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jazzfan
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NAD Master Series M2 Review

Another excellent and very thorough review by JA.

I have one question:

In the review JA states how the original unit under review malfunctioned and how NAD shipped him a replacement unit. What would a a normal (i.e. paying) customer except from NAD or their dealer in the event a similar misfortune? And why wasn't NAD's and/or their dealers normal replacement/repair policy stated in the review since it would seem to be of importance especially in the case of a brand new $6,000 unit not working correctly?

Thanks

Ajani
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
Another excellent and very thorough review by JA.

I have one question:

In the review JA states how the original unit under review malfunctioned and how NAD shipped him a replacement unit. What would a a normal (i.e. paying) customer except from NAD or their dealer in the event a similar misfortune? And why wasn't NAD's and/or their dealers normal replacement/repair policy stated in the review since it would seem to be of importance especially in the case of a brand new $6,000 unit not working correctly?

Thanks

Interestingly, there was mention of similar malfunction in The Absolute Sound's review of the M2 (though I don't think NAD had to ship a new unit in that case)...

So the possibility of malfunction is something a buyer may strongly want to consider...

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

I think the main benefit of a review, for me, is watching for build quality and reliability - if a manufacturer can't get Stereophile a dependable unit, then no thanks for me.

I know, I know - early production sample, etc....

Sorry, if no workie for Stereophile then no interest from me.

jazzfan
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

One of the main reasons why I asked that particular question is that I often feel that the reviewers for the audio press, whatever publication they may be writing for, are given special treatment, far over and above that of the normal paying customer. The example in this review of NAD shipping a brand new replacement unit off to the Stereophile reviewer or in the case of the Vandersteen Model Seven review, Richard Vandersteen coming out to Mike Fremer's house to personally set up the speakers.

However it's not the preferential treatment that I object to but rather the press's not mentioning exactly how this treatment may differ from that given to the paying customer. In other words, will NAD ship a replacement unit to a customer rather than have the customer go through the hassle of returning the unit to the dealer and have to wait for a repair. Or in the case of the $45K speakers who will be setting up the speakers in the customers home, which according to the response I received from Mike Fremer would be the dealer or someone from the dealer. I know these issues don't seem like much but it's often these little extra touches that make the difference between a pleasant and worthwhile buying experience and a nightmare.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
However it's not the preferential treatment that I object to but rather the press's not mentioning exactly how this treatment may differ from that given to the paying customer. In other words, will NAD ship a replacement unit to a customer rather than have the customer go through the hassle of returning the unit to the dealer and have to wait for a repair.

Good point and that would be important information. However, there's no way that the reviewer can know this. In fact, his/her relationship with the manufacturer is fundamentally different because there isn't the intermediary of a retail dealer, for better or worse.

FWIW, I have had a wide range of experiences with some companies sending a replacement immediately upon being informed of the problem, some requiring an immediate return with the units passing in the post and some not sending a replacement until well after a return.

Kal

Editor
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
However it's not the preferential treatment that I object to but rather the press's not mentioning exactly how this treatment may differ from that given to the paying customer. In other words, will NAD ship a replacement unit to a customer rather than have the customer go through the hassle of returning the unit to the dealer and have to wait for a repair.

Apologies for the tardy response, Jazzfan. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how a company will treat normal customers. In this case, I imagine that as the first sample failed after some weeks of normal use, it would be treated as a warranty repair. I shipped the original sample back to NAD so they can investigate why it failed, but they have not yet got back to me.

It is pretty much standard practice for a review to be continued with a second sample rather than the repaired sample. The delay in publishing the review may not be acceptable from the magazine's point of view; also, it is not then possible for a company to delay or abort a review by not sending back the repaired sample.

All the magazine can do is to report the failures we experience, report on whether the manufacturer rather than one of its dealers set-up the product, etc., so readers are fully informed.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Elk
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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All the magazine can do is to report the failures we experience, report on whether the manufacturer rather than one of its dealers set-up the product, etc., so readers are fully informed.

I have always appreciated this approach. It lets us, as consumers, decide for ourselves how important these factors are.

I'm with Buddha, an expensive product should simply work. If you cannot send a reliable sample out for review I am not interested.

tom collins
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

in regard to discovering real reliability issues:

one of the very finest motorcycle mags. that i used to get is called Motorcycle Consumer News. they take no advertising and it is like consumer reports for bikes. with that said, several times a year, they would conduct a reader poll on various issues with the different bikes people owned. for example, a few years ago, there were problems with the drive system on a brand of expensive european bike. the mag. conducted a survey of those owners. i felt that it helped wade through some of the rumor vs. fact issues.

i do not know if it is possible/advisable for stphile to attempt something similar, but it could provide useful information to the readership.

