Electronic House and sister publication CE Pro recently had an exclusive listening session with a prototype version of the new Master Series M2 Direct Digital Amplifier from NAD Electronics.
The M2 (MSRP $5,999) is a sophisticated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that directly drives a set of loudspeakers, the company says.
It features the industry’s first closed-loop digital amp and works by using a reference signal and traditional pulse width modulation (PWM) technologies in conjunction with nano-second fast error-correction technologies and a 100MHz clock.
The amp incorporates Burr-Brown analog-to-digital chips for analog legacy sources and digital signal processing (DSP) to enable its volume control.
NAD specifies the amp to deliver 250 watts of continuous power at 4 or 8 ohms and 500 watts peak dynamic power.
It set up easily with a tone exhibiting many analog-type qualities, elusive to many digital amps.
Driving a set of Paradigm speakers, we heard a variety of content, including Tool’s “The Pot” at a very high volume. If it were a blind listening test, it’s likely we would not have guessed it was a true digital amplifier.
Zetex DDFA Architecture Powers Amp
Work on the amp started about 10 years ago, says Greg Stidsen, NAD’s director of product development. Its release represents the culmination of a decade’s worth of research and development, but it’s more than just another Class D technology.
“We wanted to do more than what would be done with a linear [analog] amp,” says Stidsen. “We’ve been working with Zetek since 2003 and we know it [the technology] inside and out.”
At the heart of the amplifier is Zetex Semiconductor’s Direct Digital Feedback Amplifier (DDFA) architecture.
Craig Bell, audio product marketing manager, says the technology, now in its second generation, can be used for a number of applications, including active monitors.
“There are a lot of pro opportunities out there,” he says.
Eventually, Stidsen foresees this technology applied throughout the NAD product line.
“We expect to have this [technology] in other products like A/V receivers and anything with digital sources. This is the future,” he says.”
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.