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Review: Melco Audio S100/2 Network Switch: Elevating Sound to New Heights

Review: Melco Audio S100/2 Network Switch: Elevating Sound to New Heights- "Experience a transformative audio journey with the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch, where sonic excellence meets enhanced network interfaces."

Unveiling the Melco S100/2: A New Generation of Audiophile Network Switch

In high-end audio, the significance of network switches, specifically designed for audiophile applications, has become increasingly apparent. Melco Audio, a pioneering name in the field, has introduced the second-generation S100/2, an evolution of their acclaimed S100 network switch. While retaining the stainless steel construction and familiar appearance, this new iteration brings crucial enhancements to the power circuit and network interface configuration.

Melco Audio S100/2 Switch network switch
● The latest generation version, the power supply and other parts have been strengthened and improved.
● A network switch specially designed for audio, Melco is backed by the powerful brand Buffalo.
● Full metal body, effectively isolates EMI/RF and other interference.
● Half Size, available in silver and black.
● 10 network interfaces, 2 are SFP fiber optic interfaces, and 8 RJ45.
LAN Ports 1 and 2: 100 Mbps
LAN Ports 3–8: 100/1000 Mbps
SFP Ports 8 and 9: Max. 1000 Mbps
● There are two speeds, pure 100M/Fast Ethernet and 100M/1000M/Gigabit Ethernet.
● The power supply uses audiophile-grade capacitors.
● LED light off function.
● Power supply: DC 12 V, 1 A
● Made in Japan, designed and produced in Japan.
● Dimensions: 215 x 61 x 270 mm, Weight: 2.5Kg

Aesthetic Continuity and Enhanced Network Interfaces

At first glance, the S100/2 resembles its predecessor, maintaining the high-quality stainless steel enclosure and even bearing an identical model number. However, a closer examination reveals improvements in the network interface configuration. In the previous S100, interfaces 1 to 4 were configured as pure 100Mb, while interfaces 5 to 8 offered 100Mb/1000Mb (auto-detection and switching). Interfaces 8 and 9 were SFP fiber optic ports. With the S100/2, the configuration shifts slightly, with interfaces 1 and 2 retaining 100Mb specifications, interfaces 3 to 8 now supporting 100Mb/1000Mb, and interfaces 8 and 9 designated as SFP fiber interfaces. This alteration provides a flexible balance, recognizing that 100Mb speeds suffice for digital streaming audio equipment, prioritizing stable transmission quality. At the same time, 100Mb/1000Mb interfaces are recommended for data-intensive devices like NAS and routers.

Intricate Interior Enhancements

Melco Audio’s S100/2 maintains the aesthetic continuity of its predecessor, the S100 while introducing notable improvements to its network interfaces. At first glance, the S100/2 appears nearly identical to the earlier model, featuring the same high-quality stainless steel enclosure and maintaining the model number. However, a closer look reveals significant changes in the network interface configuration, enhancing the switch’s overall functionality and flexibility.

  • Unchanged Exterior Aesthetic: The S100/2 exudes a sense of craftsmanship and quality with its stainless steel body. Its sturdy and sleek exterior, almost indistinguishable from the S100, gives audiophiles a sense of familiarity and reassurance. This aesthetic continuity aligns with the Japanese commitment to precision and reliability in manufacturing.
  • Revised Network Interface Configuration: The key enhancement in the S100/2 lies within the 10 network interfaces. In the previous-generation S100, the network interfaces were numbered as follows: interfaces 1 to 4 were designated for pure 100Mb connections, interfaces 5 to 8 supported 100Mb/1000Mb with automatic detection and switching, and interfaces 8 and 9 were reserved for SFP fiber optic connections. The S100/2, however, introduces a shift in this configuration. Interfaces 1 and 2 continue to support 100Mb, interfaces 3 to 8 are now specified for 100Mb/1000Mb connections with auto-detection and switching, and interfaces 8 and 9 remain dedicated to SFP fiber interfaces.
  • The Rationale Behind the Change: Melco’s R&D team meticulously evaluated the needs of digital streaming audio equipment. Their findings suggested that 100Mb speed is ample for maintaining stable and high-quality transmission, which aligns with the needs of devices such as DACs and audio players. The upgrade to 100Mb/1000Mb connections is now primarily recommended for data transmission-centric equipment like NAS and routers. This decision underscores a principle: the real determinant of effectiveness is the actual listening experience rather than solely technical specifications.
  • Flexibility for Audiophiles: Melco’s refined network interface configuration allows audiophiles to optimize their audio systems based on their unique requirements. By offering both 100Mb and 100Mb/1000Mb connections, the S100/2 ensures that users can precisely match network speeds to the specific demands of their digital audio equipment.

