Support Your Music Library
Ed Selley - HiFi Journalist
If you use, or are moving to, a streaming-based system, your existing music should come along for the ride, too, and I’m here to explain why.
Moving your system over to network streaming offers huge benefits in terms of both performance and convenience. The nature of how you want to perform that streaming can be a matter of debate though; it feels perfectly logical to look at one of the many on demand streaming services and think, ‘Why not just use that?’
There are some compelling arguments for basing your system around an audiophile storage solution such as a Melco, though. First of all, the music you have accrued over the years is, well, your music! Ripping and storing it means you can continue to access the albums you have carefully curated and loved for years. In some cases, yours albums won’t be on streaming services. In others, the version they have might be remastered or otherwise altered from the one you know and love.
Then, there’s the quality angle. Even when we are talking about ‘lossless’ streaming, there will be compression and other processes applied to ensure it can be easily sent to multiple locations around the world. With a Melco, you can store your music in exactly the quality that it was in as either a disc or a download. It is then available to your system, supplied over dedicated network hardware that has been developed to ensure that the signal reaches your system in the highest possible quality. Thanks to Melco’s unique, dedicated ‘player out’ ethernet socket, even your streaming service material can benefit from the advanced process on the way to your streamer.
The nature of how Melco servers work means that it doesn’t really matter how your system goes together either. The entry-level N100 digital music library, the most affordable in the range, is able to send a vast variety of music formats and sample rates to a network streamer using Melco’s bespoke network hardware. Alternatively, you can use the dedicated ‘USB player’ output that Melco fits to both the N100 and indeed all Melco models. This allows for an incredibly quiet and exceptionally stable USB audio signal to be sent direct to a DAC (or indeed, an amplifier/device with a DAC input). This can be performed via Melco’s dedicated UPnP control app or you can set your Melco to be an Endpoint if you would prefer to use the excellent Roon software to control your audio.
The benefits of doing this are both performance- and convenience-based. It is easy to look at information stored on a drive and assume that it will always be the same, but that’s not the case. There are measurable benefits to the engineering that Melco regards as vital to the functioning of its products, from the vibration-damping casework, to the low-noise power supplies, through to the high-quality output stages. All of these serve to ensure that your music has the best possible origin point.
The convenience comes in the form of big storage capacities; even the N100 has no less than two (or five in the larger drive variant) terabytes at its disposal, allowing for thousands of albums to be stored in lossless quality. Thanks to dedicated ripping hardware and the presence of the superb SongKong tagging software, you can also use Melco to put your collection on the server in the first place. Simple back up procedures and the ruggedness that has made Melco’s parent company Buffalo one of the most highly regarded in network infrastructure means your data is safe with Melco.
Ultimately, the argument for a high-quality network server are rather more compelling than they might first appear. Having high-quality storage at work in your system is a foundation that helps to build towards excellent performance and ensures that your streaming system delivers on its promise. To start your journey, Melco’s dealer network is on standby to help you find the right Melco and get you up and running with the minimum of fuss.