Review: NAD M10 V2 Streaming Amplifier

If I could sing, I’d sing the praises I’m going to lavish on the NAD M10 V2 because it is many good things in one, and with the right speakers, you could easily be done.

Back in the 1980’s, I was the proud owner of the now-classic NAD 3020 integrated amplifier. It traveled with me to Bennington College and back, and after a few moves and years of use, the right channel stopped working. Even though my 3020 was well passed the warranty period, I called New Acoustic Dimension and after crying, not really but nearly, to the very friendly NAD rep on the other end of the phone, they agreed to have a look. Shipping was on me which seemed more than fair and after a few weeks my repaired amp arrived at my door. No charge.

Like that bear with a thorn in its paw, I never forgot that kindness.

Unlike the 3020, the NAD M10 V2 has no knobs or buttons. It’s a lovely little solid brushed black aluminum box with Gorilla Glass top and front panels and a 7” color touchscreen that covers most of its front face. When in use, the screen lights up with album cover art along with track, album and artist info which is all I want or need but a host of other functions are just a tap on Gorilla Glass away. The only other indication that this thing is on from the listening chair perspective is the glowing NAD logo and M10 V2 up top, which changes colors depending on operational status. You’d never guess, from appearance alone, that the M10 V2 houses everything you need, and then some, to be a complete stereo system – just add speakers.

Of course being an integrated amplifier means the NAD also offers connections for other hifi stuff with two line level RCA inputs, Coax and Optical digital inputs, HDMI eARC for like-equipped TVs, two independent Subwoofer outputs, and a Pre Out to use the M10’s preamplifier section with an external amplifier. The M10 V2 puts out 100 Watts of power into 8 or 4 Ohms from its Hypex nCore-based amplifier, while the ESS SABRE DAC handles PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, all I need, and also supports MQA. There’s an included remote that I touched exactly once seeing you can get at every playback feature you need through the BluOS app, Roon, or by tapping on that Gorilla Glass touchscreen.

On the streaming and features side, the M10 V2 is Roon Ready, it supports Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect which means you can control playback using those associated apps, AirPlay 2 integration, support for Siri Voice Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, Dolby Digital Surround, aptX Bluetooth, Internet Radio, Radio Paradise, and of course the company’s free BluOs app which runs on Android and Apple iOS devices, desktops, and several Smart Home control systems. Of all the music control apps out there, I am an unapologetic Roon fan but the BluOS app is among my other fav’s and you need to use it to get at some of the M10 V2’s more interesting features. I’m not going to cover all of the M10 V2’s functionality here, like its multi-room and surround capabilities because there’s only one room and no TV in the Barn, so I recommend a visit to the manual for the complete story.

If all that sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. The BluOS app makes setup a breeze and if you already stream music from Tidal or Qobuz and know what an Ethernet cable is, you will be up and running with the M10 V2 in a matter of minutes. If you already have a Roon subscription, those minutes will be taken up with mostly physical stuff like unboxing and attaching cables. Once you’re done in the material world, a couple taps or clicks in Roon and you’re ready to play.

you can name the DIRAC filter

But there’s more. Lots more. Chief among these more interesting features is DIRAC Live Room Correction. In brief, the DIRAC implementation in the M10 V2 corrects the impulse (time response) of the system as well as smoothing frequency response in the bass region, up to 500Hz. This is accomplished in-room using the included microphone connected to a laptop (in my case) and a very simple setup process within the BluOS app. Once complete, setup is a one and done kinda deal, and you can easily turn the corrective filter on and off in the app to hear what it’s doing. I ran the DIRAC setup using the GoldenEar BRX stand mount speakers and while on the subtle side, the improvements offered using DIRAC room correction were welcome and preferred.

Sticking to I, me, mine, I mainly used Roon to control playback because I really enjoy using it. While I did try a few different speakers with the M10 V2 including the DeVore O/96 and Perlisten R7t (review), my favorite system with all things considered including price saw the NAD pumping energy through the GoldenEar BRX. If you’re looking for a simple system for streaming and perhaps serving your owned digital music, The BRX / M10 V2 comes very highly recommended. By me.

The NAD M10 V2 is one of those products that, for me, make if difficult to just talk about how it sounds. This is the case because I like every last thing about it, from its size, to the materials used in its construction, its appearance, the many functions and features packed inside, and that eye-appealing 7” display. I enjoy a nice display, like the one adorning the full face of the HiFi Rose RS150b Reference Network Streamer (review). In the M10 V2, the screen dimensions make more sense, leaving less horizontal screen real estate to fill with non-essential stuff. Vertically, where size really matters, I’d say they are nearly the same.

That said, we are talking about something that’s made to make music and the M10 V2 does so with classic NAD style, which to me means it is easy to listen to and very easy to like. When paired with the GoldenEar BRX, I was continually delighted with the NAD’s way with a good tune, and this small system threw a huge IMAX-sized sound image into the Barn. In those moments of late where I wanted to feel good, like PJ Harvey or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or early Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds good, I’ve been reaching for King Hannah’s I’m Not Sorry, I’m Just Being Me, especially the opener “A Well-Made Woman” with Hannah Merrick’s angular vocal strutting and Roland Howard-like scorching guitar from Craig Whittle. The little M10 V2 / BRX system delivered the goods, making the Barn feel dangerous, sexy, and subversively cool.

