Melco N10 (N10P/PS10) Network Audio Library Page 2

As a player – used straight into a DAC – the N10 can handle LPCM files to 384kHz/32-bit in FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF and AAC formats as well as DSD64 to 512 in both DSF and DFF formats, while as a server (into a network player) it can also deliver MP3, WMA and OGG. Of course, that's all dependent on the capabilities of the equipment to which it's playing or serving, but whichever route you choose, the N10 arrives ready to deliver, with both a USB cable and a Cat 6 Ethernet cable joining the power supply link in the box.

Under app control, the Melco N10 can also stream music from a range of online services including Qobuz and Tidal, and direct purchase and download from online stores including Aside from the ability to drive it via various control apps, including Melco's own, it's also possible to control the N10 via the simple quartet of front-panel buttons and the informative OLED display. And installation is as easy as the navigation: plug the two units together, connect up mains, Ethernet and USBs, press the button under the front left of the head unit, and the red LED on the power supply turns blue to match the lamp that's just illuminated on the other box.

sqnote Jury Service
If the jury's still out on the effect of Melco's libraries when hooked up with a third-party network player – some claim major gains in sound quality, others are less convinced – then the benefits of its direct USB output, driving an outboard DAC, are almost wholly agreed upon. Comparison with a number of laptop and desktop computers, including Windows and OSX models, plus the direct output of my Roon Core/Intel NUC, were illuminating, in that the N10 appeared to bring a little more life and air to the sound, give a firmer bass and in general make music just a little easier to enjoy thanks to its enhanced detail resolution.


However, what's more apposite is that the N10 provides what one could describe as a neutral platform on which a DAC can operate, effectively taking the 'transport effect' out of the equation and allowing the sonic qualities of your digital converter of choice to shine through. Tried with a variety of DACs, from the little Chord Mojo [HFN Jan '16] all the way up to Naim's ND555 [HFN Apr '19], the Melco N10 proved more about the sound of the DAC than any audio signature of its own, as has previously been noted with the server at the heart of editor PM's own Melco-based reference system.

Old And New
What's more, the improved clarity the N10 brings to the party is evident across the board, from the most 'audiophile' of recordings through to dense and murky albums of the past. Playing Hawkwind's 1974 Hall Of The Mountain Grill [EMI 7243 5 30035 2 4], with its dense washes of synths and driving rock mayhem, it's clear that, with a high-quality DAC, the N10 gives a greater insight into this space-rock mix.

This was obvious even with the live 'You'd Better Believe It', which is a fine example of how good the band could sound at one of their immersive – and mighty loud – gigs.


With an ultra-clean recording, such as the march from Spielberg's 1941 [John Williams At The Movies; Reference Recordings RR-142, 176.4kHz/24-bit], what's noticeable is not just the clarity of the instrumental tone but the sheer explosive punch of the percussion, and this holds true as the track builds to its thunderous conclusion.Fascinating, too, is the focus the combination of the N10 and the Naim DAC brings to Cyrille Aimée's take on Sondheim on her Move On album [Mack Avenue MAC1144; 96kHz/24-bit]. This set almost redefines the concept of close-miked vocals, but on the right system, as here, the quality of Aimée's voice, set against modest instrumental forces, is captivating in its intimacy.

That combination of clarity and dynamics is also much in evidence with the exceptional concert recordings on Béla Fleck and The Flecktones' Live Art [Warner Bros 9362-46247-2], from the crispness of Fleck's picking through the grumbling bass and propulsive percussion. Victor Wootten's stunning solo version of 'Amazing Grace' shows the bass definition here at its finest, while the extended jams with some illustrious guests illustrate just how much detail is on offer when the Melco N10 is combined with high-quality digital-to-analogue conversion.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
As ever, it's hard to allocate a sound quality score to a product such as this, as it's more about what it doesn't do to the audio. But the N10 certainly provides a neutral platform for your DAC of choice, and when you add in the convenience, its ease of use once set-up and loaded with music, the slick looks of the new two-box format and the overall sense of a product built for purpose, it's surely impossible to ignore.

Buffalo Technology
Supplied by: Kog Audio Ltd, UK
024 7722 0650