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Stereophile 2020 Products of the Year

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by hoffmanuser2020, Nov 20, 2020.

  1. hoffmanuser2020

    hoffmanuser2020 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Los Angeles, CA
    Stereophile published their 2020 Products of the Year.

    Concise summary:
    • Amplifier of the Year: NAD M33
    • Speaker of the Year: Magico M2
    • Component of the Year: NAD M33
    • Editor's Choice: Fifteen writers picked their own product of the year. Three of them picked the NAD M33.
    Commentary about the Component of the Year:

    Life is good for the NAD M33—winner of both our amplification component prize and this, the overall prize for Component of the Year 2020. What can I write here that I haven't written above?

    The last few years have brought a fundamental change to music-listening. Sure, it's true that vinyl is thriving (which I'm very happy about, except for the effect it has had on used-vinyl prices). But meanwhile, otherwise, the long-anticipated fade-away of physical media is finally actually occurring, because streaming services have become ubiquitous and also very good. Meanwhile, much other music has gone virtual, via downloads, ripped CDs, and the odd vinyl needle drop. And let's not forget about smartphones, tablets, internet radio stations, podcasts. Factor in multiroom audio and wireless speakers (and other output devices), and you have a music-reproduction ecosystem utterly different than it was just a few years ago—and far more complicated.

    Devices like the M33 bring order to the chaos. It takes this complicated ecosystem and makes it simpler than ever.

    At least as important for Stereophile and its readers is that it does all that with unassailable quality. Sure, there are people out there who will prefer the sound of their tube or class-A amplifier, but the amplification technology inside the M33—Purifi's Eigentakt—has the potential to win over even the most anachronistic audiophiles.
    mtrot and bhazen like this.
  2. Noel Patterson

    Noel Patterson Six pack of stout, and a stick of sensi

    Ontario, Canada
    Hmm, not much of interest on there to me really. Seems like the same old names popping up in their favorites: Wilsons, NAD's, etc. For me personally, seeing a truly budget or real world piece win them over is interesting, not the latest $10k amp/dac/etc. Guess my budget is the problem!
  3. hifisoup

    hifisoup Forum Resident

    NAD continues it's success with their products and also Bluesound. Kudos. Nice seeing more budget friendly gear take awards.
    Monty12 and cdash99 like this.
  4. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Boston MA
    Is the NAD class D?
    Tim 2 likes this.
  5. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    Tullman likes this.
  6. Dax_Frost

    Dax_Frost Forum Resident

    Houston, Texas
    Interesting. I wasn't that big of a fan of the NAD M33 when I went to go listen to some speakers recently. It sounded fine but the operation seemed a little slow and buggy. There was also some weird automatic shut off thing that it kept doing as well.
    ls35a and Tim 2 like this.
  7. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    Not keen on integrating streaming technology with an amplifier.

    Streaming is just moving/changing too much.
  8. iceaero

    iceaero Well-Known Member

    Boston MA
    Yeah I’m with you here—I’ve seen too many digital devices becomes obsolete too fast (I’m sure we all have). And while I totally understand the desire to put everything in one box, it’s just hard to believe that, at this price point, most people don’t strongly consider how many years this will be supported or how long until something entirely new in the digital landscape comes along.
    BSU, ZippyPippy and csgreene like this.
  9. james

    james Forum Resident

    it has replaceable module slots....is that just for the amp cards? Or is the digital front end upgradeable?
  10. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm not sure, but I will say the landscape is littered with similar technology products where no upgrades were ever made available.
    csgreene, james and Tullman like this.
  11. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Yes. It uses the Purifi Eigentact modules. Sounds seriously superb.
  12. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Read the EISA awards list. Budget products have their own categories there.

