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NAD M10 Streaming Amplifier Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the NAD M10 streaming amplifier and DAC. It was purchased and drop shipped to me kindly by a member. It costs US $2,749 from NAD dealers.

The M10 sports a very large touch screen LCD display that covers the entire front face:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Wifi Coax Review.jpg


Sorry for leaving the protecting plastic on. Like to keep things as new as possible for members.

As nice as the display is, it simply is not as responsive as your phone or tablet. What could be really cool such as the VU meter mode, becomes a jittery display that doesn't please much. A much faster processor with GPU would be needed to really make the display the star. Still, it is heads and shoulders above others that have small displays.

The back panel is notable for inclusion of HDMI ARC input:
NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Wifi Coax HDMI inputs ARC Review.jpg


Alas, I have no ARC capability on my workstation so could not test that feature.

In normal use the plastic case barely gets warm. Under heavy stress of power testing, it got somewhat warm making me wish the case was made out of aluminum than plastic. You are not likely to push the switching amplifiers this hard and at any rate, the M10 runs much cooler than any Audio/Video Receiver.

While I did not have time to test it, the M10 comes with Dirac Room EQ which is nice.

I noticed one operational/design issue. I unplugged the unit to take its picture but noticed that the display went crazy flashing random stuff. I thought it was a capacitor that was discharging but this continued and would not stop! I looked in the back and I realized I still had the HDMI cable plugged in. Knowing that it provides a 5 volt "hot plug" signal, I disconnected it and the display finally shut down. This is improper design. The device must NOT draw any power out of HDMI connection.

DAC Audio Measurements
I connected the Coax output of my Audio Precision APx555 analyzer to the M10 and measured what came out of the pre-out with volume adjusted for 2 volt output:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Audio Review.png


Distortion is quite low at -110 dB (near threshold of hearing) but the noise floor kept jumping up and down causing SINAD to vary with it. This shows lack of isolation between sensitive DAC subsystem and busy processor running other functions of the device. As it is, performance is respectable which is a sigh of relief:

best streaming amplifier reviewed 2020.png


Anything in green and blue is good.

Testing at other output levels shows that the M10 is capable of pumping out good bit of voltage:
NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC THD+N vs Output Level Audio Review.png


Dynamic range clears the bar for 16 bit CD/streaming content but not much more:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC SNR Audio Review.png


IMD distortion versus level shows the same noise issue:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC IMD Audio Review.png


Filter response also shows higher than it should be noise floor:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Filter Audio Review.png


Jitter and noise test shows a lot of unwanted tones but audibly they are below threshold of hearing:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Jitter Audio Review.png


Linearity is very good:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Linearity Audio Review.png


EDIT: forgot to include multitone in the original review:
NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC Multitone Audio Review.png


Finally, we see the penalty of the DAC filter not being sharp enough in distortion+noise versus frequency:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER DAC THD+N vs Freq Audio Review.png


Amplifier Audio Measurements
I was hoping that analog input was not digitized but alas, it is:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER analog in frequency response Audio Measurements.png


And at very low sample rate. Maybe there is a setting to change this but I did not bother to look.

Using the same analog input, I witnessed wild swings in noise floor of the unit:
NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Audio Measurements.png


So I abandoned the analog input and switched to Coax for the rest of the amplifier tests:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Digigtal In Audio Measurements.png


Performance is improved and stable as well. This rates the M10 above average for more than 100 amplifiers tested so far:

Best streaming amplifier measurement.png


Signal to noise ratio is disappointing as even with full power, it barely clears the 16 bit hurdle:
NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Audio SNR Measurements.png


Frequency response using digital input is wide enough:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Digital in frequency response Audio Measurements.png


But for those people with ultra sensitive high frequency hearing, you will lose half a dB at 20 kHz.

