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NAD M33 Streaming Amplifier Review

fcracer

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Yeah. That's exactly my point. You spent $6 retail for a better knob. It would have cost them a quarter to a tenth of that to do that themselves. My H/K avr-20ii, Onkyo txds-787, and Denon avr-x3100w all have solid, precise knobs and controls even today. You shouldn't have to give that tactile quality up as you step up in price and performance.
100% agree. No excuse for the C390DD to be using a cheap plastic knob. From what I understand of the economics of Hi-Fi retail, it looks like there’s a lot of room for “improvement” in bringing more share of the profit to the manufacturers, at the expense of their retailers. We already see this with some online-only manufactures. It’s only a matter of time before companies with scale like NAD will move to an online-only ordering setup with perhaps touch/feel centres in major cities.
 

watchnerd

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OTOH, I would also argue that any cosmetics beyond the NAD Master series is superfluous.
I dunno....the knobs on a Luxman or an Accuphase sure feel mighty nice to the touch.

Call it superflous, but it brings me joy.

If either of them made a box that did everything that my Devialet Expert does, I'd be all over it.
 
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A big issue for me is controlling the subwoofer volume. Can you control the subwoofer volume from the M33 app?

Song are recorded differently and I like to change this on the fly like with a typical AVR. I’m not talking bass as that flows to the speakers, but the subwoofer only.
Appreciate any answers. It’s a deal breaker for me.
If I can control the SW volume, I’ll buy one.
 

Kal Rubinson

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A big issue for me is controlling the subwoofer volume. Can you control the subwoofer volume from the M33 app?
As far as I can recall, you can control everything from the app.
So much for memory and inference.:facepalm:

OTOH, as suggested below by fcracer, it does support multiple Dirac configs which you can switch among from the app.
 
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fcracer

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A big issue for me is controlling the subwoofer volume. Can you control the subwoofer volume from the M33 app?

Song are recorded differently and I like to change this on the fly like with a typical AVR. I’m not talking bass as that flows to the speakers, but the subwoofer only.
Appreciate any answers. It’s a deal breaker for me.
If I can control the SW volume, I’ll buy one.
The app lets you control the number of subwoofers and the x-over frequency but not the volume of the subwoofer independently. You could get a similar outcome to what you‘re trying to achieve by saving a Dirac filter with lower sub base, but I appreciate that’s not exactly what you‘re looking for.
 
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Heart breaking for sure. I love the new amp topography, the all-in-one Dirac, the fantastic DAC performance, and BluOS is serviceable.
I just hooked up my brand new miniDSP to my Amp. There is no way to control the subwoofer volume there either...wonder if it is a Dirac thing? I also can't integrate it with my AVR. I have a BluOS Streamer...I'm trying different music providers...but that Dirac is on to something. Great phantom image, but also the ability to distinguish more instruments and sound clarity at the edges, if that makes any sense. I've always had good vocal imaging, but this is another level.
Anyway...I'll call NAD and ask them to add that feature real quick.
I'm searching for killer stereo sound along with using an AVR for the 20% of the time I watch movies in that room...and I want to WOW the ladies and they like bass.
Thanks guys!
 

fcracer

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Heart breaking for sure. I love the new amp topography, the all-in-one Dirac, the fantastic DAC performance, and BluOS is serviceable.
I just hooked up my brand new miniDSP to my Amp. There is no way to control the subwoofer volume there either...wonder if it is a Dirac thing? I also can't integrate it with my AVR. I have a BluOS Streamer...I'm trying different music providers...but that Dirac is on to something. Great phantom image, but also the ability to distinguish more instruments and sound clarity at the edges, if that makes any sense. I've always had good vocal imaging, but this is another level.
Anyway...I'll call NAD and ask them to add that feature real quick.
I'm searching for killer stereo sound along with using an AVR for the 20% of the time I watch movies in that room...and I want to WOW the ladies and they like bass.
Thanks guys!
This is not meant to be targeted at you, but I feel that electronics manufacturers need to draw the line somewhere and start to pull back on the endless features and configuration options.

The M33 is a good balance between giving flexibility without making it too complicated to setup. As Kal noted, you can get a subwoofer with a remote control, rather than asking NAD to add another configuration item that only 1% of their population will use.

I agree with you 100% on Dirac, it’s the single best thing that has improved the sound quality in my room. There’s no way I can go without Dirac or some form of room correction in the future.
 

Vasr

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This is not meant to be targeted at you, but I feel that electronics manufacturers need to draw the line somewhere and start to pull back on the endless features and configuration options.