This seamless fusion of aesthetic continuity and functional enhancement showcases Melco’s dedication to form and function. The S100/2’s exterior preserves the enduring elegance of the S100. At the same time, its improved network interfaces empower users with greater control over their audio systems, ensuring that their listening experiences remain at the forefront of audio excellence.

The Sonic Transformation

With the introduction of the S100/2, Melco Audio has ushered in a significant sonic transformation, elevating the listening experience to new heights. This transformative change is characterized by several key attributes that showcase the remarkable impact of the S100/2 on audio quality.

  • Enhanced Depth and Background: One of the most noticeable improvements is the music’s profound sense of depth and background. This newfound depth creates a quiet, expansive canvas on which the music is painted. The background is now exceptionally tranquil, providing a foundation for the music to shine. The level of stillness and quietness within the background is striking, allowing the contrasts between moments of tranquility and bursts of dynamic energy to be fully appreciated.
  • Refined Dynamics and Separation: The S100/2 enhances the audio’s dynamics, separation, and contrast. The highs and lows are now more distinctly defined, providing a crisper and cleaner soundstage. Dynamics are more expressive, and the separation of instruments and vocals is more pronounced. This dynamic enhancement contributes to a heightened sense of realism, making the music more engaging and emotionally resonant.
  • Fullness and Texture: The S100/2 adds a touch of fullness and texture to the audio, enriching the tonal qualities of the music. The sound gains a roundness and moisture that infuses it with lushness. Vocals become more solid, providing a pleasant balance between weight and detail. This fullness and texture enhance the overall musicality, adding depth and warmth to the listening experience.
  • Improved Clarity and Detail: The S100/2 reveals intricate details within the music. Even amid complex and layered compositions, the background remains clean and clear, allowing each instrument’s and vocal’s nuances and subtleties to shine. The enhancement in clarity and detail ensures that every element of the music is fully articulated, enabling listeners to uncover hidden facets within their favorite tracks.
  • Vibrant Energy and Impact: Perhaps one of the most striking changes is the vibrancy and impact of the music. The audio has newfound vitality and energy, making it feel more alive and dynamic. The presentation of music is characterized by a sense of life and vigor that captures the essence of the performance. The music springs to life with an infectious enthusiasm that draws listeners into its vibrant embrace.
  • Emotionally Engaging Performance: The S100/2 network switch ensures that music is technically superior and emotionally captivating. The combination of depth, dynamics, fullness, clarity, and energy results in an emotionally resonant performance. The music becomes a more profound and moving experience, allowing listeners to connect with the artist’s intent and the essence of the composition.

This sonic transformation is a testament to Melco Audio’s commitment to audio excellence. The S100/2 has successfully elevated the listening experience by enhancing audio quality, creating a more engaging, vivid, and emotionally resonant performance. The result is a network switch that doesn’t merely transmit data but breathes life and vitality into the music, transcending the ordinary and delivering audio that captivates the soul.

Sonic Fullness and Dynamics

The Melco Audio S100/2 network switch introduces a remarkable sonic fullness and dynamics enhancement, contributing to a more engaging and emotionally resonant audio experience.

