Faster internet speeds have greatly increased the distribution of music on-line and there is huge growth in both streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal and download sites such as HD Tracks. Higher end audio companies are now coming out with alternatives to SONOS to truely take advantage of the potential of digital music. Those with predominantly MP3 music libraries will gravitate towards the convenience of 16-bit/44.1 kHz Tidal while those with higher end systems will be more interested in downloading 24-bit/96-192 kHz high resolution files or DSD. Although internet streaming protocols - the methods used to send music data over the internet - will continue to evolve for streaming services, the technical challenges for streaming services will always involve latency and congestion management as more people use them. Downloading files and playing them on a local network offers a user experience much more like CD playback with the potential for stunning sound quality. As has always been the case, however, there is a limit to how far poor recordings can be elevated with high resolution playback technology beyond the limitations of old master tapes and inferior microphone set-up.
Not just a NAS drive the Melco N1A mk2 "music library" is an excellent platform to manage the storage - including expansion, backup, and delivery of music files by either Ethernet or USB connection. Ordinary computer peripheral type NAS drives usually need to be connected to a computer to carry out functions such as backup and file mamangement. Dedicated software working with the display prompts and buttons on the front panel of the Melco N1A mk2 make this and many useful tasks very easy especially if you are not particularly computer savvy. NAS drives may come with a media server installed but few have the option of both Ethernet or USB connection so you can either connect to a network streamer or use the built in streamer and connect to a DAC.
As audio manufacturers like Melco bring new products into the market place with the sole job of playing music, incorporating high quality streaming into audio systems has never been easier and with the USB connection you don't have to worry about file formats since the Melco N1A mk2 will convert many to the match the capability of the DAC. Having both of these types of connection gives great flexibility in putting together streaming capability while the Melco N1A mk2 itself has several key features that elevate its performance compared to other products; although few are exactly of its type having a separate dedicated Ethernet port.
There is a significant step up in performance going from 16-bit CD to 24-bit audio capability and so even standard resolution lossless streaming gives very good sound and offers economical digital file sizes.
For those with systems of high enough quality to resolve studio level nuance then higher sampling levels will reveal the potential in these systems at the cost of larger digital file sizes.
Because of two-way communication with the DAC or Network player, Melco N1A mk2 can transcribe to the PCM resolution level the DAC is capable of supporting and has the option to either send "DSD over PCM" or "convert to PCM."
When connecting to a USB DAC, a wired ethernet connection is still required to the Melco since this is how it receives information sent via wireless to the router by the music control app to set up the music to be played.
The Melco N1A mk2 is designed from the ground up for excellent sound and is user friendly not requiring any specialized knowledge or drivers to load. It is featured in all of our streaming packages outlined below.
Compared to standard already out of date chip-set boards used in most mail order catalog streamers, the price is excellent for it's capabilities and sound quality.
More details on the Melco N1A mk2
Note for DSD over Ethernet the Melco requires Minim Server to be installed.