NAS Vs Dedicated Music Server

I just thought I would share my experience with moving from a NAS to a dedicated music server for those that are interested.

My system comprised a Linn Klimax DS/3, ATC Active 40 Speakers, Synology DS220J NAS, EE8 Switch and currently Catsnake Cat6A throughout. I have swapped the standard ATC power cords for Naim Powerlines (Hence my tenuous link to this forum!). I copied all my music from cd using DBpoweramp and used Asset.

Whilst I was fairly happy with my system I was never completely sure about the Synology NAS whirring away in the corner and wondered if this was the weak link and whether I was getting the most out of my system. Although adding the EE8 Switch a few months ago made a nice improvement to the sound quality and probably the best value for money upgrade to date.

Having managed to save a bit over the last 12 months by working from home I enquired about a Melco Server I saw for sale at a well known dealer. It is the top of the range Melco Server with the SSD and was nearly half price of a brand new one. I spoke to the dealer who said I could return it within 14 days if I wasn’t happy.

The Melco promptly arrived the following day and I set it up. I was extremely surprised of how easy it was to transfer all my music from the NAS to the Melco via a USB HDD. What I wasn’t expecting was the significant increase in sound quality from the Melco compared to the NAS. It is incredible and shows how much the NAS was holding things back. Also access to music via the Linn app is quicker and also the Melco is silent. Obviously the Melco didn’t go back!
As the Ethernet cable from the Router via the EE8 switch is routed through the Melco, the sound quality of Tidal has improved too!

I just wanted to share my experience with the Melco vs the Synology NAS if others were thinking of trying a dedicated music server. Although to Caveat this I do have the top of the range Melco SSD server and haven’t compared it to cheaper models or any alternatives.

Where do I go from here? Well maybe in the future try the BJC ethernet cables I purchased recently and perhaps try a better power cord on the Melco.

Happy listening!

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Very interesting, thanks for sharing your experience. My setup is very similar to yours, except I use Linn ADSM Katalyst instead of Klimax and my NAS is QNAP TS-253D running Roon core and my music library. It’s in another room and music streams over LAN to the living room and ADSM. Same speakers and switch here, though I’m waiting 50ASL’s to arrive soon to replace 40A’s.

Did you have your NAS in another room or next to the setup? I experimented with both ways and heard zero difference when I moved the NAS and Roon server + core to another room, so I left it there. I’ve also been thinking about trying Melco or something similar but I’m very skeptical about possible improvement in sound quality. Though I was very skeptical with EE8 switch also and it stayed in my setup…

Please be sure to post your thoughts when that happens. I for one would be very interested in what you have to say.

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Hi Patu

My NAS was in the diagonally opposite corner of the same room, so you could hear it running when listening to the quieter parts of the music. I would say the improvement in sound quality going from the NAS to the Melco is larger than going from my Naim 272+555DR to the Linn Klimax which was pretty impressive.

I’m very jealous of you getting some 50ASL’s and would love to hear your impressions of them compared to your 40’s. What finish have you gone for? I love my Active 40’s but would like to hear some 50’s one day but couldn’t fit them in my room currently. The 50 ASLT’s would be my dream speaker.

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Sure thing, they should arrive by the end of March.

Well that’s no small difference then. Maybe I’ll try separate Roon core in the future but now it feels pointless since it runs so smoothly on my budget NAS. I also need to recover from the massive financial hit I took from the speaker upgrade.

I ordered 50’s in black ash. I used to own passive 40’s in black ash, actives in matte black and now I go back to black ash. I think it fits better with the vintage look of 50’s. Linn SO makes any speaker fit pretty much any space so no problem there. I’ll use them in regular living room with ~30m2 space.

Classic or towers?

I think SCM50ASL Classics in black ash would be my (potentially attainable, and housable) dream speaker.

Well it seems that I have ordered your dream speakers. I also prefer classic look to towers. Not a huge fan of the bottom plate on towers.

These should be my endgame speakers. There’s nothing better in ATC lineup, just bigger with more bass.

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I can share similar experience. Going from bare Nds to Nds/ ER/ Melco was a big improvement, even more than going from Nds to Nd555, I could compare at dealer place.
I have the middle Melco, N1z2.

I agree with you FR. I’m surprised more hasn’t been written about the improvement in sound quality a Melco server can bring over a NAS.

You have 2 past thread: Melco mania and Melco vs Unitserve…
A lot here, with Nd555, reported great uplift in sound using a Melco, vs a Nas.
One member reported the same using DCS.

Prior to moving to streaming and an Innuos I did a lot of thinking, reading and listening. A NAS can sound very good often more than good enough but I’ve yet to hear dedicated server which didn’t beat it in some way with relative ease.

Thanks FR, I will take a look at the other threads. Have you tried a different power cord like a Naim powerline on your Melco?

My dealer recommended using a Powerline on my Melco N1 and I had a spare one so put it in from the off. I haven’t bothered to try the supplied Melco power lead as I have no other use for the PL so I used it.

Thanks Michael that’s good to know. I’ll have to look out for a mint used example when the time is right. Can I ask which Melco model you have?

I don’t like powerline personally. I have a Kharma matrix, which gave a little uplift.

I have the Melco N1ZS/2 which has a 2TB SSD with a Melco E100 3TB HDD expansion drive. I also have a Melco D100 for ripping my CDs. My Melco is fed from an ER switch powered by a Paul Hynes SR4T supply. My ER switch is connected directly to my router. My player is an ND555 with two 555PS.
My original NAS drive is now in my office and used as my backup.

Very nice Michael. I have the same model with the 2TB SSD. Did you experiment with alternative ripping drives or just go for the Melco D100? I hear this can improve the sound quality still further rather than ripping using a standard cd drive.

Well, it depends on the NAS. I wrote about this on the old forum. When I examined it, I found a correlation between my media server sound performance preference (whether standalone or in a NAS or in a general purpose computer) and the network inter frame timing consistency.
This was marked with the first gen streamers, even when running in transport mode.
With the newer streamers in transport mode, this sonic preference ceased to be usefully noticeable.

At the time I shared my findings with Naim during the time the new streamers were in development.

I did try and an earlier Melco device, with various NAS, PC, OSX servers, and the UnitiSsrve. My absolute preference was a simple Netgear RN02 NAS running Ready DLNA. Really suprising, but down on the wire it had a clear frame timing consistency profile. It was interesting research.

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I found the D100 gave me improved performance over using my standard PC cd drive using dbPoweramp. My dealer demonstrated rips of the same tracks using the Melco Ripper and ones done on a computer through a top 500 system and It is difficult to put into words , but the Melco rips just sounded more musical to my ears. Others hereabouts have found similar others have not and there was much discussion if you search back on the forum. You really have to make your own decision if you can borrow a D100 to try.

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Simon - Thanks for your views, that’s really interesting. I changed from an old Synology DS213J NAS to a Synology DS220J with an ifi Power supply last year and that made a slight improvement but changing to the Melco has improved things significantly in my system and I really feel that the NAS in my case was holding things back.

Michael - Thanks for your feedback on the D100. I don’t buy that many cd’s anymore but if and when I’m able to afford a D100 Ripper, maybe I will try and borrow one to see if the improvement is worthwhile. Although the thought of re-ripping all my music collection again isn’t something to look forward to!

Many thanks