Review: NAD Master Series M12 Preamp, M22 Stereo Amplifier

Posted on 1st September, 2015

NAD says:

Modular Design Construction (MDC) - does away with obsolescence by providing a simple upgrade path to add future features and functionality. M12 owners can add an optional DD HDM-1 HDMI Module with 3 inputs and 1 output (3D video passthrough) and/or the soon to be released network audio module, DD BluOS, with music management software that is controlled with an iOS or Android device. The DD BluOS MDC Module allows streaming of a variety of music services, HD streaming from a NAS device, and TuneIn radio; plus it gives you full control of your music library. Integrated WiFi/Ethernet and aptX Bluetooth™ connections are also offered with the DD BluOS Module.

I found that the M12 has plenty of inbuilt connectivity without the need for an immediate upgrade. Digital connections include AES/EBU, asynchronous 24/192 USB, coaxial and optical digital inputs. It is not compatible with DSD files. There are both balanced and unbalanced single-ended line level inputs and a versatile MC/MM phono stage. Also included are IR repeaters, 12V triggers, and a serial port to make integration with advanced control systems a snap. Should you want to add a subwoofer to the system, the M12 includes a second order high pass and low pass crossover with selectable frequency. You can even select different frequency slope for each filter. A good read of the detailed owner’s manual is recommended to really appreciate the amount of flexibility and detail work taken on by NAD to bring this product to fruition.

Moving on to focus on the M22 power amplifier, it is based on nCore™ amplifier technology licensed from Hypex. NAD have worked hard to adapt the modules into their architecture using open-loop bandwidth, DC coupled throughout, from input to output, low-phase shift, high current capability, low output impedance with the resulting high damping factor of greater than 800. The M22 offers a minimum of 250W per channel and is capable of >300W dynamic power per channel into 8 ohms, and >600W into 2 ohms. It is also a “green” product with less than 0.5w of power used when in standby and being a switching amp, it is very efficient when in use.

Both units have very nice metal pointed feet that come with magnetic cups, which are drawn to each other to stay attached. It uses the mechanical diode principle of draining internal vibration energy away from the chassis. They are a nice touch and again reaffirm the quality look and feel of the products. In fact both units appear to be extremely well made in aluminium and are finished immaculately, in keeping with their cost.

NAD Master M12 / M22 Review

The review pair of amps that I received have previously been demo units in many product demonstrations, trade shows etc. and have no doubt had a hard life before making their way to me. In all the time that I used the NAD combo, they never became hot, even in heavy use, or misbehaved in any way, leaving me with a very positive consumer experience.


Like many products we come across, I found they benefited from being left powered on continuously. The ‘stand-by’ mode has been created to circumvent the need to remove power all together from the units and to use the remote control to start them up again. I made the connections between the units using balanced XLR cables, particularly as they are a balanced design and benefit from this configuration. I used a number of brands; including the outstanding Kubala-Sosna Elation XLR interconnect which proved a great match. Connection to the speaker cables is via multiway binding posts of good quality.

NAD Master M12 / M22 ReviewSwitching on the units, the front panel of the M12 allows you to choose the input, either digital or analogue, and it’s ready to play. There is a raft of menus and sub menus, but it’s very easy to use and is logically laid out without the need to consult a manual. At the rear of the M22 power amp, there are small switches that are used to indicate either balanced or unbalanced inputs.

All of the music that I used for the review were digital files, from both a CD transport into various DACs and also streamed off a MOON MiND network player, directly into the on-board DAC within the M12. I used all of the digital inputs including AES/EBU, coax and optical. They were similar in sound quality, but overall I preferred the balanced digital input. I really like the flexibility afforded by the range of digital inputs, choice is always a good thing.

QualiFi, the Australian importer and distributor of NAD suggested that the Master series be used with high quality and neutral sounding loudspeakers, in order to really get an accurate take on the sonic signature of the amps. Being happy to comply, I used a variety of speakers, including the large and expensive Brodmann JB205 and the excellent Wilson Benesch Vector loudspeakers.

Mark Gusew's avatar

Mark Gusew

Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early 80’s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now manages a boutique audio manufacturer.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: nad  masters  m12  m22  qualifi