NAD A/V components enjoy a reputation for putting sound quality first, and for delivering excellent value for money. Even so, performance-minded enthusiasts have long wondered what would happen if NAD pulled out all the stops to build no-holds-barred, top-tier components. Now with the release of NAD's Masters Series M15 multichannel controller and M25 7-channel power amplifier, the wondering is over. Both units are THX Ultra-2 certified and priced at $2999 each.
What first struck me were the exquisite styling and finish of the M15 and M25. NAD burned plenty of midnight oil to refine the design of its Masters Series components, and their beauty carries through on the inside. As you would expect, the M-models are chockfull of high-quality parts and exhibit the careful interior layout and workmanship typical of fine audio components. By design, the Masters Series components look simple, inviting, and easy to use. DaVinci was right: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Initial setup was a snap thanks to well-crafted manuals provided with both components and to the M15’s intuitive remote control. The hardest part, really, was schlepping the humongous M25—all 96.3 pounds worth—out of its shipping carton and into the TPV equipment rack.
Video performance was excellent. I could discern no difference between component and HDMI video signals routed through the M15 versus those run straight from source components to TPV’s reference display.
The M15/M25 pair pushes the sonic performance envelope further than previous NAD components ever could. On one hand, traditional elements of the NAD “house sound” are present and accounted for: smooth highs; natural, open-sounding midrange; and robust, well-defined bass. On the other hand, the M15/M25 take resolution, textural finesse, and soundstaging to a whole new level. In short, the M-models preserved everything that made NAD good in the first place, while ratcheting up performance on the myriad fine points that spell the difference between good components and great ones.