  • Fullness and Depth: The S100/2 imbues the music with a sense of fullness and depth that enriches the sonic landscape. The sound gains a round and robust quality, adding a luscious dimension to the music. This newfound fullness is particularly evident in the lower frequencies, where bass notes resonate with greater authority and depth. It’s as if the music acquires a deeper foundation, allowing listeners to feel the music as much as they hear it.
  • Vibrant Dynamics: Dynamics receive a significant boost, and the music takes on a livelier and more expressive character. The S100/2 ensures that the dynamic range of the music is fully realized, creating a captivating contrast between soft and loud passages. The subtleties of a pianissimo and the power of a fortissimo are vividly portrayed, immersing the listener in the artist’s performance. These vibrant dynamics ensure that every musical nuance is conveyed with precision and impact.
  • Emotional Resonance: The combination of fullness and dynamics goes beyond technical superiority; it fosters emotional resonance within the music. The music becomes more than a collection of sounds; it becomes a conduit for emotions and storytelling. The full-bodied sound and lively dynamics infuse the music with an emotional depth that allows listeners to connect with the artist’s intent and the mood of the composition. Whether it’s the sad strains of a blues guitar or the exhilarating crescendo of an orchestral piece, the S100/2 network switch ensures that the music’s emotional core is fully experienced.
  • Expressive Artistry: Musicians’ artistry and expression shine through with greater clarity and impact. The subtleties of a vocalist’s phrasing, a guitarist’s technique, or a pianist’s touch are more apparent with enhanced fullness and dynamics. It’s as if the listener is offered a front-row seat to witness the artist’s creative nuances and virtuosity. The expressive nature of the music is brought to the forefront, allowing listeners to savor the artistry and creativity embedded in each performance.
  • A Lively Soundstage: The fullness and dynamics contribute to a more lively and immersive soundstage. The music is not confined but expands into the listening space, enveloping the listener. Whether a solo acoustic performance or a grand orchestral arrangement, the soundstage comes alive with a sense of presence and realism. The three-dimensionality of the music is vividly portrayed, providing an engaging and captivating listening experience.

In summary, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch elevates the sonic fullness and dynamics of the music, creating an audio experience that is technically superior and emotionally compelling. The music gains a rich, resonant quality that invites listeners to connect with the artistry and storytelling within each composition. With the S100/2, music transcends being a mere auditory experience and becomes a deeply emotional and engaging journey for the soul.

Dynamic Contrast and Clarity

The Melco Audio S100/2 network switch enhances the sonic experience by offering remarkable improvements in dynamic contrast and clarity, elevating every facet of the music.

  • Dynamic Contrast: One of the standout qualities of the S100/2 is its ability to breathe new life into the dynamic range of music. The contrast between soft, delicate passages and powerful, crescendo moments is strikingly vivid. It’s as if the music gains an expanded canvas for expression, allowing for a more compelling narrative. Soft notes are more delicate and nuanced, while the crescendos are delivered with impact and grandeur. This dynamic contrast adds emotional depth to the music, making each note and phrase more poignant and resonant.
  • Clarity and Transparency: The S100/2 brings newfound clarity and transparency to the music. Every instrument and vocal is presented with precision and separation, allowing the listener to discern even the most intricate details within the composition. The individual elements of the music, whether it’s the pluck of a guitar string, the resonance of a piano key, or the subtleties of a singer’s articulation, are rendered with impeccable clarity. This heightened transparency not only enriches the listening experience but also offers a newfound appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship of the performers.
  • Expressive Nuances: The dynamic contrast and clarity enable the music to convey expressive nuances with exceptional finesse. These expressive elements are brought to the forefront, whether it’s a vocalist’s subtle vocal inflections, a guitarist’s string bends, or a pianist’s delicate phrasing. The S100/2 allows the listener to delve into the depths of the music, discovering hidden intricacies and emotive subtleties that might have previously gone unnoticed. It’s akin to exploring a musical tapestry where each expression thread is vividly illuminated.
  • Immersive Soundstage: The dynamic contrast and clarity improvements extend to the soundstage. The music unfolds more immersive and three-dimensional, offering heightened realism. Individual instruments and voices occupy defined spaces within the soundstage, creating a vivid and lifelike sonic landscape. The listener is transported into the heart of the music, where the spatial arrangement mirrors a live performance. This immersive soundstage adds a layer of authenticity to the listening experience, making it feel like the musicians are right in the room.
  • Instruments’ Characteristics: Every instrument’s unique characteristics and tonal qualities are faithfully preserved with the S100/2. The subtle nuances of different guitars, the timbre of various vocal registers, and the resonance of specific percussion instruments are presented with precision. This fidelity to the instruments’ natural traits contributes to a more authentic and engaging listening experience. The listener can appreciate each instrument’s distinctiveness and the performers’ artistry.