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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the mag. conducted a survey of those owners. i felt that it helped wade through some of the rumor vs. fact issues.

i do not know if it is possible/advisable for stphile to attempt something similar, but it could provide useful information to the readership.

We did do an ownership poll of readers in June 1988, in which we asked readers to list their components and rate each one on the following basis: "Yes, I would buy again," "Maybe, I don't have an opinion," and "No, not if you paid me." We had hoped that an analysis of the results, when summed, would give indicators concerning the reliability of each brand. Unfortunately, however, it became apparent that reliability was only one of the factors taken into consideration by readers when deciding upon a rating. Thiel, for example, had very high loyalty despite having a poor reliability record. (The company's use of first-order crossover filters led to a larger-than-usual number of tweeter failures at that time, yet the responsive manner in which the company dealt with those failures bonded customers closely to the brand.)

The "Reliability Survey" aspect of the analysis, had to be aborted, therefore. Perhaps we should try again at such a survey?

You can find a discussion of the 1988 survey at http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/what_did_he_have/ , as well as one on the 1992 readership at http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/who_are_you/ .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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I'm with Buddha, an expensive product should simply work. If you cannot send a reliable sample out for review I am not interested.

I don't disagree, but you should keep in mind that review samples tend to be from very early production. As a result, they will inevitably suffer from a higher proportion of "infant mortalities" than later production. We do try to reduce this risk by insisting on the samples being from actual production - some other magazines and websites review prototypes in order to guarantee a scoop - but the risk of receiving a faulty sample is still there.

Another factor is that when you buy an expensive product, you can expect the service of the dealer, which will also weed out the unfit.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

It would seem there was a dramatic increase in the number of review samples in the last 18 months that failed, had to be replaced, or that the manufacterer claimed must have been broken.

John, do you have any stats on these incidents. I thought I remember you addressing this perhaps on another forum?

Elk
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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I don't disagree, but you should keep in mind that review samples tend to be from very early production.

If an $8,000.00 is in production it should be ready to go - not ready to be beta tested in your hands or in ours.

OTOH, a failure is not nearly as frustrating if the company and dealer are responsive.

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:

Quote:
I don't disagree, but you should keep in mind that review samples tend to be from very early production.

If an $8,000.00 is in production it should be ready to go - not ready to be beta tested in your hands or in ours.

The late Peter W. Mitchell commented on this subject in the January 1988 issue of Stereophile, and I reproduce his text below. (I came across this while preparing other material from that issue for republication in our free on-line archives.)

-------------------------------
Many years ago J. Gordon Holt gave the following very good advice in these pages: Don't buy new products when they first appear on the market. Wait six to twelve months for the manufacturer to get the bugs out.

In recent years the wisdom of this dictum has become most obvious in the computer software field. Modern programs contain thousands of lines of coded instructions, and despite testing by the programmers and their friends it is virtually inevitable that a few errors will lurk within, remaining undiscovered until the program is given a thorough workout by users with widely differing applications. Within a few months, the original Version 1.0 will be replaced by a debugged Ver. 1.1 or 1.2 that works reliably and doesn't cause the computer to hang up and destroy your data. The best software companies send the improved version to all registered purchasers of Ver. 1.0, at no charge.

Audio manufacturers don't announce version numbers for their products, but the same pattern occurs. Even the best designers can't anticipate every way that a product will be used, and can't test for potential interconnection problems with all of the many companion products on the market today. As a part-time consultant to manufacturers I sometimes get to see the debugging process in action, as customers encounter unexpected problems in basically well-designed products.

For example, there was an FM tuner that was designed to be virtually overload-proof; it measured very well in the lab and behaved superbly in field tests, yet became very noisy when used a half-mile from a powerful TV transmitter. A phono preamplifier measured well and sounded fine with most phono cartridges, but went into ultrasonic oscillation when used with a particular brand of high-output moving-coil cartridge. A power amplifier known for high-output current and generally excellent performance with reactive loudspeaker impedances went up in smoke when used with one particular speaker. (This problem was fixed by changing the value of the emitter resistor in the output stage.)

