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NAD Masters Series M3

Stereo integrated amplifier

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  • NAD Masters Series M3

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  • NAD Masters Series M3

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  • NAD Masters Series M3

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Item #: 745M3
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the NAD Masters Series M3

by Jim Richardson
NAD

Everything you always wanted in a stereo receiver, except the radio

An integrated amplifier is essentially a receiver without a built-in AM/FM tuner. You get power to drive your speakers, audio controls, and inputs for music source components. Connect an iPod, a computer, a network music player, or any other device that can play Internet radio, and you may find you have no need for an AM/FM radio.

How do you do most of your music listening?

Nothing against smartphones, computers, or home-theater-in-a-box systems, but if that's how you squeeze music into your life, then you're missing one of life's sublime pleasures. Such multi-purpose gadgets, when used for music, serve up the sonic equivalent of fast food. If music means more to you than that, consider building a music-first system with the NAD M3 Masters Series integrated amplifier as your foundation.

angled view

Built solid

The M3's rugged chassis is built with 2-millimeter-thick steel plates and a front panel of aluminum and die-cast zinc. All of the heavy-duty gold-plated signal connectors are specifically engineered for the NAD Masters Series components.

The guts of the M3 are as impressive as its armor. For precise adjustments, the volume, balance and tone controls use 1 percent resistors controlled by digital switches. Input selectors use the same sealed reed relays found in some of the world's most expensive hi-fi components. Because the signal never has to travel to the front panel for switching or adjustment, noise and distortion are minimized.

A powerful value

NAD's PowerDrive™ technology ensures that the M3 delivers maximum undistorted dynamic power into the connected speakers under all conditions. Like a turbo-charger, the PowerDrive signal processor senses the demands placed on the amp and delivers higher current only when it's needed. PowerDrive allows the M3 to sound even more potent than you would expect from its "Full Disclosure" rating of 180 watts x 2 channels.

Pair the M3 with a matching NAD M5 CD player and PSB Synchrony One floorstanding speakers. You'll enjoy a level of performance that audiophiles often pay far more to attain.

Plenty of system-building options

back panel

You can assign your own names to the six pairs of RCA and one set of balanced XLR inputs. One of the two preamp outputs features a selectable biamp mode with built-in 40, 60, 80, and 100Hz low-pass filtering for a subwoofer.

Wondering what you'll do with all those inputs? Think outside your main listening room. Connect a second amp to the M3's Zone 2 pre-outs, and you'll be able to take advantage of its independent Zone 2 source selection (and the handy Zone 2 remote control). You could have the loudest, best-sounding outdoor speakers in the neighborhood.

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Highlights:

  • 180 watts x 2 channels into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.004% THD
  • 180 watts x 2 channels into 4 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.004% THD
  • dual mono design with separate unregulated, and discrete regulated power supplies for different stages
  • 4-ohm capability allows use with a wide range of speakers
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 130 dB
  • PowerDrive™ circuit with automatic speaker impedance sensing delivers maximum dynamic power output regardless of speaker load
  • distortion-canceling circuit for high-accuracy sound
  • twin custom-made "Holmgren" toroidal transformers
  • all-discrete circuitry with four pairs of high-wattage output transistors per channel
  • 6 RCA audio inputs and 1 rec out
  • one balanced XLR input
  • main-amp input and 2 preamp outputs for connecting a powered subwoofer or separate amplifier for bi-amping
  • Zone 2 output with independent source selection
  • switching for two pairs of speakers
  • two pairs of custom gold-plated speaker binding posts
  • biamp mode with selectable 40, 60, 80, 100 Hz crossover frequency on preamp output 1
  • 12-volt trigger output
  • 1 IR input/2 IR outputs for sophisticated remote control solutions
  • RS-232 interface for advanced custom installations
  • detachable AC power cord
  • separate remote controls for zones 1 and 2
  • weight: 68 lbs.
  • 17-3/16"W x 5-7/8"H x 18-1/16"D
  • warranty: 3 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Watts RMS per Channel (8-ohms)
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180
Watts RMS per Channel (6-ohms)
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---
Watts RMS per Channel (4-ohms)
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180
Frequency Bandwidth
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20-20k
THD
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0.004%
Minimum Impedance
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4 ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio
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130
Number of Inputs
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7
Phono Inputs
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No
Preamp Outputs
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6
Width (inches)
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17-3/16
Height (inches)
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5-13/16
Depth (inches)
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18-1/16
Weight (pounds)
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51.8
Parts Warranty
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3 Years
Labor Warranty
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3 Years
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Integrated amplifier
  • 68" Power cord
  • Wireless remote control (M3)
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 2nd Zone remote control (ZR3)
  • CR2025 Lithium battery
  • 2 Pre-out/Main-in jumpers (installed)
  • Owner's manual (English/ French/ German/ Dutch)
  • Owner's manual (Spanish/ Italian/ Portuguese/ Swedish)
  • Warranty information

