NAD or Arcam -- which way to go? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently purchased a speaker setup consisting of Gallo speakers (Ref 3.1s, Ref Center, and Due's) and now I'm researching pre/pros and amplifiers to pair with my speakers. I was pretty much sold on an Arcam system but have recently read some "mixed" reviews concerning Arcam (specifically the AVP700 and P1000). So, right now I'm kind of rethinking my position and NAD was suggested to me by a dealer. So, given the choice between the two setups below, which way should I go:

NAD M15 and M25 vs. Arcam AVP700 and P1000

I know the NAD Master Series has gotten a lot of rave reviews and I know the NAD gear is about $1500 more but I want to know if this will translate into a signficant difference in performance of the NAD equipment over the Arcam. Or, in other words, will this be money well spent.

My listening interests are 70% music and 30% video.

I've also recently come across some very favorable information concerning Cary Audio equipment -- specifically the Cary Cinema 5 amp and Cinema 11 pre/pro. So, if I am able to stretch my budget just a little more, then I may look at Cary a little more closely too!

Please advise.
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 12:38 PM
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Some earlier NADs had a few problems. But they always sounded good. In fact, personally I like the sound better than Rotel, but that could be splitting hairs.
I have not compared the M series with Arcam but looks like they are priced to compete.
Cary has always be a notch above these I think (I would put B&K in the same as the NAD, etc.) but I really think the gap is closing. I guess it gets down to a lot of auditioning and selecting with specific speakers in mind.
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 12:42 PM
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I've read here and a review somewhere that stated the AVR300 (now the 350) sounded better than the AVP. You might want to look into that as well.

I'm a Rotel owner and was considering a Rotel CD player, but when I went to listen to it I was upended by a McIntosh DVD-A player and integrated amp. Now I'm doing everything I can to figure out how to get Mac in my home.

Check this thread.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmichaelf View Post

Now I'm doing everything I can to figure out how to get Mac in my home.


About as difficult for me as getting a French maid and my wife not noticing?
LOL


This stuff is too much fun! If only it did not cost money.
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 10:00 PM
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Both really good choices. I listened to the AVP700 and Nad M15. I also auditioned the M25 but I did not listen to the P1000. Although not separates I also auditioned the AVR350.

Let's put it this way. After I heard the NAD M25 I was completely sold on this 98lb beast. I wanted to desparately stay close to this budget for an Amp because I also needed the Pre/Pro or AVR and 5 speakers.

After hearing this AMP after the 350 (which is the best sounding AVR I have ever heard IMO) the NAD M25 brought more meat to the bass and really opened up the mid-range. I really think this AMP is a steal at it's price and will compete well with many higher priced offerings out there.

The NAD M15 and the Arcam AVP700 was a tougher call for me. I feel they have a similar sonic signature. The units were in different rooms but the speakers were moved from one room to another as I was really trying to focus on the NAD's and Arcams. These were in my price range and I did not audition other units that were $2k to $3k more (Bryston and Simaudio). I am not an expert but tried to really focus on the sounds I was hearing. I tried to focus on the different instruments and then just relax and listen to music as a whole.

Now this is just my audition on speakers that I was test driving and in the end I felt there was just something more there with the NAD. The voices just sounded flat out natural and real to me. I also felt the sound stage was wider and deeper.

The main remote is sweet as well. I got a little confused with the buttons but after I figured it out I thought it was a really good remote.

The two NAD's together are a great bargain IMO. The AMP might be the bigger bargain of the two. When paired together and in my price range I am not sure I could have done better. The video pass thru on HDMI only is a bummer on both units for me as I have a blu-ray player. But sound first for me. I will use the 7.1 Analog connections for now. I will wait for NAD to offer a Masters with HDMI that can pass audio and jump on it then.

So in the end I ordered the NAD M25 and M15. Dynaudio Focus series Speakers (220, 200C and 110's w/Stand1's).

Let me tell you these two brands sounded unbelievable to me as a system (in this price range).

The Speakers and the NAD's came in today!! I am going to pick them up on Friday (if I can get off) or Saturday.

I thought there was a NAD owners thread but if not maybe I can start a Masters thread. My reporting may be limited until everything breaks in as the Dyn's need a couple hundred hours from what I am hearing.

Good luck in your great choices.
-Rick
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-11-2007, 10:26 PM
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If you don't mind me asking, in round figures what does one give for an M15/25 set?
Too new for many deals I would think.....
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-12-2007, 04:55 PM
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I have just bought the M55, M25 and M15 after auditioning them at a local HIFI expo in the city I live in.

I guess that you could say I fell in love with the 'musicality'?? if thats a word, of the NAD components.

I had the luck to hear them playing through a pair of Gradient revolutions, which I ALSO ended up purchasing as a result.

I know that a lot of the perceived performance of equipment gets down to where you hear it and under what listening conditions. But I was fortunate enough to be able to move from room to room in a large mansion where the show was being held, listening to speakers and components from manufacturers like NHT, Moon, Musical Fidelity and CreekDestiny.

Myself and my two mates who tagged along to ensure that reckless spending occurred, all agreed that the setup with the NAD matched with the Gradients was one of the most outstanding setups we heard that day.

I spent a lot of time going in and out of those rooms, looking for reasons why that setup sounded better then many others there, including (incredibly) a set of Martens! Maybe it was the room size, the fact that there was a little more 'angles' in that room from non parallel walls etc. I don't know. All I can say that it was so good it prompted me to fork out just under 15,000 euros for the same setup with 2 Gradient Preludes thrown in to the mix for my middle speakers.