Another power amplifier worked fine in New England, where it was manufactured, but had a high failure rate in West Coast homes. (The bias current in the output stage was set by an internal potentiometer whose setting was evidently altered by vibration during shipment. The company solved the problem by adjusting the potentiometer for optimum bias, measuring the resulting resistance of the pot, and substituting a fixed resistor of the same value.) Yet another high-power amp worked fine but sounded a bit veiled to some users; this was cured by substituting better capacitors at critical points in the circuit.

Some production changes are made to fix compatibility problems; others to improve reliability; some, as in the last example, to improve sonic performance. In any case, the manufacturer usually tries to keep track of which products contain the original circuit and which the improved version. If a product is returned for service (even if for an unrelated problem), the better companies will automatically upgrade it to current production standards. Since audio manufacturers, unlike software producers, do not label their products with version numbers, they keep track of production changes by means of serial numbers, suffixes, or a coded system of colored dots on the bottom or rear panel.

By the way, reviewers usually get Version 1.0 of a new product, complete with any bugs in the design - which is why a typical "Manufacturer's Comment" in Stereophile so often says something like "Thanks for your generally complimentary review. The problems you noted have already been fixed in current production." - Peter W. Mitchell

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

This also brings up a point i think is not given enough attention, that is product consistancy.

A lot of the high end items in our industry are made by small operations, how do they ensure that one unit is identical to the next ? something a simple as a bad solder joint or misrouted wire can cause major problems. If a unit is constantly being tweaked and the review sample is not from a production run then the cynic would suggest that it is a cherry picked unit that might not be typical particularly in terms of any technical specification/measurement.

Alan

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

There seems to be a price/failure relationship, as well.

The more pricey a piece of gear is, the higher the likelihood of product failure.

_____________________

In wine, we talk about bottle variation.

Something similar is likely for Hi Fi, but at a lower frequency.

Just putting together all those parts with all those tolerances should lead to some pieces that fall at either end of the spectrum for final products...

...as evidenced by how some phono cartridge makers delineate between certain models and prices in their lines. They catch no flack, but it's relatively common to have everything made the same way, then they review the performance (tolerances) of each resulting piece and then they up-price certain pieces based on where it landed on the bell curve. Accidental performance rewards?

I hope other manufacturers do not follow the cartridge makers on this sort of idea.

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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The more pricey a piece of gear is, the higher the likelihood of product failure.

Our hobby is rife with same; e.g., strength of performance decreases with quality of recording.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

Considering the plight of Toyota recently I'll settle for component failure of my hifi gear anyday. I am often surprised why more and more auto companies feel compelled to "fix" a previous design that has proven to work well and Toyota has had an envious record of product quality previously.

But, we Americans have always been lured by the glitz and glamour of new chrome and steel in another form (planned obsolesence mostly by style). All the high tech engineering cannot overcome component failure and the prices of gear and circuit boards and control systems would sky-rocket with 100% QC, but I would want that in my Space Ship, as you would.

There is little that surprises me in terms of product quality anymore...I expect failure and am not surprised when JA finds a piece or two that needs to be replaced during a review. I am more concerned about how inconvenienced a consumer would be and would they get the same treatment or as in the Bryston Amp, a new power transformer as MF did, which only improved the sound, not the reliability of the unit.

I have always said that when contracts go to the lowest bidder that might not be a good thing for bridges, elevators, or other mission critical things our lives revolve around, like a car. The internet is littered with offers of "B" stock from so many companies it is...almost not worth mentioning anymore. The idea of buying a name brand B Stock $2,000 BluRay player for $499 does intrigue me.

So, this is the perfect excuse to have more than one great audio system. We all need a back up.

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

You pinpoint exactly why I feel like sh*t when boarding a plane

Jim Tavegia
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
You pinpoint exactly why I feel like sh*t when boarding a plane

Exactly...now just about every plane ride should be considered a religious experience. The problem is it just isn't funny anymore...like driving certain model cars right now. Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

ps Just a heads up as I have another recording date on tues PM with some excellent musicians recording US premier of a French Composer. I am hoping to do it 2496 with a DAT back up and my Uni-capsule mics. I'll keep you posted when they (DVD+Rs) hit the postal service headed toward Sweden.

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


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You pinpoint exactly why I feel like sh*t when boarding a plane

What makes me feel like crap is all the passengers rockin' their uber-cool Bose isolation headphones like they belong to this elite club of consumer cognoscenti. They see it as a statement product- a totem of their sophistication and superior breeding. These Home Shopping Network lemmings make me want to puke. I certainly don't want to die with a bunch of Bose Ho's. Okay, that's a little harsh.

