When is an amplifier not an amplifier? Why, when it's also a DAC and full, multi-room-compatible, hi-res streamer, that's when.
Announced at CES 2020, the NAD Masters M33 is just such a product. Yes, you can connect to it all of your existing music sources (it's got an array of digital and analogue inputs, including a phono) for amplification and distribution to your chosen, passive speakers (there are two sets of speaker terminals, so bi-wiring is possible), but it will also act as a source itself, thanks to the integration of the BluOS streaming platform.
This is actually the second such product from NAD, the first being the Masters M10. The Masters M33 sits above that, though, with a £3999 ($4999) price tag and enhanced specs that include 200W per channel amplification and Purifi’s Ultra-Quiet Amplification Technology, which apparently results in ultra-low distortion and noise. This is, in fact, the first integrated component to feature this Purifi technology, according to NAD.
As well as BluOS support, which allows for hi-res streaming (including MQA) and multi-room integration with products from the likes of Bluesound and Dali, the NAD Masters M33 also has AirPlay 2 and aptX HD Bluetooth on board. An HDMI connection with full support for eARC (Enhanced Audio Return channel) makes for seamless integration with a TV, too. Dirac Live Room Correction, meanwhile, can automatically tailor the sound to your room.
All told, this is an exceptionally well-specified bit of hi-fi kit and, thanks to two MDC (Modular Design Construction) sockets, it can even be upgraded in the future, should that become necessary.
NAD hasn't yet provided a launch date for the Masters M33, but we'll update this story once it has, and you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be first in line for a review sample once it becomes available.
CES 2020: news, highlights and best new products
NAD have said this amp will be available from March this year.
The article makes no mention of the fact the M33 is an upgrade of the current M32, also adding in some of the newer features that were first launched on the M10.
This is the 3rd or 4th product using this tech, not the second to the M10.
It might have been worth pointing out that BluOS is a sub brand of NAD, or rather the parent company Lenbrook, since it was made a stand alone brand.
Also talking about having a DAC is a bit misleading.
This is the latest in NAD’s digital hybrid amp series, where all processing and amplification takes place in the digital domain.
Digital to analogue conversion takes place as a function of the final stage of the power amp output.
There is no DAC in the commonly understood sense.
Analogue inputs are obviously converted to digital through an ADC stage before being processed and amplified.
Other than that, I think prospective buyers looking for a high class system should seriously look at this before going to any of the usual suspects. NAD have a successful and established record in delivering very impressive results with this tech and their Master Series amps are built and perform to very high standards. High end brands are charging thousands of ££$$€€’s more for similar build and sound quality.
Oh and no I don’t work for them or have any connection with the HiFi retail trade.