Why an All-in-One?
With so much budget-priced audio equipment out these days, what’s the advantage of an all-in-one when everyone knows separates give better performance? You know the answer to that question before you ask it. If you want the performance of separate components and are inclined to pursue the power conditioners, cables, and storage space they demand, then you can wear your Audiophile badge with pride. But if you have a lovely family room or living room or office and want good music there (I mean, really good music), and don’t want to settle for the Bose system that your spouse keeps telling you sounds good enough, then you need to pay attention because the M10 is what you need. Yes, that was a run-on sentence; but I meant to run on about this! Kii speakers will get you there, but they are way more expensive. Products from Naim and Linn will get you there, but to add room correction will double the price. Less expensive all-in-one speakers will get you there, like Elac’s new offering, or Vanatoo’s; and they will sound good but still not offer room correction nor the finesse, luxury, or flexibility the M10 provides. Can you get better audio performance for another $1000–$1500? Possibly. Will that performance outweigh spending that same amount more on speakers? No, it won’t.
To reiterate, Class D does not stand for Dismal or Dull or Despicable or Depressing; and Class AB doesn’t mean Absolutely Better. To spoil the surprise, this unit is sonically exceptional for what it is and all it does, especially once the room correction is implemented. The M10 has enough power to easily manage my 87dB-sensitive Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne and Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2, sings with the 96dB-sensitive Klipsch RP-600M and 101dB-sensitive Zu Audio Druid V, and is just barely enough for the mighty Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate (which was a totally ridiculous combination but worth a try). I’d stick with 87dB and up, and the M10 will have no issues offering proper dynamic performance, control of the drivers, and the ability to rock da’ house when called upon.
Tonally the M10 is a bit of a chameleon, embracing the sonic attributes of the speaker it’s connected to. At first, I thought the M10 to be a hair on the soft side of neutral driving the Elac and Zu speakers. Yet the MicroOne’s more meticulous presentation and the Klipsch’s higher sensitivity and sense of exuberance made me second guess that first impression. To me, this is a telltale sign that I was dealing with a strong foundation upon which I could build a wonderfully simple, transparent, and enjoyable system to my (or your) taste. Yet no matter what speaker I connected, the M10’s ability to reproduce complex harmonics and textures always surprised me, as did its low-energy reproduction. To be flatly honest, I wasn’t expecting much, with everything including the kitchen sink shoehorned into this little box of refined goodness. I was proven very wrong. Mark Knopfler and James Taylor’s Sailing to Philadelphia offered luscious guitar harmonics and low-frequency tonality, and a well-placed duet between two amazing singers properly placed in my x, y, and z axes. Yup, wasn’t expecting that…. Pink Floyd Welcomed Me to Their Machine with a generous sense of dynamic control, pace, and rhythm. And Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 whisked me to a time in my past when Tom and Jerry battled over the ebonies and ivories, first introducing me to that wonderful classical composition. No matter the source material and no matter the source, the Masters Series M10 allowed me to tap my toes and enjoy the music, all from the comfort of my couch with total control from my handy and accessible iPhone.
As we all know, equipment and system matching is 50% of the equation, speaker setup is 25%, and the room itself is another 35%. That’s right, 110%! Room correction allows us to remove 10%, leaving us 100% of our daily recommended allowance of audiophile sustenance. I can connect a pair of speakers to the M10 that makes the listener condemn the Class D amp as disappointing, or I can spend some time taking advantage of what the M10 can do and find the speakers that make this all-in-one push my buttons. I can tell you that there are speakers from $250 to $7500 that can make the NAD M10 provide a system you can truly enjoy in the space you are trying to relax in.
I am relatively confident that the preamp outputs on the back of the M10 were placed there to facilitate a multi-zone audio system and not to add an external amplifier to improve the performance. Why, you ask? Because I asked NAD, and they told me that. But I tried it anyway because I could and should—to be thorough for and honest to you, our readers. I tried it with my Musical Fidelity TriVista 300 integrated (which has preamp outs, but I had modified to allow me to access the amplifier section with a new set of “Amp In” RCA’s) and with my Octave V80SE, which has both “Main In” and “Main Out” jacks on the back. As expected, performance was significantly improved. This doesn’t tell me that the internal amp is bad; it tells me that if someone ever decided to use this as a front end and add an external amplifier it would serve them very well.
