Melco Audio has launched the N1-S38, an all-new flagship SSD-based digital music library that’s said to offer the best sonic performance in the company’s history; that level of performance comes at a rather steep price ($11,995) and is geared towards users looking to connect their digital music library to multiple network players in a multi-room system configuration.
The new ground-up design is based around a new platform, with a new chassis and casework, plus new power supplies.
A full-width design, the all-new N1-S38 distils Melco’s decades-long digital music storage, transfer and playback knowledge into an advanced new flagship with great new features.
The N1-S38 benefits from a totally new set of system electronics, a new mainboard, plus a new mains transformer, supply and local regulators.
An audio-specific custom 3.84 TB SSD drive, which benefits from Melco’s proprietary layered, rigid SSD mounter, is directly connected to the data path without any intervening RAID controller; on-board memory is increased, too.
Hand-made in Japan, in line with all of Melco’s uncompromising digital libraries, the N1-S38 is the first all-new Melco design since the half-width N10 and N100 series launched in 2018.
The all-new N1-S38 builds on Melco’s proven, unique architecture which carefully transports delicate signal data while avoiding noisy high-speed elements and fast processors.
All-new chassis and casework
Key to the N1-S38’s sophisticated new look is Melco’s all-new casework which benefits from highly stable chassis construction centred around a robust 3 mm stainless steel base plate to minimise unwanted vibration.
Externally, the N1-S38 is complemented by precision-machined two-tone aluminium casework on the remaining five faces, ranging in thickness from 2 mm up to a generous 5 mm, representing a significant upgrade over the half-width N10/2 and N100 models.
The new fascia design features a unique engraved Melco logo using a special technique, with the bold new aesthetics continuing with the substantial contrasting casework corners which are also machined from solid aluminium billet.
The front panel features Melco’s familiar high-quality positive-click fascia control buttons (now illuminated), a crystal-clear easy-read OLED display panel, plus a USB port. New complementary teal LED lighting provides additional aesthetic appeal.
The N1-S38’s low-slung steel base plate design and subsequent low-centre-of-gravity chassis construction, prevents unwanted resonance from interfering with the delicate music signal.
At the audiophile-performance level of the N1-S38, conventional USB connections can compromise ultimate performance, so robust die-cast Amphenol USB ports are provided for the rear-mounted DAC, Expansion, Import and Backup ports, for improved performance and durability with heavier-grade premium cables and connectors.
The Melco concept of a dedicated Player port for direct connection to network players is now enhanced by precision Neutrik RJ45 connectors; the LAN port is similarly upgraded.
Following the pioneering application of SFP Fibre (Small Form Factor Pluggable) connectivity in the Melco S10 and recent S100/2 data switch, the new N1-S38 benefits from an SFP port for direct fibre connection to a suitably equipped player or network infrastructure.
Further features include a large, newly developed high-capacity power transformer, which is mounted on its own sub-chassis and exceeds that of the existing flagship, the N10/2. This is complemented by a new bespoke device for the capacitor bank.
Price and availability
The all-new Melco N1-S38 is available now in black or silver for $11,995 through Luxman America. It is also available in Europe for £11,995 / €14,000.
Melco (Maki Engineering Laboratory Company) was established by Makoto Maki in 1975 in Japan. Maki, an enthusiastic audiophile, established the company to design and manufacture the finest audio components of the time; the undoubted masterpiece of the Melco line was the turntable (introduced into the UK in 1980) which set new standards in music reproduction.
From those early beginnings, Melco developed into the largest computer peripherals manufacturer in Japan (Buffalo Inc.), offering advanced products based on rigorous R&D. These included wireless routers, Ethernet data switches and storage devices such as NAS drives. Now, the company is proud to revive the highly respected Melco brand, offering discerning audiophiles high-technology network audio components in the spirit of those much-revered early Melco products, while incorporating the very latest research into reliable, high-performance networked devices and storage.