Review NAD M23 power amplifier – Masterful Purity

Pros

  • Smooth character
  • Clean power
  • Steady performance

Cons

  • None...
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  • Prijs: € 3500

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    NAD M23

    Intro

    NAD – New Acoustic Dimension – has – as the Dutch say – “gold in its hands” with the M33 and C298. Both products are extremely competitive: good pricing, good performance and – our opinion – a sleek appearance. Especially in the case of the Master Series. And well: there is a newcomer: the M23 power amplifier. Yep… with Purifi Eigentakt. Yummy!

    You like it or not: the design of the Master Series. Your author really likes it. Especially with the M33 – and M12 – which still has a sleek display on the front. Modern, sleek, chic and in a sense timeless. Anyway: there really is no accounting for taste. What ultimately matters to us enthusiasts is: how does it sound? We will talk about that later. First some information about the technology.

    Purifi Eigentakt

    With a power amplifier, we don’t need to talk about the technology in great detail. Because well: it is a power amplifier. A box that amplifies the incoming signal to the level that a speaker can actually do something audible with that signal.

    In this case the NAD M23, with two channels, can squeeze out about 200 watts per channel in 8 Ohms and about 380 in 4 Ohms. In bridge mode there should be more than 700 watts coming out (mono). You can see later in the measurements that these specs are quite accurate.

    Purifi Eigentakt is a class D technology co-developed by Bruno Putzeys. Two other key figures are Lars Risbo and Peter Lyngdorf. Simply put, Eigentakt is a further development on nCore; a “platform” that Putzeys also co-developed. However, Eigentakt has to go one step further. And yes: we agree. It sounds smoother and cleaner than nCore.

    Although there is more at play than just the output stages. Class D is incredibly sensitive to the power supply. So that’s directly the area NAD has worked on quite a bit and that’s what sets the C298 apart from the DIY kit, for example. The NAD M23 goes even further in that area. The pictures below clearly show that the M23 does not just get a nicer casing (or box). NAD has actually done things differently for the Master Series.

    A quick word about the rear of the M23. It is the same as the C298. So no surprises for your author. We’ll walk you through them.

    There are both balanced and single ended inputs. These are switchable, so pay attention when you connect the amplifier. If silent: just turn everything off, flip the switches and turn the amp back on. Furthermore we see a small switch for Bridge mode. This puts the M23 in mono mode to use more power on one channel. Finally, a gain switch to set the gain (gain) to low, medium or high. It’s all not rocket-science.

    11 Comments

        1. Hi,
          thank you for this comparison. It was the one I was looking for.
          So as expected M23 sounds better than C 298.
          Since M23 costs almost twice the price of C298,
          I am wondering how does two C 298 bridged sounds compare to one single M23?
          Thanks,
          Barlas

        2. Hi!

          Bridge mode doesn’t improve quality. It just gives you more power / grip. The M23 is more fluid and smooth. That difference will always be the same: bridge mode or not.

    1. Hi Jaap,

      Thanks for your high quality reviews, including the audio comparisons on YT. Really enjoy and appreciate them as a resource since I stumbled across your youtube channel earlier this year.

      So on the strength of seeing – well, hearing – the way the Sopra No.1s performed on a range of equipment you’ve reviewed (up until your recent upgrade to the TADs) when I recently had an opportunity to get them at a good price, I did so. Their upper end clarity – which is a huge step up over the KEF LS50s – immediately and mercilessly showed the limitations of my existing gear, which is a mix of older solid state and a new and modestly priced Topping ESS9038 DAC and Class D amp stack I picked up for experimentation purposes.

      Many tracks sound remarkable in terms of the detail and dynamics, though the midrange could be fuller with some tracks coming across a bit harsh in the upper midrange/treble. Not exactly unexpected with the Topping gear. I had always planned to properly upgrade the DAC and amp, which I am now in the process of doing. My goal is to achieve a more balanced sound with a more full and smooth mid-range.

      So, and apologies for the long preamble, this leads me to the subject of this review, the NAD M23. How would you say it would pair with the Sopras and a well implemented lower-mid tier R2R or DS AKM4499 DAC? (I have a couple such DACs en route to try along with a DDC) Around the M23’s pricepoint, even say up to say €5k – is there anything else you would suggest I consider given your great familiarity with the Sopras?

      Many thanks and keep up the good work,
      Jake

      1. Hi Jaap, sorry I got a little carried away there… take 2 – may I be more succinct.

        Which in your experience would be a better match for the Sopra No 1’s, the NAD M23 or the Kinki Studio EX-M7? Appreciate you’ve said the Pass Labs Int-25 is a marvellous match to the Sopras, but it’s beyond my current budget alas.

        Regards,
        Jacob

        1. Hi Jacob!

          No problem. We are just very busy with the preparation of a live stream.

          It is hard to say what amp is better. It mostly depends on taste. Both will work absolutely fine. The Kinki will bring a tad more air, but the M23 will have more control I think.

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