Now, this is one of those reviews that challenges the foundation of the reviewer’s dichotomy. Am I reporting to you how this piece of equipment performs in comparison to itself and what it is clearly designed to accomplish? Or am I comparing this to the best system I have ever heard? To do the first without at least comparing it to similarly priced all-in-ones and separates would be irresponsible. To do the second would be, well, ridiculous; yet it is those systems that allow us to set a standard by which we judge all else. I believe that the NAD M10 accomplished its task and is a highly viable, if not unique, option at its price point and with its feature set. It is unabashedly not audiophile nirvana, nor is it the last word in accuracy or musicality. What it is is attractive, luxurious, simple to set up and use, small, ridiculously well featured, and wonderfully enjoyable to listen to when connected to the right speakers for your ears and budget.
The gents from NAD said this of their M10: “This is not an audiophile product, but it is using NAD Masters Series technology and experience to create sound that audiophiles would appreciate.” Mission accomplished, and highly recommended.
Specs & Pricing
Output power: 100Wpc into 8 or 4 ohms (continuous); 160Wpc into 8 ohms; 300Wpc into 4 ohms (dynamic power)
Analog inputs: Two unbalanced on RCA jacks
Analog outputs: Preamp out, subwoofer out (x2)
Digital inputs: Coax, TosLink, HDMI, LAN, USB
DAC: ESS Sabre, 384kHz/32-bit
Connectivity: AirPlay2, aptX Bluetooth, NFC, BluOS wireless streaming, Ethernet
Apps: iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows
Room correction: Dirac Live
Dimensions: 8.5" x 4" x 10.25"
Lenbrook Industries Limited
633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1
Preamplifier: Burmester 077 with DAC
Power amplifiers: Burmester 911 mk3 monoblocks
Integrated amplifiers: Musical Fidelity Trivista 300, Octave V80SE
Analog: VPI HW-40 with Lyra Atlas SL, Manley Steelhead phonostage
DAC: DaVinci Light Harmonic 2, Chord Hugo 2
Music server: Memory Player Transport 32 Core MP64, Bybee IQSEx2, SOTM USB card and reclocker with dedicated LPS
Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate, Laufer Teknik Porzilli Linear Array, Zu Audio Druid mk. V, Elac UniFi B5
Subwoofers: Vandersteen Audio Sub Three + M7-HPB
Power conditioner: Shunyata Research D6000s, Torus RM20BAL
Cables: Shunyata Research Z-Tron, Z-Ton Sigma, EnKlein David, Crystal Cable Absolute Dream and CrystalConnect Reference Diamond, Zu Libtec, Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval and Micro Golden Oval, Light Harmonic Lightspeed 20G USB, Wireworld Platinum Starlight
Equipment racks: Adona SR4 Rack, Adona Nemisis ALGC
Isolation: HRS Nimbus, Shun Mook Giant Diamond Resonator, Symposium Ultra 19x18 Shelf x 2, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+ double-stack x 3, IsoAcousics Orea Bourdeaux, IsoAcousics Gaia 1
AC: Custom dedicated lines, Furutech GTX-D-NCF Rhodium outlets x 4, EP-2750 ground filter (x4), EP-2050 surge/waveform correction panel conditioner
Acoustic treatments: GIK Soffit Traps (front corners), Tri Traps (rear corners) with scatter plates, Monster Trap with scatter plate and range limiter, Monster Trap full range, 244 trap with scatter plate x 3, Acoustic Wings, Auralex Waveprism x 8, T’Fusor x 4, Vicoustics Wavewood x 12, Multifuser DC2 x 12, Multifuser Wood 64 x 2, Super Bass Extreme x 8