The Master Series Sound
So what does this M23 sound like? This is on the one hand very difficult to explain and on the other hand incredibly simple. The point is: how are you going to describe an amplifier that has virtually no sound? That’s very easy to explain by saying: you hear exactly what the rest of your chain is doing and what’s on the recording. That’s factually correct, but also kind of boring. So let’s look at it in a little more detail.
Fast and Smooth
What the NAD M23 does very differently than people will expect from Class D is show flexibility. We all know that Class D can be very fast – depending on the power supply; – but that it can also sound smooth and fluid not many will expect. And yet that’s the case with this NAD M23.
That’s not just thanks to Eigentakt. It’s also how NAD implemented it. We know this, because your author is running two C298s at home ánd has an Eigentakt DIY kit. So it’s easy to make a comparison. And we can guarantee you that the hierarchy is very simple. The DIY is good, but the C298 is nicer. And the M23 again improves on the C298 when it comes to quietness and smoothness.
We hear that on all the speakers we attach to the NAD M23. The Diptyque (review to follow) is quite ‘power hungry’, but the M23 doesn’t give a hoot and puts down Gorillaz, Steven Wilson and for example Gare du Nord with verve. No problem at all!
The TAD Evolution 2 (review to follow) is a little less difficult to drive, but we hear no difference in control or reserve. The 200 watts / 380 watts is enough to fill our room. Thank goodness for that. But should you need more: in bridge mode, more than 700 watts come out of this M23. If that’s not enough, we don’t know what is.
What is pleasant is that the NAD M23 can both play loud and dynamic as well as refined. The M23 has in that respect – as it should – no preference. Also, this amplifier is speaker-agnostic. Again as it should be. Although matching is of course important… but that is more a matter of taste than that the M23 cannot drive a speaker. We really don’t see any problems there.
Now we have not been able to test the bridge mode, but what we know from the C298 is that there is just a bit more headroom. This may give some more calmness, control and freedom with very dynamic or difficult pieces of music. However, the differences – depending on the speaker / room / how loud you play – subtle. We estimate that not very many users will need two amplifiers in bridge mode.
At the bottom line, the NAD M23 is a beauty. An impressive piece of technology that shows that class D is really mature and without any problem can compete with many ‘old-fashioned’ class A / AB amplifiers. This NAD is easy to combine with many speakers. Even difficult speakers such as magnetostats that tend to be a heavy load. Impressive for an amplifier of 3500 euros. Or for those who have a little less to spend: the C298 of 1999 euros.