I have a NAD M51. Good DAC for sure, excellent value for money and I cant really think of anything at its price or cheaper that beats it - the Metrum is as good and a bit cheaper - but not better. It is beatable by stuff slightly more expensive like the Chord Qute HD and certainly by much more expensive stuff like the Playback Designs playing DSD.
Nothing touches it for connectivity however - its HDMI inputs are supurb for two channel Home Theatre and I would never think of getting rid of it.
It's my new front end as per my system sig, fed from a Squeezebox Touch via S/PDIF. Very happy with it, especially cause it serves as a preamp.
Not enough superlatives having owned many other top DACs.
The NAD M51 is better than the W4S DAC-2 in every way. I have owned both.
I have owned both. The NAD offers considerably more detail at the expense of texture. Both benefit substantially from a good convertor. I use the Stello U3.
A solid step up from both is the Metrum Hex, which I now own.
Good to hear you made the right choice for your system, that's all that matters. And when your kids go to college, there are always the active SCM50/100s!
It is beatable by stuff slightly more expensive like the Chord Qute HD
The NAD M51 is actually the more expensive DAC. The Chord QuteHD is actually $200 cheaper than the NAD, at least here in the US.
The NAD M51 is very good for the price. However, I have found 2 others around that price range that I liked better. One is Mytek, which sounds good, but is not user friendly to me. The other is the Bryston BDA-2, has all the detail of the NAD, but more air, warmth, and expansive stage. Very musical.
Thanks everyone for their response.
Kclone, have you any experience with the BDA-1 vs. the BDA-2? I suspect there will be BDA-1s for sale used.
Meiwan, I will probably use a converter with whatever DAC I buy. As there are many available between $400 and $1600 I am not sure which to own, and the $$$ partition between converter and DAC.
Mesch, for those who discuss converters at computeraudiophile and elsewhere, many feel that the Audiophilleo2 is the best combination of value(price) and performance, and the Offramp is the best, but of course significantly more expensive.. I have the Audiophilleo2. I have not heard a system with an Offramp.
In Australia its the other way around - the NAD is $1500 - the Chord $1700. If you can get the Chord cheaper and dont require the connectivity of the NAD it's what I would get. But if you want the connectivity nothing beats the NAD
Mesch, no I have not heard the BDA-1. Sorry.
The Audiophellio2 remains a top contender for my $$$. I wonder how the Bel Canto mLink or llink compares to it?
Nad M51 directly to Kavent monoblocks! Wow.
As an update to my original post, my decision has come down to:
Purchase a M51 now, or, purchase a Audiophellio2 for my PS DLIII and upgrade the DAC later?
I am currently driving a BEL 1001MKV amp with a Jolida Fusion Tube pre. Not sure I would use the M51 as a pre.
Would appreciate any thoughts. Thanks.
If you want to go for a digital playback I
will go for NadM51 usb or hdmi with a reclocker
straight to the amps. For analog I
will use a Pre.