Let's see how much clean power we get out of M10 starting with 4 ohm load:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Coax In Power into 4 ohm Audio Measurements.png


I allowed the distortion to go higher (1%) and got even more power:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Coax In Max Power into 4 ohm Audio Measurements.png


I tried to get the burst power rating but some kind of limiter in the M10 was fighting the analyzer and wouldn't allow me to get there. It was nice that it would not shut down.

Power naturally drops at 8 ohm:

NAD M10 BluOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER Coax In Power into 8 ohm Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
Performance of the NAD M10 is generally acceptable especially for a multifunction device where we see a lot of fails. Alas issues here and there took away my enthusiasm for it. There is no excuse for poor analog input performance in a nearly $3000 device. Or rather high and variable noise floor.

So overall, I gave it a "like it" panther award but it is not something I would personally buy. I can be stubborn that way!

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

So stressed out with the terrible backlog of reviews, I have nothing sarcastic to say. So I will just ask that you donate what you can to change my mood using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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#2
Wow, what mediocre performance for a $3000 integrated!

Just buy a Yamaha AVR for 1/3 the price that still has Dirac and a whole lot more. What is the possible justification for this thing outside of “it looks pretty”?

EDIT: I just realized it’s Arcam not Yamaha that does Dirac. However, you could buy a mini dsp, a Hypex amp, a lifetime Roon subscription, any streaming device (raspi, CCA, ect), a Topping D30, and still wouldn’t be spending half the money and have better performance.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #3
It is very compact and due to use of switching amplifier, runs very cool. These two things you won't find in an AVR.

But yes, I wish they had paid more attention to the design and created something with much better performance.
 

stren

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#4
Thanks Amir, honestly was expecting worse from nad on the digital side given some of the other reviews. A decent looking box with a ton of functionality.
 

Harmonie

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#6
@amirm
Thanks to your site and measurements I did NOT buy the NAD C658 I had in mind back then.
I wouldn't buy that amp/streamer either.
Some of their amps are good though .
 
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#8
I don't own this amp, but I've had my eye on it. The M10 is not an integrated amp that you would buy for just the amplification; you'd buy it for the all-in-one feature set. It has full streaming capability to every online music service using ethernet and Wi-Fi. It has Airplay2 (if you use an iPhone) and Bluetooth. It's part of the BluOS multi-room ecosystem, so you can use smartphone and desktop apps to control it. It has Dirac room correction (which wasn't tested). And because it uses an nCore amp, it can put out 200W within an 11lb chassis. By the way, it won the EISA 2019 hi-fi award for best smart amplifier (I guess "smart" means "streaming" or app-connected).

As nice as the display is, it simply is not as responsive as your phone or tablet.
Are you referring to the touch-and-swipe responsiveness? You still had the plastic over the screen, so that would probably explain any lagging.


While I did not have time to test it, the M10 comes with Dirac Room EQ which is nice.
That is unfortunate, because Dirac Live is one of the main selling points of this unit.
 

TimoJ

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#9
Wow, what mediocre performance for a $3000 integrated!

Just buy a Yamaha AVR for 1/3 the price that still has Dirac and a whole lot more. What is the possible justification for this thing outside of “it looks pretty”?
Yamahas don't have Dirac. But yes, 2750$ is way too much for this.
 
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#10
was looking forward to this one. I’ve had my eye on it because it lets you run dirac and calibrate from your phone (and i assume add your custom peqs) as well. The dirac functionality may be worth it even with the higher noise floor. And NAD seems to have been pretty conservative with the power rating.

the other option I’m considering is a mindsp shd + a nc252mp based amp. Not as convenient because it needs a usb connection and laptop, but the performance will probably be way above this.
 
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#11
I don't own this amp, but I've had my eye on it. The M10 is not an integrated amp that you would buy for just the amplification; you'd buy it for the all-in-one feature set. It has full streaming capability to every online music service using ethernet and Wi-Fi. It has Airplay2 (if you use an iPhone) and Bluetooth. It's part of the BluOS multi-room ecosystem, so you can use smartphone and desktop apps to control it. It has Dirac room correction (which wasn't tested). And because it uses an nCore amp, it can put out 200W within an 11lb chassis. By the way, it won the EISA 2019 hi-fi award for best smart amplifier (I guess "smart" means "streaming" or app-connected).