The M33 is a good balance between giving flexibility without making it too complicated to setup. As Kal noted, you can get a subwoofer with a remote control, rather than asking NAD to add another configuration item that only 1% of their population will use.
I totally disagree with this. This reads more like I don't need it and so I am all for status quo. :)

Looking for sub-woofers with remotes or expecting them to have remotes is much, much sillier. In systems with Room EQ or other DSP processing, changing downstream sub volumes after initial set up may not be optimal especially and difficult to get it right with multiple subs without destroying the effect of correction filters and may be difficult to revert back.

Having loudness controls, tone controls, and now more automated features like Dynamic EQ to compensate for different volume levels etc have all been satisfying valid consumer needs for a long time (even if not all use/need it).

Being able to increase the Sub volume (digitally) functionality is already there in the processing. Including additional features in apps to control it is much easier than adding more buttons on a remote or a button on the front panel and can be done so that it is only visible and available for those that need it in UI/UX. So, I don't buy this rationale that it is going to make it complicated. This extensibiility is one of the strongest reasons for having apps to control over just hardware remotes.

Being able to set up multiple profiles one with increased sub volume if they can be switched by remote is a good alternative.
 

fcracer

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I totally disagree with this. This reads more like I don't need it and so I am all for status quo. :)

Looking for sub-woofers with remotes or expecting them to have remotes is much, much sillier. In systems with Room EQ or other DSP processing, changing downstream sub volumes after initial set up may not be optimal especially and difficult to get it right with multiple subs without destroying the effect of correction filters and may be difficult to revert back.

Having loudness controls, tone controls, and now more automated features like Dynamic EQ to compensate for different volume levels etc have all been satisfying valid consumer needs for a long time (even if not all use/need it).

Being able to increase the Sub volume (digitally) functionality is already there in the processing. Including additional features in apps to control it is much easier than adding more buttons on a remote or a button on the front panel and can be done so that it is only visible and available for those that need it in UI/UX. So, I don't buy this rationale that it is going to make it complicated. This extensibiility is one of the strongest reasons for having apps to control over just hardware remotes.

Being able to set up multiple profiles one with increased sub volume if they can be switched by remote is a good alternative.
I appreciate your perspective but I wonder what’s wrong with using the existing tone controls or using one slot of the five filters for a reduced bass version?

Is it really necessary to add another variable of a sub specific volume control? I’d imagine someone will go through the hassle of setting Dirac up and then adjust the sub volume after, which will throw off the calibration and render the applied filter useless.

Your point about it being managed digitally is interesting and if Dirac can do that in real time, then your suggestion for it to be in an advanced section of the app is a good one. When I setup Dirac, it seemed to do some calculations that required my laptop or iPad so not sure if the amp can do it in real time.

I will admit that I’m probably in the minority but I much prefer the simplicity of a Leica camera vs something like a Sony, or the Apple experience vs the Windows experience.

I’d rather see NAD focus their resources on improving the BluOS software or finding ways to make the general user experience better. For example, I’ve now confirmed that the supplied remote control does not allow navigation of the menu system; it must be done on the touch screen. This is a regression from what the C390DD was able to do.
 
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I just feel like some tracks need a bit of a boost and some need to be turned down...and when I want to crank it up and rattle your drink off the table to show off, I can.
So...just for fun...here is their response. Very timely and professional.


Thank you for contacting the NAD Electronics Support Crew!

While at this time the M33 does not support this, rest assured that we will be taking this purposed request and forwarding it to our Quality Assurance Team as well as the BluOS Development Lab for their consideration for a future update. We are always working to improve the experience based on customer feedback and sincerely appreciate it.

Thank you again for reaching out!

Regards,
Vishnu
NAD Electronics Support Crew Analyst
 

Vasr

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I appreciate your perspective but I wonder what’s wrong with using the existing tone controls or using one slot of the five filters for a reduced bass version?
Tone controls aren't precise enough for this need when you have a DSP and digital processing available. Also, you would preferably want a solution where people can use it without knowing anything about filter slots (auto eq setup).
Is it really necessary to add another variable of a sub specific volume control? I’d imagine someone will go through the hassle of setting Dirac up and then adjust the sub volume after, which will throw off the calibration and render the applied filter useless.
This is not uncommon in most room corrections if the auto eq doesn't give enough room gain to one's tastes even with the downside. ARC is the only one I have seen that adjusts the target curve to a higher room gain in the auto process if the measured lower bass response is elevated (you can always tweak it up or down in the advanced section). With this, one can dial up the sub to one's tastes and then run auto EQ. Dirac and Audyssey doesn't work as well with this approach. But the above is for one-time set up with higher (or lower) bass, not the use case that the poster wanted based on current content being played.

