Hitch having kindly loaded a few albums and showed me round the unit and how easy it is to use. First of all, it’s an absolute breeze in comparison to the Melco, which was a bit of a faff to load in comparison. I can also do everything via my iPad, which makes life soooo much easier, including updating/changing artwork and adding my own choice of tags, which will make it great for classical albums. Currently still using Lumin but will check out iPeng, which seems to be Innuos’ choice.

Sound-wise, fresh out of the box, it’s crisp and very confident, wonderfully detailed and spacious. There’s a sense of ease, too. 16-bit recordings so far are sounding pretty 24-bit-ish!

I’ll give it a few weeks to burn in - there are a ton of power supplies - before making a final assessment v Melco but so far very impressive.

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Still pondering over this, selling point for me was the galvanic isolation the Melco offers, the Cisco 2960 does not and i actually found that a very subtle but worthwhile improvement.

Concerned i end up with a Router / Switch / Melco / Streamer, surely more blocks in the chain are not good.

@Dave how are you getting on with the Innuos Zenith, specifically versus the Melco.

This needs qualifying; all ports on all devises, switches, players, NAS’s, broadband hubs, etc. are galvanically isolated.
Maybe someone can explain how the Melco has addition isolation over & above the standard port galvanic, if I remember right it has additional optoisolation
Whatever I suspect that will end up as a never ending goat trail, i.e. “what extra isolation does my player or NAS have” e.g. My NDX has two optoisolation points between each of the data/signal flow stages in addition to the standard port isolation.
For me its not what is has or how it does it, (interesting as that is to me) its ultimately how it sounds vs something else.

Really well. I finished loading everything onto it on Saturday and, again, was delighted by how easy it is to work the thing. I removed all the duplicates, added some missing artwork and fixed text errors - all in about an hour and, conveniently, on the iPad - and added a couple of new Bandcamp purchases. Previously, I would download them to my laptop, create a new folder into which I’d extract the file, then decompress it and possibly edit/tag it, before, at Melco’s specific advice, copying it to a USB and then stuffing it in the front of the Melco, press a couple of buttons and, finally, wait for it to rescan and appear in Lumin. It was a rigmarole. Now I just download the file and copy it to the Innuos import folder ( a sort of quarantine area) and it does everything else. Done and ready to play in no time at all.

Sound-wise, the Melco is still very good and a solid step up over my NAS, but the early impressions of the Innuos are intact. It has a level of confidence that the Melco simply didn’t, there’s more scale and space and a solidity to the bass that adds a touch of polish to what was already a really good performance. It’s a definite improvement in my system.

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