In summary, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch enhances the music with exceptional dynamic contrast and clarity. The music gains emotional depth and expressive nuances, and the clarity of each instrument and vocal adds a new layer of appreciation for the artistry of the performance. The soundstage becomes an immersive sonic landscape, and the unique characteristics of instruments are faithfully preserved. With the S100/2, the music is heard and experienced in all its dynamic and transparent glory.

Vitality and Detail in Musical Performance

The Melco Audio S100/2 network switch breathes vitality and unveils intricate details in musical performances, ushering in a listening experience that is dynamic and deeply engaging.

  • Vibrant Vitality: When experiencing music through the S100/2, an immediate sense of vitality and energy courses through the sound. The music feels more alive, as if the performers are right in the room, delivering their art with passion and vigor. It’s particularly evident in dynamic tracks, where instruments and vocals exhibit a newfound liveliness. The sense of vitality isn’t just about volume; the music feels more dynamic and responsive. Every note, from the softest whisper to the boldest crescendo, is infused with a sense of life, making the listening experience profoundly immersive.
  • Intricate Details: The S100/2 is a revelation when revealing intricate details within musical performances. It’s as if a curtain has been lifted, allowing the listener to peer into the inner workings of the music. Subtle nuances, such as the delicate pluck of a guitar string, the breathy quality of a singer’s voice, or the faint reverberation of a piano key release, become readily apparent. Discerning these fine details adds an enriching layer to the musical experience. It’s akin to discovering hidden gems within the music, where every listening session can uncover new subtleties and intricacies.
  • Expressive Dynamics: The S100/2 excels in rendering the expressive dynamics of music. From the nuanced inflections of a singer’s phrasing to the powerful articulations of a brass section, the network switch allows for a more faithful reproduction of the performers’ intentions. Crescendos are more dramatic, and the music’s ebb and flow become more pronounced. It’s a sonic journey that mirrors the emotional contours of the music, allowing the listener to connect on a deeper level with the performance. This heightened expressiveness makes for a truly immersive and dynamic experience.
  • Instrumental Fidelity: The S100/2 preserves the fidelity of individual instruments with remarkable accuracy. Each instrument, whether it’s a guitar, piano, violin, or saxophone, retains its distinct tonal qualities and characteristics. The timbre, resonance, and articulation of instruments are faithfully conveyed, ensuring that the listener can appreciate the unique artistry of each performer. This level of instrumental fidelity adds authenticity to the musical performance, making it feel as if the instruments are being played right in the listening space.
  • Spatial Realism: Beyond vitality and detail, the S100/2 contributes to spatial realism in musical performances. The soundstage becomes an expansive, three-dimensional environment where instruments and vocals occupy specific positions. The music envelopes the listener as if sitting amid a live performance. The spatial realism adds to the immersive nature of the listening experience, creating a sense of presence and authenticity.

In summary, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch infuses musical performances with vitality, uncovers intricate details, and faithfully reproduces expressive dynamics. It upholds the fidelity of individual instruments and fosters spatial realism, creating a listening experience that is engaging, dynamic, and emotionally resonant. The S100/2 doesn’t just convey music; it brings it to life with a level of vitality and detail that captivates the listener and deepens the connection to the performance.

Elevated Clarity and Energy

The Melco Audio S100/2 network switch elevates the clarity and energy of audio playback, transforming the listening experience into a dynamic and finely detailed sonic journey.

