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NAD Masters Series M50

Networking digital music player

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  • NAD Masters Series M50

Item# 745M50
 

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Our take on the NAD Masters Series M50

by James Ralston
NAD

Feast on an endless buffet of music

A network music player presents you with virtually unlimited ways to play your favorites or discover new music. Access your computer's music library, Internet radio stations, and online music services through your wireless home network.

Digital audio for hi-fi lovers

There are two types of audiophiles: those who view the computer music revolution as an unfortunate detour, and those who have waited patiently for the movement to grow up and offer real high-performance sound. If you've ever heard a well-mastered high-res digital recording on a good system, then you probably know we've reached that point already. And if that's the kind of listening experience you're after, NAD designed their Masters Series M50 digital music player for audiophiles like you.

Easy access to music on your network

The versatile M50 connects to your home computer network, either via built-in Wi-Fi or through a hard-wired Ethernet connection. It lets you stream music stored on your computers or networked hard drives, including high-resolution files up to 192kHz/24-bit. (NAD recommends a wired connection for high-res streaming.)

NAD calls this music player the "brain" of their Masters Digital Music Suite of components, a family which also includes the matching M51 digital preamp/DAC. To give your high-res downloads (and all your other digital music) the royal treatment, connect these two components using either the balanced digital audio (AES/EBU) XLR output, or the stereo-audio-only HDMI audio output which supports the transfer of 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio in its native format. The M51's cutting-edge internal processing and D-to-A conversion turn digital high-res files into richly detailed and highly involving sound.

Get your CD collection into the mix

You've probably already noticed the CD slot on the M50's front panel. This can be used for playing your CDs directly, but when you pair the M50 with NAD's 2-terabyte Digital Music Vault, the system will automatically rip and store your disc collection using lossless FLAC compression. Built-in music management software fetches song metadata and album art automatically using your Internet connection. Speaking of album art: the coolest and most convenient way to browse your whole music library from the comfort of your favorite seat is to download NAD's control app for your iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod touch®. (You'll need Wi-Fi to make that work.)

More music options

A front-panel USB port lets you plug in a USB thumb drive loaded with songs. A free Internet radio service called TuneIn lets you listen to stations from around the world. The M50 is also compatible with a European cloud-based music service known as WiMP. At the time of this writing (11/2012), NAD says their "roadmap" of future software updates will likely include support for other online services, as well.

Highlights:

  • plays digital music stored on your home network or NAD's M52 Digital Music Vault
  • compatible with FLAC, WAV, AIFF, MP3, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis
  • supports files with sampling rates from 32-192kHz, 16-bit or 24-bit
  • music management/control app available for iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod touch®
Network Connections:
  • Ethernet port for wired connection to your network (recommended for 24-bit files)
  • built-in Wi-Fi® for wireless connection to your home network
USB Ports:
  • front-panel USB Type A connection for playing music from a USB mass storage device
  • rear-panel USB Type A connection for matching NAD M52 Digital Music Vault
  • rear-panel USB Type B connection for service only
Audio Outputs:
  • HDMI 1.4 (stereo audio only) — supports I2S digital transfer in native PCM format when used with the M51 DAC/preamp
  • balanced digital XLR (AES/EBU)
  • optical digital output (Toslink)
  • coaxial digital output (RCA)
More Highlights:
 

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

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Digital music player
  • Two 6' AC power cords (US/EU)
  • W-LAN antenna
  • Remote control
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Warranty Card

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

Digital Music Player: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player lets you listen to music stored on your networked Windows PC/Mac computer or NAD's Digital Music Vault (745M52, sold separately). The M50 also features a built-in CD transport for Audio CD playback and option of ripping Audio CD files to the NAD M52 Digital Music Vault (sold separately). The M50 supports high-resolution digital audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. A free M50 Remote App from iTunes turns your Apple iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad into the Digital Music Player's remote control and display screen. The NAD M50 is built with high-definition music streaming in mind, so you get audiophile-grade quality from your favorite digital music tracks.

Note: Combine the NAD M50 Digital Music Player with NAD's M52 Digital Music Vault & M2 Direct Digital DAC/Amplifier (both sold separately) for a high-end digital music experience.

ARM Processor: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player is equipped with the latest generation low power, super high performance ARM processor. This ARM processor has more computing power than a PC from just a few years ago, yet runs cool and does not require noisy fans.

Supported File Formats: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player decodes FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, AAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, and Ogg Vorbis music files; with bit-rates of 16/24-bit and native sampling rates of 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz.

CD Transport: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player features a front-loading CD slot. The built-in CD transport can playback Audio CDs (CD-A) only. For playback of CD-R/RW discs, you must connect NAD's M52 Digital Music Vault (sold separately). The M50 will automatically start playback of an inserted CD, when not connected to the M52 Digital Music Vault. Playback is different and much improved in the M50 over conventional CD players. Instead of streaming directly from the disc to the output, the M50 momentarily stores the data in a memory buffer where it is re-clocked to the M50's high precision master clock for the lowest levels of jitter.

