The leading consumer group of Hi-End audio today should be the baby boom generation. Almost all young generations are connecting firmly with the Internet. How can we attract the young generation to enter the audio world? The NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier, newly launched by NAD in the United Kingdom, uses an excellent Hypex NCore amplifier and BluOS, integrates Siri and Alexa voice assistants, plus cloud music services, thinking from the music listening habits of the young generation, and integrating smart applications on the Internet.
If anyone talks about which audio company can play the leading role of the digital amplifier, I believe that many audiophiles will vote for NAD. Founded in London, England, NAD has been deeply rooted in the people’s hearts with cost-effective equipment since its establishment for more than 40 years.
The most famous one is the 3020 integrated amplifier. This amplifier has achieved brilliant sales, with a miracle number of 800,000 units worldwide, and has become a favorite of many audio enthusiasts.
Although the reputation has made NAD an unsurpassed position in the audio market, like the fate of other old audio brands, NAD has also experienced a period of a downturn due to market trends. Fortunately, with its solid design foundation, NAD quickly recovered, kept its products in line with the trend, and continued to introduce new masterpieces.
Today, NAD has become one of the brands under the Lenbrook Group, and its headquarters has also moved to Canada. The products launched after that are at the forefront of the times. For example, The Masters Series, which was launched in 2006, has received rave reviews in the industry for its friendly product design concepts and excellent digital decoding technology.
Today, the price of the newly launched M10 integrated amplifier is much higher than that of 3020. But after I actually tested the M10, the internal hardware structure is rich, and the software functions are versatile. In the forest of full-featured digital music streaming integrated amplifiers, the M10 can be a model of the new generation.
In other words, the 3020 in the 1980s established the classic status of NAD in the history of audio development, while the M10 launched in 2019 will use the most powerful network innovative application operating system, combined with traditional amplifiers, to open a new page of NAD in the history of the audio industry.
My first impression of NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier is the flexible placement. Because this network streaming amplifier is similar to that of a mobile hard disk and a TV box, it is very suitable for use in a small space. The high-definition full-color touch screen on the front panel is even more eye-catching. Gorilla Glass is specially selected to make the panel.
The same is true for the top cover, covered with a reflective surface made of glass material. During the startup, the NAD Logo will show white LED lights, which are quite fashionable.
The all-black cabinet design makes the M10 look very cool.
As for the heat dissipation holes, they cleverly become the gaps on the left and right sides of the top plate, which can perform the heat dissipation function and make the M10 look simple and beautiful as a whole.
NAD M10 Connections
As a pioneer in the digital decoding industry, NAD has prepared an excellent audio performance for M10. In terms of connection function, it is equipped with two RCA inputs, one audio output (can be connected to the power amplifier), two sub output (can be set to 2.2). And there are one coaxial and optical fiber input, one network port, and a USB interface that demonstrate the strong side of the M10 digital connection.
Another point worth mentioning is that the NAD M10 has an HDMI ARC to connect to the HDMI ARC of the TV. In this way, the TV’s audio can be transmitted to the M10 and then played out through the speaker. So there is no need to endure the dry sound of the TV speaker.
The M10’s network connection has RJ45 and a Wi-Fi connection, which is also a great advantage. Because through Wi-Fi transmission, your audio system can not only be free from the network wiring. And you can place the router and the music storage device far away from the NAD M10 to separate the power circuit to avoid interference.
In addition, M10 also supports Bluetooth and supports aptX HD. In addition to receiving Bluetooth signals, it can also transmit the signals to Bluetooth headsets for listening.
To be called a digital stream integrated amplifier, all functions must be integrated. The integrated amplifier must have enough power. The M10 uses Hypex NCore amplifier modules to provide 100 watts of continuous output power, and the maximum output power 300 watts(4 ohms).
To do digital streaming, DAC is indispensable. M10 uses an ES9028 PRO DAC chip, up to 32bit/192kHz. M10 provides diversified digital input, coaxial and optical fiber are indispensable, more HDMI, and ARC Function, it is more convenient to integrate with the multi-channel system.
All of the above are the functions of traditional amplifiers and DACs, and let’s talk about the smart network application of M10. M10 uses a dual-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, using Linux. It also integrates various online music services with Bluesound’s BluOS, manages the NAS music database, and supports various home automation control systems. You can also connect the voice assistants Siri and Alexa.
The NAD M10 Power Supply Module
Then talked about the soul of the amplifier, that is, the power. The NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Integrated Amplifier has a continuous output power of more than 100 watts×2. The total harmonic distortion is less than 0.03%. It can provide good control power for most speakers. The neutral tone and precise interpretation make it easy to choose the right speaker.
Judging by the size of the M10, this is impressive output power. The secret is the Hypex NCore Class D amplifier module. Some audiophiles shook their heads as soon as they saw Class D, saying it was not good. However, after years of development, the Class D amplifier design, especially the Hypex NCore module, has established its reputation and attracted more attention.
NAD M10 Bluos Streaming System
Another significant feature of M10 is the “BluOS” streaming system developed by Bluesound. BluOS is the only wireless high-definition audio multi-room system that can wirelessly transmit 24Bit/192kHz Hi-Res music files to multiple rooms for playback without delay and loss.