Are you referring to the touch-and-swipe responsiveness? You still had the plastic over the screen, so that would probably explain any lagging.




That is unfortunate, because Dirac Live is one of the main selling points of this unit.
I actually purchased an M10 and ended up returning it. I had all the plastic removed on mine and found the touch screen to be laggy as well. In addition the digital inputs had issues. As for streaming, I preferred roon to the NAD software (seemed to lag a bit as well). On positive note, the dirac integration was great as was the big display and nice case work and inclusion of hdmi input. In ended up purchasing a minidsp SHD unit instead....
 
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#12
I actually purchased an M10 and ended up returning it. I had all the plastic removed on mine and found the touch screen to be laggy as well. In addition the digital inputs had issues. As for streaming, I preferred roon to the NAD software (seemed to lag a bit as well). On positive note, the dirac integration was great as was the big display and nice case work and inclusion of hdmi input. In ended up purchasing a minidsp SHD unit instead....
Seems like minidsp is the way to go for dirac
 
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#13
was looking forward to this one. I’ve had my eye on it because it lets you run dirac and calibrate from your phone (and i assume add your custom peqs) as well. The dirac functionality may be worth it even with the higher noise floor. And NAD seems to have been pretty conservative with the power rating.

the other option I’m considering is a mindsp shd + a nc252mp based amp. Not as convenient because it needs a usb connection and laptop, but the performance will probably be way above this.
I actually went though the same thought process and ended up with a SHD and NC502MP based amp instead. the setup with dirac is not as slick as the M10 but the over all system stability has been better (im using roon) and the measurements are excellent in comparison to the M10
 

restorer-john

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#14
A plastic box, $3000 streaming amplifier with meausurable flaws in just about every parameter. The analog in-out response is dreadful.

It's hard to get excited about a product that does a whole lot of things, but nothing really well. A jack of all trades- master of none.
 

jasonq997

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#15
I really like what they are doing here. This is the kind of device that would be more ubiquitous (and much cheaper and better because of it) if there were more young (in this context this probably means under 50) 2 channel enthusiasts plugged in to modern technology and streaming services. It is a shame that 2 channel receivers and integrated amps are still stuck in 1995.
 

jasonq997

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#16
A plastic box, $3000 streaming amplifier with meausurable flaws in just about every parameter. The analog in-out response is dreadful.

It's hard to get excited about a product that does a whole lot of things, but nothing really well. A jack of all trades- master of none.
And this is what I am talking about -- the notion that in in 2020 a heavy box with a lot a capacitors should mean something when we have better technology that just needs to be refined, but hasn't been for the consumer market due to lack of understanding and demand.
 
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#17
A plastic box, $3000 streaming amplifier with meausurable flaws in just about every parameter. The analog in-out response is dreadful.

It's hard to get excited about a product that does a whole lot of things, but nothing really well. A jack of all trades- master of none.
Its not plastic. Anodized aluminum with glass top.
 

AndrewDavis

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#19
the other option I’m considering is a mindsp shd + a nc252mp based amp. Not as convenient because it needs a usb connection and laptop, but the performance will probably be way above this.
A Bluesound Node +DAC w/volume control + NC252MP would work well and perform better.

In fact, Node(or rasberry pi)+Soncoz SGD1 + any Ncore based amp is an amazing value streamer/preamp/amp setup.
 

Dj7675

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#20
I actually went though the same thought process and ended up with a SHD and NC502MP based amp instead. the setup with dirac is not as slick as the M10 but the over all system stability has been better (im using roon) and the measurements are excellent in comparison to the M10
If concerned about best performance, agreed. Even a Minidsp shd/nc252 combo. I can se the appeal on a simple, 1 box solution. Minidsp shd power would be a great comparison. Hopefully someone will send one in.
 
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