Over the past few days at any spare moments we’ve been analysing the merits of the various Melco offerings, including the limited edition 40th anniversary device, through our Naim NDS. The results have been magnificent.

We’ve had NDS streamers here since they launched. Familiarity has probably bred a lack of appreciation but the relevance of the data serving to them has never ceased to be clear to us. It was when we got that obscenely profligate Naim S1 preamp and all that Super Lumina wire stuff that it dawned on us, though, what an accomplished source component it really is.

We know that the Melcos are not only terrific via UPnP to a streamer but can feed a DAC very successfully via USB. A recent conversation with Alan Ainslie at Melco rattled my cage somewhat. The inference was that there is something inherently purer in taking the USB feed straight to a suitable DAC. This concept is certainly becoming very popular with buyers.

We’ve swapped backwards and forwards plenty of times. At Naim ND5XS or even NDX level, we know the pros and cons to either the streamer or, say, a Chord Hugo TT.

At NDS level, particularly one fed by two 555 PSUs, it’s all a bit more complicated. Given the choice, though, my personal tendency has been to revert the Melco fed NDS. Is this laziness or blind allegiance?

Yesterday, someone thoughtlessly decided to purchase our demonstration NDS. As soon as he had made this decision, I had placed the order for its replacement.  Temporarily, it has been replaced by an incredibly posh ‘super’ DAC and, today, with the NDS boxed and ready to go, I am borderline bereft.

Russell of Russell K fame refers to a thing called dynamic tension. It’s that ‘hook’ that gets your attention from the very beginning of a track and keeps you interested. It is a combination of timing and intonation and with 20/20 hindsight I realise that it’s the NDS does with ease.

High end DACs running on the back of the Melco might provide greater resolution or a more wonderful rendition of a particular voice but, for some reason, Eric Morecambe’s ‘all the right notes just not necessarrily in the right order’ line keeps springing to mind.

The NDS might not be the latest product but, viewed as a team player, with the right network partners and maybe even the latest operating software, it is a captivatingly special one.

Thanks Naim for making it. Now hurry up and build our fresh one. In the meantime I might have to play records!