Suffice it to say that you would be hard pressed to go wrong in choosing the NAD's. I recommend them highly.

" All I need is 1 more hour in the day...well maybe 2"
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-13-2007, 05:17 AM - Thread Starter
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"...in the end I felt there was just something more there with the NAD. The voices just sounded flat out natural and real to me. I also felt the sound stage was wider and deeper." - Ceta

It sounds like you did a pretty good comparison between the NAD and Arcam gear and your information was very helpful. Clearly you thought the NAD was the better performer but did you think that the NAD's performance over the Arcam was enough to justify the cost difference? $1500 is not an outrageous difference but I want to know if it's a situation where the NAD's performance is "clearly" better (subjectively of course) than the Arcam or just "marginaly" better. If it looks like SQ may be pretty close between these two competitors then a decision will likely be based on other things (i.e., cost, warranty, reliability, features, tech. support, etc.).
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-13-2007, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobo_brazil View Post

"...in the end I felt there was just something more there with the NAD. The voices just sounded flat out natural and real to me. I also felt the sound stage was wider and deeper." - Ceta

It sounds like you did a pretty good comparison between the NAD and Arcam gear and your information was very helpful. Clearly you thought the NAD was the better performer but did you think that the NAD's performance over the Arcam was enough to justify the cost difference? $1500 is not an outrageous difference but I want to know if it's a situation where the NAD's performance is "clearly" better (subjectively of course) than the Arcam or just "marginaly" better. If it looks like SQ may be pretty close between these two competitors then a decision will likely be based on other things (i.e., cost, warranty, reliability, features, tech. support, etc.).

Hi there,

Yes, I really felt the difference was worth it to me. To me there is a slight "sweetness" if you want to call it that but never bright or harsh. I could have listened for hours on end and this is what I was looking for. The Arcam was very nice as well but I feel the NAD is a step-up.

Good points on the warranty, reliability etc. I have read many posts from folks about NAD quality. I talked to my dealer about this and he thinks maybe some of the older NAD products had occassional problems but the Masters are in a different league. He had nothing to gain as I was spending a fair amount of money and it could go in multiple different directions. The sound was enough for me to not worry about any threads I have read about NAD. They sounded too good to me. I really try to not sway anyone because you really need to hear yourself. I was lucky because I got to hear the units with the speakers that I was buying. This helps.

Off today. Leaving in about an hour for the two hour drive ahead and pick everything up. Got a lot of tear down and set-up a head of me. I am so excited. Been waiting for this upgrade for years and it's finally here.

I will keep you posted once I get the NAD's in my house. We can maybe talk more about hands on info and set-up etc.

Rick
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-13-2007, 09:03 AM
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Maybe some pictures.
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post #11 of 14 Old 10-31-2007, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, after six months of researching and inquiring I finally purchased the NAD M15/M25/M55 combo this past weekend. I can't wait to get these components connected to my Gallo speakers. I'm anxious to hear how my speakers will sound with some power behind them!

I will convey my opinion once I've had a chance to do some serious listening!
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-05-2007, 03:19 PM
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I really enjoyed my NAD M25 as well - I had to sell it but I want to buy another one once the preamp I want becomes available. I wanted more features than the M15.
I discovered the listening difference of my M25 moreso after long term listening with and then without it.
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-05-2007, 04:50 PM
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Bobo, give us your review already! I'm running gallo Advia ti's (front/left) and the ref a/v center powered by an H/K AVR 247..

Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass. you know his faults, let his foibles pass.
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-09-2007, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfklennon View Post

Bobo, give us your review already! I'm running gallo Advia ti's (front/left) and the ref a/v center powered by an H/K AVR 247..

In a short, the NAD Masters components sound incredible with my Gallo Reference 3.1s. It is like the speakers "came to life" with the NAD gear. The best way I can describe it is that the sound suddenly became "crisp", "clean", and "spacious." The music now fills my family room without ever sounding loud, noisy, irritating, or "boomy." I remarked to my wife last night while listening to an old Tracy Chapman CD that the new equipment almost has the same sensation of listening to music through headphones. The sound completely fills (or rather saturates) my rather large family room -- voice passages are suddenly delivered with incredible clarity and tone. My wife said that she could now make out the words in songs that she had not previously understood! The dialog in movies is now "forward" and "articulate!" Even during quiet scenes, I can clearly understand what the actors are saying. Also, my surround speakers finally joined the party. With my previous AVR the surrounds were often weak or non-existent. Now they really pump and remind me why I spent all of that money for a 5.1 system. But the one shortcoming that we've discovered with the new system is that some recordings sound terrible now! What I believe is happening is that the NAD gear reveals a lot of the deficiencies in some recordings. For example, I put on a live recording of a Corrine Bailey Rae concert and I cringed with every note that she belted out! Either her voice is marginal or the CD's production was seriously lacking! I also listened to one of my all-time favorite CDs--Marvin Gaye's What's Going On--and was shocked at how "flat" and "dull" the CD was! But I think that this is a wonderful problem to have as I now believe that when I listen to music I'm hearing a truer representation of that artist's talent (or lack off talent) or a fantastic (or poor) engineering job!

Overall, they are great components at a great price. There are no disappointments on my part (except that I wish I hadn't tried to carry that amp into the house by myself).

A couple of other observations about the NAD gear:
  • That amp is crazy heavy
  • The manuals could have been more detailed
  • The manuals don't really help with optimization of equipment
  • I couldn't configure the M55 because the HDMI interface was defaulted to "off."
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