The latest generation of Melco music libraries was launched just before Christmas 2019. This 3rd generaration of machines is simply called EX includes the highly regarded Melco Intelligent Music Library (MIML) which was previewed at Munich 2019.
There are 3 models in the N1 EX range –
N1A/EX – £2749 with 6TB of storage (2 x 3TB – 3.5 inch HDD)
N1ZH/EX – £4999 with 6TB of storage (2 x 3TB 2.5 inch small form factor HDD)
N1ZS/EX – £9999 with 4TB of storage (2 x 2TB SSD)
What does MIML add to the Melco featureset?
There are 3 main aspects to the Melco Inteligent Music Library
1. SongKong Music Tagger
2. Minimserver 2
3. Internet Radio via vTuner
It has been possible to run SongKong on a computer and have it look at the Melco to make changes to metadata and Minimserver has been a popular choice of UPnP server to run on the Melco for some time, but having them fully integrated into the machine has some distinct advantages, you can make changes to metadata simply off your iPad or even your phone, so if you are browsing your library and you notice something is not right on a particular album you can correct it there and then.
I have gone into extensive detail in a previous blog post about each of these functions which you can read about on this link, there is a more concise outline below as well.
SongKong is a program used to edit and correct inconsistent Metadata within your music library. You have to option to run SongKong across the whole library automatically or simply let it look at a specific album, you also have the ability to manually edit the metadata yourself as well so if you want your library to display in a particular way you can. SongKong can also use acoustic ID to add metadata to an album that may have none present at all as well, very useful if you have some really obscure music in your library (and lots of people do!)
If you make lots of edits but you are not happy with the way it displays the changes it is very easy to undo them and start again. You can also download an extensive spreadsheet of your library (with 130 fields of potential metadata!) so you can easily look at the whole library to spot any harder to spot inconsistences.
You can also set up a watch folder as well, this allows SongKong to monitor your music folders and and it will detect when new music has been added and it will automatically fix any issues with it, think of it as a 24/7 housekeeping service for your music collection!
SongKong is a superb program, don’t underestimate it what it can do and how powerful it is when you get to grips with using it!
All of the EX models come pre-installed with SongKong Lite – which works well, but it does not give you full functionality. To unlock the full version of Songkong costs £50 and you can purchase it from here.
The original version of Minimserver has been arguably the most popular UPnP server software out there for the past few years, and for good reason. It displays your music in a logical way, but by dovetailing it with SongKong it really does take the flexibility and intuitiveness to a whole new level.
SongKong get the music metadata correct (or the way you want it to display) then Minimserver 2 presents it to you.
Minimserver is different to most server software in that it lets you customise the way the music is presented, typically you get to search for your music via Artist, Album, Track, Album Artist and Genre, but with Minimserver 2 you can literally create your own parameters to search from – it requires a bit of time and effort but it is well worth it my opinion, I’m a big jazz fan so I can search my music via record label – so if I want to browse albums from Blue Note, Verve or Presitge (or whatever label) I can.
One feature which is unique to Minimserver 2 is user profiles, this is a very clever feature and one which is very powerful in terms of further honing your ability to find your music which is important if you have a large library. If you have a huge wall of CD’s organised alphabetically by genre it’s easy to walk straight it to pull out whatever it is you are looking for. But it can be a challenge with the same 5000 albums browsing on a 9 inch screen – especially if your metadata is not consistent!
There are 4 user profiles installed by default with Minimserver 2 which are Classical, Jazz, Default and Rock – each profile adds search parameters that are relevant for that profile. By selecting the Classical Profile for example it adds the following fields for you to use to browse your music library – Composers, Conductors, Work, Orchestras, Choirs, Soloists. If you change to the Jazz Profile it adds Track Artist as a search parameter. The standard profile gives you album, artist and genre enough for most users to be fair. You also have the ability to create your own profile with custom tagging so you can choose exactly what search parameters you want. When used this way in combination with SongKong it can make a big library really simple to navigate to find that one album you fancy listening to!
All of the EX machines come with Minimserver ‘Starter Edition’, which gives you access to the 4 user profiles outlined above plus the intelligent browsing, but if you wish to create your own profile with your own specific parameters, or create custom tags you will require the full version which costs £28.00 for a licence and can be purchased from here.
In my mind the licences for both programmes are well worth the outlay!
vTuner Internet Radio
The Internet Radio option for the Melco has been a long time coming but it’s finally here. Some customers have been waiting ages for this particular update. It obly works using the Melco app on the iPad and your Melco must be connected to a USB DAC in order for it to work. It sounds great and is easy to use giving you the ability to search via location, genre, favourites, new station, popular stations, podcasts (by location and genre)
Sound quality is Internet Radio through and through to be fair, some stations sound great, others less so! Nothing to do with the Melco, but the bandwdith being used by the station itself. In my opinion, this function is worth having just for a bit of Radio Paradise as background music – yet another great way to discover more music!
Upgrade your existing Melco to EX status
Anyone with a mk1 or mk2 Melco (any model) can have their machine upgraded to EX specification to take advantage of the Melco Intelligent Music Library.
The final software release for mk1 and mk2 machines is 3.92 in terms of features and functionality – new releases to fix bugs will occur periodically. The EX update is one which must by done by Melco themselves as it requires the hard drives inside the machine to be repartitioned and this cannot be done by the end user. The EX update will give you access to all future updates, it is not just about adding Minimserver 2, SongKong and Internet Radio!
It is vital that your perform a back up of your Melco before you send it away as it will get reformatted during the update process.
If you have mk1 Melco (N1A, N1ZH, N1ZS or N1ZS Anniversary) the upgrade price is £500 including VAT and shipping.
If you have mk2 Melco (N1A, N1ZH or N1ZS) purchased before 1st of June 2019 the upgrade price is £250.00, anyone who bought a mk2 machine after the 1st of June 2019 it is £95.00.
Prior to current events the turnaround time on the update process has been around 10-14 days, there will obviously be a pause in the updates being carried out, but they will start up again just as soon as they are able to.
Part exchange is welcome as well. If you have a mk1 machine it does not have the dedicated DAC port thatwas introduced on the mk2 models – this dedicated port makes quite a difference in terms of sound quality. The original N1A uses 2 x 2 TB hard drives so you moving to any N1 EX or N10 EX will get you a storage upgrade as well.
If you are interested in having the EX upgrade done or you have any questions or want to chat about a possible part exchange please get in touch either via email or give me a ring (07976 496218).