Freako
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

Time to flash your Senn's

Freako
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:

Quote:
You pinpoint exactly why I feel like sh*t when boarding a plane

Exactly...now just about every plane ride should be considered a religious experience. The problem is it just isn't funny anymore...like driving certain model cars right now. Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

ps Just a heads up as I have another recording date on tues PM with some excellent musicians recording US premier of a French Composer. I am hoping to do it 2496 with a DAT back up and my Uni-capsule mics. I'll keep you posted when they (DVD+Rs) hit the postal service headed toward Sweden.

Sounds sweet indeed, but who lives in Sweden (except for Struts)?

jazzfan
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
What makes me feel like crap is all the passengers rockin' their uber-cool Bose isolation headphones like they belong to this elite club of consumer cognoscenti. They see it as a statement product- a totem of their sophistication and superior breeding. These Home Shopping Network lemmings make me want to puke. I certainly don't want to die with a bunch of Bose Ho's. Okay, that's a little harsh.

But but but they're Bose!!!

palinuro
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

Sorry to comment so late on this, but I had missed my March issue.
In an otherwise very good review, JA mentioned nothing on the lack of an HDMI input in M2. Correct me if I am wrong, but you will find few transports/players that allow an HD signal through their S/PDIF out. Worse, many do not even say what kind of signal goes through the S/PDIF and, unfortunately, nor does always Stereophile (e.g. Oppo).
The alternative I suppose would be to get an HD signal from a computer's USB (or other digital exit - most lack S/PDIF) through some type of interface (e.g. M-transfer). But I wonder how good a solution this will be for NAD M2 buyers.
Perhaps JA could provide a short follow up on the issue of digital connections for HD signals?

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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review


Quote:
Sorry to comment so late on this, but I had missed my March issue.

Sorry to hear that. Did it eventually arrive or did you read my NAD review on-line?


Quote:
In an otherwise very good review, JA mentioned nothing on the lack of an HDMI input in M2.

That's correct. The M2 doesn't have an HDMI input.


Quote:
Correct me if I am wrong, but you will find few transports/players that allow an HD signal through their S/PDIF out.

Some do, but with DVD-A or -V, it is the _disc_ that allows a full-resolution output via S/PDIF. The Beatles' Love, for example, will play at full 24/96 resolution from a player's S/PDIF output (provided it has the necessary hardware, which many do).


Quote:
The alternative I suppose would be to get an HD signal from a computer's USB (or other digital exit - most lack S/PDIF) through some type of interface (e.g. M-transfer). But I wonder how good a solution this will be for NAD M2 buyers.

I did mention this in my review, using the Bel Canto USB-S/PDIF converter to drive the M2 directly from my computer. It sounded superb used in that manner, and yes, I couldn't help viewing the M2 from this viewpoint rather than with a conventional disc player of some kind.


Quote:
Perhaps JA could provide a short follow up on the issue of digital connections for HD signals?

I have ignored the subject of HDMI transmission of hi-rez data, because for now it has been associated with home theater or multichannel music use, neither of which I am expert in. There is also the problem that at present I do not have access to an audio analyzer with an HDMI input, though I could purchase a HDMI-S/DIF converter for when I need to examine the digital-domain performance of transports. Sorry I can't be of more help right now.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Orb
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Re: NAD Master Series M2 Review

John,
something that I have been pondering is that with these type of digital integrated amps you are not using the DAC capabilities of a CD/SACD player, ideally will be using digital out from the transport/player to the digital in on the digital amp.

With that in mind and also ignoring diminishing returns, what is probably the highest level of build/spec required to get the most out of say CD?
As an example I can see the reasoning for say devices up to Esoteric P-05/Ayre,etc (quietness and build quality and potentially sound quality over basic players), but is there any reason in terms of best sound quality gains going to the next tier of transports and players?
Next tier in my mind being Esoteric P-03,dCS Puccini or Paganini, Metronome T3-a transport,etc .

I feel this is compounded by the fact if using a good digital amp there is no requirement for the DAC/analogue outputs from the player or the really high end transports that are meant to be linked to a specific DAC in a bespoke solution, so much of the gains are bypassed but wondering if there are still some factors to consider going for these serious high end products in the digital amp scenario.

Thanks
Orb

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