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Controls
Connections
Specifications

Features

Overview: The M3 features a Dual Mono design with separate unregulated and discrete regulated supplies for different stages of the 2 channels. The custom wound Toroidal transformers use proprietary magnetic shielding technology. The lack of audible noise and distortion is the result of analog circuits combined with digital controls. Freed of the constraints of traditional analog switches, NAD devised an architecture using precision 1% resistors controlled by digital switches for all the level adjustments required for volume, balance, and tone control. Input selection is done via precision sealed reed relays. An advantage of this architecture, in addition to its precise performance, is the ability to place controls in the most advantageous physical position within the circuit. The signal never has to travel to the front panel for switching, as with traditional amplifier designs. Keeping signal paths as short as possible is also aided by the use of SMD (miniature surface mount) components and multi-layer PCBs (circuit boards). Special attention was paid to the control of mechanical resonance throughout the chassis, as this can affect sonic performance. The special isolation feet use aluminum and silicon rubber in a vibration damping configuration.

PowerDrive: NAD's PowerDrive technology measures load impedance continuously on both channels and adjusts the power supply voltage for maximum undistorted dynamic power to the connected speaker at all times and under all operating conditions. The signal processor also continuously measures temperature and average long term power and, based on this information, chooses the optimum voltage.

Pre-out/Main-in Loop: Factory jumpers connect the main amplifier input to the Pre Out 1 preamp outputs. This offers the flexibility of inserting an equalizer, surround processor (when using multiple amps), or another type of processor between the two stages.

Dual Preamp Outputs: The second set of preamp is convenient for bi-amping speakers or adding a powered subwoofer.

Crossover: A high-pass crossover can be engaged for the preamp 2 outputs, useful when bi-amping the speakers or using a powered subwoofer. The crossover options are 40 Hz, 60 Hz, 80 Hz, 100 Hz, and Full Range. The slope is 12 dB/octave.

Input Level: The volume level can be trimmed individually for each source, so there's no volume change when changing inputs; the range is +/- 9.5 dB.

Input Names: The name displayed for each input can be reassigned, up to 20 characters.

Tone: Bass and treble are adjustable +/-5 dB. The Spectral Tilt function simultaneously raises the bass and reduces the treble, or vice versa; +/-3 dB.

Remote Controls: The M3 wireless remote will control the amp and the matching NAD DVD/SACD player. A second wireless remote, the ZR 3, is included for controlling the Zone 2 output.

Controls

Front Panel:

  • Power: toggle between power on and standby
  • Listen: choose input for listening; Disc, CD, Tuner, input 4, input 5, input 6, or Balanced input
  • Record/Zone 2: choose input for recording or listening in Zone 2; Disc, CD, Tuner, input 4, input 5, input 6, Balanced input, Local (same source as main listening zone), or Off
  • Mode: toggle between listening modes; Stereo, Mono, Left, Right
  • Balance: adjust left/right balance and trim the input level for each source
  • Tone: adjust Bass, Treble, and Spectral Tilt
  • Bi-Amp: choose the high-pass crossover point for the internal amp
  • Speakers: choose which speaker outputs are active; A, B, A+B, or Off
  • Volume: rotary volume control

Rear Panel:

  • Power: master power switch

Connections

Rear Panel:

