Melco N1A - an instrumental part of my review hardware
With thanks to Ed Selley, freelance journalist for avforums.com, Hi-Fi Choice and Home Cinema Choice
When I was sent the Melco N1A for review back in 2015, I will freely admit to a degree of scepticism about the notion of ‘audiophile storage’. Even by that time, I had been using network audio players for a number of years and the storage arrangements I had up until that point, had seemed perfectly adequate for the task. After a week or so, my attitude had changed to the point where I purchased the N1A and it has remained with me ever since!
The initial testing I carried out on the N1A was enough to demonstrate that Melco has not only built a range of products that improved the performance of a network audio set-up I had previously thought was performing optimally, but had done so at the same time as producing a product that actually felt more robust and rugged than the equipment I had previously selected for that purpose.
In some ways, the sonic benefits are the ‘expected’ bit of the equation. Thanks to the use of audiophile components in critical areas of the design, the N1A ensures that content is delivered in the most accurate fashion to your network audio player. Thanks to the use of a dedicated output from the Melco drive to your player, the connection between the two units is not being called upon to do anything else and the benefits of this arrangement are considerable. Crucially, across dozens of different test subjects, although the level of improvement has varied a little, the Melco has always improved the performance of the device connected to its output over using it in a normal network arrangement.
There are other hi-fi considerations, too. Firstly, it is completely silent, not ‘silent from my listening position’ or ‘silent until you’re near it’ but silent. The idea of my old NAS drive sitting in the same rack space would have been crazy (and by the standards of most ‘bay’-type NAS drives, it was pretty quiet) but the N1A has done so since day one without a second’s thought. Perhaps less importantly, (but still something I like) is that it looks good while it does so.
For me though, the ruggedness and reliability of the N1A have been just as important to it becoming an instrumental part of my review hardware. It has been in constant use since it arrived and on occasions, has travelled offsite with me to be used to test other systems and it hasn’t missed a beat. It still boots from a standing start in 18 seconds and appears on my network with the reliability of a bullet train.
It is also worth noting that despite being an original Melco product and one superseded by the improved Melco N1A/2, I still receive software updates and functionality roll-outs for it. Melco has supported their products with a diligence that any high-end brand would be proud of and ensured that my N1A is better now than when it originally won me over when it first arrived. I don’t regard hi-fi equipment as an ‘investment’ but if any piece of equipment I’ve bought could justify the term, it would most likely be this one.