Thanks to the BluOS appl, M10 can play Hi-Res and MQA high-format music files and subscribe to more than 20 music streaming platforms (such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, etc.) services. Of course, you can also choose to play the network high-res songs in the NAS. In addition to using its BluOS application, the M10 is also compatible with smart home systems such as Apple, Crestron, Control4, and Lutron.
NAD M10 Dirac Live
Dirac Audio is a manufacturer specializing in the development of spatial sound correction software. The name Dirac comes from Paul Dirac, a British theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics. He won the Nobel Prize in 1933.
The application of spatial sound correction is extensive. Dirac Audio’s cooperation partners are worldwide, such as Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Regal, and BMW in the automotive industry, Harman and NAD in the audio industry, and mobile manufacturers such as Xiaomi and OPPO.
The latest Dirac Live is installed by default in M10, and related applications can be downloaded from the official website (https://live.dirac.com/). Dirac operation requires hardware support.
When the speaker plays in any space, it is inevitably affected by environmental sound. The sound that the listener hears, including the speaker’s direct sound and the reflected sound, together constitute the loudness (Amplitude Domain) and time (Time Domain) of the spatial sound.
Loudness is related to frequency, time is related to phase, and spatial reflections distort frequency response and time phase. It is challenging to solve.
The simplest way is to adjust the speaker placement to increase the listening of direct sound and reduce the interference of indirect reflected sound. The uneven frequency response caused by space and the error of the time phase is a pain in the hearts of many audio fans.
How does Dirac Live solve the problem? Through software plus high-speed computing, real-time compensation is applied to the distortion caused by spatial sound. But how does Dirac Live know the problems caused by spatial sound? So you need to use the Dirac Live App to connect to the M10 and use the microphone provided by NAD to connect to the measurement.
The App will guide you step by step to place the microphone in the corresponding position for measurement, starting from the sweet spot center. And then there are a total of 8 points up and down, left and right, and front and back around the listener. Coupled with the listening height level measurement, each point NAD M10 will play three test tones.
The Dirac Live system will determine how many points need to be measured based on the collected sound information. You have to wait patiently for each point to be measured before Dirac Live will start the calculation.
Based on my measurement, a total of 15 points were measured before Dirac Live started to calculate. The calculation speed is very fast, and the test chart will be run out in a short while. You can also manually correct the frequency response and filter to adjust the sound you like, recalculate and save it as a new file.
First of all, I listened to NAD M10 in streaming mode. The M10 is connected to the Internet via the RJ45 network cable and directly plays the Tidal streaming service. Listening to a few songs at will, I heard the soft, smooth, rich, subtle changes and smooth and sharp ups and downs of the M10. The music is full of liveliness.
In addition, I also found that M10 not only shows the open, relaxed, and smooth characteristics of Class D amplification but also has good cohesion, allowing listeners to focus on the lead instrument or vocalist quickly. The sound is open and relaxed without losing the micro and delicate details, and the performance is outstanding.
Then I listen to Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen”. I believe most audiophiles have this album. The violin’s sound is very smooth and sweet, and probably no one doesn’t likes to listen to it. Through the M10, I can still hear the rich texture and clear and powerful voice. It shows that M10 uses a direct, natural, and unadorned approach to interpret music.
The excellent driving force of the NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Integrated Amplifier is also shown in the symphony sound field. Not only is it open, calm, and structured, it also extends naturally up and down. The levels of the high, medium and low frequencies can also be clearly presented.
Then I switch to the CD and listen to “Tutti!”, the sound of the M10 immediately jumped up to another level. The background is exceptionally quiet, the sound is transparent and clean, and the sound field is profound and rich, with a good sense of perspective. Piano and string music has the thickness and weight that are above the standard. To be honest, this kind of performance is tough to imagine being presented from a streaming amplifier smaller than a book. It can reflect that the sensitivity of NAD M10 is excellent enough.
The maximum volume of M10 is 0dB, all of which are negative settings. But when I listen to M10, the volume is always close to 0dB. In fact, I mostly listen with a volume of about -10dB, which is equal to 90% of the output volume, sometimes more. But don’t worry, this is normal. If you turn on -50dB, it is definitely the volume of the background music, and -20dB is just easy to listen to. A volume of -10dB or greater can make the M10 sound high.
owever, if it reaches above -5dB, you must pay attention to whether it will exceed the limit of M10 because the sound starts to become a little tight, which means that the amplifier’s load is about to exceed.
NAD M10 is an “all-round” integrated amplifier. How versatile is it? Basically, apart from the one minor disadvantage that M10 cannot directly play CD records, it probably has all the other methods you will use.
Like the most popular network streaming function, M10 can play music files stored in your NAS or computer through your home network and supports multiple streaming music services, such as Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Amazon Music and so on. There are also many streaming services that I have never seen before, and free Internet radio stations are also supported more than others.
Streaming music service is the mainstream of the future, and NAD M10 has already listed it as standard support. Of course, this is all due to the BluOS system used by the M10, which has a simple interface and easy operation. The remote control app has iOS and Android versions, and the functions keep up with the times. NAD M10 is your perfect choice for home audio enternment.