NAD’s $2,750 M10 media streamer is an integrated amplifier and media consolidator of wide scope and ability that produces pristine sound. It’s also easy to set up and use (mostly), and will look great nestled amid your other equipment or on its own.
It’s all goodness, except that for some reason, NAD didn’t leverage the unit’s large touch display for setup or selecting streaming sources. For that you need a computer or phone. It’s an odd omission in an otherwise comprehensive hi-ficomponent.
Design and features
The M10 is a squarish black box measuring 8.5 x 10.25 x about 4 inches (WxDxH) and weighing about five pounds. The front is devoted entirely to a 7-inch color LCD touch display that’s used for transport control, displaying album art and song information, choosing inputs, basic operations, and minor tweaks. On top is the NAD logo, which is backlit to double as a status indicator.
The back of the unit is home to two pairs of binding posts for speakers, two RCA analog input pairs, preamp and subwoofer outputs, coaxial and optical S/PDIF inputs, an HDMI ARC input, as well as an ethernet jack and USB Type-A port. There’s also a mini-USB port for servicing, a 12-volt trigger port, and an IR port. There’s three-prong AC connection, of course, as well as a service button to initiate firmware upgrades from USB media.
The amp is rated for 100 watts continuous into an 8-ohm load with less than 0.1 percent distortion. An onboard DAC handles MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-Lossless, ALAC, OPUS, MQA, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, up to 32-bit/192 kHz PCM, as well as converted DSD playback via the BluOS desktop app.
You might have noticed MQA on the list. Some TechHive editors like it, but I’m still not sure what is up with this codec, or delivery system, if you prefer. It supports high-definition audio, but beyond that, the website and docs that I’ve seen talk a lot without saying much. That’s not an uncommon occurrence in boutique audio mind you.
On the other hand, the M10 also accommodates Dirac Live, which is one of the reasons you might want to pay the premium price.
Dirac is room and speaker acoustic analysis system that will optimize the EQ of your amp for its surroundings using what are known as impulse responses. These are created by emitting test tones (generally a frequency sweep) from your speakers, recording the reflections, and then mapping the time it took for them to reflect and/or which frequencies diminish or increase.
NAD provides a license for the required Dirac Live app, which is available for the Mac, PC, and Android/iOS devices. The Live version is limited to frequencies of 500Hz and below, but you can upgrade to the 20,000Hz version for $99 on Dirac’s website. If you buy the M10 to play…