Your point about it being managed digitally is interesting and if Dirac can do that in real time, then your suggestion for it to be in an advanced section of the app is a good one. When I setup Dirac, it seemed to do some calculations that required my laptop or iPad so not sure if the amp can do it in real time.
No, it cannot calculate filters on the fly in the hardware, that is not what I meant. I meant that the digital DSP processing, in theory, can do this volume change via a combination of increasing sub volume and/or decreasing other volumes relatively to achieve the result than just increase the sub-volumes which may excite room resonances a lot more than the filters were calculated for.

In other words, implement a better version of Audyssey's Dynamic EQ to compensate for overall volume and let the sub "loudness" button to algorithmically select the correct combination of volume changes to achieve the same result without completely throwing off the filter calculations. Some of this can be pre-computed at set up time. Dirac doesn't do this at the moment but this would be a better implementation solution to what the poster wanted.

On a related use case, most people, especially in HT, do have a need to adjust the sub volumes depending on overall volume levels since no single setting will work across all volume levels based on ear sensitivity. Dynamic EQ is motivated by this but Audyssey's version does a bad job of it.

I will admit that I’m probably in the minority but I much prefer the simplicity of a Leica camera vs something like a Sony, or the Apple experience vs the Windows experience.
It is up to the UX/UI people to ensure that people like you don't see the more complex version that they don't need. Problem is most people in the hardware manufacturers suck at UI/UX, especially with legacy firmware based UI. At least, with apps hopefully they hire real experienced app UI/UX experts to design it than the legacy firmware UI experts.

The problem is that the simplicity vs flexibility trade-off people want varies a lot between people. So, the UX needs to be designed carefully so people only see what they need and can "peel into more advanced sections" if they need to.

I’d rather see NAD focus their resources on improving the BluOS software or finding ways to make the general user experience better. For example, I’ve now confirmed that the supplied remote control does not allow navigation of the menu system; it must be done on the touch screen. This is a regression from what the C390DD was able to do.
Then you should give that feedback to NAD as the poster did for his need. It is the job of the product management at NAD to figure out how to prioritize and do cost/benefit analysis based on feedback. That is their job. And it isn't necessarily an either-or between what you want and others want.
 

gjm

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OK... Lots of focus on very specific features (or the lack of them).

$5k (US) isn't to be sniffed at.

Is there something else, at the price, which does provide the flexibility, functionality and performance? (Or at any vaguely comparable price?) A Benchmark AHB2 may well be a better amplifier, but it's not an integrated amplifier.

I agree that comparing the M33 to AVRs is possibly a little unfair on the AVRs. @amirm - is there room within the reviews for an integrated 2ch amplifier section? That could include every 2ch offering which combine a pre- and power-amplifier in a single box, as well as those with DACs, filters, EQ, etc.
 

fcracer

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M33 First Impressions Review
I've now had the M33 for two weeks and would like to provide an update on the experience. Usually, after a week of use, the sheen wears off for any shiny new toy and the reality sets in. Fortunately, the affinity for the M33 has only grown over the last two weeks.

Remote Control

As noted in the review, the remote control that came with my unit had terrible range and it seemed to get hot. It eventually ate through two sets of batteries in two nights, so I contacted NAD. They asked me to send it back and they sent out a new replacement right away.

The new remote control stays cool now and batteries last. The build quality also seems much better than the first one I got; the bottom cover no longer rattles. It's amazing how a small thing like eliminating a rattle can make something seem so much better quality.

Unfortunately, the range is still not that great for my use, but I now realize this is by design. NAD designed the remote control so that you can hold it at an angle to read the key labels while pressing the buttons. The IR transmitter is angled down rather than flat on the front.

Dirac Live

It took a while to get Dirac Live sorted out to my liking. There were a few times that I followed everything exactly as required, but the imaging ended up being slightly off centre. I found the most consistent results came from using the uMic pointing up with the 90d calibration file, or by using the supplied microphone from NAD which also points up.

With Dirac Live setup, as most people find, the bass was a bit lacking, or perhaps the more appropriate statement should be, that I have become too accustomed to excess bass and was missing some of it. I found an excellent resource online at https://mehlau.net/audio/dirac-live-2/

The author there provides excellent how-to to setup Dirac Live, and also went to the trouble of putting online target Harman Curves. I found the +8db curve to work very well in my room. It provides enough bass to satisfy that need while not bloating it. For when I want something more conservative, I use the NAD Curve available from NAD Curve (<500Hz) or NAD Curve (Full Frequency).

Conclusion

This is a remarkable amplifier that does pretty much everything I wanted and more. The real test of any good electronic device is if it gets used. Since getting the M33, I find myself using it much more than the 390DD because it has a super high convenience factor. I tell Siri to play some music in the living room and music plays.

The sound quality was expected to be good considering it uses Purify modules, but what really surprised me is the impact of Dirac Live. When you take Purify and add Dirac Live, the outcome is really tangible. The imaging is spooky good and my humble Monitor Audio Silver 6's have never sounded or imaged this well before.

