The source is the font of all power, purity and musicality that an audiophile would want. Yes DACs, amplifiers and upscales etc. may change that sound, but what true audiophiles want is to listen to the music as originally intended, by the performing artist. Makoto Maki, founder of Melco, knew the importance of a good audio source and since 1975 Melco have been specifically designing and manufacturing the finest audio sources. Forty six years later and the audio world has changed dramatically, but out of all 1970s audio equipment manufacturers, it is Melco, who it turned out were best placed for the changes the years have seen. Many hi-end HiFi producers were small niche businesses that knew their specific areas well. They did not have access to large research and development budgets, or laboratories, this made it hard for some of them to adapt, particularly to how digital music is stored. While Melco, had been making cutting edge turn tables, they also owned Buffalo Technology, a company dedicated to cutting edge IT storage and transport technology. So Melco were well placed for the digital age we have all embraced; some of us less enthusiastically than others. Melco, an audio company with an IT arm, had the technical edge in building world class musical sources. In 1975 they said, “the undoubted masterpiece of the Melco line is the turntable.” In 2021 their masterpiece is still the best audio source on which to play the music we love.
Much debate has gone into how to allocate a HiFi budget, but if we start with a bad source even the best upscaler cannot feed our ears with the music the artist intended. While the signal maybe all zeros and ones, try reimagining it in visual form. We can consider a bad audio source signal as similar to “dropped frames” or “snow” on a visual display. After all the signal to the monitor is also digital and we have all experienced depredated displays due to interference with the signal. This will give us an idea of why not all zeros and ones are perfect, or transported in a way that they arrive with the right information and timing to create the best representation of the source. Interference comes in many forms that we will not go into here.
Having a Melco source means we have invested in good audio equipment, but great can still be made greater. It is the little things that Melco have done right that provide us a quality listening experience, but we can all do little things ourselves to heighten our listening pleasure. Here are a few simple ideas we may want to try, some obvious, some less so, let us try them and see if our listening experience improves. NB We use a USB connection.
1. Ease of use may not give us the best quality. Try operating using Twonky, yes we will miss our iPads, but one input less should give us a slight audio improvement.
2. If you don’t need it, turn it off. Lights, screens, inputs, outputs, if we are not using them and they can be turned off, doing so will help lower system noise.
3. Power conditioning. Melco have great PSUs but we may notice a slightly cleaner sound by investing in power conditioning for other components and this does not have to be expensive.
4. Interconnects. Cables do make a difference, but we need to keep them short and if we can audition a few from a friendly dealer we can see what spending a little more does for the sound. Then we can consider if the price is worth it, after spending thousands on our system, a couple of hundred on an interconnect could be a wise investment.
5. Keep our cables neat and as far apart from any other cables as possible. Also, we need to keep them off the ground and away from solid objects as this will reduce interference.
6. Grounding, we can make use of earthing to make sure static electricity is not a problem, particularly as most listen rooms have carpets that can generate static.
7. Vibration is an enemy of good sound, this is why Melco devices have such sturdy feet, but we may want to look at other ways we can isolate our systems from vibration.
8. Warming up our systems before listening improves sound quality.
9. It is thought that burning CDs from a Melco device can lead to a better sound.
10. We need to trust your ears when comparing accessories. We can listen to sales people, but we need to listen even closer to the music and how we perceive it. Sounds is personal.
11. When testing new audio we need to give our ears and brain time to adapt, sometimes a major upgrade can make the sounds so different to what we are used to that we need time to live with it.
12. Turn off any devices in our listening room that could distract, that includes digital devices, we deserve quality listening time without disturbances.
13. If in an urban environment, listening after everyone else has gone to bed can give us a greatly improved audio experience as the background hum should have died down.
14. Finally, we can take a few deep breaths, make sure we are comfor
(continued) comfortably. Then the simple act of close our eyes while we listen can heighten our aural senses.
15. Then all we need to do is press play, focus on the music, and let the Melco source be the font of all power, purity and musicality.
These are just personal reflections, please let us know if we are wrong. What tips do you have that we may have missed?