“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

NAD Master Series Preamplifiers and Amplifiers Preview

NAD M17 Preamp and M27 Seven-Channel Amplifier

NAD M17 Preamp and M27 Seven-Channel Amplifier


  • Product Name: M12; M17; M22; M27
  • Manufacturer: NAD
  • Review Date: June 17, 2014 08:00
  • MSRP: $3,499 (M12); $2,999 (M22); $5,499 (M17); $3,999 (M27)
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting

NAD_m12_m22_groupNAD, originally an acronym for New Acoustic Dimension, is a highly regarded company in the world of top-tier electronics. Like many high-end audio companies, they've found themselves at a delicate crossroads. Their customer base, the ones that have been buying from them for years, aren't very interested in the newest technologies. They are completely happy with vinyl and only dabble in CDs when absolutely necessary. Conversely, their up-and-coming customers are interested in HD audio, streaming, and more. If NAD wants to capture these customers, they need to evolve.

NAD's solution has been to become modular.

NAD has been offering modular electronics for years. These allow NAD to upgrade portions of their electronics by replacing boards rather than having to re-buy an entire device. We've seen other companies try this approach and, pretty much universally, it has been abandoned after a few years. Not so with NAD. It seems that the reason that NAD has been successful where so many others have failed is that they've slowly adopted the latest technologies, allowing them and their customers time to acclimate to the newest tech.

In a way, that seems to be changing. NADs most recent press release includes an announcement of a forthcoming HDMI 2.0 module. Of course, it won't be out until "next year" but at least they are thinking about recent technology.

NAD_m12_front      NAD_m12_rear

NAD M12 Front and Rear

The latest Master Series components include two preamps and two amplifiers. First, there is the M12 two-channel preamp and DAC (or what the rest of the world just calls a preamp). The M12 has spots for six modules (we're not sure which modules are included in the $3,500 price). The image provided by NAD includes a digital board (two each optical and coaxial plus an AES input) and a computer input. NAD promises "24/192 Asynchronous USB offers modern connectivity options from any source imaginable. NAD’s DirectDigital processing guarantees real-time, 24-bit accuracy from the very first to the very last bit." There are both balanced and unbalanced outputs for connection to your amplifier.

NAD_m17_front      NAD_m17_rear

NAD M17 Front and Rear

NAD hasn't forgotten surround sound aficionados with their Masters Series. The $5,500 M17 is a seven-channel preamplifier that looks to have spaces for four modules (these look to be larger than the M12 modules). The M17 can decode DTS Master Audio and Dobly TrueHD. NAD has included their "EARS" DSP for transforming two-channel content to seven channels. The modules installed on the image provided by NAD include an HDMI board with six in and two out (CEC is supported) and a LAN connection. It has a digital board with four coaxial and four optical inputs and two outputs of each type. There is also an analog video board with two component video inputs and one out, three composite video inputs and two out along with a Zone 2 composite video output. Lastly, there is an analog audio board with seven RCA-style inputs, two outputs, and a Zone 2 output. There are 7.1 channel balanced and unbalanced outputs to your amp plus 12 volt trigger and IR inputs and outputs and RS-232 control.

NAD_m22_rear      NAD_m27_rear

NAD M22 (left) and M27 (right) rear panels

The two-channel M22 ($3,000) and seven-channel M27 ($4,000) amplifiers can accept unbalanced or balanced connections and have 12-volt triggers. High-quality 5-way binding posts are implemented. The M22 sports 250 watts per channel and NADs latest nCore amp technology licensed from Hypex. The M22 claims nearly unmeasurable distortion, ultra-high damping factor, and epic stability with nearly any speaker. The M27 has 180 watts per channel with dynamic power in excess of 300 watts. Also sporting Hypex's nCore technology, NAD has included their PowerDrive circuit here as well.


We can't argue that NAD is dedicated to their Modular Design Construction technology. While you'll need to wait another year (reportedly) for HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, you can buy the processors that will support them now. The Master Series M12 two-channel preamp and DAC and M17 seven-channel preamp aren't cheap but they do have all the latest NAD technology and a new look to boot. If you are looking for a matching amp, the M22 and M27 will fit the bill.

For more information, please visit www.nadelectronics.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

View full profile