NAD Electronics M28 Seven Channel Power Amplifier Review
Tony O’Brien is blown away by this monster seven-channel powerhouse…
M28 Seven Channel Power Amplifier
AUD $7,999 RRP
NAD is one of those rare breeds that moves to the beat of its own drum. Created in 1972, the UK-based company rapidly created a niche in the high-end audio market. By focusing on sound first and removing extraneous features, the company made its products more affordable, bringing audiophile sound to the masses.
Much water has passed under the hi-fi bridge since 1972, yet NAD endures, and it’s this philosophy that the company shows in its crème de la crème Master’s Series. Catering to stereo types and home theatre enthusiasts alike, it incorporates the M17 V2i surround sound preamp/processor and M28 multichannel power amplifier. The latter is the subject of this review.
A seven-channel amplifier, the M28 is rated – in NAD’s own words “conservatively” – at 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms, with over 320 watts dynamic power all channels driven. Where overblown power ratings are the status quo, NAD is brutally honest about its numbers. Many derive their power ratings with only one or two channels driven, but for the M28, the specs are with all channels driven, 20Hz-20kHz with less than 0.003% Total Harmonic Distortion claimed.
In plain English, the big takeaway is that the M28 is a powerhouse capable of driving multiple speakers to high volumes simultaneously. The oomph is derived from NAD’s so-called Purifi Eignentakt Class D modules, made in house by NAD under license from Purifi. These modules are said to address previously unknown effects of the output filter in the feedback loop, a further refinement of Class D technology. The result, the company says, is an added level of precision compared to its previous Hybrid Digital designs. As with other NAD Hybrid Class D Amplifiers, the M28 is claimed to be largely impervious to demanding speaker loads.
NAD understands that unboxing a piece of high-end audio should be an experience that reinforces the purchaser’s decision. In the case of the M28, it starts with the carton, which is double boxed with additional bracing. Opening the inner carton reveals the amplifier stored in a black drawstring bag. The accessories consist of magnetic feet that sit under the machined feet of the M28, a power cord, warranty, hook-up guide and cleaning cloth, and instructions on how to care for the amplifier.
Modern manufacturing techniques and the M28’s bespoke design result in a stunning piece of equipment that looks every bit the piece of high-end kit. The two-tone black and silver metal chassis is eye-catching while giving it a slight retro appearance, enhanced by the square air vents on the top of the case.
Nothing has been overlooked in the design of the M28, the brushed metal sides of the chassis ensuring it’s just as pleasing to the eye no matter which angle you catch it from. Move to the back of the chassis, and you’ll find seven gold plated speaker binding posts, along with balanced and unbalanced inputs. Measuring in at 435x156x380mm and weighing a modest 21.2kg, this is a reasonably rack-friendly load, with all but the smallest enclosures capable of calling it home – although allowing room for ventilation is a must.
The M28 was connected to my own JBL SDR-35 AV receiver via its unbalanced inputs, the SDR-35 serving as a preamp. Unsurprisingly, the NAD is simple to connect, the speaker binding posts providing a snug fit with the banana plugs on the end of my speaker cables. My only quibble – and it’s a minor one – is the marking for the individual amplifier channels is small and located towards the bottom of the chassis. With speaker cable connected, it’s nigh-on impossible to read, resulting in unnecessary guesswork when connecting it.
There’s an orange glow around the NAD badge in standby mode, which turns light blue when on. It’s a subtle touch that adds to the overall charm and quality of the M28, although it may wear a bit thin if it’s on view in a darkened room. And trust me when I say this is one of those pieces of kit that’s worth showing off.
For the review, the M28 was partnered with VAF Signature i91 front and centre loudspeakers, and four VAF i90 speakers used for surround and overhead Atmos channels. Video devices consisted of a Panasonic UB9000 4K Blu-ray player and Apple TV, connected directly to a Lumagen Radiance Pro. Images were projected onto a 100” Severtson Cinegray 16.9 screen by a Sony VPL-VW270ES native 4K projector.
The M28 has seemingly limitless amounts of power, driving my loudspeakers to earth-moving volume levels with ease. The extra power afforded by this big NAD not only gives it the ability to handle huge dynamic swings with confidence, but opens up the soundstage too. As powerful as it is, this amp also has a gentle side. It possesses a refined sonic character that sounds more natural than many other Class D amplifiers that I have heard.
For example, with the car chase scene found on the 4k Blu-ray of Ready Player One, the M28 whipped up a sonic whirlwind. It immediately established itself as an immensely powerful performer, producing enormous dynamic swings with ease and speed that belie its asking price. Despite pushing the M28 to uncomfortable volume levels, the sound remained clean and without a hint of strain. Indeed, the M28 sounded like it still had plenty in the tank, barely flexing its substantial muscles.
The same was true with the DTS-HD soundtrack found on the Blu-ray of Wolverine. Whether it was the rather visceral sounding thud as arrows struck home, or as yakuza fell to Yukio’s staff, the M28 created a thrilling listening experience. While the NAD’s ample power reserves give action-laden moments a sense of weight and impact, its benefits are manifold. For instance, as Harada tails logan and Mariko through the busy Tokyo streets, this amp opened up the already impressive soundstage, conjuring a sense of space I have not yet experienced from the familiar scene. Not only is the soundstage more open, but there’s an added dimension to effects. The rain falling outside of Yashida’s villa was given extra weight, adding more realism to the excellent soundtrack. It’s much the same with dialogue, the extra power adding definition to the varied accents.
With the Dolby Atmos soundtrack found on the 4K Blu-ray of Oblivion, the M28 picked out the smallest nuances, restoring them to their rightful place. Whether it is the sound of the sliding doors or the spinning of Harper’s bubble ship, it made for a superbly detailed and realistic listen. As Jack’s ship circles the ruined football field, all of my speakers were called into play. The NAD had a huge reserve of power to draw on, giving the pan a more holistic feel and an almost tangible sense of weight and being.
Powerful as the M28 is, it also possesses an impressively refined sonic character. While all of the detail and impact you want from such a powerhouse is there, it sounds much more natural than many other Class D amplifiers I’ve heard over the years. Those who find switching amplifiers a little too clean or sparkly for their liking will immediately warm to the M28. While I was initially concerned that this big amp could have been a little too polite, digging a little deeper into my reference library of Blu-ray discs put my fears well and truly to rest.
So NAD’s Master’s Series M28 amplifier is both a classy looking and sounding piece of kit that drives loudspeakers way beyond normal listening levels with ease. While my own speakers are not a challenging load, I suspect there will be few that the M28 will struggle to tame.
With power no longer a limiting factor, the M28 will help your processor or receiver pluck all the detail and nuance it is capable of from movie soundtracks. As for the sonic character of the M28, NAD has performed a remarkable balancing act. Its laid-back sound could have been too polite, yet it turns out to have been expertly voiced and is really rather wonderful sounding.
Overall then, this powerhouse offers outstanding value for money. Its craftsmanship and power are more commonly associated with more expensive offerings. If you’re looking to muscle up your home theatre game, this is more than capable of taking things to the next level.
For more information visit NAD Electronics
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
Posted in:Home Theatre Amplifiers Multi Channel Applause Awards 2022
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