Disc Ripping: The M50's CD transport can rip an inserted Audio CD directly to a connected M52 Digital Music Vault (sold separately), thanks to NAD's own music management software. Ripping is completely automatic. With a network connection to the Internet, this music management software captures metadata and cover art, without the need for a computer. Everything is organized and instantly available for playback. You can browse your music collection using album art or category listing, and easily create playlists on the fly. You can choose to rip your Audio CD music as MP3 or FLAC files.
  • MP3 (default format): Standard audio compression designed to keep bandwidth low with little degradation. Files are ripped at 320kbps, the highest level of sound quality available to MP3 format.
  • FLAC (recommended format): High quality compression designed specifically for CD backup purposes. Files are ripped at FLAC level 5 balancing compression and rip speed at full CD lossless levels of 44.1kHz/16-bits
  • Both: For Hi-fidelity quality playback with the ability to export or download to a personal MP3 Player.
Note: For ripping of multiple CDs, insert the next disc as soon as the current disc is ejected (it is not necessary to wait for the encoding to be completed before the next disc is inserted). Only Audio CDs can be ripped into the M52. It will not rip Blu-ray, DVD, DVD-Audio, HD-DVD, or other types of Optical Disc format. The CD ripping procedure can be stopped at any time by selecting "Eject CD".

Network Connection: You can choose between a wired (Ethernet 10/100Mbps) or wireless (WiFi 802.11n/g; 2.4GHz) network connection for the NAD M50 Digital Music Player. The unit's wireless WiFi connection supports WEP or WAP passkey security. A wired connection is recommend for 24-bit digital audio.

USB Ports: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player features a front- and rear-panel USB (type-A) port, and a rear-panel USB (type-B) port.

  • Dual USB (type-A) Ports: The NAD M52 is fitted with a rear-panel USB (type-A) port which connects to the NAD M52 Digital Music Vault's USB (type-B) port for ripping and external storage. A USB mass storage device with music files can be connected to M50's front-panel USB (type-A) port. Typical USB mass storage devices compatible with M50 include portable flash memory devices and external hard drives (FAT32 formatted).
  • USB (type-B) Port: The rear-panel USB (type-B) port is for service only (not for consumer use). Only authorized NAD service personnel can access this USB port.
Note: The M50's USB ports are not compatible with the direct connection of an Apple iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

HDMI Output: The NAD M50 is fitted with an HDMI output, which is unusual for a stereo audio component. NAD included HDMI because it is a secure encrypted format that supports 24-bit/192kHz HD Audio in PCM's native I2S format (2ch only). The HDMI output offers not video transmission.

SPDIF Digital Outputs: The NAD M50 features 3-types of SPDIF digital outputs - AES/EBU, Coaxial, & Optical. Use these digital outputs to connect compatible audio devices, such as the NAD M2 Direct Digital DAC/Amplifier or M51 Direct Digital DAC (both sold separately).

  • AES/EBU Output: The AES/EBU (XLR) digital audio output is well suited to handle higher sampling rates and is recommended for high-end source sampling rates of 176kHz and 192kHz.
  • Coaxial Output: The coaxial (RCA) digital audio output will support sampling rates up to 192kHz.
  • Optical Output: The optical (Toslink) digital audio output will support sampling rates up to 96kHz.

2 Line VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display): The NAD M50 features a front-panel, 2-line VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) which will display visual information about the media being played back; such as Artist Name, Song title, or Internet Radio Station ID; as well as playback elapsed time. Download the M50 Remote app from iTunes onto your compatible Apple iOS device for a more advanced visual information display.

IR Remote Control: The NAD M50 comes with an IR remote control for wireless operation of the Digital Music Player.

M50 Remote App: You can download the free M50 Remote app from iTunes to your Apple iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad in order to control and enjoy high-definition music from the NAD M50 Digital Music Player, using your compatible Apple device as the remote. You can browse your local music library, whether its stored on the NAD M52 Digital Music Vault (sold separately), a NAS, or a shared folder on your home PC/Mac computer network. You can then create, edit, and retrieve your favorite music playlists. You also get to enjoy thousands of free internet radio stations via TuneIn and other music cloud services. In addition, you are able to control the volume on the NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC (sold separately).

Selectable Sources: There are four main sources that you can choose from, using the M50 Digital Music Player and the M50 Remote app.