All in all, I'm very happy with the purchase and feel it may even be a bit of a bargain, or at least good value for the money.
 
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mattarms

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I've now had the M33 for two weeks and would like to provide an update on the experience
....
All in all, I'm very happy with the purchase and feel it may even be a bit of a bargain, or at least good value for the money.
Thanks for posting your M33 impressions. Like you I've been using a NAD C390DD for many years so your comparison between the two is very interesting to me.

One thing I don't see mentioned often is that NAD is one of the few manufacturers that provides "AVR lite" solutions that support HDMI switching and 2-channel audio extraction. This is how I ended up with the NAD C390DD in the first place, after being dissatisfied by the audio quality of multiple AVRs for in my "music first, movies work" system.
 
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I'm feeling a bit thick here. For the classic "living room" scenario, how can I have a center channel with the M33? I'm trying to wrap my head around anything that's not 2.0/2.1/2.2 with this thing, and how the HDMI input helps me. I feel that I'm in a mode where I need to do something like:

Movies:
TV > (HDMI) AVR > (RCA preout) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer
AVR > (Spk out) > Center speaker

Which really isn't ideal since I'd rather not have to deal with the AVR as my preamp for my M33 when watching tv / movies

Movies:
TV > (HDMI) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer
M33 > (HDMI) > AVR > Center
 

fcracer

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I'm feeling a bit thick here. For the classic "living room" scenario, how can I have a center channel with the M33? I'm trying to wrap my head around anything that's not 2.0/2.1/2.2 with this thing, and how the HDMI input helps me. I feel that I'm in a mode where I need to do something like:

Movies:
TV > (HDMI) AVR > (RCA preout) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer
AVR > (Spk out) > Center speaker

Which really isn't ideal since I'd rather not have to deal with the AVR as my preamp for my M33 when watching tv / movies

Movies:
TV > (HDMI) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer
M33 > (HDMI) > AVR > Center
The imaging is so good with the Dirac Live that I don’t think you need a center channel. I’d recommend keeping it simple and going with TV > (HDMI ARC) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer.
 

mattarms

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The imaging is so good with the Dirac Live that I don’t think you need a center channel. I’d recommend keeping it simple and going with TV > (HDMI ARC) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer.
Yes, these NAD systems are a music first approach: 2.0 audio only. No multi-channel anything. Even though they support subs they'll be pulling the 2.0 audio over HDMI -- i.e. no direct support for the LFE channel in multi-channel media.

Depending on your priorities this can be acceptable or even preferable. With the NAD C390DD and two good speakers I have music/tv/music system that is about as simple as it gets to set up and use, and that sounds noticeably better than any AVR I've tested (which, in fairness, are mostly low to mid level ones -- the Denon AVR x3600h was the last box to fail to dethrone my NAD).
 
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The imaging is so good with the Dirac Live that I don’t think you need a center channel. I’d recommend keeping it simple and going with TV > (HDMI ARC) > M33 > Fronts + Subwoofer.
I wish I felt that way about dirac live on my m33. Dirac has been a complete disappointment. I'm using ver 3.0.13.
My sound stage has completely collapsed. The super clean and punchy bass is gone. And max volume is 25% diminished.
This amp is by far the best sounding unit i have ever owned for the last 50 years.
I can crank it up til the lights in my room flicker. Not a ounce of distortion. Sound pressure from all frequency are astoundingly linear with higher volumes.
My experience with dirac goes back to my nad c658. I had exceptional results but not this time. I have the mindsp umk1mic.
Downloaded Nad's target curve.
I absolutely love the Soundstage and bass dynamics of the non dirac sound. When trying any filter the bass is severely reduced.
I might try some previous versions. But your review gives me hope that it is operator error.
 

fcracer

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I wish I felt that way about dirac live on my m33. Dirac has been a complete disappointment. I'm using ver 3.0.13.
My sound stage has completely collapsed. The super clean and punchy bass is gone. And max volume is 25% diminished.
This amp is by far the best sounding unit i have ever owned for the last 50 years.
I can crank it up til the lights in my room flicker. Not a ounce of distortion. Sound pressure from all frequency are astoundingly linear with higher volumes.
My experience with dirac goes back to my nad c658. I had exceptional results but not this time. I have the mindsp umk1mic.
Downloaded Nad's target curve.
I absolutely love the Soundstage and bass dynamics of the non dirac sound. When trying any filter the bass is severely reduced.
I might try some previous versions. But your review gives me hope that it is operator error.
Have you tried running an REW sweep to see what’s going onwith and without the filter?

Could your measurement microphone be defective? I used a UMIK-1 for mine with good results.

My subjective results are great and the objective results from REW confirm the results with a nice smooth line with the bass region +8db higher than the higher frequencies.
 
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