Melco N10/2-S38 Network Audio Library Lab Report

Lab Report

Once again, this mk2 version of Melco's flagship N10 [HFN Jun '19] is not simply a music storage device. Instead, like the Innuos Statement [HFN Jan '20], Aqua LinQ [HFN Sep '20], Grimm Audio MU1 [HFN Dec '20], Auralic Aries G2.1 [HFN Feb '21] and Roon Nucleus+ [HFN May '18], plus the various 'Melcos' – the N1ZS20/2 [HFN Jun '17], N1ZS10 [HFN Feb '15], N1AH40 [HFN Aug '15] and N1ZH60 [HFN Jun '16] – it is also a transcoding/signal conditioning device. Unlike the Grimm Audio and Auralic network bridges, however, the Melco N10/2 does not invoke its own upsampling or digital filtering when converting between network and USB data formats. Data buffering (de-jittering) and delivery from a very low-noise source, with very low levels of circulating RFI, is the focus of Melco's ultimate music library.

As I've previously outlined when testing a digital-to-digital component, performance differences can only be inferred via a third-party player or DAC. The jitter suppression and/or galvanic isolation of the attached USB DAC is a factor here, so a DAC with excellent data recovery/re-clocking may not express a significant difference just as any jitter 'baked in' at the DAC chip level will remain unchanged. For this review, I compared a number of AC mains-, battery- and hub-powered DACs via both PC and N10/2 USB sources with no attempt made to 'price match' these components – they were selected by way of example only.

USB DACs including the Mytek Brooklyn [HFN Aug '17], Matrix Sabre-X 3, and dCS Vivaldi One [HFN Feb '18] have sufficient data/clock management on board that no difference was observed. However, a significant 'cleaning up' was realised with iFi Audio's NEO iDSD [HFN Mar '21] where the 550psec of ±33/66/99Hz sidebands collapsed to just 10psec [red vs. black spectra, Graph 1] with Melco's N10/2 as the USB source. Chord's new Mojo 2 [p70] also fares exceptionally well by default but the N10/2 successfully eliminated those minuscule residual sidebands [marked, Graph 2]. Every little counts! PM


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from iFi Audio's NEO iDSD (via N10/2, black; via PC, red)


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from Chord's Mojo 2 (via N10/2, black; via PC, red, with markers)

Digital inputs 1x Ethernet; 2x USB-A
Digital outputs 1x USB 2.0 Type A; 1x Ethernet
Digital jitter (Mytek Brooklyn) 7psec (8psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (iFi Audio NEO iDSD) 10psec (550psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (Chord Mojo 2) 10psec (15psec via PC USB)
Power consumption 10W
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 215x61x269 (273)mm / 8.5kg (total)
Prices £6999 (H50)/£8999 (S38)

Buffalo Technology
Audiophile Digital Music Masters Ltd, UK
01252 784525