The NAD can also sound rather rich, as it does with the BRX. This trait is somewhat speaker dependent, no shocker there, and I found that with less forgiving, i.e. more revealing, speakers like the DeVore O/96 or Perlisten R7t, I could hear a bit of thinness creeping in. This was most apparent in the mid- and upper mid-range regions where texture and tone were not as fully fleshed out as I like. I don’t have another integrated on hand that would make for a fair comparison with the NAD, so I’ll just say that much more expensive integrated amps like the Ayre EX-8 sound more fully voiced, with more meat and potatoes on music’s bones. I understand the appeal of mismatching pieces of a hifi system, price-wise, but in general I’ve found that this doesn’t always get the best results from either end.

Another current favorite is Nilüfer Yanya’s Painless, a beautiful album that feels almost breezy as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. Once again, the NAD/BRX system threw out an airy and speaker-defying sound image that contained all of the groove and moves in Painless, making it difficult to remain in the Red chair as a passive listener. The M10 V2 offers a very nicely balanced presentation, combining the various aspects of reproduction in such a way as it was easy, very easy, to forget about the mechanics and focus on the soul.

Speaking as someone who grew up the 1960s, access to limitless music libraries that take up exactly zero space in the home, coupled with groovy and infectious sound quality delivered by a handsome device that could easily fit in a bread basket, yes I said the 60s, and I could get all…hippy happy. But I won’t.

Sometimes, to get to the heart of reproduction, I like to go simple. Even super simple like Vera Hall’s unadorned yet moving “Trouble So Hard” from Alan Lomax: Popular Songbook a test, if you can call it that and not giggle, that the NAD M10 V 2 passed with pleasure. I know there are people who feel the need to test hifi gear, in the strict sense of the word, as if listening to music is a pass/fail kinda deal. The thing is, when it comes to listening to music, we each get to decide what turns us on, remember I said the 60s, what lights our fire and no amount of chest beating or charts can extinguish that flame. And you have to wonder — why would anyone want to.

Alfred Brendel plays Schubert. Some words, especially words related to music, seem almost magical. I have a thing for the piano work of Alfred Brendel and an even bigger thing for Schubert’s piano pieces making just the words, Alfred Brendel plays Schubert, a promise of exquisite experiences laying in wait, just a click away. I swayed and swooned through a number of selections from Alfred Brendel plays Schubert, not all 20 hours mind you, and the NAD captured most of the important things about Brendel’s interpretation with a nice sense of resounding body, touch, speed, and the silences in between.

a simple feature-rich system

I understand and completely relate to the desire for simplification. And not only when it comes to hifi. If you share this desire and are looking for a simple yet smart hifi solution, one that contains all the tech and performance you need to live happily ever after wrapped in music, the NAD M10 V2 represents a very compelling choice.


NAD M10 V2 BluOS Streaming Amplifier
Price: $2749
Company Website: NAD

Specifications

Line Input, Speaker Out

Continuous output power into 8 ohms and 4 ohms: >100W (ref. 20 Hz-20 kHz at rated THD, both channels driven)
THD (20 Hz – 20 kHz): <0.03 % (250 mW to 100 W, 8 ohms and 4 ohms)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >85.1 dB (A-weighted, 500 mV input, ref. 1 W out in 8 ohms)
Clipping power: >130 W (at 1 kHz 8 ohms 0.1 % THD), >230 W (at 1 kHz 4 ohms 0.1 % THD)
IHF dynamic power: 8 ohms: 160 W, 4 ohms: 300 W
Damping factor: >190 (ref. 8 ohms, 20Hz to 6.5kHz)
Frequency response: ±0.6 dB (20 Hz – 20 kHz)
Tone controls: Treble: ±6.0 dB at 20 kHz | Bass: ±6.0dB at 60 Hz
Channel separation: >83 dB (1 kHz), >70.5 dB (10 kHz)
Input sensitivity (for 100 W in 8 ohms): Line In: 456 mV, Digital In: -13.23 %FS
Standby power: <0.5W

DAC Section

ESS Sabre 9028 DAC
Supported audio file formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS
Hi-Resolution audio formats: MQA, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, Supports converted DSD playback via the BluOS desktop app (only)
Sampling rate: up to 32 bit/192 kHz PCM
Bit depths: 16 – 24

BluOS Section

Supported operating systems: Plays music from network shares on the following desktop operating systems: Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, Vista, 7, 8 to current Windows Operating Systems and Mac OS X versions
User interface mobile operating system BluOS: BluOS – Free Android and iOS App available online at Google Play and Apple App store
Supported cloud services*: Amazon Alexa, Amazon Music, Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, HDTracks, HighResAudio, Murfie, JUKE, Napster, Slacker Radio, KKBox, Bugs
Free internet radio*: TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, Calm Radio, Radio Paradise
Bluetooth quality: Bluetooth aptX HD built-in
Bluetooth connectivity: Two-Way (Receive and Headphone modes)
Network connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet RJ45, Wi-Fi 5

Dimension and Weight

Gross dimensions (W x H x D)**: 215 x 100 x 260 mm | 8 1/2 x 3 15/16 x 10 1/4 inches
Shipping weight: 5 kg (11 lbs)

* – Supported audio file format, cloud services and free internet radio are subject to change without notice.
** – Gross dimension includes feet and extended rear panel terminals