  • Library: The Library is a collection of music files you have stored on a connected NAD M52 Digital Music Vault (sold separately) or your shared PC/Mac network. You can search for your stored music by Artist, Album, Song, or Playlist. These categories can be listed alphabetically or by newest-oldest. Songs can be played back in a sequential or random order. A small thumbnail of the song's album art will also be displayed.
  • USB: You are able to access music files you have stored on a connected USB mass storage device. Same playback and search options as Library mode.
  • TuneIn: Tune to radio stations streamed across the Internet via TuneIn. TuneIn Radio allows listeners to experience the whole world of radio within a single application. It is a global service where one can listen to music, sports or news from every corner of the world.  TuneIn allows listeners to quickly and easily find their favorite radio stations and personalities plus discover new ones. Radio stations are classified according to the following preferences - Local Radio, Music, Talk, Sports, Location, Language, or Podcasts. You can also create, save, and easily access your Favorite radio stations. In addition, you can directly search a radio station, show, song or any type of broadcast by directly entering its name in the Search box. When a particular radio station is being broadcast, a small thumbnail image of the current broadcast is displayed.
  • WiMP: Listen to a North European cloud based music provider WiMP (available in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland, and Sweden). It is a proprietary music streaming service that allows instant listening to specific songs or albums with virtually no buffering delay. You can search for songs by Popularity, Newest, or Recommended. You can also create your own playlists.
Note: The M50 Remote App is compatible with the Apple iPod touch (3rd/4th/5th gen), iPhone (3GS/4/4S/5), and iPad (1/2/3/4). Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app has been optimized for iPhone 5. Android app from Google Play is coming soon (please check back for details).

Remote Connections: The NAD M50 Digital Music Player is equipped with various remote jacks to make system control simpler.

  • IR In/Out: The IR input (3.5mm) should be connected to the output of an IR (infrared) repeater (Xantech, etc.) or the IR output of another compatible device to allow control of the M50 from a remote location. The IR output (3.5mm) allows command and control of the connected device by directing its own remote control to M50's infrared receiver.
  • 12V Trigger In/Out: With 12V trigger input (3.5mm) triggered by a 12V DC supply, the M50 can be switched On/Off remotely from standby mode by compatible devices such as amplifiers, preamplifiers, receivers, etc. The 12V trigger output (3.5mm) is used for turning On/Off an external device that is equipped with a 12V trigger input.
  • RS-232 Port: Through this RS232 connection, the Volume slider in the NAD App can be adjusted to increase or decrease the audio output level of the M50; when connected to a compatible NAD component (such as the M2, M51, or C 390DD).

Software Updates: The M50 automatically checks for updates or new software versions via its network connection. When it detects a new software update, a "Player Notification" window will pop-up and you will be prompted to "Upgrade now" or "Upgrade later". The tested M50 contained firmware version 1.0.22 with an immediate update for firmware version 1.0.33 (as of 1/23/2013).

 
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NAD Masters Series M50 Reviews

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3 out of 5

nad m50 limited support

Written By Jm, Nyc on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Bought this unit and had difficulty setting up the device on the network. The manuals are lacking and found no phone support nor meaning forums or FAQ. After several emails managed to get the device to connect to my NAS server. Have been unable to get the IPAD app to recognize the device so can't play selected songs. Had it three weeks now. Am waiting for an app update. Despite the problems playing songs randomly off the NAS server is great. Build quality is high. I hope they fix the app soon,. I would have given it a higher rating if the manuals or website had adequate support.
8 out of 18 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Pricey but Worth It!

Written By Tom, Rochester NY on Saturday, April 06, 2013
 
I was quite hesitant to take the plunge for the M50/52, because of price, considering the alternatives and the relative infancy of streaming technology. But I was at a crossroads, wanted to move up a few notches from streaming Airplay/ALAC, and I just don't have the patience to keep changing CDs. Couldn't decide whether to go the dedicated laptop route or components, whole house or local, needed a decent NAS, many variables. Previously my main system was NAD T757, M51, C565, Marantz NA7004, Oppo 93, and PSB Synchrony speakers. Decided to focus on the main system first, where I spend the most time. The M50/52 combined with my M51 DAC, using the T787 amps, closes the loop for high-quality audio from basically any source. The M50, like most NAD products, is built like a tank. Sound quality is excellent. The M50 app is quite good, very stable network-wise, though it presently has a few quirks in its early stages. Ripping is slowww and loud, but the results are excellent, more than subtle improvements over the dbPoweramp FLAC I copied directly from my PC to the M52. I've compared several output options to the M51, using Audioquest cables, best by far are Coax (VDM-5) and XLR, with HDMI bringing up the rear. YMMV depending on cable quality. Note: if you want to use the M50 app for volume control, need RS232 connection between M50 and M51/M2, and M51/M2 set as variable (preamp mode). Based on my experience thus far, the M50 is an excellent piece, well worth the price.

Pros:
Sound quality both as standalone CD player or streaming FLAC, easy and quality ripping, good app especially w/iPad, solid construction, appears can add Bluesound nodes later to have "Sonos on steroids" whole house system
Cons:
ripping is slow, sometimes doesn't eject after rip, picked wrong album/art a few times, screen print small, early version of app has some quirks
51 out of 51 people found this helpful
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