  • Enhanced Clarity: With the S100/2 in the signal path, the clarity of audio playback reaches new heights. It’s akin to wiping away a sonic haze, allowing the listener to perceive every element of the music with pristine precision. Instruments and vocals appear with a newfound transparency, and their characteristics shine brightly. Subtle details that might have previously been obscured are now crystal clear. The result is an immersive sonic landscape where the music is presented in its purest form. This enhanced clarity is particularly noticeable in complex compositions, where each instrument and voice can be accurately discerned.
  • Dynamic Energy: The S100/2 injects dynamic energy into the audio playback. Music comes alive with a sense of vitality and urgency. It’s as if the performers deliver their art with an electrifying energy that resonates through the sound. The dynamics are reproduced with precision and impact, from the softest whispers to the thunderous crescendos. This dynamic energy doesn’t just make the music louder; it makes it more engaging. It propels the listener into the heart of the performance, where the emotional peaks and valleys of the music are felt with intensity.
  • Vivid Soundstage: The network switch contributes to a vivid and expansive soundstage. Instruments and vocals are precisely placed within this sonic landscape, creating a three-dimensional auditory experience. The sense of space and placement enhances the immersion, making it feel as if the listener is present at a live performance. The spatial realism adds to the clarity, allowing the music to unfold remarkably.
  • Expressive Nuances: The S100/2 faithfully reproduces the expressive nuances within the music. The subtlest inflections in a singer’s voice, the delicacy of a piano’s keystrokes, or the intricacies of a guitar’s strumming all come to the forefront. It’s a testament to the switch’s ability to capture the micro-dynamics of the music, ensuring that no expressive detail is lost. This level of nuance adds depth and emotional resonance to the listening experience, making it more than just an auditory journey—it’s a musical exploration.
  • Articulate Timing: Timing and rhythm are sharpened with the S100/2. The network switch’s precision in data transmission ensures that the timing of musical events is accurately conveyed. This timing articulation is particularly noticeable in music with intricate rhythms and complex percussion. Every beat and note is accurately delivered, contributing to a more engaging and rhythmically coherent listening experience.

In conclusion, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch elevates the clarity and energy of audio playback. It enhances clarity, infuses dynamic energy into the music, creates a vivid soundstage, and faithfully reproduces expressive nuances. With articulate timing, it ensures that the rhythm of the music is delivered with precision. The S100/2 doesn’t just transmit data; it revitalizes the music, making it more engaging, dynamic, and emotionally resonant. It’s a powerful addition to any audio system, breathing new life into every note and performance.

Conclusion: An Audiophile Essential

In conclusion, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch is a potent tool for elevating the audio playback experience to unprecedented heights. It’s not merely a device for transmitting data; it’s a gateway to a musical realm characterized by enhanced clarity, dynamic energy, and expressive richness. With an unwavering commitment to articulating the nuances of the music, it breathes life into each note, making the listening journey a captivating and emotionally charged adventure. The S100/2’s impact is felt across various musical genres, from the delicate intricacies of classical compositions to the pounding rhythms of rock and electronic genres. It’s a testament to the switch’s versatility and ability to enhance the musicality of any system.

Moreover, Melco’s dedication to improving the network switch’s power circuit and network interfaces in the second-generation S100/2 is commendable. Refining these crucial components contributes to the switch’s ability to deliver pristine audio quality, and adding more 1000Mb ports enhances flexibility. While the aesthetics remain consistent with the previous generation, the sonic transformation truly sets the S100/2 apart. For audiophiles and music enthusiasts who demand the utmost from their systems, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch is an investment that promises a significant return in the form of enhanced musical enjoyment and an entirely new level of engagement with one’s favorite recordings.

Why Buy:

  1. Audiophile-Level Sound Enhancement: The Melco Audio S100/2 network switch is a must-buy for dedicated audiophiles and music enthusiasts. It profoundly elevates audio playback by enhancing clarity, dynamics, and overall musicality.
  2. Versatility Across Genres: This switch’s impact on sound quality spans various musical genres, from classical compositions to rock and electronic music, making it a versatile addition to any audio setup.
  3. Refined Power Circuit and Interfaces: Melco’s commitment to improving the power circuit and network interfaces in the second-generation S100/2 demonstrates its dedication to delivering exceptional audio quality.

Why Not to Buy:

  1. Budget Constraints: The S100/2 comes at a premium price, so it may not be ideal for those with budget limitations or more modest audio setups.

In summary, the Melco Audio S100/2 network switch is a valuable investment for those who prioritize audio excellence and are willing to make a significant investment to achieve a superior listening experience. However, it may not suit individuals with budget restrictions or less demanding audio requirements.