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NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC Impressions - Page 84

post #1246 of 1249
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.R.A.N.C.E. View Post
 

I just bought a new M51 for 1 grand on clearance. I'm running newest FW 1.50. I'm about to try revert to FW 1.39. I'm scared schitless that I might brick my unit. For anyone that doesn't know, FW 1.39 has 1dB more gain than the newer firmwares, which is why many people found it to sound more dynamic and lively than newer firmwares. Nad reduced the gain by 1dB due to clipping when run at 0dB volume, but that was easily fixed by running at -1dB volume. So technically the newest firmwares are a better implementation of the hardware as 0dB is bit perfect for the dac and should not have clipping, but to achieve this the dynamics will have taken a hit due to the reduced gain.

 

Also on a technical level the SPDIF inputs of coaxial and optical should be the most pure representation of your source input, as it takes PCM from the input and gives it straight to the M51 Dac (Zetex DDFA) to convert to 844mhz PWM. While the other inputs go through another chip before going to the Dac,  the Usb input goes through an xmos chip, the Hdmi input goes through an Analog devices chip, the Aes/ebu input goes through an Akm chip. So all these chips introduce their own sound sig onto the input signal, not that its a bad thing as they are all high quality chips, but the SPDIF input will just have a sound that is truer to the source input, I also always favor coaxial over optical in any system.

 

Thanks for the technical info on each input. I just bought a new music server and it has usb output only.

Is it gonna be a lot better in sound quality if I bought another usb/spdif converter to use with NAD M51?

post #1247 of 1249
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellevoid View Post
 

 

Thanks for the technical info on each input. I just bought a new music server and it has usb output only.

Is it gonna be a lot better in sound quality if I bought another usb/spdif converter to use with NAD M51?

 

No there is no point getting a converter imo. The converter will be doing the same thing, using a chip inside to convert the usb signal to spdif, and the M51 chips are already as good as it gets for the most part, so a converter may even reduce sound quality compared to the M51, unless its a high end implementation that betters the M51's. The M51 usb implementation is using xmos, which is much better than your average spdif convertor will be using.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by olor1n View Post
 

Pretty sure the clipping "issue" was solved in firmware prior to 1.39.

 

Ok, that may well be, I haven't looked into the previous firmwares. If that's the case then I suppose Nad just wanted a more neutral sound sig, as FW 1.39 and below were said to have noticeably more bass than the newer firmwares, but I'm already getting bucket loads of clean bass on the latest firmware so I can't complain there at all. I personally think a Dac should be as neutral as possible, and any coloration if wanted should be added by the amp and/or speakers, I usually prefer neutral speakers + neutral Dac, and the coloration left to the amp personally. Nad knows what they are doing, and they wouldn't have made their changes without good reason, and judging by what I'm hearing I am happy with what they've accomplished.


Edited by T.R.A.N.C.E. - 12/11/14 at 8:35pm
post #1248 of 1249
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.R.A.N.C.E. View Post
 

 

No there is no point getting a converter imo. The converter will be doing the same thing, using a chip inside to convert the usb signal to spdif, and the M51 chips are already as good as it gets for the most part, so a converter may even reduce sound quality compared to the M51, unless its a high end implementation that betters the M51's. The M51 usb implementation is using xmos, which is much better than your average spdif convertor will be using.

 

 

Ok, that may well be, I haven't looked into the previous firmwares. If that's the case then I suppose Nad just wanted a more neutral sound sig, as FW 1.39 and below were said to have noticeably more bass than the newer firmwares, but I'm already getting bucket loads of clean bass on the latest firmware so I can't complain there at all. I personally think a Dac should be as neutral as possible, and any coloration if wanted should be added by the amp and/or speakers, I usually prefer neutral speakers + neutral Dac, and the coloration left to the amp personally. Nad knows what they are doing, and they wouldn't have made their changes without good reason, and judging by what I'm hearing I am happy with what they've accomplished.

 

The AES input is the superior input on the M51 in my experience (the owner's manual even hints at as much.) I (and several others) found the integrated USB input leaves a lot to be desired. I was not satisfied with its performance through that input. Introducing a power conditioner helps (such as Schiit wyred or iFi iUSB Power) but it's still not great. Introducing a good high quality source like Audiophilleo, NAD's own M50, Berkeley Alpha USB, Yellowtec Puc2, or even the humble iFi iLink provide superior performance to the built-in USB. In my opinion a very high quality source brings the performance level into another league.

post #1249 of 1249
Quote:
Originally Posted by KmanChu View Post
 

 

The AES input is the superior input on the M51 in my experience (the owner's manual even hints at as much.) I (and several others) found the integrated USB input leaves a lot to be desired. I was not satisfied with its performance through that input. Introducing a power conditioner helps (such as Schiit wyred or iFi iUSB Power) but it's still not great. Introducing a good high quality source like Audiophilleo, NAD's own M50, Berkeley Alpha USB, Yellowtec Puc2, or even the humble iFi iLink provide superior performance to the built-in USB. In my opinion a very high quality source brings the performance level into another league.

 

Yeah a high quality source definitely makes a big difference, like running the M51 from the optical out of my TV or through HDMI of PS4 both sound decent, but when I hook it up to a DX90 through coaxial the sound is much better, and I'm sure an even higher end source would result in even greater improvement etc.

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