    Stereophile also presented a 2020 budget product - the Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt headphone DAC/amp (which also sounds exceedingly good to me too).
    LeeS and Don Parkhurst like this.
  13. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    You’re right. I’ve lost count of the number of upgradeable components that never received a single upgrade beyond a few firmware updates to fix bugs that should never have escaped the factory in the first place. But NAD has been around for a very long time and the company has made a range of upgrade modules available through its dealer channels over the years. Anyway, I’ve heard the M33 and it is excellent, IMO, so I think it’s on my personal acquisition list for early 2o21.
  14. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    I've heard a few different models from Magico at AXPONA a few times now and there's something about them that turns me off. If I'm remembering correctly, I think the bass sounds juiced and they're overall kind of sterile.
    Don Parkhurst and Tim 2 like this.
  15. AP1

    AP1 Well-Known Member

    Magico are good speakers and likely deserve recognition, though they are not best for the money they cost.
    But class D amplifiers are not there yet in high league. We need to wait when oscillator frequency reaches at least DSD level to start taking them seriously for Hi-Fi use. First vendor which makes high power direct DSD converter will be a winner. For that to happen, they need to develop custom ASIC. No one yet decided to put enough money on the table for that.
  16. Glfrancis2

    Glfrancis2 Overworked and underpaid state employee

    Birmingham al
    Intriguing, but at what point does it just become a high end av receiver? I type this while listening to Tidal jazz via my Onkyo home theater receiver. No flaming, just curious

    csgreene and shug4476 like this.
  17. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    I agree but, as with any other, this product has a particular target market which may not be well-represented here.
    Easily defeatable.
    Yes. One is on the way.
    Stone Turntable and PB Point like this.
  18. IainS

    IainS Active Member

    Just curious: what speakers did you audition them with?
  19. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    NAD does a ton of advertising with SP, the only way you get recognized there.
    SteveKr and art like this.
  20. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    I read that all analoge inputs on the M33 are digitized. I know the amp has Dirac.
    If you turned Dirac off would analogue inputs still be digitized?
    I'm obviously thinking here of the phono inputs and whether or not listening to a turntable through the M33 is still a pure analogue experience.
    Anybody got any views on this?
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
  21. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Several. Canton Chrono (can’t remember the model number and I forgot to mark it down), Totem Forest (non-Signature), B&W 603 S2, B&W 802 D3, Totem Signature One, Golden Ear Triton One.R, Harbeth SHL5 Plus (my own), KEF LS50 Meta (my own), Falcon LS3/5A (my own).
  22. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Analog inputs are all converted to digital, which allows all the internal digital signal processing, and routing to be used. The digital signals are then converted to analog via Sabre ES9028 chips to drive the Eigentakt amplifier modules. The Sabre chips are also used for volume control.
    SandAndGlass and ogdens_sliced like this.
  23. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Bay Bloor Radio (in Toronto), NAD support/service centre (just outside of Toronto), and @Kal Rubinson in his Stereophile review of the M33 (Kal posted a bit earlier in this thread) all state that the analogue inputs (1 balanced, 1 single-ended, etc.) are digitized. That has nothing to do with DIRAC, which is an integrated subsystem in the M33. The basic/default DIRAC that is built into the M33 can be upgraded to full DIRAC (the entire frequency range as opposed to the default <500Hz limit) for $99 through the control app (which control app can also be used to do M33 firmware updates).

    The DAC chipset in the M33 (an ESS9028, IIRC) is superb, technically, but it is what the output designers have done with the signal coming off the chipset that, as usual, makes or breaks the sound of an internal or external DAC. NAD has always been very good at that, particularly with products such as the M10 and the C388. With the M33, the audio quality - the immersive musicality - is to my ears nothing short of exemplary. For what it’s worth, I really like the M33 and I agree wholeheartedly with the review that @Kal Rubinson wrote for Stereophile.
    Kal Rubinson and ogdens_sliced like this.
  24. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    So would you say that the phono signal is still "pure analogue" after it's been through A/D/A process and output to speakers ?
    caracallac and Glfrancis2 like this.
  25. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    I must admit I was very intrigued by the amp when I first saw a photo some time back. Think it looks suberb and a one box solution is appealing at times. Have read a few reviews and all of them give very high praise indeed for the technical and audio aspects. Dirac is also something that is peaking my senses.
    Very interesting piece of kit.

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