NAD is not a new name for audio buffs out here in India. In fact, it is probably one of the very first names that set shop in our country when we were just getting a sneak peek in the amazing world of hi-fi audio. So, the association goes a long way back and so does the credibility associated with the brand. What we like even better about this brand (and for that matter some other veteran brand as well) is that they have not been stuck on the same pivot point of legacy, old school techniques and their emotional patronage. Instead like a clever visionary, they have mended themselves to the needs of the changing times and probably that is the only thing that keeps them going. For our ‘Source Special’, they sent us what they call a Digital Music Suite. We find out more about it...
Out of the Box
Like we have mentioned earlier, NAD is neither new to audio buffs in the country nor the look of any of their product---they all carry their trademark look. The grey and silver is so well-known in the country that some of us can literally spot a NAD product from a mile away. Same is the case with the NAD Digital Music Suite comprising of the M50 (a digital music player), M51 (a direct digital DAC) and the M52 (a digital music vault). What helps here is the similar design for all the products which makes them evidently look like one composite unit. The build quality of all the products is top notch---something that one can get a feel of only when you lift it in your hands.
As you talk of changing times, there is no doubt that digital is the way to go for the future and the NAD digital music suite tries to cash in on the same. But there is no need to be intimidated of the concept. The NAD digital music suite is nothing but a CD player—a DAC and a hard disk like device with tons of storage space in it. M50- a digital music player as they fondly call it is essentially a CD player with the capability of ripping, playing back and also wirelessly streaming hi-resolution music. But the way it functions is what makes it different. It incorporates latest generation of low power, super high performance ARM processors which claim to be more efficient, even than some of the computers around. The player also provides support for other digital formats like that of SPDIF and USB. Most of you would be definitely surprised to see a HDMI port on the M50 – as we tend to think that what does an HDMI port has to do with an all audio player, which is not true. HDMI is an absolutely secure encrypted format that supports 24/192 HD Audio in PCM's native I2S* format. So, the digital characteristics of the signal are kept intact all the way till it reaches the DAC. We find it very sensible for the guys at NAD to incorporate it in the M50 so as to completely complement the all digital policy for the circuitry as it is a digital suite—wherein all the components are chosen to be digital for clarity of signal. Very few manufacturers understand this feature and more importantly include it in their products.
The M52- a digital music vault is an extension of the same digital policy. It connects to the M50 using a USB cable and all the communication happen through this USB cable. The M52 employs a high quality enterprise-level protection for your valuable music collection. It uses the Redundant Array of Independent Discs (RAID 5) technology wherein the M52's three hard disc drives (HDD) make it practically impossible to damage your music. The system is self-healing wherein if any of the installed hard disk crashes, you don’t stand the risk of losing your music. All you have to do is simply replace the crashed hard disk and the system automatically configures itself with all the data back in place.
The last member of the suite is the M5- a DAC which incorporates the Direct Digital technology---one of the fastest audio processing technologies available in the market. The M51 re-samples any signal that gets and converts it into a more consistent signal set at a fixed clock rate. So, there is a great extent of consistency in the overall output that you get from the M51. It also offers a host of connectivity options along with latest USB technology called USB Audio Class 2. USB Audio Class 2 supports sample rates of 192kHz releasing the earlier limitation of USB at 96kHz. A device USB port is included allowing direct connection of a PC or Mac, but we don’t think that you will have to use it anyways—the M52 is equipped with a whooping 2TB of usable space for music storage.
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