  • Speakers: the speaker binding posts will accept single banana plugs, pin connectors, spade lugs up to 0.59" wide, and bare wire up to 10 gauge; there are four speaker outputs, A (left and right) and B (left and right)
  • Inputs: stereo RCA input jacks for Disc, CD, Tuner, Input 4, Input 5, and Input 6
  • Balanced Input: stereo XLR input
  • Main In: stereo RCA preamp inputs; jumpers to the Pre Out 1 outputs are factory installed
  • Pre Out 1: stereo RCA preamp outputs; jumpers to the main amplifier inputs are factory installed
  • Pre Out 2: stereo RCA outputs for feeding a powered subwoofer or another amplifier; the volume level is the same as Pro Out 1
  • Record Output/Zone 2: stereo RCA output jacks for recording or listening in Zone 2
  • IR In: 3.5mm mini-jack input, used to control this unit using an optional infrared repeater or the IR output of another component
  • IR Out: two 3.5mm mini-jack outputs, used to control other NAD components
  • 12 Volt Trigger Out: turn on/off another device along with the M3; the +12 volt trigger output is a 3.5mm mini-jack; the maximum output is 50 mA
  • RS 232: the RS-232 port allows connection to a compatible PC or external whole-house control system from companies such as AMX or Crestron
  • AC Input: 2-pole IEC power input for use with included cord (or optional upgraded cord)

Specifications

Amplifier Section:

  • Continuous Power: 180 watts x 2 into an 8Ω or 4Ω load, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, no more than 0.004% THD, both channels driven simultaneously
  • Dynamic Power:
    • 8Ω: 280 watts x 2
    • 4Ω: 480 watts x 2
    • 2Ω: 785 watts x 2
  • Dynamic Headroom: 4.2 dB at 8Ω
  • Rated THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): 0.004% (20 Hz - 20 kHz)
  • Signal/Noise:
    • >107 dB (ref 1 watt)
    • >130 dB (ref 180 watt)
  • Damping factor: >150 (ref 8Ω, 50 Hz)
  • Frequency response:
    • +/- 0.03 dB: 20 Hz-20 kHz
    • - 3 dB: 20 Hz-80 kHz
  • Input impedance: 20 kΩ + 680 pF
  • Input sensitivity: 1.38 volts (ref rated power into 8Ω)
  • Voltage gain: 29 dB
  • Power Requirement: AC 120V 60Hz
  • Weight: 51.8 lbs (23.5 kg)

Preamp Section:

  • Input impedance: 150 kΩ + 500 pF
  • Balanced input impedance: 120 kΩ + 100 pF
  • Input sensitivity: 446 mV (at rated power)
  • Frequency response: 5 Hz-70 kHz (+/- 0.3 dB)
  • Output impedance:
    • Pre-out 1/Pre-out 2: 100 Ω
    • Record out: source + 1 kΩ
  • Tone control:
    • Bass: +/-5 dB
    • Treble: +/-5 dB
 
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NAD Masters Series M3 Reviews

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5 out of 5

An Eyeopening Audio Experience

Written By Mark G., Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Saturday, January 25, 2014
 
This will be a brief impressions review as I am quite sure you have already read several professional reviews as did I before I purchased the M3 without having heard it first. I have been buying and enjoying audio products all of my life, and I have learned to take measured chances when trying new gear. I can say that with the NAD M3 my measured chance has turned into such an audio win-fall. I will first use some adjectives that describe the M3 for me: poise, musical, detailed, organic, powerful, and highly engaging. The NAD revealed incredible layers of detail that with my favourite listening and testing tracks, I had never heard before. The speed and musical presentation of the music is nothing short of stunning. There is a very slight, but very sexy and alive organic warmth to the M3. Please do not read that as meaning smooth and lacking in detail and clarity, nothing could be further from the truth.

The M3 found all of the elements in my music and managed to separate them with incredible precision; however, the elements didn't become this collection of etched out elements, they were kept together in a fast and fluid flow of detail and energy that keeps me up for hours listening; it is as if I am rediscovering my entire collection again. I am playing all lossless files through a Schiit DAC out through a pair of Castle Knight 5 tower speakers. A capable setup before the NAD M3 when my Creek Evolution integrated was the amp, but the M3 has taken things to a higher level.
Pros:
Very engaging, powerful and fast Very deep levels of detail retrieved Incredibly balanced frequency response No sizzle and boom Excellent instrument separation and portrayal A very slight warmth that draws you deeply into the music The sound that can only come from controlled and clean power
Cons:
What flaws are sure to be there, as with any gear, are not something I can detect
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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